By Jim Poling Sr.
Published Feb. 7 2019
When you write you get messages from readers. Some are complimentary. Some are not.
I have received a couple that accuse me of being anti-American anti-Donald Trump.
Yes I am anti-Trump. I can’t stomach the man.
But I’ve never really understood exactly why. Why should a basic Canadian nobody be concerned or have any feelings about who is president of the United States or what is happening in that distant country?
I discovered why last week when I was watching a TV news clip while doing some history research. The news clip was about the New York Times’ new publisher A. G. Sulzberger meeting Trump to discuss Trump’s constant denigration of the news media.
In the meeting Trump boasted about rising out of the Jamaica Queens neighbourhood of New York City to become president of the U.S.A. As if he is some unfortunate who overcame the disadvantages of poor living conditions and attained the country’s highest office.
That’s when I returned to the history research I had just set aside. It was research on another New York City neighbourhood and a person who was the exact opposite of Donald Trump.
That person was Deborah Moody a strong keenly intellectual woman who founded Gravesend which became part of Brooklyn the borough neighbouring Trump’s Queens.
Deborah Moody was born in 1586 to a wealthy and religious English family. She came into more wealth and power when she married Henry Moody an estate owner and member of Parliament who was knighted then made a baron.
Henry died young and Deborah now Lady Moody was left to run Gareson their substantial estate. She immediately ran afoul of the dreaded English Star Chamber which dictated the duties of estate owners.
Then she ran afoul of religious fanatics who were burning people at the stake for having different views. Lady Moody was an Anabaptist a person who believes babies should not be baptised until they reach an age of reason when they can truly understand and commit to Christianity.
Fed up with restrictions on individual freedoms she sailed to America’s Massachusetts Bay Colony to begin a new life. Puritan religious leaders there were annoyed by her Anabaptist views labelled her a dangerous woman and excommunicated her. So she and some followers moved to New Netherland the Dutch colony that later became New York when it was taken over by the British.
The Dutch offered her land that is now part of Brooklyn told her she could build a town there and have total freedom of civil and religious beliefs. Lady Moody became the only known woman to establish a town in colonial North America.
She and her followers laid out streets built houses and other buildings including a church to be used by all faiths including Quakers who were not appreciated by the Dutch Calvinists.
Lady Moody became the mayor of the new town of Gravesend and wrote its charter part of which reads:
“There shall be complete social political and religious freedom. In agriculture and cultural development we shall open the door to wayfarers of whatever creed . . . .”
Deborah Moody was everything that Donald Trump is not. She was an intelligent visionary a successful builder and a dynamic leader who attracted committed followers because she believed in them and in protecting their rights.
One of those followers was a guy named John Poling who helped with the others to build the town. He was an ordinary guy not known for anything except perhaps for being the progenitor of my Poling family lineage.
His line produced seven generations of evangelical ministers the last of whom was my distant cousin Lieutenant Clark Vandersall Poling a U.S. Army chaplain.
Seventy-six years ago this week Clark Poling and three other military chaplains drowned in the torpedoing of the troop ship SS Dorchester headed to the war in Europe. They died after helping soldiers into life boats and giving their own life jackets to those who did not have them.
Deborah Moody her followers and their ancestors were unselfish comforters givers and builders. Donald Trump is a distempered self-centred taker who says he prefers soldiers who don’t get captured or presumably killed.
The comparison is why I can’t stomach the man.