"Rulers of Evil" Chapter 22
author Tupper Saussy
As IF IT WEREN’T enough that Christopher Columbus had dedicated the New World to her, and that Andrew White had dedicated Maryland to her, and that Bishop Carroll had dedicated his See of Baltimore to her, the 1846 convention of American Roman Catholic bishops declared the Virgin Mary to be “Patroness of the United States.”
The first two years under her patronage enriched the national government considerably. The Oregon territory and the Southwest joined the Union. As did California, with its bursting veins of gold. The blessings had their downside, however. They precipitated a corresponding increase in intersectional tensions that erupted in a devastating interstate bloodbath some historians call the Civil War. In that war, the Patroness of the United States dealt as cruelly with the enemies of her protectorate as the vengeful goddess Ishtar did with the enemies of ancient Babylon.
In February 1849, “Pio Nono” (the popular name for Pope Pius IX; there’s a boulevard named after him in Macon, Georgia) issued an encyclical that colored America’s Patroness with the fearsome aspects of Ishtar. The encyclical, entitled Ubi primum (“By whom at first”), celebrated Mary’s divinity, saying:
Holy as she may sound, a Satan-bashing, life-saving Virgin Mary is a fabrication of sacred sun worship tradition. The Bible does prophesy that Satan’s serpentine head will be violated. But not by Mary. At Genesis 3:15, we read God’s vow that Satan’s seed will be bruised by the seed of Eve. It may be argued that Eve’s seed was Mary. But according to the inspired understanding of the apostles, it was Jesus. At Romans 16:20 Paul promises a Roman congregation that “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet.” Nor was Mary given power to deliver people from their enemies. Only the “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5), “a name which is above every other name” (Philippians 2:9), is a divinely-authorized deliverer.
No, the Mary of Ubi Primum will not be found anywhere in the Bible. But then Pio Nono, the first pope ever to be declared Infallible, carried about a rather famous theological ignorance. His private secretary, Monsignor Talbot, defended Pio’s ineptitude in a letter cited by Jesuit author Peter de Rosa in his Vicars of Christ:
The truth of the matter, according to J.C.H. Aveling, is that throughout Pius IX’s long reign (1846-1878), most of his theology was written by Jesuits. On December 8, 1854, Superior General Beckx brought three hundred years of Marian devotion to a glorious climax with Ineffabilis Deus (“God indescribable”), the encyclical defining the Immaculate Conception, the extrascriptural doctrine that Mary, like Jesus, was conceived and remained free of sin:
Ineffabilis Deus mobilized the United States Congress to pass extraordinary legislation. Congress became suddenly obsessed with expanding the Capitol’s dome. According to the official publication The Dome of the United States Capitol: An Architectural History (1992), “Never before (or since) has an addition to the Capitol been so eagerly embraced by Congress.” Within days of Pio Nono’s definition of the doctrine of Immaculate Conception, legislation was rushed through Congress that effectively incorporated the new Vatican doctrine into the Capitol dome’s crowning architectural platform, its cupola.
A week following Ineffabilis Deus Philadelphia architect Thomas Ustick Walter, a Freemason, completed his drawings for the proposed dome. It would be surmounted by a bronze Marian image which would come to be recognized as “the only authorized Symbol of American Heritage.” Her classical name was Persephone, Graeco-Roman goddess of the psyche, or soul, and leading deity in the Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece. Persephone was abducted by Saturn’s son, Hades, and made queen-consort of his dominion, the underworld. Persephone was distinguished for her Immaculate Conception – described by Proclus, head of the Platonic Academy in Athens during the fifth century of the Christian era, as “her undefiled transcendency in her generations.” In fact, most of the statues of Persephone in the Christianized Roman Empire had been simply re-identified and re-consecrated as the Virgin Mary by missionary adaptation.
Congress appropriated $3,000 for a statue of Persephone. President Franklin Pierce’s Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis,(Davis suggested the helmet instead of a Liberty cap, he would soon become president of the Confederacy) awarded the commission to a famous young American sculptor named Thomas Crawford. Crawford lived and worked in Rome. His reputation had been established with a statue of Orpheus which, when exhibited in Boston in 1843, was the first sculptured male nude to be seen in the United States. Since another of Persephone’s ancient names was Libera (“Liberty”), Crawford named his Persephone “Freedom.” His work has worn this title ever since.
After two years of labor in the shadow of the Gesu, Crawford completed a plaster model of Freedom. Her right hand rested on a sword pointing downward. Her left hand, against which leaned the shield of the United States, held a laurel wreath. She was crowned with an eagle’s head and feathers mounted on a tiara of pentagrams, some inverted, some not. When ultimately cast in bronze, Freedom would reach the height of nineteen feet, six inches – a sum perhaps deliberately calculated to pay homage to the work’s final destination, the Beast of Revelation at Lot 666, for nineteen feet, six inches works out to 6+6+6 feet, 6+6+6 inches.(do the math)
Freedom would stand upon a twelve-foot iron pedestal also designed by Thomas Crawford. The upper part of the pedestal was a globe ringed with the motto of the Bacchic Gospel, E PLURIBUS UNUM, while the lower part was flanked with twelve wreathes (the twelve Caesars?) and as many fascia, those bundles of rods wrapped around axe-blades symbolizing Roman totalitarianism.
Crawford wanted his sculpture to be cast at the Royal Bavarian Foundry in Munich (where Randolph Rogers’ great ten-ton bronze doors leading to the Capitol rotunda were cast), while architect Thomas U. Walter preferred Clark Mills’ foundry, near Washington. Their transatlantic argument ended abruptly when Crawford died in London on September 10, 1857, of a tumor behind his left eye.
In that same year, 1857, the United States Supreme Court handed down Dred Scott vs. Sanford, a decision which most historians agree ignited the Great American Civil War. The opinion was written by the Roger Brooke Taney, who succeeded John Marshall as Chief Justice. A devout Roman Catholic “under the influence of the Jesuits most of his long life” according Dr. Walsh’s American Jesuits, Taney held that Negro slaves and their descendants could never be State citizens and thus could never have standing in court to sue or be sued. Nor could they ever hope to be United States citizens since the Constitution did not create such a thing as “United States citizenship.”
Taney’s opinion was widely suspected of being part of a plot to prepare the way for a second Supreme Court decision that would prohibit any state from abolishing slavery. American slavery would become a permanent institution. This is exactly what happened, although not quite as everyone supposed it would. First, slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment (1865). Then, the Fourteenth Amendment (1868) created a new national citizenship. Unlike State citizenship, which was denied to Negroes, national citizenship was available to anyone as long as they subjected themselves to the jurisdiction of the United States-that is, to the federal government, whose seat is the District of Columbia, “Rome.” What is so remarkably Jesuitic about the scheme that proceeded out of Roger Taney’s opinion is that slavery was sustained by the very amendment that supposedly abolished it. Amendment Thirteen provides for the abolition of “involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” In our time the federally regulated communications media, with their continually exciting celebration of violence and drug-use, have subtly but vigorously induced youthful audiences to play on a minefield of complementary criminal statutes. The fruit of this collaboration is a burgeoning national prison population of men and women enslaved constitutionally. American slavery has become a permanent institution.
Reaction to Taney’s decision animated Abraham Lincoln to immerse himself in abolitionist rhetoric and challenge Stephen A. Douglas for the Senate in 1858.... MEANWHILE in Rome, Freedom’s plaster matrix was packed into five huge crates and crammed, with bales of rags and cases of lemons, into the hold of a tired old ship bound for New York, the Emily Taylor. Early on, the Emily sprang a leak and had to put in to Gibraltar for repairs. Once the voyage was resumed, stormy weather caused new leaks. Despite attempts to lighten her load by jettisoning the rags and the citron, things got so bad she put in to Bermuda on July 27, 1858. The crates were placed in storage, and the Emily was condemned and sold.
In November, Lincoln lost his bid for Douglas’ seat in the Senate, and in December, another ship, the G.W. Norton, arrived in New York harbor from Bermuda with some of the statuary crates. By March 30, 1859 all five crates had been delivered to the foundry of Clark Mills on Bladensburg Road, on the outskirts of the District of Columbia, where the process of casting the Immaculate Virgin into bronze and iron was begun.
Lincoln opposed Stephen Douglas again in 1860, this time for the Presidency, and this time victoriously. The northern states rejoiced. The southern states, fearing Lincoln would abolish slavery, prepared to secede. “The tea has been thrown overboard!” shouted the Mercury, of Charleston, South Carolina, capital of American Scottish Rite Freemasonry. “The revolution of 1860 has been initiated!”
By Lincoln’s inauguration in March 1861, six states had seceded from the Union. In April, General Pierre Beauregard, a Roman Catholic who resigned his Superintendency of West Point to join the Confederacy, fired on the United States military enclave at Fort Sumter and brotherly blood began flowing. Jefferson Davis, who five years earlier had commissioned Crawford to sculpt the Immaculate Virgin, served as President of the rebellious Confederate States of America. In historian Eli N. Evans’ book on Judah P. Benjamin, I happened upon a strange and interesting link between Davis and the Vatican.
While a young Protestant student at the Roman Catholic monastery of St. Thomas College in Bardstown, Davis had pled to be received into the Catholic faith, but was “not permitted to con-vert.” He remained “a hazy Protestant” until his confirmation into the Episcopal Church at the age of fifty. Despite outward appearances of rejection, the Confederate President maintained a vibrant communion with Rome. No one was more aware of this than Abraham Lincoln. At an interview in the White House during August 1861, Lincoln confided the following to a former law client of his, a Roman Catholic priest named Charles Chiniquy, who published the President’s words in his own autobiography, Fifty Years In The Church of Rome:
The Great Civil War rampaged for another year. In autumn of 1862, the Confederacy’s invasion of the Union was defeated at the Battle of Antietam in Sharpsburg, Maryland. As if in celebration, the Immaculate Virgin was moved from the foundry and brought to the grounds of the Capitol construction site. The lower floors of the building were teeming with the traffic of a Union barracks and makeshift hospital. Above all this loomed Thomas U. Walter’s majestic cast-iron dome, patterned after that of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In March 1863, Freedom was mounted on a temporary pedestal, “in order that the public may have an opportunity to examine it before it is raised to its destined position,” as stated in Walter’s Annual Report dated November 1, 1862. One would expect photographers to be climbing all over themselves to make portraits of “the only authorized Symbol of American Heritage” while she was available for ground-level examination. America’s pioneer photographer, Matthew Brady, had shot a comprehensive record of the Capitol under construction, including portraits of both Capitol architect Thomas U. Walter and Commissioner of Public Buildings Benjamin B. French. But neither Brady nor anyone else photographed Freedom while she was available for closeups. Why? Was there a fear that perhaps some Protestant theologian might raise a hue and cry about the sun worship icon about to dominate the Capitol building?
Apparently, not too many Protestants ever examined Freedom at ground-level. The District of Columbia was still virtually a Roman Catholic enclave. Moreover, the nation in 1863 had been drastically reduced in size. The secession of the southern states had left only twenty-two northern states, and these twenty-two were heavily populated by Catholic immigrants from Europe and Ireland. “So incredibly large,” we recall from Sydney E. Ahlstrom’s Religious History of the American People, “was the flow of immigrants that by 1850 Roman Catholics, once a tiny and ignored minority, had become the country’s largest religious communion.” Thus, Crawford’s towering goddess was being examined mostly by Roman Catholic eyes, eyes that could not help but see in her the dreadnaught Mary described by Pius IX in Ubi Primum: “ever lovable, and full of grace, set up between Christ and his Church, always delivering the Christian people from their greatest calami-ties and assaults of all their enemies, ever rescuing them from ruin.”
The war rapidly advanced to conclusion while Freedom held forth on the east grounds of the Capitol. The Union forces under Burnside lost to Lee at Fredericksburg, but Rosecrans defeated the Confederates at Murfreesboro, and Grant took Vicksburg. In summer, Lee’s second attempt to invade the North failed at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. By fall, Grant won the Battles of Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge with Sherman and Thomas. By the end of November 1863, the Union had taken Knoxville, and the Confederacy found its resources exhausted and its cause hopelessly lost.
On November 24, a steam-operated hoisting apparatus lifted the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God’s first section to the top of the Capitol dome and secured it. The second section followed the next day. Three days later, in a driving thunderstorm, the third section was secured. The fourth section was installed on November 31.
At quarter past noon December 2, 1863, before an enormous crowd, the Immaculate Virgin’s fifth and final section was put into place. The ritual procedure for her installation is preserved in Special Order No. 248 of the War Department. Her head and shoulders rose from the ground. The three-hundred-foot trip took twenty minutes. At the moment the fifth section was affixed, a flag unfurled above it. The unfurling was accompanied by a national salute of forty-seven gunshots fired into the Washington atmosphere. Thirty-five shots issued from a field battery on Capitol Hill. Twelve were discharged from the forts surrounding the city. Reporting the event in the December 10 issue of the New York Tribune, an anonymous journalist echoed the qualities that Pius IX had given Mary:
If Tribune readers felt more nationally united and personally free because Freedom was glaring at rebellious Virginia and outstretching her hand to her beloved America, they were deceived. For the goddess faced in precisely the opposite direction! She faced east, as she does to this day, faced east across Maryland, the “land of Mary,” across the Atlantic, toward her beloved Rome. In fact, neither hand outstretches in any direction. Both are at rest, one on her sword, the other holding the laurel wreath. And her forty-seven Jupiterean thunderbolt-gunshots? They were a tribute to the Jesuit bishop who had placed the District of Columbia under her protection. For December 2, 1863 tolled the forty-seventh year from Jesuit John Carroll’s last full day alive, December 2, 1815!
ONCE the pressures of the installation were over, an exhausted but relieved Capitol Architect Thomas U. Walter wrote his wife, Amanda, at their Philadelphia home, to say that “her ladyship looks placid and beautiful – much better than I expected, and I have had thousands of congratulations on this great event, and a general regret was expressed that you were prevented from witnessing this triumph.” Someone else had missed the triumph, too, someone who by all the rules of protocol should have been there no matter what: the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces, whose War Department had engineered the whole Capitol project from top to bottom–President Abraham Lincoln. At noon on the day the temple of federal legislation was placed under the patronage of Persephone, Freedom, Wife of Hades, Queen of the Dead, Immaculate Virgin of Rome, Protectress of the Jesuits, Protectress of Maryland, and Patroness of the United States, the record shows that Lincoln sequestered himself inside the White House, touched with “a fever.” A telling detail.
But the sacred iconography was still not complete. The engineers began now preparing the interior of the dome, its canopy, for a massive painting Congress had approved back in the spring of 1863. This painting would depict George Washington undergoing the secular version of the canonization of Ignatius Loyola. It contains even more data useful to our understanding of the character and provenance of American government. We examine this masterpiece in our next chapter. Click here