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Czechs Won't Get Lost in the World, Let Alone in America: Portraits and Vignettes from the Life of Czech Immigrants in America
Czechs Won't Get Lost in the World, Let Alone in America: Portraits and Vignettes from the Life of Czech Immigrants in America
Czechs Won't Get Lost in the World, Let Alone in America: Portraits and Vignettes from the Life of Czech Immigrants in America
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Czechs Won't Get Lost in the World, Let Alone in America: Portraits and Vignettes from the Life of Czech Immigrants in America

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This book features a panorama of the lives of selected personalities, whose roots had origin in the Czech lands and who, in the US, reached extraordinary success and who, with their activities, substantially influenced the growth and development of their new homeland. It is a saga of plain, as well as powerful, people whose influence and importance often exceeded the borders of the US. A great portion of included individuals may be unknown to readers since it concerns persons whose Czech origin was usually not known.

The book covers the total period from the times of the discovery of New World to the end of the twentieth century. During the selection, little concern was given to nationalistic or ethnographic criteria, the only prerequisite was that the respected individuals were either born on the territory of the Czech lands or were descendants of emigrants from the Czech lands.

The image on the front cover is a portrait of Augustine Herman, Lord of Bohemia Manor, the first documented Czech immigrant in the United States. The portrait comes from his famous Map of Maryland and Virginia, dated 1670. The colorful story of his life would be unbelievable if made into a movie. Pioneer, merchant, explorer, surveyor, map maker, patriot, rebel, diplomat, and finally Lord! Read more about him in the book.
Дата выпуска2 мая 2018 г.
Czechs Won't Get Lost in the World, Let Alone in America: Portraits and Vignettes from the Life of Czech Immigrants in America
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Miloslav Rechcigl Jr.

Míla Rechcigl, as he likes to be called, is a versatile person with many talents, a man of science and organization professionally, and Renaissance man by breadth of his knowledge and scholarly interests. Born in Czechoslovakia to a son of the youngest member of the Czechoslovak Parliament, he spent the War years under Nazi occupation and after the Communist’s coup d’état escaped to the West and immigrated to the US. He received training as biochemist at Cornell University and later served as a research biochemist at NIH. Following his additional training he became a science administrator, first at the DHEW and later at US Department of State and AID. Apart from his scientific and science administrative pursuits, he served as an editor of several scientific series and authored more than thirty books and handbooks. Beyond that, he is considered an authority on immigration history, on which subject he had written extensively. He was also one of the founders of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU) and for many years served as its President.

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    Czechs Won't Get Lost in the World, Let Alone in America - Miloslav Rechcigl Jr.

    © 2018 Miloslav Rechcigl, Jr.All rights reserved.

    No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

    Published by AuthorHouse 04/28/2018

    ISBN: 978-1-5462-3891-1 (sc)

    ISBN: 978-1-5462-3892-8 (hc)

    ISBN: 978-1-5462-3890-4 (e)

    Library of Congress Control Number: 2018904790

    Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Getty Images are models,

    and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

    Certain stock imagery © Getty Images.

    Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.




    A. From the Life of Pioneers

    The First Czech Colonist in North America

    Was Komenský Offered the Presidency of Harvard?

    The First True American

    Czech Vanderbilt in America

    The ‘Beauty’ who Refused George Washington

    A Signatory of the American Constitution with Czech Blood

    US Secretary of State after Jefferson

    B. Religious Life

    1. In the Sign of the Cross

    The US First Male Saint

    The Father of Czech Catholics

    First Czech Abbot in America

    Second Czech Abbot in America

    First Bishop of American Slavs

    Indefatigable Servant of the Lord


    2. In the Sign of the Chalice

    First Bishop of the Renewed Unity

    Moravian Apostle among American Indians

    Moravian Missionary-Scholar among American Indians

    Patriarch of American Lutherans

    Ill-Fated Bishop on Mississippi

    Father of Czech Texans

    First Czech Evangelical Preacher in the American Midwest

    Evangelical Pastor on Manhattan

    3. In the Sign of David’s Star

    The Bloch Family Dynasty

    Czech Kohn will Make Good even in America or, Who Runs for it, Wins

    Most Prominent Jew in Missouri

    Czech Orthodox Rabbi

    Father of American Reform Judaism

    Rabbi with Historical Orientation

    The Apple doesn’t Fall far from the Tree

    Modern Orthodox Rabbi

    4. In the Sign of Free Thought

    Impractical Utopist

    From Catholic Theologian to Spiritual Leader of Freethinkers

    Father of Czech Socialism

    C. Political Life

    Nestor of American Congress

    Conservative Senator from Nebraska

    Perhaps the Most Colorful Politician in America

    Governor who did not Fear Political Machine

    Unlucky Fate of Governor Kerner

    Politician who Sacrificed his Life for US President

    Perennial Candidate for US President

    Multimember of President’s Cabinet

    First Madam Secretary

    D. Business and Entrepreneurship

    Bohemian Maker of St. Louis

    Entrepreneur who Saved Galveston from Bankruptcy

    The Most Successful Czech Forty Fighter in America

    An Unexpected Self-Made Businessman

    A Trailblazer of Wholesale Watch Manufacturing in America

    Self-Made Czech Philanthropist

    From Modest Tradesman to Building Contractor

    Czech American Industrialist in Diplomatic Service

    A Pilsen Native Who Owned a Piece of New York

    From Small Blacksmith to Largest Automobile Toolmaker in America

    Yukon’s Best

    Hotel Magnate of Chicago

    One of the 100 Most Influential People of the Century

    The Richest Self-made Business Woman in the World

    E. Law and Jurisprudence

    Quick Assimilation of Czech American Judge in Texas

    Avant-garde Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

    Justice of Supreme Court - Advocate of Judicial Restraint

    Two Remarkable Brothers Lawyers

    Attorney Nicknamed ‘Demosthenes’

    New York Attorney - Defender of Civil Rights

    Authority on Constitutional Law

    F. Education

    The Lost Patriot

    The Teacher – the Innovator

    Reformer of American Education and Learning

    Teacher of Czech Texas

    The Teacher- the Patriot

    Teacher on Both Sides of the Atlantic

    First School Superintendent of New York

    G. Press and Journalism

    Father of Yellow Journalism

    From Revolutionary to Journalist

    Father of Czech Press in America

    Nestor of Czech Journalism in America

    ‘First’ Czech in America

    First Successful Czech Journalist in America

    Founder of Jewish Press in America

    First Successful Czech Publisher in America

    Cultural Builder of Czech Nebraska

    Most Influential Czech Newspaperman in America

    First Bohemian Woman Journalist in America

    The Twentieth Century Havlíček

    H. Creative Writing

    American Writer Who Hid his Czech Origin

    Writer – Traveler -Diplomat

    Fulfillment of Vow to St. Bernadette

    German-Writing Author Who Felt as a Czech

    Master of Science Fiction

    Poet and Novelist in One Person

    It Ain’t Simple to Be a Writer

    Czech Writer Who Enjoyed World Fame

    Czech Holocaust Writer

    Popular Prosaist and the Founder of ’68 Publishers

    I. Visual Art and Architecture

    Bohemian Architects Who Built New York

    Czech Architect with Oriental Taste

    Father of Czech Modern Graphic Art

    Creator of the Prototype of American Beauty

    Czech Artist on the Run

    Rendering Homage to Great Woman

    Czech Pioneer of Woodcut in America

    From Craftsman to Artist

    Sculptor who Created in Classicism Style

    Founder of American Photography as an Art Form

    J. Music

    1. Musicians

    The Most Musical Family in America

    Best Cornetist in the World

    Best Interpreter of Beethoven

    Musician whom Sovereigns Favored

    Musician Honored with Presidential Medal

    World Champion of Czech Music

    2. Composers

    American Beethoven

    Dvořák in America

    Musical Symphony Genius

    Composer who Created in Atonality

    Master of Light Opera

    Father of American Musical Theater

    Czech Composer whose Popularity is on the Rise

    Avant-garde Musician of the 2⁰th Century

    Composer Who Immortalized Švanda Dudák

    Brno Native Who Set Hollywood to Music

    Avant-Garde Composer of all Trends and Styles

    Creator of Prototype of Czech Political Jazz Song

    Composer of Modern Operas

    Czech Composer Honored with Pulitzer Prize

    3. Conductors

    Popular Choirmaster of America

    Czech Bandmaster – A Globetrotter

    Greatest Conductor after Toscanini

    Classical Musician Who Revolutionized Broadway

    Creator of St. Louis Orchestra

    4. Opera Singers

    First Bohemian Prima Donna in Metropolitan Opera

    First Mařenka in Metropolitan Opera

    Celebrated Czech Soprano of World Fame

    Operatic Tenor with ‘High C’

    Diva with Aristocratic Performance

    K. Dramatic Arts

    Internationally Renowned Tragedienne

    Founder of Permanent Czech Theater in America

    Bohemian Girl

    Most Famous Dancer in the World

    Versatile Actor

    From ‘Osvobozené divadlo’ to Broadway

    Czech Marilyn

    Actress with a Texan Accent

    Film Director of World Class

    L. Humanities

    Historian of Czech America

    President Wilson’s Advisor on European Affairs

    American Comeniologist

    World Authority on Nationalism

    Byzantine Scholar of World Fame

    Czech Historian in America

    American Hyperpolyglot

    Literary Scholar and Essayist from Prague

    He Belonged also to Us

    World Authority on Comparative Literature and Literary Criticism

    Foremost Literary Critic and Historian from Chomutov

    M. Social Sciences

    Father of the Economic Thought

    Economic Thinker from Třešť

    Czech who Taxed America

    Nobel Laureate in Economics

    Creator of Normative Theory of Law

    Founder of Psychology of ‘Gestaltism’

    Person who Influenced Public Opinion in America

    Founder of Modern Empirical Sociology

    Innovative Political Scientist

    N. Natural Sciences and Mathematics

    Atypical Scientist

    Organizer of the Rockefeller University

    How Typhus Influenced Aleš Hdrlička’s Destiny

    Pioneer of American Microbiology

    Founder of Comparative Dermatology

    Husband and Wife Team from Prague – Laureates of the Nobel Prize

    From Poor Refugee to World Entrepreneur

    Chemist who Turned Molecular Biology Upside Down

    American Dynasty of Zeleny Family

    Physicist Who Should have been Awarded Nobel Prize

    Discoverer of Nuclear Resonance

    Theoretical Physicist Honored with the Nobel Prize

    Astrophysicist – Rocket Scientist – Inventor

    Czech who Proved Einstein’s Theory

    The Greatest Logician since Aristotle

    O. Medicine

    Father of American Homeopathy

    From Vagrant to Physician

    A Trail-Blazer of Ophthalmology

    Family Dynasty of Physicians

    Discoverer of Local Anesthesia

    Discoverer of Blood Groups

    Doyen of Women Physicians in Nebraska

    Orthopedist of America

    Founder of the Yale Medical School

    Woman Physician Who Saved Thousands of Children’s Lives

    P. Technology

    Master Builder of Bridges in America

    Most Versatile Engineer

    Founder of Soil Mechanics

    Builder of Airships

    Founder of Radio Astronomy

    Trail-Blazer of Rocket Launchings and Kinetic Art

    Computer Genius

    Q. Travel and Exploration

    Czech Globetrotter Who Traveled through Five Continents

    Most Popular Czech Traveler

    Czech Polar Hunter and Gold Digger

    Soldier – Explorer – Artist

    First American on South Pole

    A Czechoslovak on the Moon

    R. Activism and Reform

    Most Influential Woman in the Renewed Unity

    Founder of the First Woman’s Organization in America

    ‘Ivanhoe’ Legend

    First Czech Suffragist in America

    The Organizer of Women’s Suffragist Movement

    Brandeis Dynasty of Women Reformers

    S. Military Service

    Army Officer with Bohemian Roots in American Revolutionary War

    John Brown’s Bohemian Followers

    Bohemian Hero in the American Civil War

    A Businessman Who Started his Career at Gettysburg

    Admirals in US Navy – Father and Son

    Generals in US Army – Father and Son

    Commander of US Navy during Pearl Harbor

    T. Sports

    Papa Bear

    Baseball Legend

    Football Legend

    Basketball Star of America

    World No. 1 Tennis Player

    New King of Figure Skating

    Best Athlete in the World

    U. Struggle for Independent Czechoslovakia

    Masaryk in America

    Forgotten Gratitude

    Greatest Czech American Spy

    Priest Who United the Efforts for Czechoslovak Independence

    First Czechoslovak Ambassador to the US

    Abbreviations and Acronyms


    Name Index of Biographees

    In affection to my charming wife Eva,

    loving children Jack and Karen,

    adorable grandchildren Greg, Kevin, Lindsey, Kristin and Paul,

    and dear daughter-in-law Nancy


    in memory of our beloved parents.


    S mall nations of Europe share one problem – their own visibility. As much as they feel very aware of their existence and sovereignty, they are almost invisible from the global perspective. They seem forever lost in the maze of unpronounceable names and foreign locations.

    Sometimes, one tends to forget that these small nations of Europe have also contributed greatly to the culture and history of today’s Europe. One such example is the Czech nation, comprised of Western Slavic people stubbornly occupying the same Central European territory for the last 1,100 years. Yet, although not everyone is even aware of their existence, the Czechs have produced an astonishing number of world-renowned personalities.

    Music composers such as Bedřich Smetana, Antonin Dvořák, Leoš Janáček and Bohuslav Martinů were all Czech. Sigmund Freud and Gustav Mahler were born in the Czech lands. The inventor of contact lenses, Professor Wichterle, was Czech. A significant number of NHL players, including legendary Jaromír Jágr, are Czech. Many American tennis stars, such as Martina Navratilova and Ivan Lendl, are Czech. Even some of American leaders, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, were born in the Czech lands.

    This year, Czechs are celebrating their centennial. These 100 years of Czech existence were not the easiest of times, interrupted by world wars, the darkness of communism, and the Russian invasion of 1968. It was also a century of Czech migration around the world. Nevertheless, even the Czechs abroad stay to a large extent true to their roots. It is a testament to the strength of the Czech nation.

    Many times, one does not realize that the people one meets in life, sometimes a neighbor, are actually Czech. This book by Míla Rechcigl helps one understand, who these people are, and more importantly, why they are who they are — what makes them tick, what makes them successful Americans. One might claim that up to 1.7 million people of Czech ancestry live in the United States today.

    There is always something new to learn about them, and I am learning with every book Mila writes.

    Hynek Kmoníček

    Czech Republic Ambasssador to the USA


    A merica has always had an attraction for the Czech people. Perhaps this was given by the fact that Czechs have lots in common with the Americans, which gave them, during the time of the First Czechoslovak Republic, the nickname Yankees of Europe. Individuality, love of freedom, industry, pragmatism and realism are all characteristic signs, which relate as much to Czechs as they relate to Americans.

    The desire to travel to America was manifested among the Czechs soon after the discovery of the New World. Czechs learned about the existence of the unknown land across the ocean from the ancient chronicle of Václav Šašek of Biřkov. There even exist stories about the famed discoverer of the globe, Martin Benaim, a Bohemian from his ancestors, that he presumably discovered America before Columbus! Bohemian minors from Jáchymov, already in 1823, were in Venezuela or in Haiti, where they searched for new sources of silver. A Bohemian was not even absented in the first colonizing attempt of the English in North Carolina, thirty-five years before the arrival of the Pilgrims in New England.

    We find the first Czech, who settled in America permanently, already in the mid-17th century, in the person of Augustine Heřman, who became a legendary figure in New Amsterdam and in the Maryland Colonial Province. Individual immigrants from the Czech Lands came to America during the entire history of America and the US.

    The first larger immigrant wave ensued at the beginning of the 18th century, due to the expulsion and exiles of the followers of the ancient Unitas fratrum, who settled in the Pennsylvania Province. The political disturbances of 1848 and the unsettling economic situation in Austro-Hungary led to the mass emigration from the Czech Lands in the second half of the 19th century, which continued through the first two decades of the 20th century. After several decades or relative calm, other emigration waves followed, caused in 1938-39 by the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, and, later, by the Communist putsch in 1948 and the Soviet invasion in 1968.

    The life of Czechs in America, especially in the US, represents fascinating episodes, and even the whole epochs in American history, linking frequently with the events in the Old Country, and as such, are an integral part of the worldwide contribution of Czech culture.

    In this book, we are presenting a panorama of fates of selected personalities, whose roots had origin in the Czech Lands and who in the US reached extraordinary success and who, with their activities, substantially influenced the growth and development of their new homeland.

    While the previous publications about the Czech American immigration deal mostly with ethnographic and demographic analyses of the emigrants or historical, political and economic analyses of the causes of the emigration, in this book the history of Czech immigration in America flows directly from the description of the life and activities of individual persons, who themselves frequently created the history. It is a saga of plain, as well as powerful people, whose influence and importance often exceeded the borders of the US. To be sure, a great portion of included individuals will be entirely unknown to readers, since it concerns persons whose Czech origin was usually not known. The book covers the total period from the times of the discovery of New World to the end of the 20th century. The emphasis is more on the past rather than on the present. The individual personalities have been selected exclusively based on the taste and interest of the author and their selection was based on their own importance, their contributions and things of interest about their lives. During the selection, little concern was given to nationalistic or ethnographic criteria, the only prerequisite was that the respected individuals were either born on the territory of the Czech Lands or were descendants of emigrants from the Czech Lands.

    For better overview, the book has been organized into thematic sections, usually based on the discipline or the area in which the individuals worked. The personalities undoubtedly represent the elite of Czech immigration to the US.

    My earlier Czech monograph, Postavy naší Ameriky (Personalities of Our America) (2000) on which this book, in part, is based, was several months on the Bestseller lists and within a few years was sold out. The present English version, has been substantially rewritten and considerably enlarged, in terms of the number individual profiles, as well as by addition of entirely new categories, in order that it would provide a comprehensive and the most complete picture of the important Czech personalities in the US.

    A. From the Life of Pioneers

    The First Czech Colonist in North America

    A ccording to the preserved documents, the first Czech to set foot on what is today the United States was in 1585, during the first English attempt at colonizing America, thirty-five years before the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers in New England. His name was Joachim Gans from Prague, probably the same as Solomon ben Seligman Gans, who was buried in Prague’s Jewish Cemetery in 1619.

    When Gans’ name is mentioned the thought occurs that he could have been the son of the famous Prague astronomer and chronicler David Gans (1541-1613), a close collaborator of Tycho de Brahe and Johann Kepler. This conjecture is, however, very improbable, since David Gans married only after his arrival in Prague around 1564, which would mean that Joachim would have been only seventeen when he came to England. It is hard to believe that someone could have gathered such detailed knowledge and experience in metallurgy at such an early age, as Gans did.

    Gans was one of the foreign experts invited to Britain to help build up the mining industry. He came to Britain for the first time in 1581 and so impressed the local board of directors by his knowledge of the newest methods of copper extraction from raw ore that they entrusted him with elaborating the appropriate modifications for copper production in the famous British mines in Keswick in Cumberland. This probably happened through the advice of George Needham, who was a shareholder in the Royal Mining Company and, furthermore, spoke German, enabling him to communicate with Gans.

    The old method of ore processing for copper production required 16-fold combustion and took eighteen weeks. Following experimental tests Gans proposed to Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s state secretary, a greatly simplified and less expensive way. His method required quadruple combustion, which was four times faster than the older practice. This method made the production of one hundred pounds of copper five shillings cheaper than the way introduced in England by German experts; its basis was the heating of the ore using peat instead of wood, which was required in great quantity and which was very expensive in England.

    Needham’s report, which we have, contains detailed information on Gans’ analytic tests of the chemical composition and quality of various ores and refined copper. He discovered nine different substances that contaminated lead and proposed a way of eliminating them. His innovative technique consisted in having the copper ore be initially crushed into a powder, which was then roasted and finally flushed with water, to remove vitriol, iron and sulphur; the result of this process was that when the copper was afterwards melted, it was substantially pure.

    Gans had to be very well acquainted with mining technology and knew the secret of the removal of iron from copper in the form of ferrous sulfate. The rinsing of roasted ore with water was not, of course, entirely new, since similar technology was described already in Georgius Agricola’s famous treatise De re metallica, published in 1556. Gans’ improvement consisted in the fact that the vitriol was not thrown out along with the waste water but was used for the extraction of pigments suitable for the dying of cloth. His method was used in England until the first half of the eighteenth century.

    In what way Gans became a member of the first English colonial expedition to America, organized by Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) in 1558, is not known. Probably, he was recommended by the State Secretary Walsingham, who was greatly interested in the establishment of colonies abroad. Because the purpose of the expedition was to look for new ore deposits and eventual processing of ores, Joachim Gans was undoubtedly qualified above all others to take part in such an expedition.

    The expedition, consisting of a fleet of seven ships, set out under the direction of Raleigh’s cousin, Sir Richard Grenville (1542-1591) on a voyage with one hundred and eight colonists, on 9th April 1585. Gans was certainly on board the flagship, the Tiger, which was the biggest of all the ships and weighed around 140 tons. Most of the smaller ships accompanying the flagship sank because of heavy storms. They spotted the first outlines of America on 7th May, when the island of Dominica appeared on the horizon and three days later they landed on the island of Puerto Rico. They did not reach the shores of North Carolina and the island of Roanoke where they finally settled, until the end of June.

    Gans’ task was to accurately analyze metal objects that the colonists found or received as gifts from the Indians or in exchange for European beads and other trinkets. Besides testing the quality of copper, he also ascertained whether the objects contain silver or gold. In the ruins of the fortress left behind by the colonists, excavators found fragments of cups and hermetically sealed glass flasks containing quicksilver, which testified to Gans’ metallurgical activity. Also found were several cylinders of refined copper as evidence that Gans had built a kiln, capable of reaching the temperature of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit necessary to melt copper.

    Life in the colony was not at all easy. Although the Indians initially considered the colonists to be divine beings, within a few months they recognized from their undisciplined and hostile behavior that these were ordinary people, who want to deprive them of their livelihood and are threatening the safety of their community. This lead to bloody confrontations and the colonists, furthermore, lost the source of foodstuffs, with which the Indians previously provided them. Besides constant and treacherous danger on the part of the Indians, they were also exposed to unforeseeable attacks by Spaniards, who wanted at all costs to prevent the English from setting up colonies. The settlers suffered from lack of food and the promised supply ship was nowhere in sight.

    Their salvation was the unexpected arrival of Sir Francis Drake, who after considering the unhappy situation of the colonists, gave in to their pleadings and brought them back to Europe on 19th June 1586. It is an irony of fate that on their way back they passed ships ferrying to America the long-awaited foodstuffs and other supplies. Although the expedition turned out not altogether successfully and for Gans was certainly a major disappointment, from the historical point of view it was a significant step, which led to future Anglo-American colonies and laid the foundations of the mining and metallurgical industries in North America.

    Not many reports have survived on Gans’ life after his return to England. From an official document dated 1589 we know that he lived in Central London, in the Blackfriars district, which was the center of the English Renaissance movement, noted for its frequent theological debates. Gans, with his intellect, his scientific thinking, as well as courageous and adventurous spirit, undoubtedly took an active part in them. During one such debate, conducted in a Bristol pub with the local priest in Hebrew, Gans declared that Jesus Christ was not the son of God. He explained this by saying that there is only one God, who had no wife and no child. He was therefore accused of heresy, which immediately came to the attention of the mayor of Bristol, as well as the city elders. On 13th September 1589 Gans was arrested for an interrogation, but we do not know what followed. It is probable that, at the urging of his friends in high places, he was released and sent back to Bohemia. One way or another he had to have great courage when he expressed doubts about Christ’s divinity, if we consider that as late as 1581 Edmund Campion was hanged on the orders of Queen Elizabeth for spreading Catholicism in her Protestant kingdom.

    Was Komenský Offered the Presidency of Harvard?

    C otton Mather’ s monumental work Magnalia Christi Americana (1693) contains the following statement: That brave old man Johannes Amos Comenius, the fame of whose worth had been trumpeted as far as more than three languages could carry it, was indeed agreed withal, by our Mr. Winthrop in his travels through the low countries, to come over into New-England, and illuminate this College and country, in the quality of a president: But the solicitations of the Swedish Ambassador, diverting him another way, that incomparable Moravian became not an American.

    This statement has been the subject of numerous discussions, opinions and surmises, whether Comenius was really offered the position of president of Harvard College and whether he seriously considered the possibility of accepting such an offer. If such an offer was in fact tendered, it is a mystery why there is no mention of it in the records of Harvard College. It is worth noting that Cotton Mather refers to this offer once more, twenty years later in his book Ratio Disciplinae Fratrum Nov-Anglorum (1726), whose title was incontestably composed based on Comenius’ Canon Laws (Ratio Disciplinae Fratrum Bohemorum). In this publication, he specifically states that Comenius had decided to accept the offer: "…Ratio Disciplinae Fratrum Bohemorum, a book written by the incomparable Comenius, who at one time had decided to come here, having been invited to become president of Harvard College in this country, but was turned away from his intention by an offer from Sweden."

    It is a fact that after the unsuccessful attempt to establish a college of pansophism in London, Comenius decided to accept an offer from Sweden to work there on his pansophistic plans. The American offer must have been made either in London, some time before his departure from England, when he was still considering the Swedish offer, and before he reached a definitive decision, or it must have been made only at the moment of his arrival in Sweden, in particular, since Mather’s first reference has Comenius passing through the Low Countries, i.e., sometime in July 1642.

    Our Mr. Winthrop, as Mather writes about him in his book, who should have invited Comenius to America, could only have been John Winthrop, the Governor of the Colony of Massachusetts, but this seems improbable, since this governor, in his History of New England, despite all thoroughness and much detail, sometimes bordering on triviality, never mentions any travel to the Netherlands in 1642. By contrast, his narrative attests to the fact that he served as Governor for the entire year without interruption.

    If he did not make his offer in 1642, he could not have made it at any other time, since Comenius was absent from the Netherlands after that year and only in 1650 did he find his last refuge in Amsterdam after the Leszno fire. However, by then the governor of Massachusetts, Winthrop, was already dead, having died in Boston on March 26th, 1649.

    The Comeniologist Matthew Spinka was of the view that the offer was in fact extended to Comenius, either during his stay in England or in the course of a journey through the Netherlands, but not by the Governor of Massachusetts, Winthrop the Elder, but by his son of the same name, John Winthrop the Younger, who also became Governor, in this case of the Connecticut colony. Such a confusion of the names of two governors of the same name is quite possible.

    What do we know of the younger Winthrop? He was born in England in 1606 and was educated at universities in Oxford and Dublin. During the Huguenot Wars, he took part in Buckingham’s expedition to help the Huguenots at La Rochelle and upon his return from this failed expedition he traveled around Europe, as far as Turkey. He followed his father to America in 1631. He was elected magistrate in the Massachusetts Colony in May 1632 and held this office until 1649. Magistrates were assistants to the governor and held the position of Justices of the Peace. Extensive trading contacts of the younger Winthrop required frequent travel. In 1634 he visited England and Lords Saye and Brook appointed him Governor of their Colony extending along the banks of the Connecticut River for his remarkable qualities and abilities. In October 1635, he returned to America in the company of his father-in-law, Rev. Hugh Peter, and the young nobleman Henry Vane, who was soon thereafter elected governor of the Massachusetts Colony.

    On August 3rd, 1641, the younger Winthrop left Boston, landing in Bristol on September 28th. He remained in England somewhat less than two years and during this period had contacts with the leading personalities in influential circles, among them with Hartlib’s rhetorical circle, among whose members of course, was also Comenius, who was sojourning in England at the same time. Winthrop also looked after official colonial matters, as is attested by his accounting for expenditures submitted to the respective authorities in the Colony. He left England in May 1643, taking with him craftsmen as well as several types of machinery, and following a long and hazardous voyage, lasting until the fall, landed in Boston.

    During his stay in England Winthrop made the acquaintance in London with Hartlib’s circle, as is attested by the numerous letters written by this enthusiastic supporter of Comenius’ efforts. It is more than just probable that he must have also met with Comenius before the latter departed for Sweden and that at this opportunity it occurred to the American guest to gain this most renowned educator of youth for the New World and for Harvard College. In any event, Winthrop could have met with Comenius not only in England but also in the Netherlands or in Northern Germany. There are documents showing that Winthrop was, in fact, in Germany in the summer of 1642, in Hamburg, where Comenius was staying around the end of July. It is, however, possible that they met in the Netherlands.

    While we lack definitive proof that Comenius and Winthrop met, there is documentary evidence of their mutual correspondence. Winthrop was an educated man, who knew numerous scholars of his time - men such as Galileo, Kepler, Boyle, Milton, Newton, Pell, Hartlib - and all indications are that he could have tried to persuade Comenius to emigrate to America, to take up the presidency of Harvard. Following a critical analysis of this as well as other historical facts, Spinka reached the conclusion that Cotton Mather’s report on the offer of the presidency of Harvard College is quite probable. It is not now possible to further verify Mather’s statement. If by chance Comenius’ letters to Winthrop, which allegedly still existed in 1741, are ever found, this interesting enigma could surely be resolved.

    The First True American

    I f you ever happen to visit the State of Maryland, sooner or later, you are bound to encounter a descendant of Augustine Heřman, one of the first Czech emigrants to North America, who was so proud of his native land that he would customarily attach ‘Bohemiensis’ to his name. This remarkable individual was undoubtedly one of the most interesting and prominent personalities of 17 th century Colonial America. It is therefore little wonder that some local authors called him the first true American. In Czechoslovakia, his name was immortalized in a biographical novel by Jaroslav Koudelka, Pán na české řece (Lord on Bohemia River), published in Prague, in 1946.

    According to his own testimony, Heřman was born in Prague, the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia. We do not have any further information about his ancestors or his childhood. According to one version he was the son of Augustine Ephraim Herman, a rich merchant and Prague alderman, and Beatrice Redel, from a patrician protestant family. Tomáš Čapek, ‘the historian of Czech America’ held the view that Herman was the son of an evangelical pastor from Mšeno, who was forced to leave his native land in 1621 due to religious persecution. These, however, are mere speculations.

    It is not even known when exactly Heřman was born or when he alighted on the American mainland for the first time. The year of his birth is generally estimated as 1621 and it is known with certainty that he settled permanently in New Amsterdam (today’s New York) in 1644. Before his emigration to America, he lived in Holland for a period of time.

    Very early on, he became an independent merchant. He traded in furs, tobacco and other merchandise. He was the biggest exporter of tobacco in America and the first to introduce the cultivation of indigo in the Dutch colony. For his extraordinary successes and growing prosperity Heřman soon became one of the most influential individuals in New Amsterdam. In 1647 the burghers chose him to represent them on the supervisory board, the so-called ‘Council of Nine,’ which served as the advisory and, to a certain extent, as a supervisory authority for the Colony’s Governor.

    For his tact and diplomatic skills, as well as for his knowledge of several languages, Heřman was frequently sent as an emissary by Governor Stuyvesant to the neighboring colonies to deliver his message or settle disputes with neighbors. During one such diplomatic journey to Maryland, Heřman took such fancy to the local countryside that he decided to move there eventually. Contributing to his decision was also undoubtedly a promise by Lord Baltimore to offer Heřman a part of the territory in exchange for his preparing a precise and detailed map of Maryland Province.

    In 1661 the family moved to Maryland, close to the East Shore, alongside Chesapeake Bay, on territory that Heřman received in exchange for the map he was drawing. He called his extensive estate Bohemia Manor. Gradually it grew to territory more than 25 thousand acres. Heřman was also awarded a hereditary Lordship.

    After resettling in Maryland, he initially engaged in trade, particularly between Maryland Province and New Amsterdam. He gave it up a year later, however, giving priority to the life of an aristocratic gentleman. As was then customary for British Lords, he had his own deer hunting preserve, whose walls were still standing in 1860, and had his servants transport him around in a livery, a carriage drawn by two pairs of horses. And was behooved at his time, he lived a truly social life and on a high heel. Before long, however, he became bored with the easy-going, carefree and generally dull life of the local aristocrats and Herman resumed his business activities.

    As in New Amsterdam, Herman was publicly active also in Maryland. In 1665, he was named –Commissioner of the Upper Baltimore County and later held the position of an honorary judge. In his later years, he was a justice of the peace for the Baltimore and Cecil Counties and later acted as Commissioner of Peace. Being a well-known public figure, he was sent on diplomatic missions, mainly in the context of disputes with neighboring provinces or the Indians.

    Heřman was universally educated, uncommonly quick-witted and far-sighted. As a young man, he was trained as a skilled surveyor and draughtsman and was not lacking in artistic talent. Attesting to this was the discovered oil painting showing one of the first views of New Amsterdam. It has been demonstrated that the picture was painted by Augustine Heřman. He was also uncommonly quick-witted and far-sighted. He was the first to have come with a proposal for the building of a canal between Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, to accelerate trade. His idea was implemented only in the 19th century. When he was unable to implement the project by himself he found an alternative solution by building a road linking it the two Bays, along which he transported horse-drawn carriages with goods that were loaded on freighters. He was also immensely courageous and daring, as several legends told about him demonstrate.

    Heřman’s greatest achievement was his monumental map of Maryland and Virginia, which took him almost ten years to complete. Its original is deposited in the British Museum in London. The importance of this map is attested, among other things, by the fact that it was continually reprinted until the middle of the 18th century and that it was used in the legal proceedings on the territorial dispute between the States of Virginia and Maryland at the end of the 19th century. After its completion, Heřman received recognition from the British Royal family and a hundred years later George Washington himself, who was a trained surveyor himself, pointed to its precision and elegance.

    Heřman also left behind him a living legacy - his descendants, among whom we find the foremost families of the State of Maryland. With the help of genealogical sources, the writer of these lines has succeeded in identifying at least ten US senators and eleven other Congressmen, who had descended from Augustine Heřman.

    As a merchant in New Amsterdam, Heřman lived among the Dutch, working with them, debating with them and haggling with them - simply said, he behaved as one of them. As a diplomat, he came into contact with the inhabitants of New England in Northeast of the US, as well as with plantation owners in the South. As the owner of a manor in Maryland Province he quickly adopted English habits and mores, so that soon he was indistinguishable from the local aristocrats. From the position of his manor it can be surmised that it was located in the center of American life and that his territory was visited by numerous visitors from the Old World who came to have a look at the New World. We can just rightly say about Augustine Heřman that he was neither a New Netherlander nor a Marylander but a genuine first American.

    Czech Vanderbilt in America

    A fter the tragic Battle of the White Mountain, thousands of exiles left Bohemia and sought refuge abroad, some of them having gotten as far as the New World. Besides the legendary Augustine Heřman, another Bohemian exile, Frederick Philipse (1626-1702) deserves special attention. His importance and wealth, by current standards, would exceed those of the American Vanderbilts.

    As was in the case of Augustine Heřman, Frederick Philipse’s past is shrouded by an impermeable blanket of secrecy. According to family tradition, his family was of Aristocratic origin, who had to leave the Kingdom of Bohemia because of anti-religious persecution. Prior to coming to New Amsterdam in North America, the family temporarily found refuge in the Netherlands.

    The Czech historian of world renown, A. P. Šlechta, concluded that Frederick Philipse was probably a descendant of the ancient Bohemian family of Vchynský (Kinský) of Vchynice, namely Filip Mořic Vchynský, a Bohemian aristocrat belonging to the persecuted Unitas fratrum. He was the youngest son of Count Vilém Vchynský of Vchynice, the brother-in law, and a close friend of Albrecht of Valdštejn, with whom he was assassinated in Cheb. Vilém was known to be the highest forester of the Kingdom of Bohemia, the rank that was hereditary in his family. Based on the documents, Filip Mořic escaped, together with his brothers, to the Netherlands, where further information about them was lost. According to Professor Šlechta, Filip Mořic, whom he considered to be Frederick Philipse’s father, apparently changed his name to Vrederyck Felypsen to correspond to the way the name was spelled in Dutch. He most certainly changed his name also for protection, considering that interdict was imposed on Filip Mořic’s father Vilém. Beyond that, how would the Hollanders be able to pronounce the name Vchynsky! In fact, it was for the same reason why the Vchynský family in Bohemia began using the surname Kinský instead, which was easier to pronounce.

    Frederick Philipse’s descendants have preserved in the family a golden chain, covered with amethysts, diamonds, rubies and smaragds (emeralds), signifying the rank of the highest forester of the Kingdom of Bohemia, which confirmed Prof. Šlechta’s conclusion. The famous American diplomat, John Jay, who held the position of the first Secretary of State and then the Supreme Court Justice in President Washington’s Cabinet, gave testimony concerning Philipse’s Czech origin in his Memoirs. To be sure, his information was based on reliable sources, considering that he was married to Frederick Philipse’s great-great-granddaughter. Moreover, he was related to the family, since his mother was the great granddaughter of Philipse’s stepdaughter.

    The exact day of Philipse’s arrival in the New World is not known with certainty. He arrived most likely with the family of his father in 1647, on the same ship as Governor of the Dutch colony Peter Stuyvesant. What is certain is the fact that he lived in New Amsterdam by 1653, the year he was designated to assess the value of Augustine Heřman’s properties, who owned extensive lands on Manhattan, near Pearl Street. One could thus surmise that both Bohemian exiles knew each other, not to speak about the fact that there was an intermarriage between the two families,

    The Philipse family must have been poor originally when they first arrived in America, since their properties in Bohemia were confiscated and, consequently, they had to work hard for their livelihood. The young Frederick was trained as a carpenter and according to his contemporaries, he was a very skillful tradesman and, as an official carpenter of the West Indies Co., he eventually was earning a high income. That his building skills were valued was also apparent from the fact that he was generally known as Stuyvesant’s chief architect and builder.

    He did not remain a carpenter for long and soon pursued a business career. Partly, due to his own abilities, shrewdness and political skill, and partly because of his two marriages to wealthy widows, Philipse, in a relatively brief time, made a fortune, and in time, became the wealthiest person in the entire New Amsterdam. His contemporaries, rightly, nicknamed him Bohemian Merchant Prince, as we can learn from John Jay’s Memoir.

    In 1693, through Royal Charter, his properties were elevated to the status of a Manor, bearing the name the Manor of Philipseborough, with all the privileges of a Lord. His Manor included the City of Yonkers and 150 square miles of land. His original house, following a renovation, has been used as a City Hall. The other lands, known under the names Fredericksburg or Sleepy Hollow, comprised 250 square miles. In 1683, Philipse built the Philipse Castle there, as a protection against the Indians. In 1699, using his own resources, he built a large church, which is being considered the oldest church building in the State of New York. The famous writer Washington Irving immortalized this church in one of his novels.

    Frederick Philipse had extensive trade with five Indian tribes and his ships sailed to and from the Islands of West Indies and East Indies. Besides material goods, he also brought slaves from Africa and, apparently, also traded with pirates. He also owned a factory for making Indian beads, known under the name wampum.

    In 1674, his property was estimated at 80,000 Dutch Guilders, which was a lot of money by today’s measure. Yet, that was only a small part what he left at his death. The substantial part of his wealth was based on the value of his lands which exceeded 250,000 acres. When the New Netherlands became an English Province, Philipse knew how to live with the new regime, He tactfully avoided all the political controversies and cultivated friends with every Royal Governor, from Andros to Bellmont and became a member of the Governor’s Council for twenty years.

    The Philipse family lived in luxury. As was expected of the Lords, he had his own hunting and fishing grounds, plentiful servants and, to be sure, he lived like an Aristocrat.

    He died in New York on November 6, 1702, at the age of 80. The hereditary title of Lord was transferred on male descendants, from generation to generation.

    Many of the original buildings on Philipse’s lands, namely the stone house with a mill and harbor moll in Tarrytown, NY, and the palace in Yonkers, NY have been preserved and are worthwhile to be seen.

    The ‘Beauty’ who Refused George Washington

    O fficial histories about the founder of American Independence and the first President of the United States generally are silent about his first love, with whom George Washington fell madly in love and whom he almost asked for her hand when he first met her. She presumably turned him down. That this really happened is supported by several witness accounts and furthermore this legend has been preserved by family oral tradition from generation to generation.

    Who was this girl who had the guts to turn down such a square-built, good looking young man with aristocratic background and undoubtedly with a promising future? It was none other than charming Mary Philipse of Philipsburg Manor on the Hudson, whose ancestors descended from an aristocratic family in Bohemia. Her great grandfather, Frederick Philipse, immigrated in the mid-17th Century to New Amsterdam (the present New York City). His Bohemian origin was attested in his autobiography John Jay himself, the famed American statesman, whose family was closely related to her.

    Philipse came to America without any means and without friends, who had to work hard to earn one’s bread. Through his abilities and energy, he became enormously wealthy and his extensive estates were, in time, raised through Royal Charter to Manor, with all its related privileges of a Lord. In the middle of his estate he built a palace surrounded by trees from foreign buds, spending incredible sums of money for continuously upgrading and improvement of his residence and the surrounding gardens and parks.

    Mary Philipse’s father, Lord Frederick Philipse 2nd, continued in the improvements of his property and, indeed, governed broadmindedly and on a large scale on his Manor House, known under the name Philipsborough, following the customs of European Feudal rulers.

    This was a setting where Mary Philipse was born on July 5, 1730 and where she was brought up. She was well educated and enjoyed all the advantages that society offered. According to witnesses, she was endowed by innate personal beauty and charm, with penetrating eyes and black hair, with majestic manners, strong-willed, yet with a kindly disposition.

    It was in winter 1756, while visiting her brother-in-law Beverly Robinson in New York, where she first met George Washington, Robinson’s classmate and friend, who too happened to be his guest at the same time.

    Washington was a Virginia Colonel, only 24 years old, who had just won his first laurels on the field of battle during the operation in French and Indian Wars. He served at the headquarters of General Braddock, as his aide-de-camp. Among Indians, he had the reputation as a person with magic powers, who would not be touched by a bullet, which would not even penetrate through his clothing. On his way to meet General Shirley, Washington stopped in New York and called at the house of Colonel Beverly Robinson.

    George Washington’s young heart was touched by Mary Philipse’s charm and beauty. He left reluctantly, continuing to Boston. On his return, he was again a guest at the Robinson home and remained there, in Mary’s company, as long as duty would allow. Speculation is that he offered her his hand but was refused. He was hurt and offended, to be sure, but he hid his passion in front of others.

    In 1758, Mary Philipse married Captain Roger Morris, a young officer, under the command of General Braddock, thus also George Washington’s companion. The young Morris couple built a beautiful residence in the suburbs of New York. Known as Mount Morris, the northern Manhattan estate stretched from the Harlem River to the Hudson River. For nine years, Roger Morris and his family lived in the mansion. In 1775, Roger Morris declared that he was loyal to England and the King and sailed for England, leaving the property in the care of Mary Philipse Morris.

    She kept the house open for a while, but with War festering around, however, she eventually abandoned the property. She and her children moved to the Philipse Manor house at Yonkers, and the Morris House was confiscated by the New York State Legislature.

    On September 14, 1776, General George Washington decided to abandon New York City and leave it to the British. He planned to go to Harlem, to the fort that had been prepared for just such an emergency. On September 15, he took possession of the Roger Morris house as his temporary headquarters between September 14 and October 2, 1776.

    =During the discussion with Mary Philpse’s descendants, the question was raised what would have fate brought, had Mary married Washington rather than Roger Morris. The answer, which was not long coming, with a dose of certain cynicism, was clear and unambiguous, i.e., that Washington would never become a traitor and the leader of the rebellion. With her profound influence, which she exerted on everybody in her vicinity, Mary Philipse would not tolerate it from Washington, and would have, in fact, prevented the rebellion.

    Mary Philipse Morris inherited from her father large property, not only in Westchester, but also in Putnam County, NY. During the American Revolution, she was accused of being a Loyalist, i.e., an adherent of the King of England. She was, one of the three women accused of treason and in fall 1776 her property was confiscated. When reading this story, one cannot sweep aside the suspicion that her accusation was somehow connected with her previous turning down George Washington’s marriage proposal, brought about as out of vengeance.

    Mary Philipse Morris was forced to escape with her family from Beverly on Hudson to a rural residence of her brother-in-law. In 1789 her children were forced to sell their remaining property to John Jacob Astor for a laughable sum of $100,000. Mary Philipse then left for England, where she was partly compensated for her loss with 17,000 English pounds. She died in England on July 18, 1825, at the blessed age of ninety-five.

    A Signatory of the American Constitution with Czech Blood

    I t is well known that Augustine Heřman, the Czech immigrant to America, left behind him numerous prominent descendants. It is not generally known, however, that among them was a signatory of the Constitution of the United States. His name was Richard Basset of Delaware, who was Heřman’s direct great grandson. His genealogy is shown below.

    Richard Basset was born on April 2nd, 1745 in the village of Bohemia Ferry in Cecil County in the State of Maryland, in the family of Arnold and Judith, née Thompson. His father, the owner of a pub, deserted his wife and two sons, when Richard was a young boy. His mother was the great granddaughter of Augustine Heřman, the original owner of the huge estate bearing the name ‘Bohemia Manor’ and his heirres. Soon after Richard’s father left the family, a relative of his, Peter Lawson, took up the role of Richard’s foster father, even though he never married his mother.

    As a young man, Richard privately studied law under Judge Robert Goldsborough in the County of Dorchester, Maryland. In 1770, he obtained a license for legal practice in Delaware and opened a law office in the town of Dover. Soon, he took part in public activities and at the outbreak of the American Revolution he was elected a member of the Boston Relief Committee. At Christmas 1774 he married Anna Ennals, member of a distinguished family from the Dorchester County. The marriage produced three children: Richard, Anna and Mary.

    Bassett’s most notable contributions during the American Revolution were his efforts to mobilize the State’s military. Some sources credit him with developing the plans for raising and staffing the 1st Delaware Regiment, with his neighbor, John Haslet at its command. Known as the ‘Delaware Continentals’ or ‘Delaware Blues,’ they were from the smallest state, but with some 800 men, were the largest battalion in the Continental Army. Bassett also participated in the recruitment of the reserve militia that served in the ‘Flying Camp’ of 1776, and the Dover Light Infantry, led by another neighbor, Thomas Rodney. When the British Army marched through northern New Castle County, on the way to the Battle of Brandywine and the capture of Philadelphia, Bassett appears to have joined his friend Rodney in the field as a volunteer. Once the Delaware militia returned home after the British retired from the area, Bassett continued as a part-time soldier, assuming command of the Dover Light Horse, Kent County’s militia cavalry unit.

    After the Declaration of Independence, the delegates from Delaware gathered in August for the First Delaware State Constitutional Convention. Basset stood on the side of the conservative group from Kent, which prevailed at the Convention. From 1776 until 1786 he was a member of the Council of Safety and served in both the upper and lower Houses of the State legislature.

    Beyond the borders of the State, Basset represented the State of Delaware at the convention in Annapolis in 1786 and again the following year at the US Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, at which the US Constitution was formulated. Basset was one of the first delegates to sign the US Constitution. The State of Delaware was also the first State to unanimously adopt the US Constitution and Basset played a key role at the State ratification convention.

    He expressed his conservatism when he opposed the Federal law of veto against the legal rights of the states. At this occasion, he was characterized as a man with a healthy judgment, who, thanks to his moderation, knows how to keep quiet.

    On March 4th, 1789, Basset was elected Senator, the first of two US Senators for his State. He was also able to claim to have been the first senator to have voted in favor of the proposal to relocate the Capital of the United States to a territory along the Potomac River. As a true conservative, however, he voted against Hamilton’s plan that the Federal Government should take over responsibility for the debt of the individual states. In 1791, he served as a delegate to the Second Delaware State Constitutional Convention.

    At the end of 1793, he resigned his post to accept nomination as Chief Justice of the Delaware Court of Common Please. His son-in-law Joshua Clayton was, at that time, Governor of the State of Delaware.

    In October 1798 Basset was a candidate of the Federalists for the position of Governor in opposition to David Hall’s joint candidacy for the Democrats and the Republicans. The conservatives were then in the majority and thus Basset easily won the elections. Under his administration blacks were, for the first time, permitted to testify before Delaware courts in criminal cases. In the Presidential elections, Basset’s second son-in-law, Congressman James Bayard, played a key role in the election of Thomas Jefferson as President.

    The departing president John Adams performed at the last moment his legendary ‘midnight nomination’ of his own supporters to various government positions, among them he also named Basset US Judge of the Court of Appeals of the Third Circuit. Basset, thereupon, duly resigned his position as Governor in February 1801 to allow him to accept his new position as a Judge. He was one of the Presidential electors from Delaware who had voted in favor of Adams in 1796. It was thus only a question of time before the new administration decided to act. In April 1802, it rescinded many of Adams’ nominations, among them Basset’s, who then retired for a period of repose.

    As Basset approached the age of sixty, he became increasingly immersed in religion. The decision to become a Methodist was a decisive factor for the rest of his life. He became the friend of Bishop Francis Asbury, whom John Wesley had sent to America in 1771. During the Revolution, Methodists and their adherents were suspected of being on the side of the Loyalists. Basset’s friendship with the Methodists cast him in a poor light, so that people started to shun him. Despite this, Basset contributed his time and his wealth to the revolutionary movement of the American colonists.

    At his manor, he often hosted the ‘apostles’ of the new religion and offered them a considerable sum of money for the construction of a new church in Dover. He also regularly took part in large gatherings of Methodists and he himself sponsored two such meetings at his Bohemia Manor in 1808 and 1809.

    During his career, Basset’s views changed considerably in comparison with his thinking prior to 1776. From an unrelenting conservative, he in the end turned into a pacifist. He also held many of the views of the Quakers, whom he counted among his friends. He was opposed to duels and to slavery. He himself set all his own slaves free.

    In appearance, he was a rather stocky person of medium height, who elegantly dressed and kept up extensive social contacts. He was immensely wealthy and often hosted his friends at his three residences, at Bohemia Manor, in Wilmington, or in Dover.

    Richard Basset died on September 15th, 1815 at the age of seventy. He was buried under the chestnut trees on a hill above the winding Bohemia River on his beloved Bohemia Manor.

    The Genealogy of Richard Basset

    Augustine Heřman 1621-1686

    m. 1651 Jannetje Varleth

    Judith Herman 1660-1761

    m. 1680 John Thompson 1660-1702

    Richard Thompson 1680-1775

    m. 1706 Magdalene Bouchelle

    Judith Thompson 1707-?

    m. 1722 Arnold Basset

    Richard Basset 1745-1815

    US Secretary of State after Jefferson

    A ccording to the US Constitution, the greatest executive power, after US President, belongs to the US Secretary of State. In terms of Presidential succession, the US Secretary of State, is the fourth in line, who can assume the office of the US President, i.e., after VP, Speaker of the House and President pro tempore of the Senate.

    The first US Secretary of State was Thomas Jefferson, after whose resignation, George Washington named in his place Edmund Randolph, who was of Bohemian origin after his mother. He was a direct great-great grandson of the legendary Augustine Heřman, who immigrated to America at the end of the first half of the 17th century.

    Edmund Jennings Randolph was born in Virginia, near Williamsburg, on August 10, 1753, into the family of John Randolph and Ariana, née Jennings. He attended the College of William and Mary, and then studied law under the direction of his father, who was the legal representative of the King of England in Virginia. His father was a Loyalist and consequently had to flee in August 1775, together with his wife and daughters to England. Young Edmund, who was an ardent follower of the American Revolution, remained in America, where he was brought up by his famed uncle Peyton Randolph, President of the Continental Congress.

    Based on the letters of recommendations from the leading Virginians, General Washington appointed the twenty-two-year-old Edmund his aide-de-camp. In the first days of the Revolution, Randolph took part in the battles during the siege of Boston by the British.

    Upon the sudden death of his uncle Peyton Randolph in October 1775, Randolph returned to Virginia to act as executor of the estate. He was married on August 29, 1776 to Elizabeth Nicholas (daughter of Robert C. Nicholas), and had a total of six children, including Peyton Randolph, Governor of Virginia from 1811 to 1812.

    He was elected the State Attorney General of Virginia and besides that he also became Mayor of Williamsburg. Randolph was selected as one of eleven delegates to represent Virginia at the Continental Congress in 1779 and served as a delegate through 1782. He was active in the commission for international issues and used his influence in the approval of the law for import tax. During this period, he also remained in private law practice, handling numerous legal issues for George Washington, among others.

    In 1782, he resigned so that he could devote his time to care for his new estates which he inherited from his uncle. He also had to pay debts left by his father, who, in the meantime, died in England in 1783, for which he used his income from his private law practice.

    He joined the movement which aimed to revise the Confederate Articles and in 1786 led the Virginia Delegation at the Annapolis Convention. He was instrumental in calling the US Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia the following year.

    The following year, as a delegate from Virginia to the Constitutional Convention, Randolph introduced the Virginia Plan as an outline for a new national government that formulated the US Constitution. He argued against importation of slaves and in favor of a strong central government, advocating a plan for three chief executives from various parts of the country. The Virginia

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