March 30, 1842: First Use of Ether in Surgery

Thursday, March 30, AD 2017

Surgery took a giant leap forward one hundred and seventy-five years ago thanks to Doctor Crawford W. Long.  On that date in Jefferson, Georgia he used ether on James M. Venable before removing a tumor from his neck.  The procedure was a success and Long used ether for surgeries and in his obstetrics practice.  He published the results of his use of ether in 1849 in The Southern Medical and Surgery Journal.  Dentist William T. G. Morton had demonstrated the use of ether before an audience of physicians on October 16, 1846 in the operating theater of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  His publication of this event in December 1846 alerted Long to the claim of Morton to be the discoverer of the use of ether in surgery.  Long wrote of the controversy in his 1849 article:

A controversy soon ensued between Messrs. Jackson, Morton and Wells, in regard to who was entitled to the honor of being the discoverer of the anaesthetic powers of ether, and a considerable time elapsed before I was able to ascertain the exact period when their first operations were performed. Ascertaining this fact, through negligence I have now permitted a much longer time to elapse than I designed, or than my professional friends with whom I consulted advised; but as no account has been published, (so far as I have been able to ascertain), of the inhalation of ether being used to prevent pain in surgical operations as early as March, 1842. My friends think I would be doing myself injustice, not to notify my brethren of the medical profession of my priority of the use of ether by inhalation in surgical practice.

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Kelly’s Irish Brigade

Saturday, March 18, AD 2017

 

(I first posted this in 2010.  Over they years it has proven quite popular judging from the number of hits it has received, so I thought this weekend would be a good one to post it again.)

I have had a few posts, here, here  and here, on the famous Irish Brigade that fought for the Union in the Army of the Potomac.  There were however other Irish units, North and South.  This song celebrates Kelly’s Irish Brigade that fought for the Confederacy in the West.  The Brigade was actually a regiment, the Washington Blues, organized by Joseph Kelly, a grocer in Saint Louis, prior to the Civil War.  Kelly was an Irish immigrant as were most of the men in his regiment.  They provided good service for the Confederacy, and you may read about them here.

Listen all ye that hold communion
With Southern Confederates who are bold,
And I will tell you of some men for the Union
Who in northern ranks were enrolled;
They came to Missouri in their glory
And thought at their might we’d be dismayed;
But they soon had a different story
When they met Kelly’s Irish Brigade.

CHORUS:
When they met with the Irish Brigade me boys
When they met with the Irish Brigade
Didn’t those cowardly Lincolnites tremble
When they met with the Irish Brigade.

They have called us rebels and traitors,
But themselves have thrown off that name of late.
They were called it by the English invaders
At home in the eve of ninety eight
The name to us is not a new one though,
Tis one that shall never degrade
Any true-hearted Irishmen
In the ranks of Kelly’s Irish Brigade.

CHORUS

Well they dare not call us invaders,
‘Tis but state rights and liberty we ask;
And Missouri, we will ever defend her,
No matter how hard may be the task.
Then let true Irishmen assemble,
Let the voice of Missouri be obeyed;
And the northern fanatics will tremble
When again they meet Kelly’s Irish Brigade.

CHORUS

 

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The Good Old Days

Thursday, October 27, AD 2016

“People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.”

Edmund Burke

 

Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts muses as to how conservatives and leftists view the past and the present:

 

Or not, depending on your point of view.  A basic difference between a more progressive spin on America and a more traditional spin is that progressives tend to believe America can be a great nation despite the evils of its past, while traditionalists tend to believe that America has been a great nation despite the evils in its past. Likewise, those who swing to the Left tend to see the changes happening as positive, while those who are more conservative will obviously see many changes as negative, especially if they’ve changed important characteristics of their society.  That Americans are divided along political lines over wanting America the way it used to be or not shouldn’t be surprising.  Nor should we assume that when people say they want the past, that they necessarily want the evils of the past.  An interesting, but hardly surprising, survey.

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4 Responses to The Good Old Days

  • I believe that is much of life. You don’t have to forget the bad, but dwelling on it leads only to despair. Best to dwell on the good memories and moments. Then…

    “The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why…the Blessed will say “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven, : and the Lost, “We were always in Hell.” And both will speak truly.”

  • “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
    The American Flag belongs to each and every sovereign person, each and every citizen, in joint and common tenancy as the standard of the United States of America; as the symbol of the freedom and independence of each and every sovereign person who institutes government and establishes our nation, from the Founding Fathers to all “We, the people” a community of sovereign persons who are the ancestors of all future generations, our constitutional Posterity.
    In their myopic tunnel vision squandered in prejudice and partisanship The Supreme Court at one time decided that burning the American Flag was “freedom of speech” guarded by the First Amendment. Like “Heil Hitler”, it was free speech. Only TRUTH has free speech. TRUTH is that the American Flag belongs to each and every citizen in joint and common tenancy. And burning the American Flag is and was an assault on our freedom, on our private and common property. Burning an auditorium filled with people then can be considered free speech and peaceable assembly.
    Those individuals who cannot express themselves without injuring the whole nation must be deported to anyplace but American soil. Their free will choice, not ours.

  • A very frustrating poll. “Mostly changed for the better” versus “mostly changed for the worse”. The question isn’t designed to elicit an intellectual response. To give it an intellectual answer, you’d need to define culture, lay out a list of the major changes to it in the last 60 years, and assign them weights. A person could spend a lifetime making that calculation. What the pollsters are really after is an instinctive response. Such a response can have value in understanding groups, but it’s got tremendous limitations. You could use it to develop an ad campaign, for example, but you couldn’t use it for policy analysis. The HuffPo headlines is a complete misuse of the poll: “Half Of Americans Want To Take The Country Back To The 1950s”. That doesn’t describe the results, or presumably the thinking of those polled. It’s written to make those who would have answered one way feel themselves better than those who would have answered the other way.

  • I was born in 1934 and grew up in Detroit. Hope and opportunity abounded. And then things changed. Democrats took over the administration and the slope to total devastation began in the culture and the Catholic Church with Vatican II where extreme left wing thinking was standard. Peak year in America was 1955. Just my opinion, of course. Nothing good comes from the left wing. They are all about taking and not giving. They are all about control and not freedom. Liberalism is purely evil.

April 25, 1976: Saving the Flag

Monday, April 25, AD 2016

I am not much of a baseball fan, but I have always remembered Cubs centerfielder Rick Monday saving the flag from two loons who sought to burn it on the field during a game on April 25, 1976 between the Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Field.   When Monday came to bat the next time in the game he received a standing ovation from the crowd.   The Dodgers went on to win the game 5-4 in ten innings, but Rick Monday, nonetheless, went home a winner.

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4 Responses to April 25, 1976: Saving the Flag

  • “If that’s all your known for its not a bad thing.”
    -Rick Monday.

    I’m a softy. This was a pleasurable tear that visited my cheek this morning. GREAT job Don. Thanks for the lift.

    While we were praying in front of PP Saturday a very small group of “Students for Planned Parenthood,” came out with their pink signs and went to the ends of our line of protesters.
    Bookends if you will. I was moved to reach beyond them, and I did, then the Holy Spirit spoke through me to them. We talked about the Holocaust. The WWII holocaust and our on going holocaust, and the similarities. Never did the pitch of our voices raise into fury, but they did not light the flag Saturday either. They did not have a win. They couldn’t even pick up their heads as we spoke about the killings of children going on and how they themselves had survived the Holocaust of abortion.

    This morning clip reminded me that, if all I’m known for is trying my best to save a child from death…than that’s not a bad thing to be known for. God bless Rick Monday.

  • Comment of the week Philip! Take ‘er away Sam!

  • Rick Monday should be in Cooperstown.

December 14, 1836: End of Toledo War

Monday, December 14, AD 2015

Toledo strip

 

An intriguing, but largely overlooked, feature of American history is the disputes that almost came to blows between states and territories.  One of these was the Toledo War between Michigan and Ohio.  Due to conflicting State and Federal legislation, the State of Ohio and the Territory of Michigan claimed 486 square miles in what is now the northern border of Ohio with Michigan.  The Northwest Ordinance decreed that the boundary line between north and south states in the territory would be the southern extremity of Lake Michigan.  At that time Congress had no idea just how far south Lake Michigan extended.  The Territory of Michigan claimed what was known as the Toledo Strip based upon the Ordinance while Ohio claimed the land under Ohio state legislation.

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One Response to December 14, 1836: End of Toledo War

  • In colonial times, Connecticut claimed what is the northern half of Pennsylvania, extending to what is now Northeast Ohio, once known as the Western Reserve. The Yankee Pennonite War was fought between Connecticut settlers and Pennsylvanians around Wilkes Barre.
    Later, Virginia and Pennsylvania squabbled over the control of the Forks and Fort Pitt. This was not settled until 1781 or 1783, and was significant due to the Ohio River bring the first highway to the West and to the coal reserves around the Forks ( which became Pittsburgh).
    Virginia claimed the Northwest Territory, while Connecticut still claimed the Western Reserve. Both gave up their claims when Ohio became a state.

The Many Faces of Dalton Trumbo

Tuesday, August 18, AD 2015

Hollywood …



… and history:

Hollywood’s Trumbo appears to be something of a whitewash of Stalinist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Portrayed as a victim of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), a closer investigation of history reveals that he did his fair share of censoring and “blacklisting” himself — against anti-Communists within the industry.

  • Hollywood’s Missing Movies: Why American films have ignored life under communism, by Kenneth Lloyd Billingsly. Reason June 2000:

    if Comintern fantasies of a Soviet Hollywood were never realized, party functionaries nevertheless played a significant role: They were sometimes able to prevent the production of movies they opposed. The party had not only helped organize the Screen Writers Guild, it had organized the Story Analysts Guild as well. Story analysts judge scripts and film treatments early in the decision making process. A dismissive report often means that a studio will pass on a proposed production. The party was thus well positioned to quash scripts and treatments with anti-Soviet content, along with stories that portrayed business and religion in a favorable light. In The Worker, Dalton Trumbo openly bragged that the following works had not reached the screen: Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon and The Yogi and the Commissar; Victor Kravchenko’s I Chose Freedom; and Bernard Clare by James T. Farrell, also author of Studs Lonigan and vilified by party enforcer Mike Gold as “a vicious, voluble Trotskyite.”

  • The Stalinist Ten–A True Story About Communists in the Movie Industry, by Allan H. Ryskind. [excerpt from the newly released book, Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters – Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler, by Allan H. Ryskind]:

    Trumbo is less well known for a script that never made it to the screen: An American Story, whose plot outline, in the words of film historian Bernard F. Dick, goes like this: North Korea finally decides “to put an end to the border warfare instigated by South Korea by embarking upon a war of independence in June 1950.” (In his papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Trumbo says he “dramatized” Kim Il-sung’s supposedly righteous war for a group of fellow Communist screenwriters, including at least two Hollywood Ten members.)

    Trumbo also seemed to think that Stalin needed a bit of a reputation upgrade. So one finds in his papers a proposed novel, apparently written in the 1950s, in which a wise old Russian defends Stalin’s murderous reign as necessary for the supposedly grand achievements of Soviet socialism.

    Those celebrating Trumbo today as a sort of saintly curmudgeon do not feel obligated to mention this aspect of his Red ideology, nor do they point to his writings during the Soviet-Nazi Pact, when he was excusing Hitler’s con- quests. “To the vanquished,” he airily dismissed the critics of Nazi brutality, “all conquerors are inhuman.” For good measure he demonized Hitler’s major enemy, Great Britain, insisting that England was not a democracy, because it had a king, and accused FDR of “treason” and “black treason” for attempting to assist the British in their life-and-death struggle against the despot in Berlin.

  • Hollywood Celebrates Another Stalinist, by Allan H. Ryskind. CNSNews.com 01/05/15:

    … The evidence of Trumbo’s Red activities is hardly secret. He came clean, sort of, to his biographer, Bruce Cook, a writer of the upcoming Trumbo screenplay. He told Cook in the 1970s that he joined the party in 1943 (some FBI informants think he joined in the 1930s), that some of his “very best friends” were Communists and that “I might as well have been a Communist 10 years earlier….” He also says, about joining the party: “But I’ve never regretted it. As a matter of fact, it’s possible to say I would have regretted not having done it….”

    He said he let his party membership lapse after his HUAC appearance, possibly finding it difficult to pay his party dues after he was blacklisted, but he never publicly turned his back on communism or Stalin. Indeed, in his private papers he admits that he “reaffiliated with the party in 1954,” apparently his passion for a Communist America burning brightly as ever. So, by the historical record and his own account, he was in tune with the Soviet Union for nearly a quarter of a century, when Stalin was in his prime killing years.

  • Will the new Trumbo movie rehash old myths?, by Ronald Radosh. National Review 11/02/13:

    [Trumbo] bragged how he had used his position to stop anti-Communist films from being made. Stalin, he said, was “one of the democratic leaders of the world,” so he used his position to stop Trotsky’s biography of the dictator from being filmed, and did the same with anti-Communist books by James T. Farrell, Victor Kravchenko, and Arthur Koestler, all of which he called “untrue” and “reactionary.” As he explained in 1954 to a fellow blacklisted writer, the Communist party had a “fine tradition . . . that whenever a book or play or film is produced which is harmful to the best interests of the working class, that work and its author should and must be attacked in the sharpest possible terms.”

    Two years later, when many Communists learned some of the truth about Stalin from the Khrushchev speech, Trumbo wrote a comrade that he was not surprised. He explained that he had read the books by Koestler, George Orwell, James Burnham, Eugene Lyons, and Isaac Don Levine, who all had exposed the truth about the Soviet Union. These, of course, were the very books he had made sure would never be turned into movies. Trumbo supported Stalin, all the while knowing that he was a monster.

  • Flipping Hollywood’s Blacklist Narrative, by Ron Capshaw. Library of Law and Liberty 01/25/15:

    … All in all, Ryskind’s work is a welcome addition to the anticommunist corrections to the blacklist legend. He has written a convincing and well-sourced follow up to the pioneering effort of the Radoshes. Moreover, he has refused to play the warped victim son of a writer who was much maligned in his time and may have been black-listed (Morrie never got another script accepted after 1945). Instead he has focused on disputing how Hollywood then and now has rehabiliated what in essence were Stalinists.

  • Exclusive Author Interview with Allan Ryskind, Author of “Hollywood Traitors”, by Christopher N. Malagisi.
  • Who was Dalton Trumbo, Screenwriter and Stalinist?, by Ron Capshaw. The American Spectator 01/06/15.

  • Dalton Got His Gun, by Stefan Kanfer. City Journal 02/27/15. “The lodestar of the Hollywood blacklist was all that his fans said he was—and less.” [Review of Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical by Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo, and Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters, Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler by Allan H. Ryskind].
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4 Responses to The Many Faces of Dalton Trumbo

  • Stalin will always have his defenders.

    As recently as 2006, Alain Badiou, the long-serving professor of philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, France’s leading teacher training college for university lecturers and high school principals, wrote in his Logiques des mondes that “Materialist dialectics assumes, without particular joy, that, till now, no political subject was able to arrive at the eternity of the truth it was deploying without moments of terror. Since, as Saint-Just asked: “What do those who want neither Virtue nor Terror want?” His answer is well-known: they want corruption – another name for the subject’s defeat.”

    The scourge of the French Socialist Party (the equivalent of the American Democratic Party), Badiou is tireless in insisting that “if you say A – equality, human rights and freedoms – you should not shirk from its consequences and gather the courage to say B – the terror needed to really defend and assert the A.”

    In 2014, at the age of 77, Badiou became president of The Global Center for Advanced Studies in Wyoming MI

  • Great post, Chris.
    ***
    The fact is that Hollywood is getting ready to beatify via cinema a man who was a vocal apologist for Hitler when it suited Stalin to ally himself to Hitler, who then, after the war, compared Winston Churchill to the Nazis for warning about Soviet expansionism.
    ***
    The irony. The man who stood virtually alone in defiantly battling the Nazis gets compared to the Nazis by a small, trifling man who actually propagandized on behalf of the Nazis and was an active apologist for their oppression of those whom they vanquished.
    ***
    And this small, trifling man who justified the worst deprivations of freedom by the worst monsters in history (in Stalin, Hitler, and Kim Il-Sung) is who Hollywood, unsurprisingly, has chosen to make a “hero”, “defender” of freedom, and “martyr” to “right-wing repression”.

  • Great. Hollywood, under the guise of celebrating freedom, will lionize a guy whose sympathies lay with a system built on anything but.
    .
    And the sheep will eat and they will be made glad.
    .
    “If you control the past, you control the present.” – George Orwell, 1984

Apostle of California

Friday, January 16, AD 2015

(Apparently Pope Francis is going to canonize Father Serra during his visit to the US this year.  Finally!  Time to repost this post that ran in 2011.)

 

 

By the 18th Century Spain’s glory days were in her past, and her time as a great power was rapidly coming to an end.  It is therefore somewhat unusual that at this period in her history, Spain added to her vast colonial empire.  It would never have occurred but for the drive of one Spanish governor and the burning desire of a saint to spread the Gospel of Christ.

Miquel Josep Serra i Ferrer was born on the island of Majorca, the largest of the Balearic islands, off the Mediterranean coast of Spain on November 24, 1713.  From his youth he had a desire to join the Franciscans and on September 14, 1730 he entered the Order of Friars Minor, and took the name of Junipero after Saint Junipero, one of the closest companions of Saint Francis.  He had a sharp mind, and before his ordination to the priesthood was appointed lector of philosophy.  He would go on to earn a doctorate in philosophy from Lullian University and went on to occupy the Duns Scotus chair of philosophy there.  A quiet life teaching philosophy was his for the asking.  Instead, he went off to be a missionary in the New World in 1749.

His first assignment was to teach in Mexico City, but that was not why he had left the Old World.  At his request he was assigned to the Sierra Gorda Indian missions in Central Mexico as a mission priest, a task which occupied him  for the next nine years.

In 1768 he was appointed the head of 15 Franciscans in Baja California who were taking over Jesuit missions to the Indians there, following the suppression of the Jesuit Order.  It was in Baja California that he met the Governor of that province, Gaspar de Portola.

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  • Hi Don:
    Very interesting. Didn’t know about this ‘Christians in the Movies” candidate. Only question regards his being born in Mallorca and your calling him Catalan like the governor . I guess his parents settled there after leaving Catalonia. Thanks for all your interesting posts.
    Peter

  • (Don’s wife Cathy:) I always thought the Illes Balears (including Mallorca) were part of Catalunya (at least, that’s what I was taught by my mainland-Catalan profs in grad school). I have read some folktales and song lyrics written in Mallorqui dialect and, although there are a few regional differences from mainland Catalan, they don’t seem pronounced enough to qualify as a separate language. (More like distinctive regional dialects within English.) Of course, if a native of Mallorca would come to the combox and argue for Mallorcan independence from Catalunya, I certainly wouldn’t dare argue with that person!

American History and Political Correctness

Saturday, August 23, AD 2014

“the difference between the old and the new education being) in a word, the old was a kind of propagation – men transmitting manhood to men; the new is merely propaganda.”

CS Lewis, The Abolition of Man

My son and my daughter when they were in high school both took advanced placement American history, earning A’s.  (Yeah, they heard quite a lot about American history from me as they were growing up!  “Dad, I only asked for three dollars!  What does Washington’s strategy during the Yorktown campaign have to do with it?”)  They enjoyed the classes and thought they were worthwhile.  I am glad they took the courses prior to the new framework for teaching the courses was initiated.  Larry Krieger is a retired American history teacher.  He specialized in teaching advanced placement American history, and was recognized in 2004 and 2005 by the College Board, the company that produces the courses, as the best teacher of advanced placement American history, and he has written several books to help students prepare for the course.  He has been leading the charge against the changes that the College Board is implementing in their American history course:

The Framework’s unbalanced and biased coverage of the Colonial era represents a radical departure from its existing topical outline and from state and local curriculum guides. While students will learn a great deal about the Beaver Wars, the Chickasaw Wars, the Pueblo Revolt, and King Philip’s War, they will learn little or nothing about the rise of religious toleration, the development of democratic institutions, and the emergence of a society that included a rich mix of ethnic groups and the absence of a hereditary aristocracy. The Framework blatantly ignores such pivotal historic figures as Roger Williams and Benjamin Franklin and such key developments as the emergence of New England town meetings and the Virginia House of Burgesses as cradles of democracy.

The absence of coverage on the development of religious toleration is a particularly egregious flaw. Freedom of religion is one of America’s greatest contributions to world civilization. Yet, inexplicably the Framework omits the Pilgrims, mentions the Quakers once, and fails to discuss the importance of religious dissenters such as Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams and the consequences of the First Great Awakening.

Thomas Jefferson described New England town meetings as “the best school of political liberty the world ever saw.” Jefferson was right. We encourage parents, teachers, and students to attend local meetings and ask school and political officials if the new College Board AP U.S. History Framework is aligned with their locally mandated courses of study. If it is not, then the public has a right and a responsibility to demand that the College Board rescind the new Framework and adopt a more appropriate course of study.

 

UNIT 3: 1754 – 1800

At the present time, a five-page outline provides AP U.S. History teachers with a clear chronological list of topics that they should cover in their courses. This traditional outline conforms to the sequence of topics approved by state and local boards of education. In contrast, the new redesigned Framework provides a detailed 98-page document that defines, discusses, and interprets “the required knowledge of each period.” The College Board has thus unilaterally assumed the authority to replace local and state guidelines with its own biased curriculum guide. These biases can be clearly seen in how the Framework emphasizes, deemphasizes, and omits selected topics in the period from 1754 to 1800.

The Framework begins this critical period of American history with a full page devoted to how “various American Indian groups repeatedly evaluated and adjusted their alliances, with Europeans, other tribes, and the new United States government” (page 32). The Framework then generously grants teachers the flexibility to discuss Pontiac’s Rebellion and Chief Little Turtle (page 32).

While the Framework emphasizes “new white-Indian conflicts along the western borders (page 36) and “the seizure of Indian lands” (page 37), it all but ignores George Washington’s life and indispensible contributions to American history. Although Washington was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” he merits only one random Framework reference: “Although George Washington’s Farewell Address warned about the dangers of divisive political parties and permanent foreign alliances, European conflict and tensions with Britain and France fueled increasingly bitter partisan debates throughout the 1790s” (page 34).To put this glaring omission into perspective, imagine how South Africans would respond if an unelected agency issued a history of their country that contained just one reference to Nelson Mandela.

The Framework’s decision to all but omit George Washington extends to his command of the Continental Army. Most state and local curriculum guides require teachers to discuss the significance of Valley Forge and the battles of Saratoga and Yorktown. Instead, the College Board Framework completely ignores all Revolutionary War battles and commanders. Veterans and their families will by dismayed to discover that this is not an oversight. In fact, the College Board ignores military history from the Revolutionary War to the present day.  Students will thus not learn about the valor and sacrifices of the Army of Northern Virginia, the Army of the Potomac, the Rough Riders, the doughboys, the GI’s, and the servicemen and women who fought in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

The Framework’s superficial coverage of the Revolutionary War is typical of this poorly organized unit. For example, the Framework devotes just one sentence to the Declaration of Independence (page 34). John Adams later wrote that “the Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.” While the College Board Framework invites teachers to discuss “the architecture of Spanish missions” (page 34), it does not invite teachers to fully explore the republican ideals that motivated America’s founders. Confused students may wonder what cause motivated the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the soldiers at Valley Forge, and the framers at Independence Hall to sacrifice their lives, their fortunes, and their “sacred honor.” For example, Richard Morris risked his life and sacrificed his fortune to promote the cause of freedom.

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8 Responses to American History and Political Correctness

  • Truth! Liberals (superannuated, 1960’s pot-heads and VC sympathizers with graying pony-tails) took control (now we have Federal government mandates) of, and transformed, education. Now, it’s indoctrination not education.
    .

    It’s far too easy to be a post-modern academic. The answer to every contemporary or historical (generally distorted, exaggerated or fabricated) crisis/event/movement is one or more of the following: Christianity, class, Dick Cheney, gender, George W. Bush, global warming, race, Sarah Palin, sexual orientation, WHITE MEN . . .
    .

    I have a 1965 AP, high school American History text. If any of you wants the truth about US history, I can look it up.

  • God is three Persons. The person of Jesus Christ is a sovereign citizen of the world. The Person is due “due process of law” under the Constitution.
    .
    When the Supreme Court, in Engel v. Vitale (1962) told the atheist, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, that she could “go her own way”, the Court interpreted the Constitition’s “tolerance”. Of itself, atheism is unconstitutional since atheism does the Constitution violence. “…or prohibit the free exercise therof.” Atheism prohibits all freedom of religion thereof.
    .
    The imposition of atheism in public schools to minor children, a captive audience, is unconstitutional. Atheism or the removal of public prayer in public school needs to be put on the ballot in each and every town.
    .
    Yes, the children in public school are minors whose civil rights are held in trust for them by God, by their parents and finally by the state. However, no parent or adult is barred from entering any class room to moderate, observe and challenge any violation of the students’ civil rights. (Planned Parenthood has already entered the public school classroom to indoctrinate through the United Nations)
    .
    God is the endower of civil rights. Children praying to God are exercising their civil rights to freedom and acknowledging that their civil rights are held in trust for them by God. To prohibit this act of trust in God is to deny the child his civil rights, his human soul and his freedom, all of his freedom.
    .
    This freedom is not happening in our culture. The sovereign personhood of every individual is violated. The Person of God, the citizen, is violated, the soverign personhood of the atheist is violated and there is hell to pay. Actually, the court has sent us all to hell. Time to put the public acknowledgement of our freedom in society to the ballot. Oh, that was done in 1788.
    .
    Perhaps, the Supreme Court might like to read the Constitution before it it changes the Constitution without ratification by the states.

  • Our oldest starts Kindergarten on Monday, and more and more I’m seeing how vigilant we will have to be as parents to see she and her sisters get a good and accurate education in all subjects. I pray we’ve made the right decision this year to send her to our local parish school. Many of the local Catholic high schools use AP and IB curricula just like the public schools. It will be very hard to avoid this tripe for anyone who doesn’t want to home school.

  • Good comment by T. Shaw. Mary De Voe and Mrs. Zummo are also correct. Liberals have to revise history because as Pope Leo XIII pointed out in his encyclical Libertas, they are the ones who cry, “I will not serve.” There is a liberal who runs a pro-nuclear energy blog (very odd given that the overwhelming majority of liberals are reflexively anti-nuclear energy). Everything he writes about nuclear engineering is correct. But when he writes about history or politics, his entire paradigm is so skewed that he cannot tell the true from the false, a condition that Bill Wilson in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous identified with alcoholism. Oh no, this man is no alcoholic (at least to the best of my knowledge). But it is the “ISM” (I, Self and Me) that is the fatal disease. The ISM is the same for liberalism and it is for alcoholism.

  • KC Johnson has written on this topic. He remarked a judicial opinion which made use of a 1977 American history text as a reference. This was necessary, per Johnson, because the sort of political and institutional history that the court needed to reference is hardly being written anymore. It’s all a race-class-gender gasbag philharmonic. (The study of colonial-era aboriginal populations is much more a department of archaeology and anthropology than a department of history).

  • The College Board needs to be hit in the head with a board – a good, solid 2×4. My oldest is in first grade. The school district he attends – and I pay through the nose for – is supposedly highly rated. Property taxes are so high it ran the local Catholic grade school out of business.

    I can only imagine how the College Board has fouled up world history. At any rate, my kids will learn about history from ME. I will point them to the sources that are reliable. They will learn the truth about Islam, the Reconquest, the Deformation – as it reformed nothing, the heroic battles fought by the Knights of Malta, Lepanto and Vienna. They will learn that the Spanish conquistadores put an end to Aztec human sacrifice and the Church evangelized most of this Hemisphere. They will learn that , despite the stupid anti-Catholicism that was found throughout the Colonies, that the War for Independence would not have been won without
    Catholic help from France and Spain.

    I suspect I could teach history better than most so called present day educators. Given that my ex sister in law is a schoolteacher and did not know that Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, I’m sure there are other things she doesn’t know.

    I remember the “new math” of the early 1970s. That was a disaster.

  • Never said better: “Truth! Liberals (superannuated, 1960′s pot-heads and VC sympathizers with graying pony-tails)…” (T. Shaw, 8/23/2014) And here, in the leftist-super-populated SF Bay Area, many gaggles of super-annuated pot- and gray-pony-tailed-heads with perpetually grimacing upside-down smiles. One would think these people who are generally quite well-off and who totally control the levers of power in this state would be happy—yet they are not. Could it be they only have their materialistic “big sleep” to look forward to?
    .
    And have care lest you dare burst their thin little balloon of progressive fable and 60’s self-hypnosis. Not long ago, our quirky little family sat down to a cafe-lunch at the beautiful Palace of Legion of Honor art museum in SF. It was a beautiful sun-splashed day on the patio (not always common in summertime SF) ; people chatting, relaxing. So, as the food came out, my autistic brother instantly started the Catholic grace before meals (well, of course!), so I mean a full sign of the cross, etc and Gloria Patri at the end. We joined in, quietly. Unknown to me, but spotted by Mrs. Phoenix, behind me, at least two patrons at another table grimaced, faces turning dark, and at once got up and moved to the far end of the patio to get away from us. That sign-of-the-cross hocus pocus stuff definitely ruined the grey-pony-tails’ day.

  • “That sign-of-the-cross hocus pocus stuff definitely ruined the grey-pony-tails’ day.”

    I bet they didn’t have garlic on their table!

Sister Blandina on the Path to Sainthood

Wednesday, June 25, AD 2014

sister-blandina-segale

 

 

One of the pioneer nuns of the Old West is on the path to sainthood, Sister Blandina Segale:

 

 

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe announced Wednesday it is exploring sainthood for an Italian-born nun who challenged Billy the Kid, calmed angry mobs and helped open New Mexico territory hospitals and schools.

Archbishop Michael Sheehan said he has received permission from the Vatican to open the “Sainthood Cause” for Sister Blandina Segale, an educator and social worker who worked in Ohio, Colorado and New Mexico.

It’s the first time in New Mexico’s 400-year history with the Roman Catholic Church that a decree opening the cause of beatification and canonization has been declared, church officials said.

Go here to read the rest at The Sacramento Bee.

 

I heartily support this cause!  Here is a post on Sister Blandina that I wrote back in 2012:

Rose Marie Segale was born on January 23, 1850 in the small village of Cicagna in Italy.  When she was four she and her family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, part of the initial wave of immigration from Italy to America.  From her earliest childhood she was determined to be a sister and frequently told her father that she wanted to join the  Sisters of Charity as soon as she was old enough.  She began her novitiate at the age of 16.  When she professed her vows she took the name of Blandina Segale.  She taught at Steubenville and Dayton, and in 1872 she was ordered to Trinidad for missionary work.  Initially she thought that she was being sent to the island and was thrilled.  Instead, she was sent to Trinidad, Colorado in the western part of that state.

What she found when she got there, was a town that was frequently visited by outlaws and where lynchings were common.  A fairly rugged environment for a 22-year-old sister!

Nothing daunted, she began to teach.  Soon after she got there she stopped a lynching by convincing a dying man to forgive his assailant, the father of one of her pupils.  Sister Blandina and the sheriff brought the accused killer from the jail where he was being held to the bed of the dying man, through the midst of an angry lynch mob.  The dying man, very generously I think, forgave the man, the lynch mob dispersed, and the man’s fate was determined by the court and not the mob.

One of the many outlaws who terrorized the area was Arthur Pond aka William LeRoy, sometimes known as Billy the Kid, and who was celebrated as the King of American Highwaymen by the “penny dreadful” novelist  Richard K. Fox who released a heavily fictionalized biography of him immediately after his death, conflating his exploits with those of the more famous Billy the Kid.  (Sister Blandina in later life confused LeRoy with William H. Bonney, the more famous Billy the Kid, who operated in New Mexico a few years later.  Sister Blandina had known the outlaw only by his nickname and didn’t realize that there were two Billy the Kids, who died within months of each other in 1881.)  A member of his gang had been accidentally  shot by another member of his gang and left to die in an adobe hut in Trinidad.  Learning this from one of her students, Sister Blandina went to the outlaw and nursed him back to health, answering his questions about God and religion.   When Billy the Kid showed up in Trinidad one day, intent on scalping the four doctors who refused to treat the man Sister Blandina had been caring for, he thanked Sister Blandina and at her request reluctantly spared the physicians.

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3 Responses to Sister Blandina on the Path to Sainthood

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.: American Eagle

Monday, January 20, AD 2014

benjaminodavisjr02

Benjamin O Davis, Jr, a 1936 graduate of West Point, probably did not have any premonition when he graduated that he and his father were destined to write an interesting chapter in American military history.  At the time of his graduation from West Point, the Army had a total of two black line officers, Davis and his father.  Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. would be the first black general in the United States Army and Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. would be the first black general in the United States Air Force.  They both earned their stars through sheer ability at a time when prejudice against blacks was official policy within the US military.

The grandson of a slave, Davis senior was born in 1880.  He enlisted in the black 8th volunteer infantry during the Spanish-American War, serving as a temporary first lieutenant.  After the war he enlisted in the regular Army as a private, serving in the 9th United States cavalry, one of the Buffalo Soldier regiments.  A promising young soldier, he shot up in rank to squadron sergeant major.  He came to the notice of the commander of his unit, Lieutenant Charles Young, then the only black officer in the Army.  With Young’s encouragement and tutoring, he took the officer’s test at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on February 2, 1901.  For the next 39 years he served in various postings, including military attaché to Liberia and professor of military science at Tuskegee.  It took persistence to stay in an Army where blacks served only in segregated units and where he was often the only black officer in the entire Army, but on October 25, 1940 Davis became the first black in American military history to earn a general’s star.

His son found the going just as tough initially.  At West Point Davis Junior was officially shunned by almost all of the other cadets, who would only speak to him in the line of duty.  He ate his meals alone and had no room mate during his four years.  However, his hard work and ability earned grudging respect judging from this inscription in the West Point year book for 1936:

The courage, tenacity, and intelligence with which he conquered a problem incomparably more difficult than plebe year won for him the sincere admiration of his classmates, and his single-minded determination to continue in his chosen career cannot fail to inspire respect wherever fortune may lead him.

Such respect did not change the fact that he was black in an Army that had no love for black officers.  His application to the Army Air Corps was summarily rejected because the Army Air Corps did not accept blacks.  He found himself serving as a professor of military science at Tuskegee just as his father had years before.

With the advent of World War II the military was still segregated, and opposition to blacks serving as pilots was intense.   However, the Army Air Corps could not ignore that blacks had passed the tests to qualify as aviation cadets.   To his delight, Captain Davis was assigned to the first training class for black fighter pilots.  He was the first black to solo in the Army Air Corps and got his wings in March 1942.

Trained at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama, the 99th Pursuit squadron was activated in 1941 and sent overseas to North Africa in April 1943.  Now a Lieutenant Colonel, Davis Junior was in command.  In September he was called back to the States to help form the all black 332 fighter group.  After he arrived back, an attempt to kill the project was made by senior Army Air Corps officers alleging deficiencies in the record of the 99th.  Furious, Davis held a news conference at the Pentagon, with his father, to defend his men, and challenged the accuracy of the charges.  Further investigations determined that the 99th had performed as well as similar white units.

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3 Responses to Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.: American Eagle

  • I note that the Tuskegee airmen were a logical result of the Tuskegee project of Booker T, rather than the Niagara project of William EB (who seems to have drifted from socialism to separatism to communism to Ghana).

  • A timely tribute to Martin Luther King.

  • I wait for the day when we will no longer observe that a person’s noteworthy accomplishments might be regarded as somehow more so because of his or her race.
    .
    I am encouraged by my children who seem to carry an honest lack of understanding as to why ethnic heritage is in any way important other than familial pride. They understand that “things were different” in another time, but we now know that such parameters are as significant as height, weight or favorite flavor of ice cream.
    .
    I hope they can stay the course and carry that attitude forward into adulthood. Maybe, finally, then we’ll see character become the measure of a man, regardless of demographic, once and for all.

Washington At Prayer

Sunday, December 22, AD 2013

There is an old tradition that Washington prayed in the snow at Valley Forge on Christmas Day 1777.  Certainly the wretched condition of the Continental Army in December of 1777, with a hungry winter beginning, would have driven commanders less pious than Washington to their knees.  However, Washington was pious and prayed every day.

The tradition rests on this account of the Reverend Nathaniel Randolph Snowden, a Presbyterian Minister in Philadelphia who lived from 1770-1851 and who wrote the following:

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5 Responses to Washington At Prayer

  • Some years ago there was a U. S. postage stamp with this same picture on it. I saved one. It is my favorite, over and above the stamp of Albert Einstein. I wish the post office would return the stamp to print. It is so beautiful, that and Washington crossing the Delaware. Frostbitten and hungry that army had the fire of freedom burning in their hearts. God bless America. Thank you Mr. McCleary for posting this.

  • To me, every twenty-five cent piece is a Medal of Freedom.

  • And now, Almighty Father,

    If it is Thy holy will that we shall obtain a place and name among the nations of the earth, grant that we may be enabled to show our gratitude for Thy goodness by our endeavors to fear and obey Thee. Bless us with thy wisdom in our counsels, success in battle, and let our victories be tempered with humanity. Endow, also, our enemies with enlightened minds, that they become sensible of their injustice, and willing to restore our liberty and peace. Grant the petition of Thy servant, for the sake of whom Thou hast called Thy beloved Son; nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.

    –George Washington

  • Thank you, Lauran. I saved George Washington’s prayer. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  • Pingback: Pop Music as a Bridge to God?: Engaging Christopher West - Big Pulpit

Thomas Nast, Santa Claus and Anti-Catholicism

Thursday, December 12, AD 2013

Union Santa Claus

At this time of the year it is appropriate to recall that the modern image of Santa Claus was largely created by a German immigrant to these shores, Thomas Nast, an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly.  The above is the first of his many Santa Claus drawings.  It appeared on January 3, 1863 and showed a Red, White and Blue clad Santa visiting Union troops.  Nast would draw Santa Claus many times throughout his career and the Santa we see today is largely Santa as imagined by Nast.

Born in 1840 in Landau in Germany, then a geographical term rather than a nation, Nast came to America as a child, along with his family.  His passion for drawing was notable even as a child.  In 1862 he became illustrator for Harper’ Weekly, a post he would hold until 1886.

Nast was a cartoonist with strong convictions.  He loved the Union, racial equality, at least for Negroes and the Chinese immigrants in the West, the Republican party, until he supported Grover Cleveland in 1884, political reform, and any number of other reform causes.  He was also clear as to what he hated:  the Confederacy, political corruption, especially the Tammany Hall organization in New York and the Democrat party, until he supported Cleveland in 1884.  Among his hates were Irish immigrants, largely supporters of the Democrat party, and the Catholic Church.

Like many a bitter anti-Catholic bigot, Nast was a born and baptized Catholic.  He had left the Faith by his marriage in 1861 to an Episcopalian.    Nast’s anti-Catholicism was savage.  Typical is  an 1870 cartoon where the Pope is depicted as lusting to conquer America:

Nast_Promised_Land

Nast also hated Mormons, as depicted in the cartoon below where Nast symbolizes Catholicism and Mormons as foreign reptiles, demonstrating that Nast knew little about Mormonism, an entirely American creation, or of the history of Catholicism in what is now the United States, which stretches back to the earliest explorations:

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20 Responses to Thomas Nast, Santa Claus and Anti-Catholicism

  • Badly educated Catholics have a tendency to be nasty people.

  • sounds like a death-bed convert.

  • We can hope, Mary– and somewhat true, Penguins Fan. I was a badly educated Catholic, and… wait, not the best example… my husband was a HORRIBLY badly educated Catholic, and he’s definitely not nasty.

  • Is this in fact where the adjective “nasty” comes from?
    I don’t know of any other root for the word.

  • DOnald, you rihgtly poin out the American origins of Mormonism. It is an American creation, but unlike most other groups emerging out of that burned over district and elsewhere, Mormonism never really gained full acceptance. It remains weird to many.

  • It seemed quite a bit less weird to most people after the Mormons dropped polygamy in the 1880s. Whatever qualms non-Mormons have about Mormonism today is as nothing compared to the furor that was raised during the nineteenth century. I noted this in my Mormon Bad Boy post of a few years back:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/04/20/mormon-bad-boy/

  • True, Donald. That’s especially true out West. They HAVE become more mainstream. They’ve acquired something of a global empire i’ve heard. Their narrative is so dubious, though. For someone who is logical and analytical, and Christians are quite capable of being so, Mormonism is a fairytale wtihout correspondance to hisotry or the factual realm. Christianity is historical and as we see it, the structure of existence. Correspondance-wise and coherence-wise, it’s philosophically the perfect fit. And of course it would be because it’s true.

  • Nast also stuck us with the familiar Donkey and Elephant mascots for the Democrat and Republican parties.

    In case anyone didn’t already know.

  • A well educated Catholic gone wrong is a far more dangerous thing that a poorly educated one who is simply ignorant.

  • “Mormonism is a fairytale wtihout correspondance to hisotry or the factual realm.”

    I don’t agree with the LDS, and don’t see myself getting convinced any time soon, but maybe that’s not the most generous way to talk about them – not that I haven’t ever told a Mormon joke among friends.

  • One thing I have observed: those who are viciously anti-Catholic very often are often will reveal in the next breath that they are equally viciously bigoted against the LDS Church. A short amount of exploration of the bigot’s premises oftenreveals hostility to the fact that both groups tend to be traditional oriented towards family values and both support traditional marriage. When someone holds up a bad Mormon-type (“Jack-Mormon”), I can only look at the Jack-Catholics our side has (like Dick Durbin, Nancy Pelosi, the late Ted Kennedy, and we could go on and on ad nauseam. Ad my nauseam).

  • As I pointed out to one Mormon who was apologizing for Reid, he exists in part so that Catholics don’t feel too lonely with Pelosi.

  • One thing I have observed: those who are viciously anti-Catholic very often are often will reveal in the next breath that they are equally viciously bigoted against the LDS Church.

    So not “really” against either, just against those who make them feel ashamed for misbehaving.

  • I think we can speak generously about the Mormon’s practical approach to life in certian instances. I don’t think it’s wrong to point out the absurdity of their faith claims, however. If we are dealing with truth, it should be acknowledged that they base much of their beliefs upon a novel written in the nineteenth century.

  • I am Irish/Catholic and am studying Nast for my master’s degree. More on his Chinese depictions but I have done considerable research on his relations with the Irish & Catholic populations of the day. My opinion is his “hatred” was aimed directly at the Tweed-Irish-Catholic alliance, which of course, factored in to his reaction to the public or common school issue, which was at the heart of his dispute with the Catholics.This had a lot to do with Tweed. I personally was shocked to discover that American Catholics were not in favor of abolition, the leadership of the church, Bishop Hughes, preferring not to tamper with the status quo of slavery. That was never taught in my Cattholic education and we bear some responsibility for that part of our history. Nast did not hate Catholics. He was indeed baptized in the faith, and converted to the Episcopalian faith upon his marriage. Nast frequently praised progressive Catholics, such as Dollinger and Hyacinth and admired their independant thinking during the promologation of papal infallability. As a satirist or caricatturist, his pen in hand was brutal toward anyone or institution he felt displayed hypocrisy. His contemporary biography made a point of saying he was not anti Catholic, merely against the policies that linked them to Tweed or to Democrats. Later when talk of Chinese exclusion began festering, he blamed the Irish for leading that oppression. Did Nast have any point? That is a hot question – a very difficult topic. Certainly Germans Americans conidered themselves superior to their fellow Irish immigrants. Almost every Protestant did. The Irish were at the low end of the totem pole…and you can’t blame them for doing what they needed to do to rise. My research shows that the ire in Nast’s ink was more political than personal or theological. He was one of the first artists to portray African Americans as dignified and normal – but later, when they made questionable aliances with Democrats, Nast skewered them, depicting them as stereotypic buffons. A lifelong Radical Republican Nast went after Rep. Blaine when he ran for president. All because he changed his mind about the Chinese. So there is a consistency to his brutal caricatures. He went to the extreme with the Irish and Catholics, agreed, but on issues like abolition and public school funds and Tweed, Nast’s passion was at its highest, and therefore his attacks were the most virulent.

  • Like today, people ofthat time were locked into polarized positions. If you were Republican, you took the entire package. If Democrat, the same. The likes and dislikes came together in the package. Republicans were the nativists.

  • You let Nast off much too easy Michele. Nast in regard to the Catholic Church simply hated it. Those who broke with the Church like Dollinger of course he liked! (By the way, calling Dollinger “progressive” shows the limitations of that term. Dollinger thought that he was the one standing against innovations within the Church. He was wrong but labeling him progressive drains that term of any meaning.)

    “I personally was shocked to discover that American Catholics were not in favor of abolition, the leadership of the church, Bishop Hughes, preferring not to tamper with the status quo of slavery.”

    “Dagger John” was steadfast for the Union during the War in the face of quite a bit of opposition. Some Catholics were in favor of abolition and spoke out prior to the Civil War. Most Catholics tended to have views on slavery based upon their political allegiances and most Catholics were Democrats and most Democrats were not in favor of abolition. Abolition seems like an easy question for us today. It was not so simple for most people at the time. Consider how many Catholics you have probably encountered who are pro-aborts. Evils that should be immediately condemned frequently are not once they become well-established.

    “As a satirist or caricatturist, his pen in hand was brutal toward anyone or institution he felt displayed hypocrisy.”

    Ah hypocrisy! I sometimes think that is the only sin in these degraded times. I think you completely misread Nast. He had well developed beliefs and simply blasted anyone who had the temerity not to share those beliefs.

  • “I personally was shocked to discover that American Catholics were not in favor of abolition, the leadership of the church, Bishop Hughes, preferring not to tamper with the status quo of slavery. That was never taught in my Catholic education and we bear some responsibility for that part of our history.”

    That’s a subject that I’d like to see a good book written about… I might have to write it if no one else has 🙂

    Just based on what I’ve read to date about the subject, I believe there were several reasons why antebellum American Catholics generally didn’t want to touch the abolitionist movement with a 10-foot pole, despite strong condemnations of slavery and the slave trade by the popes of the time:

    1. As a church made up primarily of recently arrived immigrants who were by and large dirt poor and themselves the targets of vicious nativist attacks, the bishops and priests of the time were simply too preoccupied with the survival of their own flocks to get involved in such a divisive issue.

    2. Some prominent abolitionists were also anti-Catholic; some even proclaimed the Catholic Church and its hierarchy to be just as much a threat to the Republic as the “Slave Power.” Adherents of the former Know Nothing Party made up a big chunk of the early Republican Party so, needless to say, Catholics felt about as welcome in that party as ants at a picnic.

    3. The Church, from what I gather, did not, at that time, place slavery quite on the same level of intrinsic evil as it places abortion and euthanasia today. Slavery was perhaps more comparable (in the eyes of 19th century bishops) to capital punishment as it is regarded by today’s hierarchy — an institution that had been around since time immemorial and was, in theory, justifiable, but in practice led to so many abuses that it was time to abolish it. And even if the Church did condemn slavery, the question of whether slavery was enough of an evil to demand immediate emancipation of all slaves regardless of the cost — which everyone knew would mean massive bloodshed via civil war or a slave rebellion — was probably enough to give most priests and bishops pause. It could be that the Church remained silent on the issue of slavery, particularly in the American South where pro-slavery laws and viewpoints were rigidly enforced, for much the same reason that Pope Pius XII allegedly remained “silent” regarding the Holocaust — it was a matter of prudence because speaking out would do nothing to improve the situation of the slaves and would likely only make things worse for Catholics.

    4. A Catholic could, apparently, own slaves and remain a Catholic in good standing, provided that he treated them with charity and respect. The Church did teach that slaves were never to be treated as mere chattels and that their marriage and family ties should be respected — husbands and wives were not to be sold away from one another or parents from children. In some cases, Catholic slaves and slaveowners attended the same parishes and slaves were permitted to marry and have their children baptized in the Catholic Church. Case in point: Servant of God Fr. Augustine Tolton, the first identified black priest in the U.S., who was born to a slave couple in Missouri in 1854 and was baptized in the same parish that his family’s owners belonged to.

    All that said, I do find it intriguing to compare the Church’s approach to slavery in the 19th century with its approach to abortion, same-sex civil marriage, capital punishment, etc. today. As far as I know, no one ever demanded that Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney, a Catholic, be excommunicated for the Dred Scott decision the way pro-lifers demanded that Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, also a Catholic, be excommunicated for siding with the majority on Roe vs. Wade. Why that is the case is a pretty long story, I suppose.

  • Those are the stereotypes, Elaine. The democrats didn’t care about equality and the republicans didn’t care about non-Americans and all the rest of it. Still today people sign onto platforms that always represent mixed bags. Few analyze the merits of each element. If they did, we’d have more independents.

  • Re Nast’s Santa: Yesterday I attended a Christmas open house at the Illinois Governor’s Mansion, which featured Christmas trees decorated in various historical themes. One tree had a Civil War theme decorated with figures of Nash’s Santa and a poster explaining the 1863 Harper’s Weekly illustration. The poster pointed out that the face of the puppet that Santa is playing with is that of Jefferson Davis — and that Santa is symbolically hanging him! Guess Nast just couldn’t help including a dig at the South…

How Dagger John Saved the Irish

Wednesday, August 14, AD 2013

 

 

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33

 

 

 

Archbishop John Hughes of New York, universally known to friend and foe as Dagger John, was  a very tough and fearless man.  After the anti-Catholic riots in Philadelphia in 1844 he called on the mayor of New York, an anti-Catholic bigot, and informed him that if a single Catholic church was touched in New York, New York would be a second Moscow.  (The reference was to the burning of Moscow in 1812 during Napoleon’s occupation of the city.) Not a Catholic church was touched.  On another occasion when a threat was made to burn Saint Patrick’s cathedral the Archbishop had it guarded within hours by 4,000 armed Catholics.  He earned his nickname!

Among his many accomplishments was his success in leading the New York Irish out of poverty.  It is a fascinating story and relevant to our time.  In 1997 in City Journal, William J. Stern wrote an article on how Dagger John did it:

 

 

Hughes once remarked that “the Catholic Church is a church of discipline,” and Father Richard Shaw, Hughes’s most recent biographer, believes that the comment gives a glimpse into the inner core of his beliefs. Self-control and high personal standards were the key—and Hughes’s own disciplined labors to improve himself and all those around him, despite constant ill health, embodied this ethic monumentally. Hughes proclaimed the need to avoid sin. His clergy stated clearly that certain conduct was right and other conduct was wrong. People must not govern their lives according to momentary feelings or the desire for instant gratification: they had to live up to a code of behavior that had been developed over thousands of years. This teaching produced communities where ethical standards mattered and severe stigma attached to those who misbehaved.
The priests stressed the virtue of purity, loudly and unambiguously, to both young and old. Sex was sinful outside marriage, no exceptions. Packed together in apartments with sometimes two or three families in a single room, the Irish lived in conditions that did not encourage chastity or even basic modesty. Women working in the low-paid drudgery of domestic service were tempted to work instead in the saloons of Five Points, which often led to a life of promiscuity or prostitution. The Church’s fierce exhortations against promiscuity, with its accompanying evils of out-of-wedlock births and venereal disease, took hold. In time, most Irish began to understand that personal responsibility was an important component of sexual conduct.
Since alcohol was such a major problem for his flock, Hughes—though no teetotaler himself—promoted the formation of a Catholic abstinence society. In 1849 he accompanied the famous Irish Capuchin priest, Father Theobald Mathew, the “apostle of temperance,” all around the city as he gave the abstinence pledge to 20,000 New Yorkers.
A religion of discipline, stressing conduct and the avoidance of sin, can be a pinched and gloomy affair, but Hughes’s teaching had a very different inflection. His priests mitigated the harshness with the encouraging Doctrine of the Sacred Heart, which declares that if you keep the commandments, God will be your protector, healer, advisor, and perfect personal friend. To a people despised by many, living in desperate circumstances, with narrow economic possibilities, such a teaching was a bulwark against anger, despair, and fear. Hughes’s Catholicism was upbeat and encouraging: if God Almighty was your personal friend, you could overcome.
Hughes’s teaching had a special message for and about women. Women outnumbered men by 20 percent in New York’s Irish population partly because of famine-induced emigration patterns and partly because many Irish immigrant men went west from New York to work on building railways and canals. Irish women could find work in New York more easily than men could, and the work they found, usually as domestics, was steadier. Given the demographic facts, along with the high illegitimacy rate and the degree of family disintegration, Hughes clearly saw the need to teach men respect for women, and women self-respect.

He did this by putting Catholicism’s Marian Doctrine right at the center of his message. Irish women would hear from the priests and nuns that Mary was Queen of Peace, Queen of Prophets, and Queen of Heaven, and that women were important. The “ladies of New York,” Hughes told them, were “the children, the daughters of Mary.” The Marian teaching encouraged women to take responsibility for their own lives, to inspire their men and their children to good conduct, to keep their families together, and to become forces for upright behavior in their neighborhoods. The nuns, especially, encouraged women to become community leaders and play major roles in church fund-raising activities—radical notions for a male-dominated society where women did not yet have the right to vote. In addition, Irish men and women saw nuns in major executive positions, managing hospitals, schools, orphanages, and church societies—sending another highly unusual message for the day. Irish women became important allies in Hughes’s war for values; by the 1850s they began to be major forces for moral rectitude, stability, and progress in the Irish neighborhoods of the city.
When Hughes went beyond spiritual uplift to the material and institutional needs of New York’s Irish, he always focused sharply on self-help and mutual aid. On the simplest level, in all parishes he encouraged the formation of church societies—support groups, like today’s women’s groups or Alcoholics Anonymous, to help people deal with neighborhood concerns or personal and family problems, such as alcoholism or finding employment. In these groups, people at the local level could exchange information and advice, and offer one another encouragement and constructive criticism.

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One Response to How Dagger John Saved the Irish

  • The reason we Americans do poverty the way we do it today is that it gives the self-appointed Master Race Americans among us more power over ordinary blacks than ever before. I admit that black Americans, like the Irish before them, cooperate freely in their own destruction. But that doesn’t change the fact that they’re more deeply in slavery now then they ever were in the past and that God will not judge our country with approval for that

Jefferson’s Danbury Letter and the Separation of Church and State

Sunday, June 2, AD 2013

A fine video by Professor John Eastman for Praeger University demonstrating how Church State relations today in the United States bears almost no relationship to that envisioned by the Founding Fathers.  The vehicle of this misapprehension has been Thomas Jefferson’ s letter to  a congregation of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut.  Here is the text of that letter:

To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins,  & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association  in the state of Connecticut.

Gentlemen

The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which  you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist  association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful  and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion  as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them  becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies  solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for  his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach  actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence  that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature  should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting  the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between  Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the  nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction  the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural  rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection &  blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves  & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

Th Jefferson           Jan. 1. 1802.

It would have astounded Jefferson if he could have foreseen that the Supreme Court would make his letter the cornerstone of erecting a wall of separation between Church and State.  Jefferson did not intend to have the letter be a centerpiece of Constitutional theory, but rather it was a partisan attempt by his to refute Federalist arguments that he was an infidel.  In a brilliant essay, which may be read here, James Hutson, Chief of the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, explains the historical background of the letter:

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9 Responses to Jefferson’s Danbury Letter and the Separation of Church and State

  • In 1947, Everson v. Board of Eucation said that the government cannot aid all religion. This cannot be Justice as government does not own tax dollars. Taxes belong to the taxpayers even as administered by the administration. This means that all religions may be aided by the administration as the taxpayers have the right to religion and freedom.

  • Taxpayer money belongs to the taxpayers. The Federal Government and the Organized Crime Party don’t believe this at all.

  • Penguins Fan: The government is comprised of ordinary citizens who have no power except the power that is given to them by the people to function in their particular office. Politicians have written themselves outrageous retirement funds that insulate them from being ousted from office. Pray.

  • Judging by his letter to Madison of 6 September 1789, Jefferson appears to have believed that the endowments of the churches were at the disposal of the nation; “This principle, that the earth belongs to the living and not to the dead, is of very extensive application and consequences in every country, and most especially in France. It enters into the resolution of the questions, whether the nation may change the descent of lands holden in tail; whether they may change the appropriation of lands given anciently to the church, to hospitals, colleges, orders of chivalry, and otherwise in perpetuity; whether they may abolish the charges and privileges attached on lands, including the whole catalogue, ecclesiastical and feudal… . In all these cases, the legislature of the day could authorize such appropriations and establishments for their own time, but no longer; and the present holders, even where they or their ancestors have purchased, are in the case of bona fide purchasers of what the seller had no right to convey.”

    In other words, what one generation had granted, their successors could revoke. In fact, his viewson Church-State relations would not have been out of place at the Jacobin Club

  • With Jefferson MPS you always have to understand that the man wrote voluminously and that he frequently changed his mind on issues. His opinions in regard to France in the first years of the French Revolution tended to match those of the most extreme revolutionaries in France. The execution of the King disturbed him and he became more reserved about the Revolution although he never completely denounced it. As to Church State relations in America he favored a hands off policy in regard to the government as to the churches.

  • A rather interesting discussion going on at Almost Chosen Peope, the American history blog I run with Paul Zummo, on this post. Go to the link below to read it and to participate in it if you wish:

    http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/jeffersons-danbury-letter-and-the-separation-of-church-and-state/#comments

  • Why cannot I save, i.e cut’n’paste your article, without the video, and others’
    comments? I find not print button on you website. Thank you.

  • Church-state separation is an American concept, but not a Catholic one. As examples, I can cite France (before the Revolution), England (before Henry VIII), the various prince-archbishoprics in Cologne, Salzburg, et cetera, and the Papal States.

    Because of US Supreme Court decisions, prayer is now illegal in public schools. America’s teachers cannot talk to their students about the one single concept that will make their education complete – God. As a Catholic, I find this gag rule to be plain absurd.

  • “As examples, I can cite France (before the Revolution),”

    Yes, the Gallic Church that was frequently at complete odds with the Pope:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallicanism

    Up to 1947 and the Supreme Court decision in Everson, the Federal government was benignly accomodating to religion. The Supreme Court has distorted beyond recognition what the Founding Fathers, including Jefferson, set up regarding Church-State relations: no established church, each religion granted complete freedom, and a recognition by the state of God as the basis for our unalienable rights that could not be trespassed upon by the State. It was a good system which the Catholic Church in this country flourished under, and we need to return to it.

Civil War History and Inevitability

Thursday, April 25, AD 2013

I’ve been on a bit of a history kicker lately, particularly Civil War history, even if by chance. On successive occasions I read Tony Horowitz’s Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War, followed by April 1865: The Month that Saved America by Jay Winik. It was purely coincidental that I read those books back-to-back, though they serve as proper bookends to Civil War history. I also happened to finally see Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. 

First a review of the works themselves. Midnight Rising is an excellent recounting of the events leading up to John Brown’s raid, the raid itself, and of course the fallout. Horowitz’s account is fairly straight, though one can’t help but detect a bit of admiration for Brown peeking through his narrative. You can probably make a good argument for both the proposition that Brown was a complete lunatic and that he was a hero who stood on principle (though probably more the former).

Winik’s narrative is engaging, and if you are unfamiliar with many of the details of not just the events of April 1865, but of the Civil War in general, then Winik’s book is a very good primer. Unfortunately it suffers from a few severe, though hardly fatal defects. First of all, Winik litters his story with repeated digressions, filling in biographical details of the main figures – Lee, Grant, Lincoln, Davis, Forrest, Sherman, Booth, even Johnston. Again, this may or may not infuriate the reader depending upon his knowledge of Civil War history. It felt like padding to me, and unnecessary padding at that.

Second, while he gets his history mostly right, there are a few notable lapses. Most grating to me was his discussion of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and their respective writings on nullification. Like many other writers, he contends that Madison supported nullification in the Virginia Resolutions, when in point of fact Madison completely rejected the doctrine of nullification throughout his life and merely argued for a concept known as interposition in the Virginia Resolutions. This is a relatively minor point, but Winik makes a handful of errors, especially with regards to Lincoln’s attitudes towards having extra protection on the day of his assassination. Winik makes Lincoln seem callous about his own security, but it was Edwin Stanton who denied him an extra bodyguard.

Finally, Winik’s fundamental thesis is overstated (and also restated repeatedly in a  seemingly unending epilogue). Though the conclusion of the war was a momentous occasion in American history, Winik overstates the willingness and the capability of the south to engage in guerilla warfare to prolong to conflict. Certainly Lee could have decided to rebuff Grant’s peace overtures, and Johnston could have listened to Jefferson Davis’s appeals to continue the fight, but would the south have kept the Union at bay as effectively and as long as Winik speculates?  I suppose that is a matter of some conjecture, but I think Winik drastically overestimates the ability of any sizable confederate band to harass the Union for much longer.

As for the movie Lincoln, I’ll largely second Donald’s review. It was an epic film, and Daniel Day-Lewis was simply outstanding. I’ll admit I even got choked up at the end – a rarity for me as usually only Field of Dreams ever makes me cry.

Beyond the merits of these works, I wanted to explore some of their themes – or at least some of the thoughts that they inspired in me directly or indirectly.

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21 Responses to Civil War History and Inevitability

  • Ah, John Brown.

    Our history has its share of odd characters, but surely none odder than John Brown. An Old Testament prophet somehow marooned in Nineteenth Century America, John Brown preached the wrath of God against slave holders and considered himself the bloody sword of the Almighty. It is tempting to write off John Brown as a murderous fanatic, and he was certainly that, but he was also something more.

    The American political process was simply unable to resolve the question of slavery. Each year the anti-slavery and pro-slavery forces battered at each other with no head way made. Bleeding Kansas was the result of Stephen A. Douglas’ plan to simply let the people of the territory resolve the issue. Where ballots cannot, or will not, resolve a question of the first magnitude in a democracy, ultimately bullets will. A man like Brown, totally dedicated to the anti-slavery cause, was only too willing to see violence resolve an issue that the politicians would not.

    Brown attacked a great evil, American slavery, but he was also a murderer, as the five pro-slavery men he had dragged from their houses at night and hacked to death at Pottawotamie in Kansas with home made swords would surely attest. His raid on Harper’s Ferry was a crack-brained expedition that had absolutely no chance of success, and yet his raid helped bring about the huge war that would ultimately end slavery.

    After his mad and futile attempt to start a slave insurrection at Harper’s Ferry in 1859, Brown was tried and hung for treason against the state of Virginia. He considered his trial and treatment quite fair and thanked the Court. Brown impressed quite a few Southerners with the courage with which he met his death, including Thomas Jackson, the future Stonewall, who observed his execution.

    Brown of course lit the fuse for the Civil War. He convinced many moderate Southerners that there were forces in the North all too ready to incite, in the name of abolition, a race war in the South. The guns fired at Harper’s Ferry were actually the first shots of the Civil War.

    Brown, as he stepped forward to the gallows, had a paper and pen thrust into his hand by a woman. Assuming for the last time the role of a prophet, Brown wrote out, “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”

  • “Winik may have overestimated the Confederacy’s ability to effectively engage in guerrilla warfare, but at the very least such a fight would have only dragged the already staggering body count even higher.”

    A low level guerilla war ultimately convinced the North that it was not worth continuing the fight in order to maintain civil rights for blacks in the South. That took 12 years. A guerilla war to gain independence for the South would have been far bloodier and much more resisted by the North. However if the white Southerners had been willing to fight it out for 30 years or so, I think it entirely possible that the North might have decided that the South was never going to be pacified and that it simply wasn’t worth it. However, after perhaps 750,000 dead by the most recent estimates, both the North and the South simply were not ready for continued large scale fighting.

  • I think both sides had had enough, none moreso than the leaders in the field who had seen the horrors of the war up close. But that was another point I was going to raise in the post but forgot to mention. We probably think it inconceivable that we could have had this perpetual mini rebellion with a band of insurgent fighters being a persistent thorn in the side of the federal government. But hasn’t that been more the norm through world history than the perpetual internal peace that has reigned here for 148 years?

  • The EP’s “changing the course of the war” from union-preserving to slave-freeing is oft-repeated, but, imho, arguable. Lincoln publically pressed it as a necessary military measure more than anything else. And he was careful, along with the Union generals, to sell the fighting men that they weren’t now fighting to “free the slaves”, lest they lose their motive to fight (their prejudice. I assure you, not mine.) While Abe might have had the private intent all along to free the slaves, the public case and public aftermath of the EP was not a clarion call of a changed war.

  • “But hasn’t that been more the norm through world history than the perpetual internal peace that has reigned here for 148 years?”

    Indeed. Condsider ETA of the Basque, still fighting the Spanish Civil War more than 77 years after the start of the conflict. Perpetual Irish rebellions against the Brits for centuries is the classic example.

  • Slavery was the underlying cause. For the South it provided the economic driver – King Cotton – to the elites. The South was intent on preserving slavery (and its economy) and extending it. The north’s elites were intent on limiting and abolishing slavery (arguably supporting the South’s economy).

    The radical differences in their societies and economies led to an absence of unified, much less cordial, “intercourse” between the two sections. They became two different peoples – jealous and suspicious of each other.

    Publications of sectional books and demagogues, on both sides, added to sectional hatreds.

    Brown’s raid brought to the surface the sectional hatred on both sides. It inspired the North’s demagogues/elites and terrified the South’s demagogues/elites.

    That being said, somebody please tell me how was OT Dispenser of Almighty God’s Just Retribution, John Brown, different from Nate Turner?

  • “That being said, somebody please tell me how was OT Dispenser of Almighty God’s Just Retribution, John Brown, different from Nate Turner?”

    Almost three decades more of time. The country was ready to split over slavery at the time of John Brown as it was not at the time of Nat Turner. Interestingly enough, Turner’s Rebellion occurred at the same time that an ultimately unsuccessful movement to abolish slavery was gathering steam in the Virginia legislature. Opponents and proponents of slavery both pointed to Turner’s Rebellion, drawing opposite conclusions from the event.

  • Slavery had become more than an economic driver. The South was riding the tiger, and they knew it. There were four million (presumably angry) slaves in the South. In Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, the slave population was comparable to or greater than the white population. The Southern whites were fully aware of what had happened in Haiti. It’s all well and good to be a Bostonian who opposes slavery, but when you’re living in Atlanta you’ve got a lot more at stake. Then some lunatic tries to stir up a slave revolt? You can bet that there was a lot of tension.

  • I love Horowtiz! Confederates in the Attic and Baghdad without a map are both hilariously entertaining yet deeply revealing travelmentaries. A great story teller who ties the past to the present in a supremely enjoyable.

  • There are two portions of “April 1865” which made the biggest impression on me. One is Winik’s blow by blow account of the fall of Richmond, from the Sunday morning church service at which Jefferson Davis received word that it was time to evacuate the capital, through a day and night of chaos, flames and terror, to the arrival of the Union troops and, finally, the arrival of Lincoln himself, bringing great joy to the newly freed slaves. When I finished reading it, I could not help but think that perhaps, this is what Judgment Day and the Second Coming will be like.

    The other, which I have mentioned before on this blog, is Winik’s account of the guerilla war in Missouri, where it was at its most brutal and where Union troops took some of the harshest measures against civilians (e.g. Gen. Ewing’s Order No. 11) in an attempt to quell the violence. He quotes a Union military official as saying “there was something in the hearts of good Christian people which had exploded.” Ever since, I have wondered, if “good Christian people” not that much different from you and I, who could have been my ancestors (or yours), and who were raised in a far more “Christian” society than us, could be literally at one another’s throats over the issue of slavery, what’s to prevent it from happening again over an issue like abortion, gay marriage, gun control, or something else?

  • Indeed. Condsider ETA of the Basque, still fighting the Spanish Civil War more than 77 years after the start of the conflict. Perpetual Irish rebellions against the Brits for centuries is the classic example.

    I think ETA has closed up shop and never amounted to much. The Provisional IRA was much more consequential. British Ulster comprehends about 3% of the population of the UK. For all that, the number of lives claimed over a generation by the most recent Troubles amounts to about 4 years worth of common-and-garden social pathology in Coleman Young’s Detroit.

  • John Brown made his solemn oath to destroy slavery in a church in Hudson, Ohio, which is five miles west of where I grew up.

    Spain, Portugal, France, Holland and England all brought slavery to the New World.
    England was the most effective in building an economy dependent upon slave labor, which remained in place after the War for Independence.

    Brazil, which has the most slaves, freed them in 1871. Brazil did so peacefully by compensating slave owners. It is to our shame as a nation that the South would not consider seriously such a move.

  • I get the following from a 1961 HS AP American History textbook.

    Nat Turner’s slave revolt was a tragic coincidence with Garrison’s start of his uber demagoguery, “The Liberator.” The combination of the two killed southern anti-slavery societies. Turner was a fanatical, semi-educated preacher who had “visions.” He and his gang butchered 60 white Virginians. Coincidentally, Georgia offered a $5,000 reward for Garrison’s arrest and conviction. LIke southerners, I sleep with a weapon under my pillow.

    John Brown was a fanatical, semi-educated lunatic preacher. He had innocent blood on his hands from KS. His plan was to invade the South, raise up the slaves and seize an area as a negro free state. He was backed by thousands of Northern terrorist dollars. He seized Harpers Ferry arsenal with 20 other bloodthirsty terrorists, killing seven innocents.

    In the Brown trial, 17 of Brown’s friends and relatives attested to his insanity. Thirteen of his relatives, including his mother and grandmother, had been insane. VA Governor Wise was so unwise as to send him to the gallows instead of an insane asylum. And so, the abolitionists had their martyr, the South was lost, and 600,000 men died.

    PS, I will never again read anything R. W. Emerson. He compared Bloody Brown to Jesus.

  • Your analysis T.Shaw ignores the violence of the slavery system, and that one reason for the vanishing of southern abolitionism was that most Southern states made it illegal. In some Southern states it was a prison offense to merely possess abolition literature. People merely suspected of being anti-slavery were routinely mobbed in the South, tarred and feathered, and run out under threat of being lynched.

    In regard to Brown he was hardly the only man to resort to violence in regard to the slavery question in th 1850s. I direct your attention, for example, to the Marais des Cygnes massacre:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marais_des_Cygnes_massacre

    When peaceful means do not resolve a question like slavery, violence inevitably will.

  • Mac,

    I love you, man.

    That was one reason it was called “Bloody Kansas.” The Missouri terrorists hadn’t read Marx. They didn’t ride East and try to radicalize underpaid Northern factory slaves, nor try to assassinate Garrison or the New England plutocrats.

    The cited infringements on free speech were engendered by (Bless their hearts!) Nat Turner; the radical fringe abolitionists’ desire to incite mass murder; and the growing potential for thousands of other such crimes. Why did similar “mobbings” of abolitionists also occur in the North?

    Supposedly, the slavery dispute had been settled when the various states ratified the Constitution in 1789.

    I was trying to be factual (added floral phrases).

    A super-majority (about 76%, almost eight in ten) of white southerners did not own one slave. Fewer than 14% (one in eight, lawyers) of white Southerners owned five or more slave. Another 10% owned four or less.

    Why did the south fight for a small minority of evil rich southerners? The Shadow knows.

    One may weigh the facts and make a determination. If one exaggerates and omits the result is opinion, about which Plato wrote, “Opinion is not truth.”

    You and I are entitled to our opinions.

  • “The cited infringements on free speech were engendered by (Bless their hearts!) Nat Turner”

    Some of them pre-dated Nat Turner and most of them were based on the simple human refusal not to stop engaging in manifest evil which is deemed profitable.
    “The Missouri terrorists hadn’t read Marx. They didn’t ride East and try to radicalize underpaid Northern factory slaves, nor try to assassinate Garrison or the New England plutocrats.”

    Marx in America was only known at this time as an occasional European reporter for Horace Greeley. The most ultra of the pro-slavery advocates did say that slavery would expand throughout the country and one day they would sell slaves on Boston common.

    “Why did similar “mobbings” of abolitionists also occur in the North?”

    In the case of the murder of Elijah Lovejoy it was because Alton, Illinois was settled by Southerners and was a hotbed of pro-slavery sentiment. Most of the Democrat party in the North was pro-slavery, and those who were not eventually helped found the Republican party. This ensured that there was going to be anti-abolition sentiment throughout the North. However no Northern state restricted the civil liberties of either the proponents or opponents of slavery.

    “Why did the south fight for a small minority of evil rich southerners? The Shadow knows.”
    Because the average poor white Southerner was afraid of what would happen if slaves were freed and placed on an equality with himself. If it had been simply a matter of keeping slavery so Scarlet O’Hara could continue sipping mint juleps on the veranda, I doubt if the Civil War would have occurred.

    “You and I are entitled to our opinions.”

    Everyone is entitled to his opinion T.Shaw. No one is entitled to his own set of facts.

  • Mindsets definitely chanbged and hardened between Turner and Brown. David Downing points out in his “A South Divided” that in the early 1800s, the majority of abolitionist newspapers and organizations were based in the States that would comprise the Confederacy.

    By 1850, they had vanished.

    I also think its safe to say that the overwhelming majority of Confederate soldiers didn’t enter the war for slavery per se–they followed their States.

    But there was considerable ambivalence about the Cause within Dixie, and it only grew as the war dragged on. After all, the phrase “Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight” originated in the South.

  • Mac,

    Apparently, you rely on wikipedia and other propaganda for your “history.”

    “In the case of the murder of Elijah Lovejoy it was because Alton, Illinois was settled by Southerners and was a hotbed of pro-slavery sentiment. Most of the Democrat party in the North was pro-slavery, and those who were not eventually helped found the Republican party. This ensured that there was going to be anti-abolition sentiment throughout the North. However no Northern state restricted the civil liberties of either the proponents or opponents of slavery.”

    First off, it WASN’T A MURDER. L. AND ABOUT 20 OTHER ARMED ABILITIONISTS/INSURRECTIONISTS WERE IN A BUILDING DEFENDING THE FOURTH PRINTING PRESS HE HAD BROUGHT IN (THE OTHERS WERE ALSO DUMPED IN THE RIVER). FOUR OF THE UNIONIST MOB WERE KILLED FIRST.

    THE MOBS IN VARIOUS NORTHERN STATES AND THE DEM PARTY WERE NOT PRO-SLAVERY. THEY WERE PRO-UNION AND PRO-CONSTITUTION. The lunatic abolitionists were intent on mass violence/civil war and lower class people knew it.

    The slavery question had been decided in 1789 when the various states voted to ratify the Constitution. See Daniel Webster, et al on the sanctity of the Constitution. Such men as Webster had convinced most of the country that the Union was inviolable. The abolitionists preached insurrection and secession. Lovejoy constantly stated the Constitution was evil and the Union must be destroyed.

    Don’t go to wikipedia. Find a history written before the re-writes and look up “broadcloth mob.”

    I could go on, but I’m at work.

    In conclusion, your above slander (“No one is entitled to his own set of facts.”) is evidence of untoward reliance on others’ distortions, omissions, and fabrications to support your rank Lincoln idolatry.

  • Apparently, you rely on wikipedia and other propaganda for your “history.”

    Donald can defend himself, but this is mind-bendingly stupid. As is obvious to anyone who reads this blog, Donald clearly reads a wider selection of Civil War history than anyone, including you, T Shaw.

    It is sometimes true that the widely accepted narratives about history are mistaken or overblown. When it comes to the Civil War; however, there is a concerted effort to rewrite history so as to blur reality and make the Confederate cause just. So before throwing out accusations about others relying on Wikipedia, why don’ t you do a little original research yourself and rethink the neo-confederate propaganda.

  • “Apparently, you rely on wikipedia and other propaganda for your “history.”

    That is the funniest, although not the nuttiest, thing you have written on this blog T.Shaw.

    “First off, it WASN’T A MURDER.”

    It certainly was murder T.Shaw. Not liking someone’s opinions is not a license to attack them.

    “THE MOBS IN VARIOUS NORTHERN STATES AND THE DEM PARTY WERE NOT PRO-SLAVERY. THEY WERE PRO-UNION AND PRO-CONSTITUTION.”

    Putting a statement in caps T.Shaw does not make it any more convincing. Being pro-slavery was not being for the Constitution or the Union, since that august document placed no restrictions on laws being enacted on the state level freeing slaves, as demonstrated by the fact that such laws were passed in many states. Additionally, contrary to the wrongly decided Dred Scott decision, Congress had the power to legislate in regard to slavery in the Federal territories. By constitutional amendment Congress could end slavery at any time. These were uncongenial facts to pro-slavery advocates, hence their ultimate resort to secession and war to protect their sacred right to treat other Children of God as chattel.

    “your above slander’

    Truth is an absolute defense to a charge of slander T.Shaw. When it comes to the Civil War you choose to believe in neo-Confederate myths rather than deal with the actual historical record. I will call you on it every time you choose to comment on the Civil War and slavery on this blog.

  • “In the early 1800s, the majority of abolitionist newspapers and organizations were based in the States that would comprise the Confederacy. By 1850, they had vanished.”

    The hardening of Southern opinion on slavery in the 19th century seems to have followed a trajectory roughly similar to the hardening of liberal/Democrat opinion on abortion in the 20th and 21st centuries. Pro-life liberal Democrats today are as scarce as anti-slavery Southerners were in the 1850s.

Quotes Suitable For Framing: George Washington

Tuesday, April 23, AD 2013

A contemplation of the compleat attainment (at a period earlier than could have been expected) of the object for which we contended against so formidable a power cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverance of the Armies of the U States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.  

George Washington

I love studying history, but one unfortunate feature of it is that one tends to learn of the flaws and mistakes of great men and women and that it lowers them in the esteem of the careful student of their careers.  I have not found that the case with Washington.  He certainly had flaws, a bad temper that he had to exert iron control over for example, and he made mistakes, as a study of his campaigns during the Revolution demonstrates.  However with Washington that is counterbalanced by what he accomplished in the teeth of immense odds, and his humility that made him relinquish power, something that inspired his adversary George III to hail him as the greatest man in the world.  God gave us a Washington when we most needed him and that, in the words of Washington, was, indeed, a standing miracle.

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Daniel Webster

Thursday, March 7, AD 2013

Yes, Dan’l Webster’s dead–or, at least, they buried him. But every time there’s a thunder storm around Marshfield, they say you can hear his rolling voice in the hollows of the sky. And they say that if you go to his grave and speak loud and clear, “Dan’l Webster–Dan’l Webster!” the ground’ll begin to shiver and the trees begin to shake. And after a while you’ll hear a deep voice saying, “Neighbor, how stands the Union?” Then you better answer the Union stands as she stood, rock-bottomed and copper sheathed, one and indivisible, or he’s liable to rear right out of the ground. At least, that’s what I was told when I was a youngster.

Stephen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster

In his short story The Devil and Daniel Webster, Benet has Satan conjure up the damned souls of 12 villains from American history to serve as a jury in the case of Satan v. Jabez Stone. Only seven of these entities are named, and we have examined the lives of each of them including the “life” I made up for the fictional the Reverend John Smeet.  We also looked at the judge who presided over the case, Justice Hathorne.  Only one personage remains to examine, Daniel Webster.

Born in 1782 a few months after the American victory at Yorktown, Webster would live to be a very old man for his time, dying in 1852.  Webster would serve in the House for 10 years from New Hampshire and 19 years in the Senate from Massachusetts.  Three times Secretary of State, he also attempted on three occasions to win the Presidency failing three times, watching as much lesser men attained that office.  Like his two great contemporaries, Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, his name is remembered while most Americans would be hard pressed to name many of those presidents.

While holding political office he also practiced law, arguing an astounding 223 cases before the United States Supreme Court and winning about half of them.

He was acknowledged to be the finest American orator of his day, a day in which brilliant speech making was fairly common on the American political scene, and his contemporaries often referred to him blasphemously as “the god-like Daniel”.  Perhaps the finest example of Webster’s oratory is his Second Reply to Senator Haynes of South Carolina during the debate on tariffs which took place in the Senate  in January of 1830.  In the background lurked the nullification crisis and possible secession, a crisis which would build over the next three decades and explode into the attempted dissolution of the union in 1860.  The ending of this speech was once known by every schoolchild:   Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!

The American Union was Webster’s passion throughout his life, he being above all an ardent patriot.  He was also an ardent opponent of slavery.  However, in 1850 when his opposition to slavery conflicted with what he perceived to be the necessity of a compromise to preserve the Union, he did not hesitate and helped hammer the compromise together.  Because it included a stronger fugitive slave act, he was roundly condemned throughout New England, something noted in The Devil and Daniel Webster:

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13 Responses to Daniel Webster

  • We live in a much different country today than the one Daniel Webster fought to preserve. I would not compromise my anti-abortion principles to save this country (and I certainly wouldn’t go to hell rather than see its dissolution, as Webster proclaims his willingness to do in Benet’s fictional account). Over a century-and-a-half has lapsed since Webster’s time, and the country we have today would no doubt be unrecognizable to Webster. I’m not so sure he’d find what we have today so worth preserving.

  • Completely disagree Jay, root and branch! Your words actually echo those of radical abolitionists prior to the Civil War who denounced the Constitution as a Covenant with Death because of slavery and called for the breaking up of the Union. Wiser men, like Lincoln and Webster, saw that the primary hope for ending slavery was the preservation of the Union and that the Union was a good in and of itself. They were proven right and I think their example is something to ponder today when there is too much idiotic talk about Secession once again. There is nothing wrong with this country that would be solved by breaking up the United States of America into two or more squabbling Republics, and endless new evils would result. As for Webster’s quip in the story about going to the Pit, considering he just had bested Satan in court and was about to give him a kick in the hindquarters, I doubt if Webster would have been going to the Pit to surrender his soul, but rather to have another round with Mr. Scratch!

  • The difference, Donald, is that I don’t believe for one minute that the best hope for ending abortion lies in the preservation of the Union. Nor am I sold on the Manifest Destiny-based argument that the Union is necessarily a good in and of itself.

    Now, I’m no secessionist, and I certainly don’t hope for the dissolution of our country. And I don’t even think it’s a realistic possibility any time in the near future (certainly not our lifetimes, and probably not our children’s lifetimes). But I firmly believe that there may be circumstances at some point in our nation’s future in which there may a much higher good than preservation of the Union to work toward and/or fight for.

  • Though I’m extremely fond of the “Liberty and Union” speech, I’m more in Jay’s corner on this one.

    I don’t see him taking a Garrisonian position. Indeed, the problem is not the Constitution, the problem is that it has been turned into a Rorschach test, with people amending it without actually doing the hard work of amending it. Either via lawsuit or winking at flatly-unconstitutional legislation. We have a Union–indeed, increasingly a unitary state–but less liberty.

    Union without liberty is…well, there was a Soviet Union once.

  • Thank you, Dale, for saying in just a few words what I was unable to convey in either of my two comments. You have concisely and accurately captured my exact concerns.

  • Webster would have recognized a contemporary American plague.

    From his critique of President Jackson’s veto message against the renewal of the charter of the Second Bank of the United states.

    “In his 1832 veto of renewing the Bank’s (Second Bank of the United States) charter, Jackson complained that its profits went to foreigners and a ‘few hundred of our own citizens, chiefly of the richest class.’ Daniel Webster replied that the message was a ‘wanton attack on whole classes of people, for the purposes of turning against them the prejudices and resentments of other classes.’” The poison runs even stronger today in the party of Obama.

  • I think that but for the preservation of the Union in the 19th Century the whole planet would have entered a totalitarian nightmare in the 20th. I believe that on the whole the United States of America has been a powerful force for good in this world and I will not allow slavery or abortion to alter in the slightest my love for this country and for the Union. I completely agree with Webster’s ringing words : Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable and I believe his words are just as applicable today as it was in his time. As for liberty, I think I will do a post comparing the status of liberty in Webster’s day and the status of liberty in our own time.

  • A comparison of liberty in the two time periods will be interesting. From my perspective, neither “liberty” or “union” means what it did back then. Today, liberty is more akin to license and union to co-existence.

  • I will hold both periods to the liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

  • America is the only nation on the face of the earth with freedom guaranteed by our Creator endowed, unalienable rights, unalienable because God is infinite, and unchangeable.

    Jesus Christ descended into hell.

    “I doubt if Webster would have been going to the Pit to surrender his soul, but rather to have another round with Mr. Scratch!”

  • Yes, Bill Clinton is out of office, so they say. But if you go to the White House and listen closely, they say you can still hear his grand oratory echoing through the halls. And if you call out his name three times, it is said that you can feel the ground shake and his voice bellow forth, “is Girls Gone Wild still in business?”. You better answer that it is, or he will return to the White House and right the injustice…nah, it doesn’t work for some reason.

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