Select Page

By William H. Benson

The Parallel Lives


Roger Williams VS. Cotton Mathers




This past week I listened to Craig Wortmann’s book, “What’s Your Story: Using Stories to Ignite Performance and Be More Successful.” Craig encourages readers to place their stories into a matrix of sixteen cells, four columns by four rows.

He identifies four columns, top to bottom: success, failure, fun, and legends. A success story is how a project succeeded. A failure story is how a project failed. A fun story is a joke. A legend story is a once-upon-a-time story, that of a hero.

The idea of a matrix appears too complicated, a spreadsheet to arrange jokes. Ronald Reagan kept it simpler. He wrote his stories on 3 x 5 cards and kept them in boxes. To write a speech, for example, to inspire, he withdrew cards from his stack.

read more

Roger Williams vs. the Puritans

Last time in these pages, I mentioned Jonathan Winthrop’s “city on a hill” sermon, “that all the eyes of all people are upon us.” Winthrop considered himself a type of Moses who was leading his people, like Israel, to a new land, to build a new Jerusalem.

This is spelled out in John Barry’s 2012 book, “Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty.”

Winthrop and his fellow Puritans believed the city on a hill should have a church and a state, and that the two should work together, like left and right hands. In essence, Winthrop wanted to build a theocracy, in New England, in 1630.

The Puritans expected the magistrates to support the church by compelling people to attend worship, to recite oaths, to pray prescribed prayers, and to tithe.

read more

Jonathan Winthrop’s ‘A Model of Christian Charity’

In recent days, I have begun reading John Barry’s book, “Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty.”

Although published in 2012, Barry tells the story of how the Puritans chose to leave old England to build a plantation on the rocky New England coast of Massachusetts.

In England, the Puritans wanted to purify and simplify their church. Hence, the title of Puritans. They wanted a rustic sanctuary, without stained glass windows and gaudy artwork. Also, they wanted the Anglican clerics to dress without cassock, cap, or gown.

King James I, his son Charles I, and Charles’s archbishop William Laud disagreed. Laud and his henchmen hunted the Puritans down, jailed them, and even tortured them. For these Puritans, exile to North American represented a better choice.

read more

Older Posts

Profiles in Courage

Kennedy showed that quote from Herbert Agar’s book to his speechwriter Ted Sorensen, and asked him to find other examples of Senators, who had displayed unusual political courage at crucial times in their careers. Sorensen came back with eight examples.

In addition to John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, Sorensen included Daniel Webster also of Massachusetts, Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, Sam Houston of Texas, Edmund G. Ross of Kansas, Lucius Lamar of Mississippi, George Norris of Nebraska, and Robert Taft of Ohio.

read more
Shortcuts to winning

Shortcuts to winning

Shortcuts to winningHow does a player cheat at chess? When playing online chess at home, on his or her computer, a cheater receives instructions, hints, and directions from a second computer, standing beside the first, that contains chess analysis software. But how…

read more
White Christmas

White Christmas

White ChristmasThe crooner Bing Crosby first sang “White Christmas” live on the “Kraft Music Hall” radio show on December 26, 1941, nineteen days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. It was a frightening time, one of our country’s darkest moments. The nation felt...

read more
Two weddings

Two weddings

Twenty-eight-year-old Naomi Biden married twenty-five-year-old Peter Neal on the south lawn, at the White House, on Saturday, November 19, 2022, beginning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time.

Because there was no tent, and because the temperature was a chilly 39 degrees, some 250 guests received shawls, hand-warmers, and blankets once they arrived. They also checked in their cell phones.

read more
Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Elias Boudinot, a member of Congress in the new Federal Government, introduced a resolution in 1789, to form a joint committee that asked President George Washington to call for a day of prayer and thanksgiving. That joint resolution passed both Senate and House. Washington chose to respond.

On October 3, 1789, he called for a day of “Public Thanksgiving and Prayer,” that he set for Thursday, November 26, 1789. Washington celebrated that early Thanksgiving, by attending services at St. Paul’s Chapel, and giving beer and food to those in jail for failing to pay their bills.

read more

Two Veterans

Two VeteransDavid McCullough, biographer and historian, passed away on August 7, 2022, at age 89. His biographies—on Harry Truman, John Adams, and Theodore Roosevelt; and his histories on the Johnstown Flood, the Panama Canal, and the Brooklyn Bridge—earned him prizes...

read more

One of University of Northern Colorado’s 2020 Honored Alumni

William H. Benson

Local has provided scholarships for history students for 15 years

A Sterling resident is among five alumni selected to be recognized this year by the University of Northern Colorado. Bill Benson is one of college’s 2020 Honored Alumni.

Each year UNC honors alumni in recognition for their outstanding contributions to the college, their profession and their community. This year’s honorees were to be recognized at an awards ceremony on March 27, but due to the COVID-19 outbreak that event has been cancelled. Instead UNC will recognize the honorees in the fall during homecoming Oct. 10 and 11……

Newspaper Columns

The Duodecimal System

For centuries, the ancient Romans calculated sums with their clunky numerals: I, V, X, L, C, D, and M; or one, five, ten, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000. They knew nothing better.

The Thirteenth Amendment

On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and by it, he declared that “all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are and henceforward shall be free.” Lincoln’s Proclamation freed some 3.1 million slaves within the Confederacy.

The Fourteenth Amendment

After Congress and enough states ratified the thirteenth amendment that terminated slavery, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866. This law declared that “all people born in the United States are entitled to be citizens, without regard to race, color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude.” The Act equated birth to citizenship.

The New-York Packet and the Constitution

Jill Lepore, the Harvard historian, published her newest book a month ago, These Truths: A History of the United States. In a short introduction, she describes in detail the Oct. 30, 1787 edition of a semi-weekly newspaper, The New-York Packet.


Mr. Benson’s writings on the U.S. Constitution are a great addition to the South Platte Sentinel. Its inspiring to see the history of the highest laws of this country passed on to others.

– Richard Hogan


Mr. Benson, I cannot thank you enough for this scholarship. As a first-generation college student, the prospect of finding a way to afford college is a very daunting one. Thanks to your generous donation, my dream of attending UNC and continuing my success here is far more achievable

Cedric Sage Nixon


Donec bibendum tortor non vestibulum dapibus. Cras id tempor risus. Curabitur eu dui pellentesque, pharetra purus viverra.

– Extra Times


  • Thomas Paine vs. George Whitefield
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson vs. Joseph Smith
  • William James vs. Mary Baker Eddy
  • Mark Twain vs. Billy Graham
  • Henry Louis Mencken vs. Jim Bakker