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Topic: American History (Read 32511 times)
Re: American History
Reply #50 on:
March 18, 2011, 11:28:25 AM »
This is my essay from today’s NYT. (
SOUTHERN HISTORY Visitors tour the Civil War exhibition at the Charleston Museum. More Photos »
By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
Published: March 16, 2011
FORT SUMTER, S.C.
Stand atop the unexcavated mound of earth that covers part of this 19th-century fort and gaze northward over its half-disinterred ruins. Across the harbor, you can just make out the rooftops on which the inhabitants of Charleston stood 150 years ago this April, cheering as the fort — along with its some four score United States soldiers — was bombarded by the troops of the newly formed Confederate States of America. “A thrill went through the whole city,” wrote the aide de camp of the leader of the Confederate forces, Brig. Gen. Pierre Beauregard. “It was felt that the Rubicon was passed.”
It was the beginning of the Civil War. Or, as it is sometimes called here, the War Between the States. Or more provocatively: the War of Northern Aggression.
As commemorations of the war’s sesquicentennial begin this spring, with special exhibitions and symposia adding to the already extensive historical treatments that can be sampled at battlefields and museums reaching from Gettysburg to New Orleans, it might seem that the war’s heritage is relatively simple. As seen from a perch up North, the war’s purpose is morally and politically clear. Slavery’s abolition, like Lincoln’s powerful redefinition of the nation’s principles, set the United States on a path toward equality that it might have never found through antebellum thickets. The Civil War created contemporary America.
But spend some time in Southern museums, and it becomes clear that what seems evident up North is here clouded and contested. And if, in the North, the war seems part of a continuum of history, here it remains a cataclysm. The war was not a continuation of Southern history; it was a break in it. And that is still, for the South, the problem.
Even if Southern commemorations fully celebrate the Union that grew out of that war and readily repudiate slavery and its principles, disorientation is mixed with commemoration. The past is renounced, but not fully. The dead are remembered, but what about their cause? Nearly every war site and exhibition I have seen in the South wrestles with double perspectives and conflicting sentiments alien to the North.
Fort Sumter, for example, is a National Monument overseen by the National Park Service, primarily because of its importance in that inaugural battle. But it also has a different significance here. After defeating the Union soldiers, the Confederates held the fort almost to the end. For the South, Fort Sumter represented not just the start of the war, but one of the last hopes that it might prevail. At least five times during the war, the North tried to take Charleston, but the fort provided decisive protection. Eventually its fortifications and 50-foot-high walls were pounded to rubble. (“A stabilized ruin” is how the Park Service describes its current condition.) Charleston, also in ruins because of Union bombardment, ultimately fell after Gen. William T. Sherman cut a swath of devastation through the South.
This kind of devastation meant the experience of the war was quite different here. Soldiers from Massachusetts and Maine may have died, but the battlefields were far from home. The war really took place in the South. There were 43 major battles within 30 miles of Richmond, Va., the capital of the Confederate States of America. This gave the South a deeper acquaintance with trauma and hardship. New York and Philadelphia were never subjected to a blockade as Charleston was. The Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center tells us:
“In Charleston, where inconveniences soon gave way to chronic difficulties and privations, the war prompted suffering, tenacity, ingenuity and great personal bravery.”
This theme also runs through the Charleston Museum’s treatment of the war in its extensive permanent exhibition about the state’s history. “Indiscriminate shelling of the city,” we read, “was one of the many factors which generated hatred of Northern forces among white Charlestonians.” And at the war’s end, the exhibition notes, General Sherman himself urged anybody who took such things lightly to go to Charleston “and he will pray louder and deeper than ever that the country may in the long future be spared any more war.”
Ramifications were widespread and are still evident. Middleton Place plantation, just northwest of Charleston, is now a national landmark owned by the Middleton Place Foundation. As the plantation’s guide book notes, its gardens reflect “the grace and grandeur of the southern plantation of the 18th and 19th centuries.” Henry, the first Middleton to own the land, was the second president of the First Continental Congress; his son Arthur signed the Declaration of Independence; his grandson Henry was governor of South Carolina. His great-grandson Williams was a signer of South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession, thus unraveling the work of his ancestors.
But the breaking of Southern history came not just with secession but with defeat — and the end of slavery. As you drive into Middleton Place you follow a long road through the grounds until you reach an enormous oval meadow. You expect to see a grand manor house at the far end, symmetrically framed by oaks draped in Spanish moss. Instead there is just an empty space, a flat foundation on which lie mounds of broken brick.
The house, it turns out, was burned and ransacked by the Union Army in 1865; a major earthquake in 1886 finished the job. So while the trappings of the Old South can be seen in the centuries-old trees and formal gardens, an emptiness lies at the plantation’s center. The effect is all the more pungent because many of the Middleton furnishings and art works were saved from the wreckage or returned by relatives and set out in a small “flanking house” on the side, where the riches of the once powerful clan can now be seen.
It wasn’t only the house that was left in ruins. Without slavery, the antebellum plantation was simply unsustainable, which meant that traditional views about social life, culture and status were also overturned. Surviving plantations ended up being cherished as artificial relics of antebellum culture. In tours, little reference was made to slavery or how the lives of slaves and of masters intertwined. Only during the last 20 years have plantations and historical homes started to devote serious attention to the exploration of the lives and roles of the enslaved.
It is a peculiar Southern twist: some plantations are almost becoming museums about their slave-holding past. This kind of rebellion against remnants of the Old South can be found in other institutions as well. The Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, N.C., for example, established itself in 1991 in direct opposition to the traditions of the Old South. Its exhibitions are about Southern history and culture, but it embraces modernity and egalitarianism and rejects nostalgia and sentimental guilt. Of course, this too is a reflection of cultural trauma: it involves a radical break with traditions, never a simple matter.
But there are also still places in the South where the sting of disastrous defeat and the lure of the Lost Cause stubbornly resist submission or reflection. In Charleston, the small Confederate Museum is run by the Daughters of the Confederacy, just as it was at its founding in 1899. It has an official imprimatur: it holds a long-term lease on one of the most visible city-owned buildings, Market Hall, which stands at the head of Market Street. Inside, you find relics from that Lost Cause, including items donated by Confederate soldiers and their families at the end of the 19th century: clothing, banners, weaponry, curios.
By defining itself so narrowly, the museum indulges in a kind of fetishism. In one display case is a ball — a round bullet — that we are told was removed from the neck of Lt. Col. C. Irvine Walker at the Battle of Atlanta. Another case shows a small silver matchbox and unstruck matches that belonged to Beauregard, who attacked Fort Sumter. There is even a sliver of cedar cut from the tree where Gen. Robert E. Lee’s tent was pitched at the time of his surrender at Appomattox.
There is no discussion of historical causes or effects, no narratives and no interpretation. There doesn’t need to be. These are treated as almost magical objects. A wooden gavel made in 1899 is displayed: its head comes from wood used in the White House of the Confederacy in Richmond, where President Jefferson Davis oversaw the fortunes of the Confederate States of America; the handle comes from the wooden platform on which the gun that fired the first shot at Fort Sumter rested. Can it be doubted what kinds of rulings that gavel was meant to enforce?
That museum is an extreme case: it avoids historical crisis by turning its back on history. Matters are far more responsibly presented at institutions like the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. That museum has a remarkable collection of objects and manuscripts; it has published research papers and lent objects to other institutions. But like Charleston’s museum, it grew out of personal memorabilia collected by the daughters and wives of Confederate soldiers. How could that heritage not affect the museum’s perspectives?
Its permanent exhibition, “The Confederate Years,” which I saw in 2008, recounts the history of the war’s Southern battles, accompanied by bullet-torn notebooks, weaponry and bloodstained uniforms. For the most part, it is simply history told from a particular geographical perspective. But there are also gnawing hints of unresolved tensions. A full accounting of the war’s causes is never given and the institution of slavery is minimized. Facts bend under pressure.
Lincoln, we read, wanted the war so badly he “succeeded in maneuvering the Confederacy into firing the first shot of the war.” The mobilization of the Confederate Army, we also read, involved the participation of “tens of thousands of African-American laborers” both “enslaved and free”; this is a strange wording implying broad black support, minimizing any hint of coercion and ignoring, too, the fact that nearly four million people — one-third of the South’s population — were then enslaved. But you can also feel hints of internal debates within the museum as differing exhibits express differing perspectives, sending out feelers, trying modifications.
Even after 150 years, this is not easy. At the Charleston Museum, there is a display of the furniture and artifacts associated with the composition of South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession in 1860. At one time, these objects would have been sanctified, the way another museum might treat, say, Washington’s desk, or Lincoln’s stovepipe hat. And there still is an honorific aura bestowed on this Secessionist paraphernalia. But they occupy a strange middle ground: their status is a bit more historical than sacral. The exhibition never acknowledges Secession to have been a terrible mistake, but it also doesn’t fully embrace the idea of a Lost Cause.
You feel the strain in the museum’s attempt to explain “a Southern Perspective”: “What, many Southerners argued, was the advantage of remaining in a Union which did not protect their rights and interests?” But is this sympathetically posed or analytically asked? At times, the sympathy is apparent: “The story of Charleston in the War Between the States is one of suffering and sacrifice, ingenuity and tenacity, and great personal bravery of Americans in a time of total war.”
Yet the same exhibition is quite frank about other issues. And we learn, too, about the bizarre consequences South Carolina’s legal code could have when a black regiment of Union soldiers was captured. What was to be done with them? “There was no such thing as black soldiers,” a label reads. “Either the men were free blacks leading a slave revolt or they were slaves in rebellion. The penalty in either case was death or re-enslavement.”
As it turned out, when four former slaves among them were brought to trial, the courts ultimately supported the notion that they were to be treated as prisoners of war. But this meant that, even before its defeat, Southern axioms were being shaken.
So it is no surprise that accounts of the war remain quite different in the South and the North. In 2008, an exhibition about Generals Grant and Lee mounted by the Virginia Historical Society was to travel to the New-York Historical Society. But the New-York Historical Society believed the show had too strong a Southern perspective; it had to be reworked.
In 2009, the same two institutions created contrasting exhibitions about the abolitionist John Brown. In New York, he was championed as a hero for his abolitionist beliefs and attempts to oppose slavery. But in Virginia, while his cause was honored, questions were raised about his methods that went unasked in New York, including whether Brown’s raid on an arsenal, his taking of hostages and his murder of innocents made him more similar to contemporary terrorists than to other abolitionists. In New York, the justice of the cause trumped the method; in Virginia, it did not.
So striking are such differences that one museum, the American Civil War Center in Richmond, claims to tell the history of three different ideological parties to the war: the North, the South and the Slaves, or, as they are peculiarly called here, Union, Home and Freedom. The museum even labels maps and charts with the initials, U, H and F. The effect is strange because we can’t quite figure out how to evaluate the arguments. Great effort is made not to give offense to any party.
But is this really helpful? Aren’t there times when moral clarity and the justice of a cause must be identified and upheld? Will a civil war always have to be fought over the meanings of the Civil War? The history of the Civil War in the North is by no means a simple matter, and it too has come under revision, but Southern discomfort with assessing the Southern cause in memorials and exhibitions is rampant. And a tendency to embrace cultural relativism as a compromise ends up making it all seem fairly trivial.
These tendencies become particularly jarring at a place as important as Gettysburg. A recently constructed Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War offers an encyclopedic survey of the conflict, giving pride of place to Lincoln’s address. In addition, a 360-degree oil painting of the battlefield — a cyclorama — was reconditioned and mounted in its own gallery, offering a stunning panoramic vision of a battle that may have turned the tide of the war.
Gettysburg became important because of the Union victory there and because of Lincoln’s extraordinary tribute. Eventually regimental memorial monuments from Northern states were erected on the battlefield. But after the war, how could a unified nation exclude Southern memorials? Gettysburg had become a national site. So 50 years after the war, Southern states were permitted to erect memorials. The first, raised in 1917 by Virginia, was a triumphalist statue of Robert E. Lee mounted on his horse atop a towering pedestal. The last, which appeared in 1982, honored the veterans of Tennessee.
The result is strange. The defeat of the South here was the turning point of the war: one spot became known as the “high water mark of the Confederacy” because it was the closest Southern forces came to winning and putting the cities of the North at risk. But the Southern memorials do not generally affirm a unified view of a new nation. They insist on their own perspective as if nothing has changed. The South Carolina monument, dedicated in 1963, reads:
That men of honor might forever know the responsibilities of freedom.
Dedicated South Carolinians stood and were counted for their heritage and convictions.
Abiding faith in the sacredness of States Rights provided their creed.
Here many earned eternal glory.
The responsibilities of freedom? The sacredness of States Rights? Eternal glory earned for their creed? Where is the vision Lincoln affirmed, which ultimately triumphed? Gettysburg’s ground was hallowed because of the principles upheld. But such monuments are public declarations that turn the war itself into contested ground. And they don’t even try to comprehend the cause for which the Union dead gave the last full measure of devotion. The war over the War continues.
Re: American History
Reply #51 on:
March 18, 2011, 02:33:03 PM »
Interesting read. I just watched a Globetrekker episode where they visited two plantations in Lousianna.
(who needs to travel anymore - we get to see the world on TV)
The first one was beautiful but lacked ANY mention whatsoever that it was a slave plantation. No remains of slave quarters, pictures, etc.
The one down the road had the remains of one slave house and spoke of the issue during the tour.
Again Southerners can call me a Yankee if they want but this whitewash of is no different than say Germans covering the site of Auschwitz with a beer hall.
Blacks have every right to be angry.
Forget Haley Barbour. I've read enough about him.
Re: American History
Reply #52 on:
March 18, 2011, 11:23:08 PM »
"Blacks have every right to be angry."
Some truth in that, but that anger should not be indiscriminate. Speaking of our heritage only, some whites were only on the side of freeing slaves and gave blood and lives for that. Some black ancestors such as from Kenyan roots might have been slave owners, slave sellers or slaves. One can not tell by color of the skin which side of history's horrible struggles people's ancestors were on.
A more timely question would be, what atrocities are going on now and what can we do about them.
WSJ: Civil War death numbers
Reply #53 on:
March 26, 2011, 09:38:17 AM »
By CAMERON MCWHIRTER
RALEIGH, N.C.—Josh Howard is playing with fire here in the heart of the old Confederacy, with a scholarly finding that could rewrite the history of the Civil War.
For more than a century, North Carolina has proudly claimed that it lost more soldiers than any other Southern state in the nation's bloodiest conflict. But after meticulously combing through military, hospital and cemetery records, the historian is finding the truth isn't so clear-cut.
Official military records compiled in 1866 counted 40,275 North Carolina soldiers who died in uniform. Though known to be faulty, those records have gone largely unchallenged. With most of his research done, Mr. Howard has confirmed only about 31,000 deaths. "It's a number we can defend with real documents," he says. He expects to confirm a few thousand more by the time he finishes this summer, but the final tally will most certainly fall short of the original count, he says.
Across the state border in Virginia, traditionally believed to have the fourth-highest number of war deaths in the Confederacy, librarian Edwin Ray has identified about 31,000 Virginia soldiers who died in the war—more than double the Old Dominion's once-accepted number of 14,794. And he still has more to add.
"It's going to be close," says Mr. Ray, a 55-year-old Air Force veteran who works at the Library of Virginia. "Josh and I are sure of that. It's going to come down to a very small number."
With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War beginning in mid-April, that small number could spark a big controversy between two states with rivalries that date back to the great conflict. Some Civil War buffs in North Carolina have already accused Mr. Howard of attempting to diminish the state's heroism and the hardship it suffered. "Records were a whole lot fresher 150 years ago," says Thomas Smith Jr., commander of the North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans, who is suspicious of Mr. Howard's new count.
"I don't care if Virginia has two people more who died, or a hundred more," says Michael Chapman, a 55-year-old videographer from Polkton, N.C., who used to head up the local Sons of Confederate Veterans camp. He calls the recounts "irrelevant."
The research by Messrs. Howard and Ray has the potential to rewrite part of the history of the war that redefined America.
History books maintain that about 620,000 soldiers died in the war, when giant armies clashed in battles on a scale never seen before or since on the North American continent. Yet the 1866 counts, compiled by the federal government, were based on scattered and inconsistent Union and Confederate records.
The war was a chaotic affair, with armies that grew large and quickly, and rudimentary bureaucracies that were incapable of tallying the losses. Neither side had any reliable way to accurately record the overwhelming numbers of war deaths. Soldiers didn't wear dog tags for identification, as they do today. Record-keeping fell apart as the war progressed, especially in the South, say historians.
The new counts aren't likely to unseat the Civil War as this nation's most devastating conflict. The second-highest toll of American military losses came in World War II, with more than 405,000 deaths, according to a congressional research report. Still, historians say, the overall Civil War death toll could change by tens of thousands if every state were to conduct a count. It could also revise historians' understanding of which states suffered the heaviest losses.
To opponents of recounts, that's a slippery slope. "Some have had a mindset that you are just trying to downplay all that is Confederate," says Keith Hardison, co-chair of North Carolina's Civil War 150th anniversary committee, which ordered Mr. Howard's study. When the recount was announced, Mr. Howard received angry emails, letters and calls. "One hundred and fifty years later, there are people on both sides of the aisle who have made up their mind and don't want to be confused by the facts," Mr. Hardison says.
Others say getting an accurate number might be a lost cause. Harvard University president and Civil War scholar Drew Gilpin Faust commends "the impetus to count" as an act of paying homage to the fallen. But records were so poorly kept at the time and afterward that no one will ever really know how many people actually died, she says.
Messrs. Howard, Ray and other supporters of recounting say the digitization of service records, the creation of searchable databases and other technological innovations make it much easier—and enticing—for historians to produce more accurate counts. The two researchers are using electronic records, but also traditional sources like archives, diaries, church records and newspaper accounts, to figure out more precisely who died where, how and on which side.
Neither Mr. Howard nor Mr. Ray wants to start a war between the states. "I'm not interested in fighting it out over who lost the most," says Mr. Howard, a 31-year-old North Carolinian. "I'm interested in getting it as accurate as possible."
Still, the two men know they're stirring up trouble. "When you research the Civil War, you are going to have backlash, no matter what," Mr. Howard says.
Indeed, the new numbers add fuel to a long-simmering rivalry between Virginia, which was home to the Confederacy's capital in Richmond, and North Carolina, which claimed more losses for the Southern cause.
The two states often jousted over which units had fought harder, and the arguing continued after the war was over, says John Coski, chief historian for the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. He remembers arguing with boys at camp in the 1970s about which state lost more soldiers.
"It was just like sports teams today," says Henry Kidd, 60, a re-enactor from Colonial Heights, Va., who has ancestors who fought from both states.
In Virginia, troops often saw themselves as the Confederacy's crack fighters because they were led by its best strategists, including Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. In numerous publications and speeches during the war and after, North Carolinians prided themselves on fighting the hardest. For generations, North Carolinians claimed their soldiers were among the first to fight, got the farthest on the battlefield at Gettysburg, and were the last to fight near Appomattox Court House, where Gen. Lee's army surrendered.
John C. Inscoe, a history professor at the University of Georgia and an expert on the Civil War in North Carolina, says Tar Heels may have had a political motive in amplifying their numbers. The state had an inferiority complex after the war, because its units were known for high desertion rates, he says.
Not so, says Greg Mast, a 62-year-old re-enactor and retired postal worker from Timberlake, N.C. Mr. Mast says he has researched desertion among various units to explore that claim, and found Tar Heel rates weren't any higher than those of other units. "The more you study the war, the less true the received wisdom about the war seems to be," he says.
Mr. Howard says North Carolina troops did desert in large numbers toward the end of the war, but he says it made sense, since many soldiers wanted to get back to their families when they heard that Union forces under Gen. William T. Sherman had entered their state.
North Carolina and Virginia are the only two Southern states currently conducting official recounts. But a devoted handful of amateurs are doing their own counts. Bing Chambers, a 63-year-old retiree and amateur historian from Columbia, S.C., has spent at least 17 years researching his state's war dead. He thinks his new research will raise his state's toll to about 22,000 from an earlier estimate of 17,682. He has long wondered about North Carolina's claim. "Frankly, 40,000 always seemed like a lot," he says, adding that his research has proved a longstanding Palmetto State claim that not one white South Carolinian fought for the federal government during the war.
Civil War death tolls from more populous Northern states still surpass Southern losses, as the North fielded a larger army that suffered staggering casualties in a grueling war of attrition. New York reported the most deaths of any state—46,534, according to the 1866 federal report.
But in the South, the 1866 report established an interstate hierarchy of loss. North Carolina's death toll overwhelmed all other Confederate states; South Carolina trailed as a distant second. Mississippi was third with 15,265, and Virginia fourth.
The war generally doesn't evoke the same public interest in the North, Midwest and the West as it does in the defeated South, where most of the battles were fought and the land was devastated. For generations, whites in the region also migrated less frequently than those in the North—where immigrants with no ties to the Civil War flooded industrialized cities—so more people retained a family connection to those who fought.
Mr. Howard, whose expertise is the American Revolution, had no intention of working on the Civil War when he joined the North Carolina Office of Archives & History in 2007. But when his boss went looking for someone to gather data for a book commemorating the 150th anniversary, Mr. Howard's experience with military records made him an obvious choice.
In an office amid a warren of cubicles, Mr. Howard has spent most days since last June poring over thousands of records. He checks military documents, hospital files, prisoner-of-war camp records, postwar pension applications, court martial proceedings, battle reports and other material to try to determine whether each soldier who served from North Carolina died in combat, or by execution or from disease, which count as a war-related death.
He often starts with a name off a muster roll—a monthly record kept by army clerks to figure out soldiers' pay—and tries to track what happened to each soldier. If it isn't immediately clear, he searches further, looking at census data, pension records, diaries, cemetery records, hospital records and other material.
Mr. Howard, his tie loosened, sat slumped at his desk in front of his computer on a recent day. An image of a Confederate hospital record was illuminated on the screen. He looked for a notation clarifying whether the patient was discharged or died. The soldier was discharged, but it wasn't clear from these records what happened to him, whether he went back into combat or left the army.
The work sometimes leads down fascinating paths that illuminate the war in ways he never expected. He found one man who fought for the Confederacy, was taken prisoner and then joined the Union army and commanded black troops. There were men taken prisoner who never returned to North Carolina. Their wives assumed they were dead, but census records showed they took up new families in other states. He found Confederate prisoners of war who agreed to fight Native Americans out West in exchange for being released.
Many cases are straightforward. If Mr. Howard finds a report that marks an individual "killed in action" at a particular battle, or one that shows a soldier died in a hospital or prison, he adds it to his list of men who died in uniform.
Many died in battle. Others died of illnesses like chronic diarrhea or typhoid. A few died from spider bites. One was shot by a fellow soldier after allegedly being mistaken for a bear. But for thousands of other soldiers, Mr. Howard can find no way to tell when, where or how they died. Many disappear along the paper trail.
Confederate Private Solomon Willis, Company F, 55th, North Carolina Infantry, enlisted at age 32 in 1862, and was captured by federal forces in April 1865, according to records Mr. Howard found. A report shows that Mr. Willis, in good health, was released from prison in June of that year. But Mr. Howard couldn't find a record showing that the soldier returned to his wife in North Carolina. She filed for a state veteran's pension in 1901, claiming Mr. Willis was killed in action. Without proof of death, Mr. Howard couldn't put Mr. Willis on his list.
Mr. Ray, a research librarian at the state Library of Virginia, started looking at Virginia military deaths from colonial times to the present about nine years ago. The result of his effort is an online database. The Civil War remains the largest and most difficult part of his database because of its size and the poor records, he says, and he expects a more complete tally will take several more years.
His database lists 27,520 Civil War military deaths from Virginia. But he has yet to check all of his records against National Archives data and census records. He has found roughly another 4,000 Union deaths from West Virginia, which was part of Virginia until 1863, and expects to find more war dead from cemetery records and county histories.
While Mr. Ray plays down the rivalry with North Carolina, he is confident Virginia eventually will be declared the leader in war deaths within the Confederacy. "The odds are, when we look at it it's going to make sense that Virginia would have the larger numbers," he says.
Responds Mr. Howard: "We'll see when we're done."
Re: American History
Reply #54 on:
March 26, 2011, 01:24:15 PM »
Of note most deaths were due to disease and malnutrition and not batlle deaths:
If I recall in the "Battle Cry for Freedom" it was pointed out that for every soldier killed in battle around two died of disease in the Civil War. In Napoleon's day it was more like 90% died from exposure, disease, etc. God knows what it was in ancient times.
civil war finally over
Reply #55 on:
April 04, 2011, 09:27:50 AM »
Assessing America’s bloodiest war, 150 years later
Mar 31st 2011 | ATLANTA, MONTGOMERY AND COLUMBIA | from the print edition
IN FEBRUARY 1961 the festivities marking the centennial of Jefferson Davis’s inauguration as president of the Confederacy drew some 50,000 revellers, including the governors of three southern states, to Montgomery, Alabama. In the run-up to the commemoration, which lasted a week, white Alabamans formed “Confederate Colonel” and “Confederate Belle” chapters. Teachers came to school in period costumes. Hundreds lined the streets to escort the actor playing Davis from the railway station to the Exchange Hotel, where he was met by the sitting chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court portraying his antebellum counterpart. The next night 5,000 people attended a centennial ball.
Compare Montgomery’s centennial with the sesquicentennial, which this February drew a ragtag few hundred enthusiasts (and no elected officials) to parade through Montgomery. The 1961 celebration took place in a South engulfed in a battle over segregation. The war’s ultimate legacy was not yet clear. But that battle is now over. Forced segregation, the Confederacy’s last death throes, lost. A black man now sits in the White House, and by most economic indicators the South has drawn nearly level with the rest of the country.
This month marks the 150th anniversary of the American civil war’s beginning. The first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, in South Carolina, on April 12th 1861. Passions can sometimes still flare—as William Faulkner, the South’s great novelist, wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Earlier this year, for instance, a group of Mississippians proposed honouring a Confederate general who later became the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan with a special car licence-plate. In South Carolina more than a thousand people marched through downtown Columbia in January to protest against the flying of the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds.
Such lingering echoes are hardly surprising, though they are ever rarer. The war split and nearly broke America. It killed 620,000 soldiers—more Americans than died in all the country’s wars until Vietnam, combined. And it set 4m slaves free.
In 1860 in the 11 future Confederate states, 38% of the population—including majorities in Mississippi and South Carolina, and nearly a majority in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana (the other Confederate states were Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia)—was enslaved. The South’s economy depended on them. During the 19th century the North’s economy became largely industrial and increasingly urbanised. The South remained largely agricultural, its wealth concentrated in land and slaves. The war destroyed that wealth. Income per head in the South dropped to less than 40% of that in the North, and stayed there for the rest of the century. As late as 1938 Franklin Roosevelt singled out the South as “the nation’s No. 1 economic problem.”
Yet after the huge public investments of the New Deal and the second world war, the South began to attract industry and manufacturing—in part precisely because it was poor, and its labour cheap. Today, average income per head in the 11 former Confederate states has almost caught up; it is $36,350, compared with a national average of $40,584. Admittedly, the aggregate figure masks great regional differences. Agriculture, manufacturing and mineral production remain central to the economies of the Deep South states; almost all of the former confederate states are poorer than average (with Mississippi the poorest state in the union). Virginia, by contrast, ranks 7th among states in income per head; it has a thriving tech sector, as well as a number of federal agencies and wealthy suburbs of Washington, DC. North Carolina boasts its own tech hub in the university triangle of Raleigh-Durham.
Texas and Florida both face budgetary problems, but so do many states. Economically they more closely resemble Arizona, another state that has boomed over the past decade, than they do other Southern states. Similarly, Mississippi’s companions at the low end of the per-capita income table are West Virginia and Idaho, neither of which fought for the Confederacy. Like Mississippi, they lack a big city, have relatively uneducated populations and rely heavily on mining and agriculture. The poverty of the Deep South is less southern than rural. The economic legacy of the war, in other words, has all but faded.
Strong government, hated government
Politically as well as economically, the civil war left the South broken and directionless. Jefferson Davis was captured in southern Georgia a month after his best general, Robert E. Lee, surrendered. Abraham Lincoln advocated reconciliation, but he was shot just five days after Lee’s surrender. The next election, in 1866, put Congress under the control of radical Republicans, who stationed federal troops throughout the South.
Republican Congresses also passed the 14th and 15th amendments to the constitution, which stated that everyone born in the United States had certain rights as citizens that states could not take away, and that states could not bar people from voting due to “race, colour or previous condition of servitude”. Those amendments, like the 13th, which banned slavery, came with clauses granting Congress the power to enforce them. Such grants of power were new. The Bill of Rights limited federal power. These post-civil-war amendments expanded it.
But if a more powerful and active federal government is one enduring legacy of the war, another is distrust and even hatred of that government. White southerners resented “carpetbaggers” and “scalawags”—their terms, respectively, for northerners who came south after the war to seek their fortune, and for white southerners who supported the federal government. Some of these attitudes persist. In late 1865 Confederate veterans in Tennessee formed the Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist organisation that used violence against former slaves. It still survives, milder on the surface but vicious underneath.
How it all beganFor most of the next hundred years, white southerners ardently subverted the promises of the civil-war amendments by enacting the segregationist policies that came to be known as Jim Crow laws. These laws gained legitimacy when the Supreme Court ruled in 1896 that laws enforcing segregation were constitutional, provided the facilities available for blacks and whites were equal. In practice they never were, but segregation remained law and custom in the South. The Supreme Court signalled an end to all that in the 1954 case Brown v Board of Education, which ruled that separate facilities were inherently unequal.
But that ruling set off huge resistance in the South. The governors of Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi all physically blocked black students from entering formerly white schools. The long dormant Ku Klux Klan rose again. This time, however, southern resistance was met both by organised civil disobedience and by some measure of federal will. John Kennedy and his successor, Lyndon Johnson, were Democrats and civil-rights advocates, willing to use federal muscle where other presidents were not.
The civil-rights movement presaged a partisan sea-change in American politics. After the war, Republicans were anathema in the South, and southerners were anathema in national politics. Before the outbreak of war southerners had dominated federal political institutions, producing most of its presidents, House speakers, Senate leaders and Supreme Court justices. After the war’s end, the next president to be elected from a former Confederate state was Johnson, a Texan, in 1964. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law with Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks in attendance. His advocacy discomfited segregationist southern Democrats such as John Stennis and Strom Thurmond. Thurmond switched parties early, in 1964. Others followed.
In 1980 Ronald Reagan’s advocacy of smaller, less intrusive government resonated nationally, but he made a particular push for southern white Democrats. During the civil-rights era, segregationists often couched their position as a defence of “states’ rights”; and Reagan’s endorsement of those rights at a Mississippi county fair, while campaigning for the presidency in 1980, sealed his success in the South. His election gave Republicans control of the Senate for the first time since 1955.
Since then the South has grown steadily more Republican, though two of the three Democrats elected after Johnson—Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton—were southerners, who could attract southern whites. Today most southern members of Congress are Republican. And southern states are growing much faster than northern ones. In the next Congress Texas, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina will all add seats at the expense of the north-east and the Midwest.
The long tail
Segregation was the civil war’s long tail. In 1963, two years after the mock inauguration of Jefferson Davis, George Wallace, Alabama’s governor, stood on those same capitol steps and declared that “from this cradle of the Confederacy, this very heart of the great Anglo-Saxon Southland…I say segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation for ever.” Segregation was so unjust that it is easy to see it as inevitably doomed. It was not. It took blood and struggle to end it. But ended it was, and two decades later Wallace himself, the face of segregation, apologised for his words.
Ten years after that, the South elected its first black governor, Douglas Wilder in Virginia. In 2008 Barack Obama won Virginia, North Carolina and Florida and ran strongly in Georgia. The gap in black and white voter registration has narrowed dramatically throughout the South. And black Americans, who left the South in the early 20th century in what became known as the Great Migration, are moving back. Today Atlanta is home to more blacks than any city apart from New York, and 57% of black Americans live in the South—the highest proportion since 1960.
Jefferson Davis saw the lightVoting remains racially polarised; southern whites tend to vote Republican and southern blacks Democratic. In 2008, for instance, Mr Obama won 98% of the black vote in Alabama and Mississippi but only 10% and 11% of the white vote. But that is hardly unique to the South: Mr Obama ran 12 points behind John McCain nationally among white voters. And racially polarised voting is both a subtle problem—a far cry from the obvious injustice of segregation and slavery—and a waning one. Young white voters backed Mr Obama in much higher numbers than older ones did.
This March Haley Barbour, who has a record of racially insensitive remarks, said in an interview: “Slavery was the primary, central cause of secession…abolishing slavery was morally imperative and necessary, and it’s regrettable that it took the civil war to do it. But it did.” Mr Barbour wants to be president. His remarks not only directly refute the ancient argument that slavery was not the principal cause of the war; they showed that there is no longer political gain in pretending otherwise.
Some people have lamented the relative public indifference to the anniversary this year, compared with 50 years ago. But back then the war’s fundamental question—whether all American citizens are equal, regardless of race—was not fully answered. Today it is. This is not to say that racism no longer exists, or that white southerners will not continue to oppose Mr Obama in greater numbers than any other demographic group. But their battle with him will be at the ballot box. In his last appearance, in 1889, Jefferson Davis told the young southerners in his audience: “The past is dead; let it bury its dead …let me beseech you to lay aside all rancour, all bitter sectional feeling, and to take your places in the ranks of those who will bring about a consummation devoutly to be wished—a reunited country.” His last wish now seems to stand fulfilled.
wikipedia - Civil War photographers
Reply #56 on:
April 12, 2011, 01:58:04 PM »
So many civil war photos were lost to history, fires, used as panes for windows only to be damaged by the sun, deliberately destroyed. Yet it is noted here the US Civil War was still the most photographed war of the 19th century:
Origins of Memorial Day
Reply #57 on:
May 30, 2011, 01:12:39 PM »
MOST Americans know that Memorial Day is about honoring the nation’s war dead. It is also a holiday devoted to department store sales, half-marathons, picnics, baseball and auto racing. But where did it begin, who created it, and why?
At the end of the Civil War, Americans faced a formidable challenge: how to memorialize 625,000 dead soldiers, Northern and Southern. As Walt Whitman mused, it was “the dead, the dead, the dead — our dead — or South or North, ours all” that preoccupied the country. After all, if the same number of Americans per capita had died in Vietnam as died in the Civil War, four million names would be on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, instead of 58,000.
Officially, in the North, Memorial Day emerged in 1868 when the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organization, called on communities to conduct grave-decorating ceremonies. On May 30, funereal events attracted thousands of people at hundreds of cemeteries in countless towns, cities and mere crossroads. By the 1870s, one could not live in an American town, North or South, and be unaware of the spring ritual.
But the practice of decorating graves — which gave rise to an alternative name, Decoration Day — didn’t start with the 1868 events, nor was it an exclusively Northern practice. In 1866 the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Columbus, Ga., chose April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph Johnston’s final surrender to Gen. William T. Sherman, to commemorate fallen Confederate soldiers. Later, both May 10, the anniversary of Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s death, and June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, were designated Confederate Memorial Day in different states.
Memorial Days were initially occasions of sacred bereavement, and from the war’s end to the early 20th century they helped forge national reconciliation around soldierly sacrifice, regardless of cause. In North and South, orators and participants frequently called Memorial Day an “American All Saints Day,” likening it to the European Catholic tradition of whole towns marching to churchyards to honor dead loved ones.
But the ritual quickly became the tool of partisan memory as well, at least through the violent Reconstruction years. In the South, Memorial Day was a means of confronting the Confederacy’s defeat but without repudiating its cause. Some Southern orators stressed Christian notions of noble sacrifice. Others, however, used the ritual for Confederate vindication and renewed assertions of white supremacy. Blacks had a place in this Confederate narrative, but only as time-warped loyal slaves who were supposed to remain frozen in the past.
The Lost Cause tradition thrived in Confederate Memorial Day rhetoric; the Southern dead were honored as the true “patriots,” defenders of their homeland, sovereign rights, a natural racial order and a “cause” that had been overwhelmed by “numbers and resources” but never defeated on battlefields.
Yankee Memorial Day orations often righteously claimed the high ground of blood sacrifice to save the Union and destroy slavery. It was not uncommon for a speaker to honor the fallen of both sides, but still lay the war guilt on the “rebel dead.” Many a lonely widow or mother at these observances painfully endured expressions of joyous death on the altars of national survival.
Some events even stressed the Union dead as the source of a new egalitarian America, and a civic rather than a racial or ethnic definition of citizenship. In Wilmington, Del., in 1869, Memorial Day included a procession of Methodists, Baptists, Unitarians and Catholics; white Grand Army of the Republic posts in parade with a black post; and the “Mount Vernon Cornet Band (colored)” keeping step with the “Irish Nationalists with the harp and the sunburst flag of Erin.”
But for the earliest and most remarkable Memorial Day, we must return to where the war began. By the spring of 1865, after a long siege and prolonged bombardment, the beautiful port city of Charleston, S.C., lay in ruin and occupied by Union troops. Among the first soldiers to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the 21st United States Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the city’s official surrender.
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Whites had largely abandoned the city, but thousands of blacks, mostly former slaves, had remained, and they conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war.
The largest of these events, forgotten until I had some extraordinary luck in an archive at Harvard, took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the city’s Washington Race Course and Jockey Club into an outdoor prison. Union captives were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand.
After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”
The symbolic power of this Low Country planter aristocracy’s bastion was not lost on the freedpeople, who then, in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged a parade of 10,000 on the track. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”
The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song “John Brown’s Body.” Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children’s choir sang “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner” and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible.
After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite.
The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots.
Despite the size and some newspaper coverage of the event, its memory was suppressed by white Charlestonians in favor of their own version of the day. From 1876 on, after white Democrats took back control of South Carolina politics and the Lost Cause defined public memory and race relations, the day’s racecourse origin vanished.
Indeed, 51 years later, the president of the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Charleston received an inquiry from a United Daughters of the Confederacy official in New Orleans asking if it was true that blacks had engaged in such a burial rite in 1865; the story had apparently migrated westward in community memory. Mrs. S. C. Beckwith, leader of the association, responded tersely, “I regret that I was unable to gather any official information in answer to this.”
Beckwith may or may not have known about the 1865 event; her own “official” story had become quite different and had no place for the former slaves’ march on their masters’ racecourse. In the struggle over memory and meaning in any society, some stories just get lost while others attain mainstream recognition.
AS we mark the Civil War’s sesquicentennial, we might reflect on Frederick Douglass’s words in an 1878 Memorial Day speech in New York City, in which he unwittingly gave voice to the forgotten Charleston marchers.
He said the war was not a struggle of mere “sectional character,” but a “war of ideas, a battle of principles.” It was “a war between the old and the new, slavery and freedom, barbarism and civilization ... and in dead earnest for something beyond the battlefield.” With or against Douglass, we still debate the “something” that the Civil War dead represent.
The old racetrack is gone, but an oval roadway survives on the site in Hampton Park, named for Wade Hampton, former Confederate general and the governor of South Carolina after the end of Reconstruction. The old gravesite of the Martyrs of the Race Course is gone too; they were reinterred in the 1880s at a national cemetery in Beaufort, S.C.
But the event is no longer forgotten. Last year I had the great honor of helping a coalition of Charlestonians, including the mayor, Joseph P. Riley, dedicate a marker to this first Memorial Day by a reflecting pool in Hampton Park.
By their labor, their words, their songs and their solemn parade on their former owners’ racecourse, black Charlestonians created for themselves, and for us, the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.
David W. Blight, a professor of history and the director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale, is the author of the forthcoming “American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era.”
WSJ: Uncle Tom's Cabin
Reply #58 on:
June 24, 2011, 08:45:09 PM »
By FERGUS M. BORDEWICH
In April 1857, Samuel Green, a free black farmer and preacher living on Maryland's Eastern Shore, was taken from his home and sentenced to 10 years in prison for the felony of possessing a book that was, the law asserted, "calculated to create discontent among the colored population of this state." The book was called "Uncle Tom's Cabin: Or, Life Among the Lowly." The prosecution of Green was of course a travesty. But Maryland and the rest of the slave-holding South had reason to be scared.
"Uncle Tom's Cabin" was abolitionist propaganda, but it was also a brilliant novel that intertwined the stories of a host of memorable characters: the long-suffering slave Uncle Tom, the sadistic overseer Simon Legree, the defiant fugitive George Harris, the antic slave girl Topsy, the conscience-stricken slave owner Augustine St. Clare, and a teeming cast of abolitionists, Southerners and African-Americans. By presenting an array of emotive story lines—e.g., the bonding of Uncle Tom with St. Clare's saintly daughter Eva, Tom's fatal persecution at a Louisiana plantation, and the dramatic flight of the Harris family to freedom in the North—the author Harriet Beecher Stowe rendered American slavery as a soul-destroying system of grinding injustice and, for the first time in American literature, depicted slaves as complex, heroic and emotionally nuanced individuals.
The novel shocked Americans North and South not just with its heart-rending portrayal of slavery's cruelty but with its attention to such subversive themes as interracial sex, cross-racial friendship and black rage. "Wherever it goes, prejudice is disarmed, opposition is removed, and the hearts of all are touched with a new and strange feeling, to which they before were strangers," declared an editorialist in Washington's National Era newspaper.
In the first year after its release in 1852, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" sold 310,000 copies in the United States, triple the number of its nearest rivals; it sold one million copies in Britain alone. In "Mightier Than the Sword," a splendid and subtle history of the novel's effect on American culture, David S. Reynolds writes that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" "opened the way for a widespread acceptance in the North of antislavery arguments that had long been ignored or dismissed." It would also help to pave the way for the public's openness to Abraham Lincoln and to convert countless apathetic Yankees into men willing to fight for the emancipation of slaves.
View Full Image
.Mightier Than the Sword
By David S. Reynolds
(Norton, 351 pages, $27.95)
."Uncle Tom's Cabin" became a phenomenon like nothing Americans had seen before. The very term "Great American Novel" was coined, in 1868, by the Nation magazine, specifically to describe it. Literary luminaries such as Mark Twain, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Henry James showered it with praise. The radical Russian writer Nikolai Chernyshevsky drew upon the book for his own novel, "What Is to Be Done?," which in turn influenced many of his country's revolutionaries. ("Uncle Tom's Cabin," Mr. Reynolds notes, was Lenin's favorite childhood book.) Less significantly, the novel spawned a dizzying explosion of "Tomitudes," or spin-offs, including card games, cheap engravings, jigsaw puzzles, wall hangings, snuffboxes, fountain pens and eponymous products such as "Uncle Tom's Shrinkable Woolen Stockings."
Stowe's creation probably had its most lasting effect as a stage play, which was almost always performed by white actors in blackface. By 1912, it was estimated, Americans had seen at least 250,000 performances of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by hundreds, if not thousands, of specialized theater companies. With its elevating Christian message of martyrdom and redemption, the play made theaters—previously the haunt of roughs, sports and prostitutes—so respectable, Mr. Reynolds says, that managers invented the afternoon matinee to cope with the demand.
Competing troupes added song-and-dance interludes and boxing matches—the actor playing Uncle Tom would sometimes step out of the play to go a few rounds in costume. Like the novel, the play was translated into scores of languages, including Yiddish, where it was accompanied by "Hebrew melodies" and readings from the Talmud instead of the Bible. Bizarrely, some shows doubled and even tripled the actors on stage playing the lead roles. "For playgoers of the era, the more Tom characters, the better," Mr. Reynolds writes. Both Mary Pickford and Spencer Tracy began their careers in "Tom" shows.
By the mid-20th century, Stowe's story had entered the broader culture in all sorts of forms, many utterly divorced from the gravity of the original. Skits and satires referring to "Uncle Tom's Cabin" were performed by the likes of Abbott and Costello and the Little Rascals. When the 1956 film "The King and I," set in Siam and starring Yul Brynner, incorporated the hilarious rendering of a ballet titled "Small House of Uncle Thomas," it was a typically incoherent destiny for a book that, as William Dean Howells once declared, had "move[d] the whole world more than any other."
Paradoxically, the phrase "Uncle Tom" is known today as an epithet for spineless collaboration with white oppression, the antithesis of the morally heroic character for whom Stowe named her novel. "At times," Mr. Reynolds writes, "it seemed that the epithet would tear apart the whole movement for black rights," as even black leaders as bold as W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were accused of being Uncle Toms by their enemies. In "Mightier Than the Sword," Mr. Reynolds sets out to show the many and often contradictory ways in which one of the nation's most important works of literature has been understood and, alas, misunderstood. He has admirably succeeded.
Mr. Bordewich is the author of "Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America."
Museum of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
Reply #59 on:
July 23, 2011, 02:36:57 PM »
Part of Walter Reed or at least it was. Walter Reed is closing I guess.
It appears to be moving its location. In the 70s it had fascinating exhibits like the vertebra showing the bullet tract the bullet that killed James Garfield. I haven't been their in decades but it still looks unique:
The Real Paul Revere
Reply #60 on:
July 29, 2011, 07:38:33 AM »
Reply #61 on:
August 23, 2011, 10:14:50 AM »
Wow. Who designed this thing? It is the ugliest memorial I have ever seen:
Re: American History
Reply #62 on:
August 23, 2011, 11:08:38 AM »
I saw a report on TV; the American sculptor left/was fired over "creative differences" and the actual sculpting was "made in China". Oy fg vey!!!
Rothstein: Martin Luther King Memorial
Reply #63 on:
August 25, 2011, 11:44:57 AM »
By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
Published: August 25, 2011
WASHINGTON — It is a momentous occasion. Into an honored array of presidents and soldiers — the founders and protectors of the nation — has come a minister, a man without epaulets or civilian authority who was not a creator of laws but someone who, for a time, was a deliberate violator of them; not a wager of war but someone who, throughout his short life, was pretty much a pacifist; not an associate of the nation’s ruling elite but someone who, in many cases, would have been physically prevented from joining it.
Lei Yixin created the 30-foot sculpture of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
That figure is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and this Sunday, when his four-acre, $120 million memorial on the edge of the Tidal Basin is to be officially dedicated, it will be adjacent to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s, across the water from Thomas Jefferson’s, and along an axis leading from that founding father directly to Abraham Lincoln’s. There are few figures in American history with similar credentials who would have even a remotely comparable claim for national remembrance on the Washington Mall.
Perhaps, though, it was the presence of such company that led to the kind of memorial that now exists. There is always an element of kitsch in monumental memorials, a built-in grandiosity that exaggerates the physical and spiritual statures of their human subjects. That is one of the purposes of turning flesh into imposing stone. We can feel it when standing at Lincoln’s toe level in his Grecian memorial on the Mall. It is unavoidable, too, in the Parthenon-like gazebo that houses the towering figure of Jefferson at the edge of the Tidal Basin.
So it should be no surprise that something similar happens to Dr. King. But his statue, by the Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin, goes even further. Those of Jefferson and Lincoln are a mere 19 feet tall; Dr. King looms 30 feet up, staring over the Tidal Basin. And he isn’t decorously posed in a classical structure; he isn’t contained in an ordered space with Greek or Roman allusions. His form emerges halfway out of an enormous mound of granite so heavy that 50-foot piles had to be driven into the ground to provide support.
We don’t even see his feet. He is embedded in the rock like something not yet fully born, suited and stern, rising from its roughly chiseled surface. His face is uncompromising, determined, his eyes fixed in the distance, not far from where Jefferson stands across the water. But kitsch here strains at the limits of resemblance: Is this the Dr. King of the “I Have a Dream” speech? Or the writer of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech?
And while no memorial on the Mall has ever had an easy time of it, this one surely had its share of problems. Dr. King was a member of the country’s first black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, whose officials began the commemorative plans. Between 1996, when the fraternity’s oversight was first approved by Congress and President Bill Clinton, and Sunday’s dedication (on the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s “Dream” speech), the memorial’s site has shifted back and forth, its privately raised funds have become intermittently scarce, and its decisions have inspired a number of controversies.
The King family is reported to have demanded and received about $800,000 in fees from the foundation that was established to create the memorial, just for permission to use Dr. King’s words and likeness for fund-raising. Following the appointment of Mr. Lei as sculptor, the foundation was attacked for not having chosen a black American, let alone an American.
But its leaders — including Harry E. Johnson Sr., its president, and Dr. Ed Jackson Jr., its executive architect — also ran a blind international design competition that was overseen by an appointed group of architects and designers; the commission was awarded to a San Francisco firm, the ROMA Design Group.
And if you look at the early designs and guidelines, you see the nature of the original ambitions. The descriptions on the memorial’s web site, mlkmemorial.org, speak of Dr. King’s emphasis on “hope and possibility,” and on his belief in “a future anchored in dignity, sensitivity and mutual respect.”
Indeed, a 450-foot curving wall offers brief quotations from Dr. King’s speeches that emphasize his almost heroic faith in the face of unrelenting opposition:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness,” he wrote in 1963, “only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
“Unarmed truth and unconditional love,” he believed, almost impossibly, would have the final word: “Right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” And he could be absolutist about it. “Injustice anywhere,” he said, “is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Quotations from the late ’60s reveal hints of a different sensibility developing, perhaps out of continuing disenchantment: a transnational universalism. “Every nation,” he said, “must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole.”
“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional,” he said in 1967. “We must develop a world perspective.”
Originally, ROMA called for water as a major element of the design, glistening sheets flowing over the arc of carved words as fountains murmur, creating a pastoral, meditative atmosphere. The water would also have been a direct allusion to Dr. King’s “Dream” speech and his frequent invocation of the prophet Amos (“let justice run down like waters ...”). For budgetary reasons, though, almost all these plans were abandoned, leaving just two small fountains near the entrance, but there was something profound and touching in the original vision.
That initial idea is now also pushed aside by a far less subtle conceit that takes center stage. You enter the memorial from Independence Avenue by walking through a narrow passage between two granite mounds. They arise out of the landscape without any context, and it becomes clear that the corridor between them was created by pushing out a slice of rock — the same rock that now sits at the center of the memorial, on the far side of which is carved the looming torso of Dr. King.
It turns out that these towering mounds at the entrance are supposed to represent something from the “Dream” speech: a “mountain of despair.” The slab is inscribed: “Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
But do these mounds of granite, which are given an almost artificial appearance with their cartoonish contours — do they evoke anything at all like a “mountain of despair”? And the unattractive slice supposedly pushed into the center of the memorial: is that really a “stone of hope”? Certainly not, judging from the expression on Dr. King’s face.
The metaphor is not one of Dr. King’s best, anyway, but to build an entire memorial out of it, and then to do so in a way that makes no real sense, is baffling. Moreover, the original context of the line from the speech is quite different. Dr. King, after the demonstration in Washington, was going back to the South, his faith intact.
“With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope,” he proclaimed. “With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day."
It is an active phrase; the stone is hewn from the mountain. Here it is just the opposite; the stone of hope is sliced away and apparently pushed to the center. Dr. King is pushed along with it.
As for the portrait of Dr. King, it seems to have been based on a photograph by Bob Fitch that shows him with crossed arms, engrossed in thought. But here, the crossing of arms is a sign of something else: determination, perhaps. Or command. Monumental, not human.
And the mound’s isolation from any other tall objects, its enormity and Dr. King’s posture all conspire to make him seem an authoritarian figure, emerging full-grown from the rock’s chiseled surface, at one with the ancient forces of nature, seeming to claim their authority as his. You don’t come here to commune with him, let alone to attend to the ideas the memorial’s Web site insists are latent here: “democracy, justice, hope and love.” You come to tilt your head back and follow; he, clearly, has his mind elsewhere.
It is difficult to know precisely why all this went wrong, or why this memorial never alludes to a fundamental theme of Dr. King’s life, involving equal treatment for American blacks. It strives for a kind of ethereal universality, while opposing forces pull it in another direction.
The failure may also have a larger cause. Many recent memorials proliferating along the Mall have trivialized or mischaracterized their subjects. The World War II memorial seems almost phony, with its artificial allusions to antiquity; the Roosevelt Memorial diminishes that president and even implies that he was a pacifist (featuring his words “I hate war”) instead of a wartime leader responsible for building up the “arsenal of democracy.” Why shouldn’t Dr. King, too, be misread — turning the minister into a warrior or a ruler, as if caricaturing or trying too hard to resemble his company on the Mall?
Museum would have been far smarter
Reply #64 on:
August 25, 2011, 02:44:59 PM »
It would have made more sense to have a museum dedicated to civil rights portraying it from slavery to the present thereby encompassing the whole struggle and the (millions) who (not just the one guy) did not struggle in vain.
It would have been a learning experience for those too young to know and a reminder for those who are old enough to remember.
Instead we got a politically correct monstrosity.
This statue stands for appeasement in my view. Not a stark reminder of a shameful part of our history.
Re: Museum would have been far smarter
Reply #65 on:
August 26, 2011, 06:21:36 AM »
Quote from: ccp on August 25, 2011, 02:44:59 PM
It would have made more sense to have a museum dedicated to civil rights portraying it from slavery to the present thereby encompassing the whole struggle and the (millions) who (not just the one guy) did not struggle in vain.
It would have been a learning experience for those too young to know and a reminder for those who are old enough to remember.
Instead we got a politically correct monstrosity.
This statue stands for appeasement in my view. Not a stark reminder of a shameful part of our history.
Reply #66 on:
August 26, 2011, 10:41:17 AM »
The only time I was in Memphis was at a Gilder conference.
Those tech boom days were much happier for me.
I don't think this museum was there yet. As part of the Gilder tour we did see the Elvis Presley museum.
Something like this makes sense to be in DC (as well). It makes mores sense than a holocaust museum frankly since it is directly associated with our nation's history.
WSJ: Five one term presidents
Reply #67 on:
August 27, 2011, 07:53:55 PM »
By JOHN STEELE GORDON
By David McCullough (2001)
John Adams was an unsuccessful president, thanks to his grumpy personality and mediocre political skills. But he was a man of unshakable principle. He had been preceded in office by George Washington, who served two terms and declined to serve a third. When Adams was defeated for re-election by Thomas Jefferson in 1800, it was a moment of truth for the young democracy: Would President Adams surrender the reins of power? He did—gracefully. For that reason alone we are in Adams's debt. And if he was a poor president, he was an immensely important Founding Father whose life illuminates the world he lived in and did so much to shape. In this biography, David McCullough does a splendid job of telling his story. At 650 pages "John Adams" is not a word too long.
John Quincy Adams
By Paul C. Nagel (1997)
It is not easy to be the son of a great man, and John Quincy Adams never quite escaped the long shadow of his remarkable parents, John and Abigail. Depression stalked him all his life. But Adams also had great advantages, being his father's son. He accompanied him to Europe as a child, where he learned the arts of diplomacy firsthand while becoming the master of seven languages. Like his father's presidency, his single term (1825-29) was inconsequential. But under James Monroe he had been a great secretary of state, and he wrote the ambitious doctrine of national expansion named for Monroe. Adams kept a detailed diary from age 11 to the end of his long life. The long manuscript, a remarkable window into the inner world of this complex, driven man and never published in more than incomplete form, is used extensively by biographer Paul C. Nagel to bring Adams to vivid life.
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Library of Congress
The 11th president.
.A Country of Vast Designs
By Robert W. Merry (2009)
No one-term presidencywas as successful or as significant as James K. Polk's. During his tenure in office (1845-49), the country almost doubled in size and became established as a Pacific power. Texas was annexed; the Oregon Territory was peacefully divided with Britain; and Mexico, defeated in war, was forced to cede what is now the American Southwest. None of it would have happened without Polk's singular determination and great political talents. With his health failing, Polk declined to run for re-election; he died three months after leaving office, at age 53. In "A Country of Vast Designs," biographer Robert W. Merry gives us Polk in full but also details the tangled politics of the 1840s—an era that is a historical black hole for many people, illuminated here by an expert light.
Chester Alan Arthur
By Zachary Karabell (2004)
Except for Abraham Lincoln, presidents in second half of the 19th century were a forgettable bunch, none more so than Chester Arthur, who never even aspired to the office. As Zachary Karabell notes in his concise but evocative biography, Arthur—a New York lawyer and Republican patronage politician—became the vice-presidential nominee in 1880 only to balance the ticket with James Garfield in a badly fractured convention. Then, just six months into Garfield's term, an assassin's bullet (and bungling doctors) put Arthur in the White House. Though he had risen on the wings of patronage and had been a defender of the spoils system, he forced through the Pendleton Act, which began the transformation of the politically corrupt federal bureaucracy into the modern civil service. His furious former allies denied him nomination to a full term in 1884, but even Mark Twain, no friend of politicians, thought Arthur had been a good president.
The Shadow of Blooming Grove
By Francis Russell (1968)
Few presidents have come to the White House with a thinner résumé (one term in the Senate from Ohio) or performed so ineffectually as Warren Harding. Yet with "The Shadow of Blooming Grove," Francis Russell succeeds in making Harding's story a fascinating one. The "shadow" was the persistent rumor—half believed by Harding himself—that his great-grandmother had been black, no small matter in early 20th-century America. He had a gift for public speaking, was good-looking in a presidential way, and was an amiable fellow, fond of golf, poker, and whiskey. Harding was also a hands-off president, to put it mildly, but he accomplished some good things, thanks mainly to excellent cabinet appointments, including Herbert Hoover (Commerce) and Andrew Mellon (Treasury). But scandals, both political and sexual, destroyed Harding's reputation after his death in 1923 from what appears to have been congestive heart failure. He was two years into his term and in the middle of a cross-country trip, called the "Voyage of Understanding," that he hoped would reconnect him with voters.
—Mr. Gordon is the author of "Hamilton's Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Our National Debt" (revised edition, 2010).
Reply #68 on:
September 14, 2011, 08:30:32 AM »
Including some footage before he goes on the air:
George Washington's Farewell Address
Reply #69 on:
September 21, 2011, 10:45:18 AM »
George Washington’s Farewell Address
Monday, Sep 19, 2011 at 5:17 PM EDT
Delivered September 19, 1796
Friends and Citizens:
The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.
I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.
The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.
I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.
The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.
In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.
Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.
Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.
The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.
For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.
But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.
The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and, while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water, will more and more find a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.
While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rival ships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.
These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the Union as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.
In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our Western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi; they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them everything they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the Union by which they were procured ? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?
To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.
All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.
However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.
Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.
I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.
It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?
Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.
Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it – It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue ? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?
In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.
So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.
As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils. Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.
The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.
Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.
Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?
It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.
Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.
Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing (with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them) conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.
In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.
How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.
In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the twenty-second of April, I793, is the index of my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.
After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.
The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.
The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.
The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.
Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.
Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.
Truman--We may not see his like again
Reply #70 on:
October 02, 2011, 02:16:13 PM »
Sorry, no citation for this one:
Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation's history as any of the other 42 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.
The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.
When he retired from office in 1952, his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance' and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.
After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them. When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, "You don't want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale.."
Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, "I don 't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise." As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food. Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale. (sic. Illinois )
Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, "My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference!
Myths of the Cuban Missile Crisis
Reply #71 on:
October 31, 2011, 11:56:11 AM »
Re: American History
Reply #72 on:
October 31, 2011, 05:24:30 PM »
Interesting. Amazing how history is rewritten by the liberals in the media and academia. "oh how JFK had kept his cool" during the missle crises.
I wonder if that was before or after the nights he was having sexual liasons with an East German spy.
What a joke.
Was it GM who pointed out the JFK was the blunderer who drove his PT boat right into the path of a Japanese cruiser.
Re: American History
Reply #73 on:
October 31, 2011, 05:31:53 PM »
Quote from: ccp on October 31, 2011, 05:24:30 PM
Interesting. Amazing how history is rewritten by the liberals in the media and academia. "oh how JFK had kept his cool" during the missle crises.
I wonder if that was before or after the nights he was having sexual liasons with an East German spy.
What a joke.
Was it GM who pointed out the JFK was the blunderer who drove his PT boat right into the path of a Japanese cruiser.
Not I. I'd point out that if JFK were running today, he'd be slammed by the left for wanting to lower tax rates.
Re: American History
Reply #74 on:
November 01, 2011, 05:49:16 AM »
This is a completely different version than I have always heard, including from a professor of mine who is a former CIA historian.
In particular, the missles out of Turkey is an odd piece of contention because I have always heard that the US was planning to remove them anyway.
Also, the "MAP" doesn't explain the CIA's continued, although often odd and questionable, efforts to remove Castro.
Re: American History
Reply #75 on:
November 01, 2011, 10:11:37 AM »
If I read it correctly and remember correctly, it was the Russians asserting that about the Turkish based missiles-- not knowing that they were to be taken out anyway (no opinion on whether that assertion is true btw).
As for the CIA breaking that MAP understanding , , , well , , , that would not be the first time it broke an agreement, would it?
Anyway, I probably should have posted the piece with an accompanying comment by me that I was simply offering a different perspective than the story line with which I was already familiar.
Reply #76 on:
November 23, 2011, 10:45:24 AM »
Re: turkey pardon
Reply #77 on:
November 23, 2011, 11:47:55 AM »
Quote from: bigdog on November 23, 2011, 10:45:24 AM
This just in....
Tony Rezko's attorneys are attempting to have him deemed a turkey.....
The History and Legacy of Thanksgiving
Reply #78 on:
November 23, 2011, 06:02:01 PM »
The History and Legacy of Thanksgiving
"Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." —Psalm 100:4-5
Thanksgiving, as introduced by European explorers and settlers in the "New World," was a time set aside specifically for the purpose of giving thanks to our Creator for His manifold blessings.
The earliest record of a thanksgiving in America is 1541 by Spanish explorer Coronado at Palo Duro Canyon in what is now Texas. French Protestant colonists at Charlesfort (now Parris Island, South Carolina) held a thanksgiving service in 1564. In 1607, the Jamestown settlers held thanksgiving at Cape Henry, Virginia, and there are many other records of such hallowed observances.
The first call for an annual Thanksgiving was at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia, in 1619, when Captain John Woodlief and 38 settlers aboard the ship Margaret, proclaimed, "Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacion in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."
The first "harvest feast," however, was at Plymouth Colony in 1621, followed by a greater combined feast of Thanksgiving in 1623. Due to the fact that most history books following the War Between the States were written by Northern historians, it is that iconic event which is most directly associated with the current traditions for our national Day of Thanksgiving.
President Ronald Reagan often cited the Pilgrims who celebrated the First Thanksgiving as our forebears who charted the path of American freedom. He made frequent reference to John Winthrop's "shining city upon a hill."
As Reagan explained, "The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we'd call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free."
Who were these "freedom men," and how did they eventually blaze the path of true liberty?
They were Calvinist Protestants who rejected the institutional Church of England, believing that worshipping God must originate freely in the individual soul, without coercion. Suffering persecution and imprisonment in England for their beliefs, a group of these separatists fled to Holland in 1608. There, they found spiritual liberty in the midst of a disjointed economy that failed to provide adequate compensation for their labors, and a dissolute, degraded, corrupt culture that tempted their children to stray from faith.
Determined to protect their families from such spiritual and cultural dangers, the Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, on 6 September 1620, sailing for a new world that offered the promise of both civil and religious liberty. After an arduous journey, they dropped anchor off the coast of what is now Massachusetts.
On 11 December 1620, prior to disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they signed the Mayflower Compact, America's original document of civil government. It was the first to introduce self-government, and the foundation on which the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were built. Plymouth Colony's Governor, William Bradford, described the Compact as "a combination ... that when they came a shore they would use their owne libertie; for none had power to command them."
Upon landing, the Pilgrims conducted a prayer service and quickly turned to building shelters. They committed all their belongings to a "comone wealth." Under harrowing conditions, the colonists persisted through prayer and hard work, but the Winter of 1621 was devastating and only 53 of the original party survived.
However, with the help of the indigenous "Indians" in the region, the summer of 1621 was productive as recorded by Bradford in his diary: "They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion."
In addition to their regular expressions of reverence and thanksgiving to God, by the Autumn of 1621 the Pilgrims had enough produce to hold a three day "harvest feast." That feast was described in the journal of Edward Winslow: Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.
Endeavoring to improve the production at Plymouth Plantation, in 1622 Bradford implemented a collectivist policy, which almost destroyed the rest of the Plymouth settlement.
Bradford wrote that to increase production, he allotted each family a plot of land, and mandated that "all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means" must be forfeited to a common storehouse in order that "all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock."
In theory, Bradford thought the colony would thrive because each family would receive equal share of produce without regard to their contribution.
Unfortunately, then as always, collectivism only works in theory. It is antithetical to human nature, and destined to fail, as Plato's student Aristotle observed in 350BC: "That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it." But to this day, many still fail to grasp the "tragedy of the commons."
After abysmal results in 1622, Bradford realized that his collectivist plan had undermined the incentive to produce, noting that it "was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort." The women complained that being forced into servitude for others was "a kind of slavery," and some men had become "servants to the Indians" for a mere "capful of corn." Others had perished.
Bradford recorded in his journal that the Colony leaders "began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, (I) (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land."
They decided to trade their collectivist plan for a free market approach, and in 1623, Bradford wrote, "This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any other means the Governor or any other could use. ... Women went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn. Instead of famine now God gave them plenty and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many. ... Any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day."
Property ownership and families freely laboring on their own behalf replaced the "common store," but only after their ill-advised experiment with communism nearly wiped out the entire settlement.
The Colony celebrated a much greater Harvest and Thanksgiving Day in 1623.
After the Pilgrims were given liberty and incentive to be industrious, the Colony thrived, and by 1624, production was so abundant that the Colony exported corn back to England.
And for generations since, to the extent men have been set at perfect liberty to establish free enterprise, to produce goods and services without having profits seized for redistribution, our nation has thrived.
Liberty's BountyDuring the American Revolutionary War the Continental Congress designated days of thanksgiving each year. The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was made in 1777:
"FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success: It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.
Of that proclamation, Samuel Adams wrote to another Declaration signer, Richard Henry Lee, noting the specificity of the language that, "the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and join . . . their supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ."
In 1789, after adopting the Bill of Rights to our Constitution, among the first official acts of Congress was approving a motion for proclamation of a national day of thanksgiving, recommending that citizens gather together and give thanks to God for their new nation's blessings. George Washington issued that proclamation on October 3, 1789:
The first Thanksgiving Day designated by the United States of America was proclaimed by George Washington on October 3, 1789:
"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
"Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
"And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
"Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789."
Then-governor Thomas Jefferson followed with this 1789 proclamation in Virginia: "
appoint ... a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God ... to [ask] Him that He would ... pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would ... spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue."
Governor John Hancock proclaimed, "
appoint . . . a day of public thanksgiving and praise ... to render to God the tribute of praise for His unmerited goodness towards us ... [by giving to] us ... the Holy Scriptures which are able to enlighten and make us wise to eternal salvation. And [to] present our supplications ... that He would forgive our manifold sins and cause the benign religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be known, understood, and practiced among all the inhabitants of the earth."
Thanksgiving celebrations were irregularly proclaimed in the years that followed until the War Between the States. After 1863, presidents issued annual proclamations of Thanksgiving.
Norman Rockwell, 1943In 1941, with World War II on the horizon, the Senate and House approved the fourth Thursday of November as a National Day of Thanksgiving, perpetuating the observance annually.
Closing his farewell address in 1989, Ronald Reagan asked, "And how stands the city on this winter night?" Contemplating our blessings of liberty this Thanksgiving, more than two decades after President Reagan left office, how stands the city on our watch?
My fellow Patriots, never in the history of our country has there been such an acute, coordinated and vicious assault upon our rights and upon the forms of government established to protect those rights. From individuals, to state governments, to federal institutions initiated at the dawn of our Constitution, nothing, absolutely nothing, is sacred to the current liberal hegemony seeking to dispense with our Constitution.
But take heart, for as George Washington wrote in the darkest days of our American Revolution, "We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times."
Of such exertions, Washington wrote, "It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors."
So it is that on Thursday of this week, Thanksgiving Day, we are called to pause and take respite in order to acknowledge the divine intervention of our Creator throughout the history of this great nation; in order to recommit ourselves to obeisance of His will; in order to express our gratitude and give Him all thanks and praise for the bounty which He has bestowed the United States of America -- land of the free, home of the brave, that shining city on the hill; and in order to all the more humbly implore that He protect us and grant us much favor in our coming struggle to re-establish Rule of Law over rule of men.
"Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." (Psalm 100:4-5)
"America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this Nation throughout its history. In keeping with America's heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving thanks to God for all of His blessings. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, cwe should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do as individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance. Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people." Ronald Wilson Reagan
This is the genuine spirit of Thanksgiving.
I humbly thank you for the honor and privilege of serving you as editor and publisher of The Patriot Post. On behalf of your Patriot team and our National Advisory Committee, I wish you a peaceful Thanksgiving, and God's blessings to you and your family.
If you have the means, please take a moment to promote Liberty by supporting our Patriot Annual Campaign today.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Libertas aut Mortis!
Take the Thanksgiving Quiz
Ed Rothstein: The How of Japanese Internment but not all of the Whys
Reply #79 on:
December 11, 2011, 06:46:13 PM »
The How of an Internment, but Not All the Whys
-articleLarge.jpg] Yone Kubo Collection; Lynn Donaldson for The New
Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center From left, Boy Scouts at the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming during World War II; the view today.
By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r
Published: December 9, 2011
POWELL, Wyo. — In a region of inspiring landscapes, this certainly isn’t one of them. If you stand near where the barracks once were, not far from the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center that opened last summer, this barren expanse, with its craggily eccentric mountain in the distance, could almost seem cruelly mocking.
Displays at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center. More than 10,000 people were relocated to the camp there.
A sign at the center lists individuals from the camp who volunteered to serve in the U.S. military during World War II.
Scenes from the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming in World War II: typing inside one of the barracks.
Children polishing shoes at the Heart Mountain internment camp.
A scene from a Christmas program.
Imagine you are James Osamu Ito, son of a Japanese immigrant, possessor of a degree in soil science from the University of California, Davis, and owner of a 29-acre farm in California. In 1942 you are told by the United States military that you must abandon your land, your machinery and your home, and board a train, emerging here in the wintry cold. You are assigned to a drafty, tar-papered barracks where you must live out the war that your nation is waging against the land of your ancestors.
Could any place be more different from the verdant California farmland? Could anything be more dispiriting than the rows of wooden shacks where families are crammed in? And could anything be more unsettling than the guard towers or the barbed wire winding round 740 acres?
By 1943, 10,000 people were living here in the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, about a third of them first-generation Japanese immigrants known as Issei (who were not American citizens), and the rest Nisei, second-generation Japanese-Americans. For a while, Heart Mountain was Wyoming’s third-largest city. And along with nine other “internment camps” — all in isolated regions where there could be no fear of transfer of information or contraband — this was where people of Japanese heritage were sent in 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, by Executive Order 9066<http://ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=74>. The concern was that they might constitute a fifth column that would subvert the American war effort.
It was a relocation of more than 110,000 people, most of them American citizens. There was no selective screening. Even now, after an official apology to the victims by the United States government, after the payment of $1.65 billion in reparations and after the writing of enough histories and memoirs to fill a bookcase, the episode remains shocking and bewildering. How did it happen and why?
Until now, one of the internment camps, Manzanar in California<http://www.nps.gov/manz/index.htm>, has had the most public attention; it is run by the National Park Service and includes an exhibition. But a museum at Heart Mountain (awkwardly dubbed an “interpretive learning center”) is welcome. The sparseness of the landscape and its relative isolation from competing attractions — it is a half-hour from Cody and 60 miles from Yellowstone National Park — focus your attention.
It took 15 years of fund-raising by the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation<http://www.heartmountain.org/>, and the acquisition of 50 acres (together with 74 owned by the federal government) before this 11,000-square-foot center could be constructed. Its two joined buildings are meant to recall the camp’s barracks; there is also a reconstructed guard tower.
Only one building from the camp remains, a brick structure once part of its hospital; not even an original barrack can be seen here, though one is installed at the Japanese American National Museum<http://www.janm.org/> in Los Angeles. So the impact must come from the exhibition itself, which is designed by Split Rock Studios<http://www.splitrockstudios.com/> of Minnesota. It is meant to honor those whose lives were so overturned, explain how the internment happened, give some sense of camp life and suggest lessons for the future.
The museum is not uniformly successful in these ambitions, but its impact is still considerable. Wrenched out of ordinary life, stripped of many constitutional rights and placed in an unforgiving environment, Heart Mountain’s inhabitants created an alternative universe. Land was farmed, shoes repaired, a newspaper printed and sports teams formed. Remarkably, residents also enlisted in, or were drafted into, the armed forces. Some residents were even imprisoned after resisting the draft, a case examined in a book by the legal scholar Eric L. Muller<http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/548228.html>, a program committee director at the museum.
Primarily, this is a museum shaped by survivors’ recollections. In oral histories<http://www.densho.org/> they recount being forced from their homes, tell of having to eat apart from their parents in the mess hall, or describe the humiliation of unpartitioned toilets. (The museum’s restrooms hint at the experience with mirrored stalls.) Japanese culture, we learn, taught forbearance and discipline. And pride is justly taken. In this museum, history is told in the first person. It is about “us”; its actors are “we.” This is a communal narrative about shared injustices and triumphs.
But this is also one of the museum’s weaknesses. “We” and “us” also create limits. The experience becomes central. How, though, is it to be interpreted? What is its context?
One problem is that the internment camp doesn’t easily fit into familiar categories. Heart Mountain certainly looked like a prison. Yet we also read of its newspaper editors working in Cody and of other jobs held outside the camp. How common was such employment?
Internment actually had fairly large loopholes. In the 10 internment camps, more than 4,000 students left to attend college<http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/02/17/japanese2_17>. In addition, if a family found a place to live in another part of the country outside the West Coast or other militarily important areas, they were free to move; 30,000 did. At least one company, in New Jersey, even recruited employees here. These peculiar mixtures of liberties and restrictions give the internment a surreal cast.
A Congressional commission<http://www.archives.gov/research/japanese-americans/hearings.html> that examined the camps in the 1980s endorsed the explanation, now standard, that they were a result of wartime hysteria and racism. For example, at the exhibition we learn of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1925 assertion that the mixing of American and “Asiatic blood” would have “unfortunate results.” There was also envy of the Japanese-American economic success.
But wartime internment was more the rule than the exception. During World War I many European countries incarcerated citizens of opposing nations; the United States, too, imprisoned “enemy aliens,” including Germans who were not citizens.
During World War II<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/w/world_war_ii_/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier> Japanese-Canadians were put in camps. In Britain, even Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany were interned as enemy aliens on the Isle of Man. What made the situation of the Japanese in the United States more complicated is that while the Issei, forbidden to become naturalized, were classified as enemy aliens whose internment was legal, their American children, the Nisei, were citizens. But surely the other examples of wartime internment would help us understand why Executive Order 9066 was widely supported.
It would help, too, to have a clearer understanding of the prewar Japanese-American population, which is now portrayed as homogenously assimilationist. But we know that 1930s Japan was a racist, militant society, convinced of the emperor’s divinity, and that a considerable number of Nisei were sent there to study.
“Loyalty to the emperor,” we learn at the Japanese American National Museum, was a cherished value for the Issei. Even the use of terms like Issei and Nisei shows careful attention to Japanese connections. In addition, American military and F.B.I. reports<http://www.sfmuseum.org/war/dewitt1.html> describe a number of Japanese-American organizations on the West Coast that were financially and ideologically devoted to the mother country and its policies.
All of this would have amplified suspicions. In addition, the government had decoded dispatches from Japanese agents referring to their plans and successes. On May 9, 1941, one from Los Angeles read: “We have already established contacts with absolutely reliable Japanese in the San Pedro and San Diego area.”
Two days later, a dispatch from Seattle said, “We are securing intelligences concerning the concentration of warships within the Bremerton Naval Yard”; Japanese residents were relocated from that area in 1942.
Moreover, the Japanese were known for similar espionage elsewhere, including the Philippines. A treasonous example of assistance from residents of Japanese descent also occurred just after Pearl Harbor, in which a couple on a remote Hawaiian island tried to help a downed Japanese pilot escape. The threat was palpable: a Japanese submarine had sunk American ships and shelled a California oil field.
I am not suggesting that such factors justified the relocations<http://www.regnery.com/regnery/040802_defense.html>. Almost all of the internees were surely innocent, and most deserved the rights of citizens. The policy was racially tinged and hysterical in its sweep. But at the very least, the context demonstrates that the relocation was a response — an extreme one — to a problem. There was a geographical rationale, not simply a racial one. This context also helps explain the peculiar ambiguities in the camps’ regulatory mixture of anxiety, ruthlessness and flexibility.
It should also affect contemporary conclusions. “Could an injustice like Heart Mountain happen again?” the museum asks. “It’s all too easy in times of crisis and war to look for an ‘outsider’ scapegoat.” It then suggests that this is why Japanese-American groups spoke out on behalf of American Muslims after 9/11. But such linkages surely deserve more scrutiny.
What is beyond question is that whatever the context, nothing can lessen the policy’s tragic consequences — the violation of principle, the loss of property, the inability of internees to pick up their old lives, the suicides, the hatreds, the lost possibilities — and they are all powerfully commemorated here.
The Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center is in Powell, Wyo.; heartmountain.org.
A version of this review appeared in print on December 10, 2011, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: The How of an Internment, but Not All the Whys.
Jonah Goldberg and TR
Reply #80 on:
December 12, 2011, 10:38:35 AM »
I put this here because Jonah brings up some history points I did not realize. TR was a Progressive after he was a Republican!
How this guy got his mug on Mt. Rushmore beats the heck out of me. If I undertand croney capitalism/fascism correctly then that is EXACTLY what TR was all about. I knew I could not like a man for cackling with laughter joy and glee after shooting a Cuban in the belly running up San Juan Hill. Now I don't like him for his politics. Could anyone imagine G Washington gleeful after shooting another man? The joy of murder?
Re: American History
Reply #81 on:
December 12, 2011, 02:44:56 PM »
Glenn Beck made this point about TR being a progressive frequently and with great vigor due to Jonah Goldberg's influence. JG appeared on the show at least once, and maybe more. He regularly appears on the panel of the Bret Baier Report where IMHO he handles himself quite well. I have his book, "Liberal Fascism"
Re: American History
Reply #82 on:
December 12, 2011, 03:04:06 PM »
"Glenn Beck made this point about TR being a progressive frequently and with great vigor due to Jonah Goldberg's influence. "
I missed that.
I recall the part about Woodrow Wilson who was of course from Princeton. I guess the same liberal place than as now.
Some costs of WW2
Reply #83 on:
January 02, 2012, 07:02:13 AM »
The following came to me without citations:
Below is an excellent summary of the effort required in WWII. It focuses on the American side of things, but the British, Germans and Japanese expended comparable energy and experienced similar costs. Just one example for the Luftwaffe; about 1/3 of the Bf109s built were lost in non-combat crashes. After Midway, the Japanese experience level declined markedly, with the loss of so many higher-time naval pilots. This piece is worth saving in hard copy.
Amazing WWII Aircraft Facts
Most Americans who were not adults during WWII have no understanding of the magnitude of it.
This listing of some of the aircraft facts gives a bit of insight to it.
276,000 aircraft manufactured in the US .
43,000 planes lost overseas, including 23,000 in combat.
14,000 lost in the continental U.S.
The US civilian population maintained a dedicated effort for four years, many working long hours seven days per week and often also volunteering for other work. WWII was the largest human effort in history.
Statistics from Flight Journal magazine.
THE COST of DOING BUSINESS
---- The staggering cost of war.
THE PRICE OF VICTORY (cost of an aircraft in WWII dollars)
B-17 $204,370. P-40 $44,892.
B-24 $215,516. P-47 $85,578.
B-25 $142,194. P-51 $51,572.
B-26 $192,426. C-47 $88,574.
B-29 $605,360. PT-17 $15,052.
P-38 $97,147. AT-6 $22,952.
PLANES A DAY WORLDWIDE
From Germany 's invasion of Poland Sept. 1, 1939 and ending with Japan 's surrender Sept. 2, 1945 --- 2,433 days
From 1942 onward, America averaged 170 planes lost a day.
How many is a 1,000 planes? B-17 production (12,731) wingtip to wingtip would extend 250 miles. 1,000 B-17s carried
2.5 million gallons of high octane fuel and required 10,000 airmen to fly and fight them.
THE NUMBERS GAME
9.7 billion gallons of gasoline consumed, 1942-1945.
107.8 million hours flown, 1943-1945.
459.7 billion rounds of aircraft ammo fired overseas, 1942-1945.
7.9 million bombs dropped overseas, 1943-1945.
2.3 million combat sorties, 1941-1945 (one sortie = one takeoff).
299,230 aircraft accepted, 1940-1945.
808,471 aircraft engines accepted, 1940-1945.
799,972 propellers accepted, 1940-1945.
WWII MOST-PRODUCED COMBAT AIRCRAFT
Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik 36,183
Yakolev Yak-1,-3,-7, -9 31,000+
Messerschmitt Bf-109 30,480
Focke-Wulf Fw-190 29,001
Supermarine Spitfire/Seafire 20,351
Convair B-24/PB4Y Liberator/Privateer 18,482
Republic P-47 Thunderbolt 15,686
North American P-51 Mustang 15,875
Junkers Ju-88 15,000
Hawker Hurricane 14,533
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk 13,738
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress 12,731
Vought F4U Corsair 12,571
Grumman F6F Hellcat 12,275
Petlyakov Pe-2 11,400
Lockheed P-38 Lightning 10,037
Mitsubishi A6M Zero 10,449
North American B-25 Mitchell 9,984
Lavochkin LaGG-5 9,920
Note: The LaGG-5 was produced with both water-cooled (top) and air-cooled (bottom) engines.
Grumman TBM Avenger 9,837
ell P-39 Airacobra 9,584
Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar 5,919
DeHavilland Mosquito 7,780
Avro Lancaster 7,377
Heinkel He-111 6,508
Handley-Page Halifax 6,176
Messerschmitt Bf-110 6,150
Lavochkin LaGG-7 5,753
Boeing B-29 Superfortress 3,970
Short Stirling 2,383
Sources: Rene Francillon, Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific war; Cajus Bekker, The Luftwaffe Diaries; Ray Wagner, American Combat Planes; Wikipedia.
According to the AAF Statistical Digest, in less than four years (December 1941- August 1945), the US Army Air Forces lost 14,903 pilots, aircrew and assorted personnel plus 13,873 airplanes --- inside the continental United States. They were the result of 52,651 aircraft accidents (6,039 involving fatalities) in 45 months.
Think about those numbers. They average 1,170 aircraft accidents per month---- nearly 40 a day. (Less than one accident in four resulted in totaled aircraft, however.)
It gets worse.....
Almost 1,000 Army planes disappeared en route from the US to foreign climes. But an eye-watering 43,581 aircraft were lost overseas including 22,948 on combat missions (18,418 against the Western Axis) and 20,633 attributed to non-combat causes overseas.
In a single 376 plane raid in August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in England . In 1942-43 it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in Europe .
Pacific theatre losses were far less (4,530 in combat) owing to smaller forces committed. The worst B-29 mission, against Tokyo on May 25, 1945, cost 26 Superfortresses, 5.6 percent of the 464 dispatched from the Marianas .
On average, 6,600 American servicemen died per month during WWII, about 220 a day. By the end of the war, over 40,000 airmen were killed in combat theatres and another 18,000 wounded. Some 12,000 missing men were declared dead, including a number "liberated" by the Soviets but never returned. More than 41,000 were captured, half of the 5,400 held by the Japanese died in captivity, compared with one-tenth in German hands. Total combat casualties were pegged at 121,867.
US manpower made up the deficit. The AAF's peak strength was reached in 1944 with 2,372,000 personnel, nearly twice the previous year's figure.
The losses were huge---but so were production totals. From 1941 through 1945, American industry delivered more than 276,000 military aircraft. That number was enough not only for US Army, Navy and Marine Corps, but for allies as diverse as Britain , Australia , China and Russia . In fact, from 1943 onward, America produced more planes than Britain and Russia combined. And more than Germany and Japan together 1941-45.
However, our enemies took massive losses. Through much of 1944, the Luftwaffe sustained uncontrolled hemorrhaging, reaching 25 percent of aircrews and 40 planes a month. And in late 1944 into 1945, nearly half the pilots in Japanese squadrons had flown fewer than 200 hours. The disparity of two years before had been completely reversed.
Uncle Sam sent many of his sons to war with absolute minimums of training. Some fighter pilots entered combat in 1942 with less than one hour in their assigned aircraft.
The 357th Fighter Group (often known as The Yoxford Boys) went to England in late 1943 having trained on P-39s. The group never saw a Mustang until shortly before its first combat mission.
A high-time P-51 pilot had 30 hours in type. Many had fewer than five hours. Some had one hour.
With arrival of new aircraft, many combat units transitioned in combat. The attitude was, "They all have a stick and a throttle. Go fly `em." When the famed 4th Fighter Group converted from P-47s to P-51s in February 1944, there was no time to stand down for an orderly transition. The Group commander, Col. Donald Blakeslee, said, "You can learn to fly `51s on the way to the target.
A future P-47 ace said, "I was sent to England to die." He was not alone. Some fighter pilots tucked their wheels in the well on their first combat mission with one previous flight in the aircraft. Meanwhile, many bomber crews were still learning their trade: of Jimmy Doolittle's 15 pilots on the April 1942 Tokyo raid, only five had won their wings before 1941. All but one of the 16 copilots were less than a year out of flight school.
In WWII flying safety took a back seat to combat. The AAF's worst accident rate was recorded by the A-36 Invader version of the P-51: a staggering 274 accidents per 100,000 flying hours. Next worst were the P-39 at 245, the P-40 at 188, and the P-38 at 139. All were Allison powered.
Bomber wrecks were fewer but more expensive. The B-17 and B-24 averaged 30 and 35 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, respectively-- a horrific figure considering that from 1980 to 2000 the Air Force's major mishap rate was less than 2.
The B-29 was even worse at 40; the world's most sophisticated, most capable and most expensive bomber was too urgently needed to stand down for mere safety reasons. The AAF set a reasonably high standard for B-29 pilots, but the desired figures were seldom attained.
The original cadre of the 58th Bomb Wing was to have 400 hours of multi-engine time, but there were not enough experienced pilots to meet the criterion. Only ten percent had overseas experience. Conversely, when a $2.1 billion B-2 crashed in 2008, the Air Force initiated a two-month "safety pause" rather than declare a "stand down", let alone grounding.
The B-29 was no better for maintenance. Though the R3350 was known as a complicated, troublesome power-plant, no more than half the mechanics had previous experience with the Duplex Cyclone. But they made it work.
Perhaps the greatest unsung success story of AAF training was Navigators. The Army graduated some 50,000 during the War. And many had never flown out of sight of land before leaving "Uncle Sugar" for a war zone. Yet the huge majority found their way across oceans and continents without getting lost or running out of fuel --- a stirring tribute to the AAF's educational establishments.
Cadet To Colonel:
It was possible for a flying cadet at the time of Pearl Harbor to finish the war with eagles on his shoulders. That was the record of John D. Landers, a 21-year-old Texan, who was commissioned a second lieutenant on December 12, 1941. He joined his combat squadron with 209 hours total flight time, including 20 in P-40s. He finished the war as a full colonel, commanding an 8th Air Force Group --- at age 24.
As the training pipeline filled up, however those low figures became exceptions.
By early 1944, the average AAF fighter pilot entering combat had logged at least 450 hours, usually including 250 hours in training. At the same time, many captains and first lieutenants claimed over 600 hours.
At its height in mid-1944, the Army Air Forces had 2.6 million people and nearly 80,000 aircraft of all types.
Today the US Air Force employs 327,000 active personnel (plus 170,000 civilians) with 5,500+ manned and perhaps 200 unmanned aircraft.
The 2009 figures represent about 12 percent of the manpower and 7 percent of the airplanes of the WWII peak.
Whether there will ever be another war like that experienced in 1940-45 is doubtful, as fighters and bombers have given way to helicopters and remotely-controlled drones over Afghanistan and Iraq . But within living memory, men left the earthin 1,000-plane formations and fought major battles five miles high, leaving a legacy that remains timeless.
Courage is the greatest of all the virtues. Because if you haven't courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others. -- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English Author
Rothstein: The World as America dreamed it
Reply #84 on:
January 02, 2012, 08:00:46 AM »
second post of the morning:
The World as America Dreamed It
Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Great American Hall of Wonders, including Ernest Griset’s “Far West,” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington through Jan. 8. More Photos »
By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
Published: July 27, 2011
WASHINGTON — The first thing we see on entering the new exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum here is a life-size painting of a formally dressed, graciously welcoming, aged gentleman. He is lifting a heavy red drape and gesturing as if inviting us to visit the marvels within. Beyond the curtain we glimpse walls lined with hundreds of glass cases, each containing stuffed birds. We see visitors strolling past, engaged in contemplation or struck with amazement. We also spot part of a mastodon skeleton, discovered in 1801 by the same man who lifts the curtain.
‘The Great American Hall of Wonders’
He is the image’s painter, Charles Willson Peale. And he is welcoming us into the museum he created in early-19th-century Philadelphia.
Peale’s painting, “The Artist in His Museum” (1822), is meant to serve a similar welcoming function in this immensely rich exhibition, “The Great American Hall of Wonders.” Each gallery echoes the painting with its own red stage curtain pulled aside. And in some ways this show is as much a curiosity cabinet as Peale’s museum must have been, though that institution, an ancestor of the natural-history museums that took shape later in the century, contained thousands of objects, while this exhibition offers just 161.
But what an unusual and provocative collection this is. There are paintings and drawings by John James Audubon, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Edwin Church, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Thomas Moran and Samuel F. B. Morse. An 1825 sculpture of a classically draped woman holding a water wheel represents the waterworks on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. An improbably compact mesh of gears on a wooden frame is an 1879 model of a paper-bag-making machine. Two near-naked blacksmiths hammer an anvil in Eadweard Muybridge’s famous photographic sequence. We see images of buffalo herds, Niagara Falls’ rushing torrents, loggers perched inside a giant notch in a doomed California redwood.
Claire Perry, an independent curator who specializes in 19th-century American cultural history, has presented almost too much for us to absorb easily; a visit here should be supplemented with her extensive essays in the companion catalog. The show is ambitious, schematic, eclectic, energetic, wandering, argumentative. And maybe in that way too it is a bit like the subject defined in the exhibition’s subtitle: “Art, Science, and Invention in the 19th Century.”
Ms. Perry suggests that Peale, in creating his early museum, was defining a national project. His collection was meant to show that in the generations following the death of the founders, the United States would be taking on the great task of invention. (Thankfully he ultimately decided against displaying the preserved bodies of the founders.) This show expands on his project. “The United States,” we read, “began with an act of imagination.” The country saw itself as a “Great Experiment for promoting human happiness.” And 19th-century Americans saw themselves as “an inventive people.”
So this exhibition is about the American project in the 19th century, drawing on the Smithsonian’s collections but also on the holdings of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. That office, we learn, was established by President Andrew Jackson in 1836, becoming a museum, a “temple of invention,” as well as a record-keeping institution, offering displays that attracted 100,000 visitors a year by the mid-19th century.
Some of those offerings were revolutionary. We see the original 1837 wooden model of Samuel F. B. Morse’s telegraph transmitter as well as one of Thomas Alva Edison’s 1880 light bulbs. But that paper-bag-making machine is also on display, partly to demonstrate that female inventors were at work, though we don’t learn anything about its creator, Margaret E. Knight, or about the machine. Another minor contraption is represented in the drawing of an 1849 device used for “Buoying Vessels Over Shoals,” making up in provenance what it lacks in importance; its inventor was Abraham Lincoln.
Invention also became a familiar instrument of democratic culture, allowing for the mass production of once-expensive items. An English visitor to the United States in 1844 remarked, with some surprise, that “in every dell of Arkansas, and in cabins where there was not a chair to sit on, there was to be sure a Connecticut clock.”
In the catalog we read that Peale’s son (portentously named Rembrandt Peale), who took over his father’s museum as well as his ambitions, noted how intimately the arts and sciences were intertwined. He pointed out that Robert Fulton was a portrait painter (represented here by drawings for his 1809 patent application for a steamboat engine) and that Morse was an artist. (We see here his doodles of a man’s head, the profile fitting between the teeth of a gear wheel.)
Albert Bierstadt is revealed as a closet inventor; we see his 1896 patent drawing of an “Expanding Railway Car” — a luxurious, oversize train car as comfortable as a home running on a pair of parallel tracks — something he must have dreamed up on his long journeys into the Western wilderness.
Such journeys, Ms. Perry suggests, are also part of the story. The United States was a realm of vast spaces and enormous resources. And the show suggests that those resources were used with more enthusiasm than wisdom. A gallery is devoted to the buffalo (and its demise), to Niagara Falls (and to ideas of harnessing its power) and to the American West’s immense trees (which were almost cavalierly cut down, though they were “ill-suited for construction,” and often used “for grapevine stakes and trays for drying raisins”). There are galleries too about clocks and about guns.
We cannot help be aware that the exhibition’s appraisal of American inventiveness is heavily qualified. The gun and locomotive destroy the buffalo; the clock turns work into regimented misery; commerce demolishes expanses of natural beauty. “We are the heirs of the 19th century’s successful experiments,” the show’s opening panel declares, “as well as the ones that went terribly awry.”
Yet the exhibition’s emphasis is on experiments gone awry. As a result the American 19th century is primarily seen through the spectacles of European Romanticism. In England and Europe the Industrial Revolution was considered a fiery inferno destroying the pastoral landscape; the proliferating machine was in opposition to all that was natural. And along the way the body politic fell ill as well. (Some of these notions appear in Jez Butterworth’s “Jerusalem,” now on Broadway.)
But there was something quite different about much 19th-century American culture. The Industrial Revolution was not repelled but embraced; it was often seen not as an intrusion but as an offering of possibility. It brought miseries but also innovations. It did not overturn the natural world, it seemed to coexist with it.
There are paintings here, for example, showing newly built railway lines puffing smoke. Those engines appear not as threats but as features of the pastoral landscape. The exhibition has an explanation: “Nineteenth-century artists, scientists, and inventors joined hands in creating the railroad system of the United States — the largest in the world. While engineers and mechanical innovators refined the technologies of steam locomotion, the nation’s image makers helped to elicit consensus among the citizenry about what railroads were and where they would take the nation.” This treats such images as forms of promotion or propaganda. That was not necessarily the case. A different view of the machine and its possibilities can be sensed in much American literature and art.
The contemporary tendency is to overlook such qualifications, even to suggest that what went awry in the treatment of the buffalo, or the natural landscape, was not an accidental aspect of 19th-century American culture but its defining characteristic.
Sometimes this exhibition seems to concur. Yet those failings are neither unique to American culture nor to the 19th century. Some American Indian tribes would drive herds of buffalo off cliffs in a hunt, which was hardly a model of sustainability. Europe also had ancient forests that were felled over the centuries. And the technological transformation of the natural world, since antiquity, has a long history of unanticipated consequences. The distinctiveness of 19th-century American invention is not in what went awry but in what succeeded.
This does not diminish the need for environmental concern, but as the exhibition says, “Knowing where we have come from may show us where we are headed.”
The exhibition also hopes to inspire contemporary ideas. A wall panel points out, “Today’s urgent social and environmental challenges call for a great national brainstorm, a collaborative imagining of enduring solutions” that may come from “the transformative power of American inventiveness.”
Yet here, too, might a caveat be inserted? For what we see in the transformative power in the 19th century is not a “collaborative imagining” but a largely individualized enterprise, creating a wealth of enduring and unpredictable innovations. And that still seems like one of American culture’s particular distinctions.
“The Great American Hall of Wonders” is on view through Jan. 8 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington; americanart.si.edu.
WSJ: Attack ads in American History
Reply #85 on:
January 05, 2012, 07:41:52 AM »
By JOHN STEELE GORDON
There are only two ways to win an election: Persuade people to vote for you or persuade them to vote against your opponent.
And while negative campaigning is routinely decried, it is also routinely practiced and has been since nearly the beginning of politics in this country. The reason is simple enough—it usually works. As Newt Gingrich discovered in Iowa, negative TV ads can drive down poll numbers alarmingly fast.
The negative ads these days are often tough, but they're nowhere near as vicious as early examples, when opponents were routinely "drenched in calumny," to use Illinois Sen. Everett Dirksen's memorable phrase about the ordeals of Richard Nixon.
George Washington was twice elected president unanimously, but the election of 1796, between Vice President John Adams and former Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, was a mudfest. The candidates themselves did not campaign at all, as was then the custom, but their surrogates in the party press knew few restraints.
Benjamin Franklin Bache (the grandson of his namesake) referred to the short and dumpy Adams in his newspaper, Aurora, as "His Rotundity," whose appearance was so much "sesquipedality of belly." Federalist newspapers returned fire, accusing Jefferson, an admirer of the French Revolution, of being a blood-thirsty Jacobin, an atheist, and a coward for having fled Monticello in the face of advancing British troops during the Revolutionary War, when he was governor of Virginia.
The ad hominem attacks got worse in the 19th century. In 1828, people working for John Quincy Adams published handbills attacking his opponent, Andrew Jackson, and Jackson's wife and mother.
Newt Gingrich is only one in a long list of negative campaign targets.
.Rachel Jackson's divorce from her first husband was, unknown to her, not yet final when she married Jackson, making the marriage technically bigamous. "Ought a convicted adulteress and her paramour husband be placed in the highest offices of this free and Christian land?" one handbill asked. Another claimed that Jackson's mother had been a prostitute for British troops during the Revolution. Rachel Jackson died shortly after the election of 1828. President Jackson regarded her death as resulting from the vituperation heaped upon her.
Truth has always been optional in negative campaigning. In 1840, when Democratic President Martin Van Buren ran for re-election against Whig Party candidate William Henry Harrison, Van Buren was accused of being an aristocrat, living the high life in the White House, eating off golden plates, while the country suffered through a terrible depression. In fact, Van Buren was the son of a poor tavern keeper and had to work his way up.
Harrison was derided by opponents as a "log cabin and hard cider" man, but the Whig Party happily adopted the insult, portraying their candidate as a man of the people. Actually, Harrison was born at Berkeley, one of Virginia's grandest plantation houses, the son of a Virginia governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence.
It wasn't the only time that negative campaigning backfired. North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole's successful opponent in 2008, Kay Hagan, saw her lead double after the Dole campaign ran ads depicting her (falsely) as an atheist.
In the election of 1884, when it was found out that Grover Cleveland had been paying child support for a child born out of wedlock, Republicans gleefully began chanting "Ma! Ma! Where's my pa? Gone to the White House. Ha! Ha! Ha!" But Cleveland's honest taking of responsibility was viewed by many as a plus. And when a supporter of Cleveland's opponent, James G. Blaine, described the Democrats as the party of "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion," it cost Blaine Catholic votes in New York, a state that he narrowly lost. Had he carried it, Blaine would have won the election.
Perhaps the most famous negative ad in modern political history was in 1964. President Lyndon Johnson was already running well ahead of Sen. Barry Goldwater on Sept. 7 when what is remembered as the "Daisy ad" ran in the middle of the NBC Monday Night Movie. It showed a 4-year-old girl in a field picking the petals off a daisy as she counts them, rather inaccurately. When she got to nine, a male voice takes over, counting back down, as though for a missile launch. The little girl turns to look at the sky and the camera zooms in on her eye. When the counting reaches zero, there is a blinding flash of light and the mushroom cloud of a nuclear bomb.
Lyndon Johnson's voice then says, "These are the stakes. To make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die." Another voice then said, "Vote for President Johnson on November 3. The stakes are too high for you to stay home."
The ad, sharply criticized, was pulled after that single airing. But it was frequently replayed in news and conversation programs. So the Johnson campaign got credit for pulling the ad while still having it widely disseminated. It was devastatingly effective because it played into the idea, already being discussed, that the sometimes bellicose Goldwater could not be trusted to keep the Cold War cold. When Walter Mondale ran similar ads against Ronald Reagan 20 years later, they were completely ineffective because people were comfortable with Reagan's stewardship of the nuclear arsenal. Negative ads can intensify an existing perception of a candidate. They can seldom create one.
The presidential election of 2012 is likely to be unusually contentious even by recent American standards. The negative ads will probably start early and run often. Some of them will, undoubtedly, be unfair, tendentious, intellectually dishonest, mean-spirited and downright ugly. And some of them are likely to be very effective. Let's hope they will not stoop to the personal insults or smearing of innocent individuals as they so often did in the early 19th century.
Mr. Gordon is the author of "An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power" (HarperCollins, 2004).
Frances Folsom Cleveland First lady at 21!
Reply #86 on:
January 25, 2012, 06:39:12 PM »
The only President to have gotten maried IN the White House. At age 47 he married the 21 yo daughter of one of his law partners. He was kind of looked after her when the father died and mentored her through school. At some point it got romantic. What is intersting is this was during the height of the Victorian Age. She was apparantly a well liked first lady, both times he was elected. And she held many a house warmings for the gentry:
John and Julia Tyler (or John and Bo Derek?)
Reply #87 on:
January 28, 2012, 10:42:10 AM »
Reading the recent article about John Tyler's (President 1841- 1844 and born nine years before George Washington's birth) grandson giving his opinion on the present President and the Repubs I looked up John Tyler. I note he met a 24 yo. woman who along with her father and sister went on the steamship Princeton during which a cannon exploded and killed the father. Both the President and the young woman were "at a safe distance away when the explosion occured". The gentleman that he must have been
Tyler consolled her and soon married her. He was 54 yo.
****Julia Gardiner Tyler (1820-1889)
Second Wife President John Tyler (1790-1862)
William Henry Harrison (9th President) was a soldier. Born in Berkely, Virginia, he knew early that he wanted a military life and he pursued it vigorously. Assigned to the Northwest Territories as a lieutenant, he engaged the hostile Indians on many occasions. In 1811 his forces were attacked near the Tippecanoe River (today, West Lafayette, Indiana) and although Harrison's command had casualties of 190 they repelled the attack. This incident and others earned him a national reputation as a great Indian fighter but the site of the first battle stuck and through the remainder of his life he was known as "Old Tippecanoe."
The local citizens sent him off to congress and he later served as Governor of the Ohio Territory. In 1840, the Whig Party nominated him for President. Needing balance to attract southern votes he looked to ex-US Senator and past Governor John Tyler of Virginia, a strong states rights advocate, as his running mate. The opposition party tried to mock the ticket by deriding the campaign slogan, "Old Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," but Harrison and Tyler won and took office on March 4, 1841.
One month later Harrison died. The politicians were stunned. Even Tyler's own party, The Whigs, didn't like him and soon expelled him from the party but Tyler was not dismayed. When his enemies called him an "outlaw" he responded by renaming his Virginia plantation "Sherwood Forest." But Tyler was distracted by the illness of his wife. Her condition grew grave and in September, 1841 she died in the White House.
Julia Gardiner was born on Long Island, New York; a debutante at fifteen, she was the "belle of the ball" and the society pages quickly dubbed her "The Rose of Long Island."
Late in 1841 she and her family visited Washington for the winter social season and there, through arrangements made by Dolley Madison for a tour of the White House, she met the new widower, President John Tyler, who took more than a casual interest. Later, he wrote letters to her and she answered them.
The following year Tyler invited her father and family back to Washington and while there he arranged a tour of the Navy's first power driven and newest ship which was in port at Annapolis. Onboard, observing a demonstration of the ship's guns, her father was killed by an explosion but Julia and the President were a safe distance away and were not harmed.
Tyler offered his condolences and comfort and soon gained Julia's consent to become engaged. On a late Sunday evening Tyler secretly slipped from the White House and made his way to a rendezvous in New York City. There, on June 26, 1844, he and Julia were wed, the first President to marry while in office. He was 54, she 24.
Washington was surprised but not stunned over the news. The elopement caused more gossip than did the age factor. She was First Lady for the last eight months of his term and in 1845, failing re-election, the Tylers retired to Virginia where, over the next fifteen years, they added significantly to the Tyler family with seven children joining the eight Tyler had with his first wife. When the last daughter, Pearl, was born in 1860, two Tyler sons, Robert (44) and John (41), were older than his wife.
As the south began secession Tyler accepted a position on the governing body of the new Confederate States of America but he died in 1862, before the group held it's first meeting. Julia supported the political views of her husband and defended states rights and the right to own slaves. Fearing retaliation from the north for her views, she collected the family papers and took them to a Richmond bank for safe-keeping. This turned out to be a mistake because during the war the bank was destroyed and the papers lost.
Battles raged throughout Virginia and finally she fled to New York where she worked secretly and voluntarily for the Confederacy throughout the remainder of the war. By the end of the conflict her activities had drawn a lot of attention and suspicion in Washington, but she was never arrested. However, the defeat of the south left her without money or means of support and her plantation, Sherwood Forest, had been virtually destroyed.
In 1880 Congress voted her a $1,200 annual pension, ten years after providing for Mary Todd Lincoln. When Garfield was assassinated in September, 1881, Congress had second thoughts and voted $5,000 per year for Mrs. Garfield, Mrs. Lincoln, Mrs. Polk, and Mrs. Tyler. With the pension, she was able to live comfortably and spent her last years in Richmond where she died in 1889. She is buried there with her husband.
Philosophos Historia ****
Rothstein: Lincoln at Ford's Theater
Reply #88 on:
February 10, 2012, 01:07:44 PM »
By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
Published: February 10, 2012
¶WASHINGTON — When we last left Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater, nearly three years ago, he was imagined sitting here in the flag-draped presidential box, moments before a bullet was shot into his head. John Wilkes Booth, the actor turned assassin, was also imagined, leaping onto the stage, injuring his foot, theatrically proclaiming triumph over tyranny and racing into the alley, where a getaway horse waited. Through a newly installed exhibition space we also learned of the events preceding that murder, including the Civil War and all its traumas. And we were given a glimpse of the fate of the conspirators who derailed history.
Enlarge This Image
Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press
A statue of John Wilkes Booth at the Ford's Theater.
¶The renovations and accompanying exhibition, which made their debut in 2009, were the first parts of a $60 million transformation of Ford’s Theater into a major Lincoln museum complex operated in conjunction with the National Park Service. Since then 750,000 people have visited annually. Many, after leaving the theater, have crossed the street to the Petersen House, as if following in the footsteps of the men who carried Lincoln that night in 1865 to the room in which he died.
¶And now? As the theater’s director, Paul R. Tetreault, recognized, the drama, even in museum form, needed a final act. It has arrived: on Sunday, Lincoln’s Birthday, the last stage in the theater’s expansion will be unveiled as part of a public open house. Another open house will follow on Feb. 20; on Feb. 21 the center will formally open, and timed tickets will become available.
¶So now the tale’s conclusion will be reached in a $25 million, 10-story building next to the house in which Lincoln died and across from the theater where he was shot: the Center for Education and Leadership.
¶Wait a minute, you might think. Education and leadership? The Civil War is barely over. Lincoln is dead. The nation is in shock. How do we get from there to a “center for education and leadership?”
¶I have questions about that, but before exploring the quirks of contemporary commemoration, it is worth paying tribute to what has been accomplished. Lincoln has long been at the heart of the capital city: the National Mall is an affirmation of the Union he championed, the Lincoln Memorial on one end, and the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial on the other. But there was, until recently, no extensive exhibition here about Lincoln and his times. Ford’s Theater, Mr. Tetreault explained, used to be a brief stopping point.
¶Now, with these exhibitions, Lincoln has found a home in a place best known for his death. With the historian Richard Norton Smith as adviser, and displays designed by Split Rock Studios and Northern Light Productions, Mr. Tetreault has given visitors a grounding in the history of Lincoln’s time, a sense of the melodrama of his murder and an affirmation of Lincoln’s influence.
¶The biography is omitted — for that you should visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., which turns his life into a series of special effects and tableaus — and his ideas could be more fervently explored, but there may be no better survey of Lincoln than the one offered here.
¶The emphasis is not on artifacts, though you can see the ring of keys found on Booth’s body and other objects. But the exhibition succeeds because of a careful narrative, well-chosen images and informative touch screens; the new completes the old.
¶After you leave a reproduction of the deathbed in the Petersen House, you enter the new building, as if emerging into the Washington streets the morning after Lincoln’s death. Church bells are tolling; broadsheets are plastered on walls.
¶The panel text makes the atmospherics even more vivid. We learn that when Edwin Booth, the Shakespearean actor, heard what his brother had done, he said, “It was just as if I was struck on the forehead with a hammer.”
¶Mary Todd Lincoln was so mad with grief that White House pallbearers went barefoot, so sounds would not distress her. She neither attended the Washington service nor accompanied the coffin on its 1,700-mile railway journey to Springfield for burial.
¶That journey is evoked in a gallery space resembling the train car that carried the coffin. And touch-screen monitors give us the details: seven million people viewed the body where it was shown along the way, or congregated along the tracks; 300,000 in Philadelphia alone.
¶There were hints of Lincoln’s legacy in the tributes, and signs of unfinished business too. In Washington the 22nd United States Colored Infantry headed the procession; in New York the City Council refused to allow blacks to march at all. Its ruling was overturned by Lincoln’s secretary of war, Edwin Stanton.
¶In counterpoint to the funeral train, we get a survey of Booth’s flight through the Virginia marshes. Parts of his diary are transcribed onto touch screens. Booth was bewildered by the manhunt: “I am here in despair. And why? For doing what Brutus was honored for.”
¶He is tracked to a tobacco barn that is set ablaze and is shot by an overzealous soldier; his co-conspirators are hanged. Reconstruction begins, falters and ends.
¶In a panel about Lincoln’s vice president, the Democrat Andrew Johnson, we see how quickly the world Lincoln opposed oozed back into place. As president, Johnson vetoed civil rights legislation, approved of “Black Codes” limiting the freedom of former slaves, and wrote, “This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am president, it shall be a government for white men.”
¶Was Booth, then, ultimately triumphant? He certainly altered the shape of Reconstruction. As a result, the exhibition points out, by the 19th century’s end, Lincoln was recalled differently from the way he had been just after the war. At first he was remembered as a liberator, undermining the culture of enslavement; later memorials emphasized instead his devotion to the Union.
¶But we also learn of Lincoln’s afterlife and nearly universal appeal. President Dwight D. Eisenhower kept a complete set of Lincoln’s writings in the Oval Office. Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that “it was time” for Democrats to “claim Lincoln as one of our own.” The only portrait that the Chinese leader Sun Yat-sen kept in his home was one of Lincoln, while Mao directed his followers to memorize the Gettysburg Address. Here too is Lincoln’s popular heritage, in Lincoln Logs, cartoons, knickknacks.
¶In the new building’s atrium lobby is a 34-foot-high tower that seems constructed from 7,000 books about Lincoln (executed in aluminum). Actually about 200 titles repeat, but the point is made.
¶Why this influence? That is the question addressed in the Leadership Gallery, which houses a temporary exhibition that highlights the center’s educational approach, with its two floors of classrooms and meeting facilities. Lincoln, we read, “has inspired politicians, businessmen and community activists across the globe.” Why? “Perhaps because throughout his life — and during America’s worst crisis — Lincoln championed effective principles of leadership: Courage. Integrity. Empathy and tolerance. Ideals of equality. Creativity and innovation.”
¶Displays are devoted to those themes. Integrity, for example, is reflected in an 1854 Lincoln speech: “Stand with anybody that stands right.” And we are challenged with a contemporary “dilemma”: your boss intends to lay off most of the workforce and has confessed to you that he has fabricated examples of worker negligence, but your job will be spared. What do you do?
¶A historical model is provided: Janusz Korczak, a Jewish physician who was director of the Jewish orphanage in Warsaw when the Nazis took power. When the orphans were forced into the ghetto, he declined an opportunity to escape. He even joined his children as they were herded onto trains traveling to Treblinka.
¶But is this even remotely comparable to the “dilemma”? The contemporary situation requires sifting moral and practical choices — leave the job, inform your colleagues — not comforting terrified children headed to slaughter.
¶And what has this to do with Lincoln? Was he a protester or civil rights activist like other models of leadership featured here: Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony and Gandhi? Hardly. During the war’s first years, he was a flawed leader gaining experience.
¶As for racial relations, an intelligent drama commissioned by the theater and now being performed there, “Necessary Sacrifices,” by Richard Hellesen, imagines the two meetings Lincoln had with Frederick Douglass, suggesting how complex the president’s views were. And in some respects Lincoln was fervently intolerant: he could abide no attempt to split the Union. He saw unity as proof that the American experiment could long endure.
¶Why couldn’t a more profound examination of Lincoln be at the heart of the educational program instead of platitudes? As Ford’s Theater has shown when answering to the better angels of its nature, Lincoln transcends contemporary homilies about activism and leadership. So, in balance, does Ford’s Theater.
USS William D. Porter
Reply #89 on:
February 22, 2012, 04:34:05 PM »
A BIZARRE BIT OF U.S. NAVAL HISTORY ABOUT WHICH MOST AMERICANS KNOW ZILCH
From November 1943, until her demise in June 1945, the American destroyer
'William D. Porter' was often hailed - whenever she entered port or joined other
Naval ships with the greetings: "Don't shoot, we're Republicans!'
For a half a century, the US Navy kept a lid on the details of the
incident that prompted this salutation. A Miami news reporter made the
first public disclosure in 1958 after he stumbled upon the truth while
covering a reunion of the destroyer's crew. The Pentagon reluctantly
and tersely confirmed his story, but only a smattering of newspapers
In 1943, the Willie D as the Porter was nicknamed, accidentally fired a
live torpedo at the battleship Iowa during a practice exercise. As if
this weren't bad enough, the Iowa was carrying President Franklin D.
Roosevelt at the time, along with Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, and
all of the country's W.W.II military brass. They were headed for the
Big Three Conference in Tehran, where Roosevelt was to meet Stalin and
Had the Porter's torpedo struck the Iowa at the aiming point, the last
60 years of world history might have been quite different. The USS
William D Porter (DD-579) was one of hundreds of assembly line
destroyers built during the war. They mounted several heavy and light
guns, but their main armament consisted of 10 fast-running and accurate
torpedoes that carried 500-pound warheads. This destroyer was placed in
commission on July 1943 under the command of Wilfred Walker, a man on
the Navy's fast career track.
In the months before she was detailed to accompany the Iowa across the
Atlantic in November 1943, the Porter and her crew learned their trade,
experiencing the normal problems that always beset a new ship and a
The mishaps grew more serious when she became an escort for the pride
of the fleet, the big new battleship Iowa. The night before they left
Norfolk, bound for North Africa, the Porter accidentally damaged a
nearby sister ship when she backed down along the other ship's side and
her anchor tore down the other ship's railings, life rafts, ship's boat
and various other formerly valuable pieces of equipment. The Willie D
merely had a scraped anchor, but her career of mayhem and mishaps had
Just twenty four hours later, the four-ship convoy, consisting of Iowa
and her secret passengers, the Willie D, and two other destroyers, was
under strict instructions to maintain complete radio silence. Since
they were going through a known U-boat feeding ground, speed and
silence were the best defense.
Suddenly, a tremendous explosion rocked the convoy. All of the ships
commenced anti-submarine maneuvers. This continued until the Porter
sheepishly admitted that one of her depth charges had fallen off her
stern and exploded. The 'safety' had not been set as instructed.
Captain Walker was watching his fast track career become side-tracked.
Shortly thereafter, a freak wave inundated the ship, stripping away
everything that wasn't lashed down. A man washed overboard and was
never found. Next, the fire room lost power in one of its boilers.
The Captain, at this point, was making reports almost hourly to the
Iowa about the Willie D's difficulties. It would have been merciful if
the force commander had detached the hard luck ship and sent her back
to Norfolk. But, no, she sailed on.
The morning of 14 November 1943 dawned with a moderate sea and pleasant
weather. The Iowa and her escorts were just east of Bermuda, and the
president and his guests wanted to see how the big ship could defend
herself against an air attack. So, the Iowa launched a number of
weather balloons to use as anti-aircraft targets. It was exciting to
see more than 100 guns shooting at the balloons, and the President was
proud of his Navy.
Just as proud was Admiral Ernest J King, the Chief of Naval Operations;
large in size and by demeanor, a true monarch of the sea.
Disagreeing with him meant the end of a naval career. Up to this time,
no one knew what firing a torpedo at him would mean. Over on the Willie
D, Captain Walker watched the fireworks display with admiration and
Thinking about career redemption and breaking the hard luck spell, the
Captain sent his impatient crew to battle stations. They began to shoot
down the balloons the Iowa had missed as they drifted into the Porter's
Down on the torpedo mounts, the crew watched, waiting to take some
practice shots of their own on the big battleship, which, even though
6,000 yards away, seemed to blot out the horizon. Lawton Dawson and
Tony Fazio were among those responsible for the torpedoes. Part of
their job involved ensuring that the primers were installed during
actual combat and removed during practice. Once a primer was installed,
on a command to fire, it would explode shooting the torpedo out of its
Dawson, on this particular morning, unfortunately had forgotten to
remove the primer from torpedo tube #3. Up on the bridge, a new torpedo
officer, unaware of the danger, ordered a simulated firing. "Fire 1,
Fire 2," and finally, "Fire 3." There was no Fire 4 as the sequence was
interrupted by an unmistakable whooooooshhhhing sound made by a
successfully launched and armed torpedo. Lt H. Steward Lewis, who
witnessed the entire event, later described the next few minutes as
what hell would look like if it ever broke loose.
Just after he saw the torpedo hit water on its way to the Iowa and some
of the most prominent figures in world history, Lewis innocently asked
the Captain, 'Did you give permission to fire a torpedo?' Captain
Walker's reply will not ring down through naval history, although words
to the effect of Farragut's immortal 'Damn the torpedoes' figured
Initially there was some reluctance to admit what had happened, or even
to warn the Iowa. As the awful reality sunk in, people began racing
around, shouting conflicting instructions and attempting to warn the
flagship of imminent danger.
First, there was a flashing light warning about the torpedo which
unfortunately indicated the torpedo was headed in another direction.
Next, the Porter signaled that the torpedo was going reverse at full
Finally, they decided to break the strictly enforced radio silence. The
radio operator on the destroyer transmitted "'Lion (code for the Iowa),
Lion, come right." The Iowa operator, more concerned about radio
procedure, requested that the offending station identify itself first.
Finally, the message was received and the Iowa began turning to avoid
the speeding torpedo.
Meanwhile, on the Iowa's bridge, word of the torpedo firing had reached
FDR, who asked that his wheelchair be moved to the railing so he could
see better what was coming his way. His loyal Secret Service guard
immediately drew his pistol as if he was going to shoot the torpedo. As
the Iowa began evasive maneuvers, all of her guns were trained on
the William D. Porter. There was now some thought that the Porter was
part of an assassination plot.
Within moments of the warning, there was a tremendous explosion just
behind the battleship. The torpedo had been detonated by the wash
kicked up by the battleship's increased speed.
The crisis was over and so was Captain Walker's career. His final
utterance to the Iowa, in response to a question about the origin of
the torpedo, was a weak, "We did it."
Shortly thereafter, the brand new destroyer, her Captain and the entire
crew were placed under arrest and sent to Bermuda for trial. It was the
first time that a complete ship's company had been arrested in the
history of the US Navy.
The ship was surrounded by Marines when it docked in Bermuda, and held
there several days as the closed session inquiry attempted to determine
what had happened.
Torpedo man Dawson eventually confessed to having inadvertently left
the primer in the torpedo tube, which caused the launching. Dawson had
thrown the used primer over the side to conceal his mistake. The whole
incident was chalked up to an unfortunate set of circumstances and
placed under a cloak of secrecy.
Someone had to be punished. Captain Walker and several other Porter
officers and sailors eventually found themselves in obscure shore
assignments. Dawson was sentenced to 14 years hard labor.
President Roosevelt intervened; however, asking that no punishment be
meted out for what was clearly an accident.
The destroyer William D. Porter was banished to the upper Aleutians. It
was probably thought this was as safe a place as any for the ship and
anyone who came near her.
She remained in the frozen north for almost a year, until late 1944,
when she was re-assigned to the Western Pacific. However, before leaving
the Aleutians, she accidentally left her calling card in the form of a
five-inch shell fired into the front yard of the American Base
Commander, thus rearranging his flower garden rather suddenly.
In December, 1944, the Porter joined the Philippine invasion forces and
acquitted herself quite well. She distinguished herself by shooting
down a number of attacking Japanese aircraft. Regrettably, after the
war, it was reported that she also shot down three American planes.
This was a common event on ships, as many gunners, fearful of
kamikazes, had nervous trigger fingers.
In April, 1945, the destroyer Porter was assigned to support the
invasion of Okinawa. By this time, the greeting "Don't Shoot, We're
Republicans" was commonplace and the crew of the Willie D had become
used to the ribbing.
But the crew of her sister ship, the USS Luce, was not so polite in its
salutations after the Porter accidentally riddled her side and
superstructure with gunfire.
On 10 June, 1945, the Porter's hard luck finally ran out. She was sunk
by a plane which had (unintentionally) attacked it from underwater. A
Japanese bomber made almost entirely of wood and canvas slipped through
the Navy's defense.
Having little in the way of metal surfaces, the plane didn't register
on radar. A fully loaded kamikaze, it was headed for a ship near the
Porter, but just at the last moment veered away and crashed alongside
the unlucky destroyer. There was a sigh of relief as the plane sunk out
of sight, but then it blew up underneath the Porter, opening her hull
in the worst possible place.
Three hours later, after the last man was off board, the Captain jumped
to the safety of a rescue vessel and the ship that almost changed world
history slipped astern into 2,400 feet of water. Not a single soul was
lost in the sinking. After everything else that happened, it was almost
as if the ship decided to let her crew off at the end.
Written by Kit Bonner, a noted Naval Historian.
Morris: 1940, when Brits, Libs, and Dems, chose the Rep candidate
Reply #90 on:
March 03, 2012, 10:28:45 AM »
Not infrequently, e.g. here
Dick Morris gets well outside his lane as a pollster, but the talk is interesting so I post it.
JFK's planned 11/22 speech
Reply #91 on:
March 12, 2012, 09:16:44 PM »
"Above all, words alone are not enough. The United States is a peaceful nation. And where our strength and determination are clear, our words need merely to convey conviction, not belligerence. If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help."
Oswald did it
Reply #92 on:
March 18, 2012, 11:07:40 PM »
For decades now, I have been amongst the doubters of the Warren Commission's findings on the assassination of President Kennedy.
I have changed my mind due to a fascinating piece on the Military channel tonight. Extremely well done, bringing new technology to bear, using military snipers, and intelligent and scientific re-enactiments; my doubts (time for Oswald's shot from the 6th floor of the book repository, the direction of the blood splatter, etc) are laid to rest.
Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 05:20:41 PM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Oswald did it
Reply #93 on:
March 19, 2012, 04:07:49 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on March 18, 2012, 11:07:40 PM
For decades now, I have been amongst the doubters of the Warren Commission's findings on the assassintation of President Kennedy.
I have changed my mind due to a fascinating piece on the Military channel tonight. Extremely well done, bringing new technology to bear, using military snipers, and intelligent and scientific re-enactiments; my doubts (time for Oswald's shot from the 6th floor of the book repository, the direction of the blood splatter, etc) are laid to rest.
Quite a few years ago, the International Homicide Investigators Assn. addressed this topic and came to the same conclusion.
WSJ: Among the powers of the earth
Reply #94 on:
March 22, 2012, 08:43:25 AM »
By WILLIAM ANTHONY HAY
The Declaration of Independence speaks of America taking its place among "the independent powers of the earth." As it turned out, a few such powers played a role in the American Revolution—think only of France's support for the rebellious colonists. The declaration also speaks of "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind." Those opinions, Eliga H. Gould argues, would direct the course of the young nation after independence. In "Among the Powers of the Earth," Mr. Gould, a history professor at the University of New Hampshire, shows how the dynamics of international relations transformed the Atlantic world as the United States entered it and thereafter helped to define the country itself. His shrewd analysis offers a valuable perspective on American history during a formative era.
Mr. Gould rightly emphasizes the importance of law—both national and international—to sovereignty. He argues that "the drive to be accepted as a treaty-worthy nation in Europe" shaped the early Republic at least as much as republican ideals. The United States accepted the norms of international treaties and diplomatic custom—the obligation to respect the persons and property of foreign subjects, for instance, or to exercise military force within the emerging laws of war. Just as important, the new nation worked to bring the territories it claimed for itself under legal authority. Sovereignty had to be exercised as well as recognized.
, , ,
Before America's independence, the imperial Atlantic world had operated as an extension of Europe, in the form of colonies and trading networks. But the terms of governance, Mr. Gould notes, were sometimes weak. Competing local authorities, including those of indigenous peoples, laid claim to rights and jurisdictions, and colonists often acted as a law unto themselves. Even European authorities treated their overseas realms as places where European norms did not always apply. In certain matters, distance gave colonial governments latitude to manage their own affairs.
Among the Powers of the Earth
By Eliga H. Gould
(Harvard, 301 pages, $45)
Starting in the 1750s, however, Britain began to regulate colonial trade more closely and, with various reforms, to tighten its control over the colonies. Americans became more accountable to British treaties in Europe, especially those that defined maritime and commercial law. New England merchants, for example, were asked to pay taxes and to refrain from unlicensed trade with the colonies of other European powers.
The new policy followed a clear logic. Unless Britain enforced the navigation acts (i.e., the laws that governed external trade) and other regulations, it left its New World colonies increasingly connected to the foreign powers with which they traded. A British pamphleteer logically warned that, if the American colonies evaded the navigations acts, they would be "no longer British Colonies, but Colonies of the Countries they trade to."
The people within the colonies most affected by such reforms—particularly merchants and ship captains who preferred the looser regulations of the past—resented the emerging system of metropolitan control. They began to lead colonial opposition, and their agitation soon won support from a population angered by the increasing pressure from London. As we know, tensions escalated into open revolt in the 1770s.
John Dickinson warned the Continental Congress that declaring independence would leave Americans strangers amid the "states of the world" and braving "the storm in a skiff of paper." After independence, Americans themselves faced the problems of governance that had prompted Britain's attempts at imperial reform. Despite America's military victory and the formal recognition granted by the 1782 Treaty of Paris, Britain and other European states did not completely accept American sovereignty. The unsettled condition of the new nation under the Articles of Confederation raised questions about where sovereignty resided and whether agreements bound the individual states.
Thus foreign policy drove efforts to "secure a more perfect union." John Jay argued that an effective federal government could better meet treaty obligations and thereby secure the rights of sovereignty that would make independence real. In 1787, the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation. In the next two decades, the United States would assert control over the territories of the Louisiana Purchase and would annex Florida. By exercising its sovereignty, and not just securing its independence, the new nation was able to claim a place among the powers of the earth.
Scholars of European history have long argued for the primacy of foreign affairs in driving state formation and shaping politics. But American observers—scholars and generalists alike—have rarely applied this idea to the history of their own country before 1900. America in its formative stages is usually viewed apart from the international system—as a promised land separated from the rest of the world by two oceans and shaped by its own lofty ideals. But in fact, as Mr. Gould shows, America came into its own only by claiming full membership in the community of nations. Mr. Gould is right to give greater attention to this neglected theme in American history.
Mr. Hay, a historian at Mississippi State University, is the author of "The Whig Revival, 1808-1830."
Morris: President Andrew Johnson
Reply #95 on:
March 24, 2012, 12:40:50 PM »
As is his wont, well outside his lane, Dick Morris on President Andrew Johnson
Don't mess with my boy
Reply #96 on:
March 24, 2012, 02:20:06 PM »
says this lady of Dick Morris' rant:
Johnson family gossip
Reply #97 on:
March 24, 2012, 02:26:54 PM »
A distant relative of Abe Lincoln married Eliza to Andrew Johnson (long before Abe was President) when she was 16 and he 18:
Articles of Confederation
Reply #98 on:
March 26, 2012, 10:26:43 PM »
Was slavery the cause of the Civil War?
Reply #99 on:
April 07, 2012, 09:06:11 AM »
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