Tag Archives: King George III

William Herschel died in his observatory, August 25, 1822

HerschelTelescope replicaAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

He discovered the first planet since ancient antiquity in 1781 and desired to name it after King George III, though others wanted to give it his name, as Thomas Jefferson wrote from Paris to John Page, August 20, 1785:

“You will find in these the tables for the planet Herschel, as far as the observations hitherto made…You will see…that Herschel was…the first astronomer who discovered it to be a planet.”

Born in German, November 15, 1738, William Herschel was a musician like his father, who was bandmaster in the Hanoverian guard.

A contemporary of Mozart, William Herschel fled to England during the Seven Years War.

He was hired as the first organist at St John the Baptist Church in Halifax, and then organist at the prestigious Octagon Chapel in Bath, eventually writing 24 symphonies.

He pursued astronomy on the side, building his own telescope to observe, not just the solar system, but “the construction of the heavens.”

He taught himself how to grind and polish telescopic mirrors, becoming pre-eminent in that field.

William Herschel constructed over 400 telescopes, including the largest reflecting telescopes of his day, using them to catalog over 90,000 new stars, as well as nebulae and galaxies.

After discovering Uranus, the 7th planet from the sun, King George III granted him a permanent salary as a royal astronomer.

Herschel identified double-stars, coined the word “asteroid,” meaning star-like, and discovered infrared radiation.

The Scientific Papers of Sir William Herschel (published by the Royal Society in 1912), recorded his diary entry of an argument over naturalistic philosophy:

“The First Consul…asked in a tone of exclamation…when we were speaking of the extent of the sidereal heavens ‘and who is the author of all this’…LaPlace wished to shew that a chain of natural causes would account for the construction…This the First Consul rather opposed.

Much may be said on the subject; by joining the arguments of both we shall be led to ‘Nature and Nature’s God.’”

The Royal Society editor wrote in a footnote of Herschel’s missing letters:

“Some 400 pages…are still extant…We are informed that Herschel in them interweaves his philosophy and even his musical studies with references of an earnest kind to the Creator as a beneficent Deity, expressing his gratitude and addressing him in a prayerful spirit.”

William Herschel was made a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order by Prince Regent, George IV, in 1816.

Sir William Herschel died in his observatory, AUGUST 25, 1822.

He was buried in St. Laurence Anglican Church in Slough, England, where a stained-glass ‘Herschel Window’ commemorates his astronomical discoveries and another window quotes Psalm 8:

“When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him?”

A contemporary of Sir William Herschel was the famous English poet, Edward Young (1681-1765), whose poem “Night Thoughts” was published in 1742 and became so popular it was translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish and Magyar, and quoted throughout Europe and America.

Line 771 of the poem “Night Thoughts,” possibly referred to by Sir William Herschel, was:

“An undevout astronomer is mad.”

William Herschel’s sister, Caroline, assisted him and also discovered 6 comets herself, for which she was honored by royalty.

William Herschel’s son, Sir John Frederick Herschel, took his father’s telescope to South Africa where he cataloged hundreds of new stars and nebulae seen from the southern hemisphere.

When the HMS Beagle landed at Cape Town, South Africa, on June 3, 1836, the young Charles Darwin visited Sir John Frederick Herschel.

Sir John Frederick Herschel was quoted by Marcel de Serres in ‘On the Physical Facts in the Bible Compared with the Discoveries of the Modern Sciences’ (The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, 1845, Vol. 38, 260):

“All human discoveries seem to be made only for the purpose of confirming more strongly the truths come from on high, and contained in the Sacred Writings.”

Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.

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Real freedom took real courage


By Chris Stirewalt


Political courage these days is generally defined as a politician doing something that might make it harder to get re-elected.


Real civic leadership has always been about convincing people to do what’s right and hard rather than what’s popular and easy. Courage is part of that. People are less likely to follow a leader who asks them to sacrifice and struggle when he or she will not.


But now, that sacrifice generally refers to a politician having to spend more of other peoples’ money on a primary election contest or, in rare cases, moving to a lucrative career in punditry or influence peddling sooner than expected.


The courage of defying voters to give lobbyists and press hounds what they want in exchange for a lobbying job or to join the press pack is not exactly shivering with the troops at Valley Forge. In fact it’s not really courage at all.


On Independence Day, Americans do not celebrate actual independence from Britain, which didn’t formally come until the signing of the Treaty of Paris on Sept. 3, 1783. Nor do we celebrate the start of the revolution that would make us free, which began in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775 and lasted for eight years.


What we celebrate is the act of declaring our independence; the ratification and signing of a document that was meaningless without the might of arms to make it so. What we celebrate are the ideas in the Declaration of Independence, that most remarkable piece of political writing in history, and the courage of the politicians who engaged in what was seen by the duly established authorities as treason.


King George III claimed to derive his authority from God and had dominion over the official religion of the land. These rebels were said to defy even Heaven in what they said and wrote in Philadelphia that sweltering summer.


A cottage industry has sprung up around diminishing the sacrifices and nobility of the Founding Fathers. And to be sure, they were flawed men. For those who seek to find the flaws in the American experiment, it is perhaps irresistible to see its founders in a negative light. Perhaps it would just seem impossibly square to extoll their virtues. Cynicism sounds savvier, especially for those who struggle to see the arc of history.


But as you celebrate today, remember the story of Richard Stockton. He was born to a wealthy New Jersey family that helped found what we now know as Princeton University. Stockton had even been given the chance to travel to London to appear before George III to make a presentation to the king from the college’s trustees.


Stockton had struggled to find a way that the 13 colonies could be self-governing but still subject to the crown, the kind of compromise that would later come to Canada and other British possessions. He argued for such a deal and even counseled with leaders including Edmund Burke on crafting such a plan.


Back at home, Stockton was elected to the Second Continental Congress. By 1775, the burden of taxes and punitive laws imposed by the crown convinced him that George III had no intention of granting autonomy. When discussion turned to declaring independence, he was prepared to sign. With his pen strokes, he, a celebrated and elite British subject, became an outlaw and a rebel.


Before the year was out, Stockton would be captured by loyalists, have his estate looted and burned and be turned over to the British army in chains. His family fled and Stockton was thrown in a prison in New York where he was badly mistreated and left in failing health.


Stockton endured his captivity and was eventually released after George Washington protested the abuse. But Stockton’s health never recovered and he would die at home in 1781 without living to see the country he helped found victorious and independent.


So the next time somebody tells you that politicians today lack courage because they refuse to defy the will of their constituents to please lobbyists and pundits, remember Richard Stockton and what real political courage looked like. It wasn’t about K Street expense-account dinners and celebrity status. It was about sacrificing everything for the sake of an idea.


A very happy Independence Day to you and yours from the Fox News First team and the whole family here at the Fox News Washington Bureau.


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