Showing posts from October, 2008

book report: Bitterly Divided (5) by David Williams

This is the last one, I think. David Williams in his book Bitterly Divided about the secession of the South and the divided loyalties of Southerners concludes with observations and predictions. Southerners had shown their displeasure at the polls in 1863 but is it that simple to agree with the speculation that if there were 1865 elections in the South, the bums would have been kicked out of office? (p.247) If fraudulent politics were needed to get some states to secede, would honest election results have been released that sought reunion?

I did enjoy the short summary of how the rich planters restored their esteem by those who fought on their behalf by creating the myth of the Lost Cause. The Old Order moved to shore up its image as well through a post-war pop-culture movement that came to be known as the Lost Cause. With white supremacy its creed and Robert E. Lee its Christ, the mythological Lost Cause became something of a religion for most white southerners, romanticizing the Sout…

book report: Bitterly Divided (4) by David Williams

In my penultimate installment of this book report on David Williams' Bitterly Divided , about the rebellions in the rebellious South, I'm happy to report his coverage of the involvement of native Americans in the Civil War conflict. November is national American Indian Heritage Month. Please click the link if you never knew that. The tag at the bottom of this post will bring you to the posts I made last November with a focus on Native American history. I have a few books in the queue already focused on Native-American/Anglo conflict in the 17th century. By the start of the Civil War, most tribes had been kicked out of the South and were told to live in Oklahoma. Nevertheless, the Union focused all their energy on the war and stopped promised funding and support for the tribes. This provided opportunity for the Confederacy to come and seek treaties. The tribes wanted to be neutral but that wasn't an option. To most Cherokees assembled at Tahlequah, the path of wisdom seemed…

book report: Bitterly Divided (3) by David Williams

As David Williams in the book Bitterly Divided tells over and over again, a Confederacy based on secession will struggle with ever smaller secessions. A big issue was desertion in the Confederate army. In April 1863, a brigade commander in the Army of Northern Virginia told General Lee that his regiments were being reduced by desertion far more quickly than they ad ever been by combat...By late 1863, close to half the Confederate army had deserted and, according to one soldier, half those desertions were caused by depressing letters from home. Less than a year later, President Jefferson Davis publicly admitted that "two-thirds of our men are absent...most of them without leave." p.106
In response to resistance within the Confederacy, the supporters resorted to terror, lynching and kangaroo courts that turned out executions. In February 1863, pro-Confederates slaughtered 180 peace men in central Texas for no other crime, wrote one Texan, than "loving the flag of Washingto…

book report: Bitterly Divided (2) by David Williams

Proclamations of secession were not roundly well-received in the Southern slave holding states, as noted by David Williams in the book Bitterly Divided. Some in the Alabama hill country pushed for annexation by Tennessee, where secession had been voted down. Others thought the region should form its own state and ask for admission to the Union. James Bell of Winston County reasoned that north Alabama counties could certainly leave the state, "for they have the same Right as the state had to secede from the united states." After a Union rally in Huntsville, one worried secessionist wrote that the possibility of a new "state of Nickajack to be formed by the counties of North alabama and possibly by adjacent counties of Georgia and eastern Tennessee, looms large." p.38The secessionists did not like seeing their logic brought to its conclusion. Hence, they forced secession on southerners by back handed tactics, force, and intimidation. In fact, existing records from th…

book report: Bitterly Divided (1) by David Williams

This book report is a little different for me as a blogger. I'm pulling quotes before I've finished the book. There is such a wealth of anecdotes that put to death the "Lost Cause" mystique of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Bitterly Divided: The South's Inner Civil War by David Williams wants those who think the Lost Causers make a legitimate case to hear the whole story from the letters and newspaper accounts of those who lived and suffered under secession.

Even before secession, some Southerners saw the writing on the wall regarding slavery and its effects on the South. In The Impending Crisis of the South, published in 1857, [Hinton Rowan] Helper argued vigorously that the "lords of the lash are not only absolute masters of the blacks...but they are also the oracles and arbiters of all non-slaveholding whites, whose freedom is merely nominal." Slavery, Helper pointed out, existed for the benefit of only a very few. Its existence kept most white…

cinema review: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is a great film. It was made in 2005 by Chinese director, Yimou Zhang.

I have a fondness for foreign films. I find comfort in the familiarity of our common humanity across cultures. The theme in this movie is the broken relationships between fathers and sons and the redemption sought for that brokenness. The title is also the name of a Chinese folk mask opera about a hero who travels 1000 miles to rejoin a close friend. The opera serves as the metaphor for the movie. As a Japanese father tries to soften his dying son's heart, he travels to China to finish a project of his son, who filmed the folk operas. The man he wants to film is also separated from his son, only a child. The Japanese father connects with the Chinese man's son in a way he never did with his own son. He also softens the heart of the boy's father, who had never seen him and languished in prison. The Japanese son, when he learns of his father's endeavor, also warms to …

book report: A Great and Noble Scheme (6) by Faragher

John Mack Faragher mentions my former hometown, New London, a couple times in his book A Great and Noble Scheme. When the English commenced the ethnic cleansing of L'Acadie/Nova Scotia of its French Catholic inhabitants, they didn't have a place to send them except anywhere but there. Hence, they decided to force them on the lower 13 colonies, including Connecticut.
The exiles on the Edward reportedly came down with malaria, and by the time the vessel docked at New London, Connecticut, in May 1756, nearly one hundred had died. Dove, one of the vessels assigned to pick up the last contingent of inhabitants from Minas in December 1755, was apparently lost at sea - at least there is no record of its arrival in Connecticut. Out of the nearly seven thousand Acadians who boarded transports at Chignecto, Minas, and Annapolis Royal in 1755, the best estimate is that roughly one thousand died in transit. p. 372Of course the colonies were not excited about receiving unwanted refugees. Th…

book report: A Great and Noble Scheme (5) by Faragher

Faragher argues in his book, A Great and Noble Scheme, than part of the motivation for New Englanders to enlist to invade Acadia/Nova Scotia was the call to rid the peninsula of the Catholics.
As a group the recruits were mostly unemployed young men from seafaring towns along the Massachusetts coast...The recruits were formed into companies and sent off to Boston to the accompaniment of shrill ani-Catholic cant. "Are we willing to give up our Religion, the Religion of Jesus, which we now enjoy in its Purity, and which should be more dear to us than our Lives?" Reverend Isaac Morrill of Wilmington asked the young men of Captain Phineas Osgood's company. p. 300Maybe Morrill is an obscure name, but Jonathan Edwards, the greatest philosopher in the history of the U.S., also participated in the anti-Catholic cheerleading. Hatred of French Catholics was rampant in New England. In a sermon delivered in 1755, Jonathan Edwards quoted a passage from the book of Samuel: "Then D…

book report: A Great and Noble Scheme (4) by Faragher

Any history of the Americas that touches on the Indians cannot ignore the issue of land ownership. It comes up over and over again as Europeans overtake lands that, in their view, are not properly subdued and, therefore, not properly managed, thus, not properly owned. After a French capitulation to England in Europe, England asserted it's new "ownership" of Acadia. J. M. Faragher records the subsequent Anglo-Míkmaq interaction in A Great and Noble Scheme.

They presented a letter from two men identifying themselves as the Míkmaw chiefs of Minas. "We believe that this land God gave us," the chiefs declared, and "on it we reckon we have lived since before the trees were born." Why had they attacked the British? "We tell you that you are teh cause. It is you who have taken Canso." Before the British came, there had been peace. Now there was war because the British threatened to seize lands bequeathed to them by their fathers. "If we wished t…

book report: A Great and Noble Scheme (3) by Faragher

In a previous book report on Mayflower, by Nathaniel Philbrick, I noted his partial admiration for Benjamin Church's tactics against the Narragansetts in King Philip's War, coercion instead of slaughter. J. M. Farager's book on the French Acadians who were victims of English ethnic cleansing, A Great and Noble Scheme, offers another view of Church's tactics as he engaged the Acadians and the Míkmaq.
Bourgeois invited the major into his home to meet his parents and take refreshment. But as Church sat drinking, his lieutenants were outside supervising the slaughter of livestock, the plunder of homes, the burning of houses and barns. After a short time Church joined them and personally ordered the torching of the chapel of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Secours. The men "carried off and pillaged all the moveables belonging to several settlers," Commandant Joseph Robineau de Villebon reported, "burning the houses of those that had fled into the woods, and killing all thei…

book report: A Great and Noble Scheme (2) by Faragher

From the beginning of their colonization, Anglo New Englanders seemed to habitually neglect any concept of tribal ownership of land they coveted. The French Acadians did and avoided almost any altercations with the tribes they lived with. New Englanders only brought down violence on themselves. John Mack Faragher points to one example in his history, A Great and Noble Scheme.
"We are owners of this country, and it is wide and full of Indians, and we can drive you out," a group of Abenaki leaders wrote the governor of Massachusetts, "but our desire is to be quiet." Massachusetts authorities, however, ignored their complaints and the settlers treated them with utter contempt.

The breaking point came, as it so often did, with an act of despicable brutality. In 1675, two New England seamen in a dory on the Saco River overtook the canoe of a native woman, the wife of Squando, sachem of the Abenakis of Saco, a leader who long had counseled patience and negotiations with th…

cinema review: City of Ember

My oldest daughter read this book recently, and could not wait for the film. Unfortunately, it was not promoted much or well according to the review at CT. I brought all 3 children out on a Tuesday evening and enjoyed City of Ember with 9 others spread throughout the theater. I admit, I have a weakness for sci-fi and dystopias. Ember was built during a great catastrophe on the earth. It was built far beneath the earth but only to last 200 years. It's at the end of its planned life that we enter the story. The city's generator is failing, food is running short, and society is degenerating. The mayor is exploiting his power and privilege but a descendant of an earlier mayor has the information left by the "builders" for liberation. The movie is fast paced and directed to a young audience, but I wished for another minute or two when the protagonists reached the surface, at night. The young woman mournfully says, "They were right, it is dark on the surface." Th…

book report: A Great and Noble Scheme by Faragher

A Great and Noble Scheme is the ironic title of the history of the expulsion of the French Acadian population from present day Nova Scotia around 1750 by the English and their New England subjects. The author, John Mack Faragher, is a history professor at Yale University, not too far from my home. The subtitle is "The tragic story of the expulsion of the French Acadians from their American homeland." Faragher contends this episode, a great and noble scheme" in the letters of an English subject, follows other English uses of ethnic cleansing in their expansion of the United Kingdom. I've written about examples in Ireland and New England before. The French and English warred more often than they were at peace. So the Acadians were at risk from ethnic hatred by the English. They further complicated their ethnicity by their intermarriage, métissage, with Native Americans, see an earlier blog, which the English did not practice as much in New England.
In part, métissage …

3rd Prez debate who won?

It was less boring this time. In fact, the format and the moderator made it better. Was it a close debate? Yes. Can I pick a winner? I'm leaning to McCain, but I don't know that's enough for his campaign. He had one zinger. He said to Obama, "If you want to campaign against George Bush, you should have run for president 4 years ago."

No debate notes tonight as I'm suffering with shingles on my face. Ouch. Here is a good summary.

Why I can't vote for the Constitution Party

I'm glad they are strongly pro-life but if they accept endorsements from groups and people unlike Ron Paul but like certain hood wearing fellows of the past then I can't vote for them. One group endorsing the Constitution Party believes While we come from every class and creed, we are united in our pursuit of European American interests including freedom, genetic continuity, social justice, economic nationalism and environmental protection. You have got to be kidding me if they are not ashamed of pursuit of "genetic continuity". The group is called European Americans United. No link for them. I'm German, Irish, Jewish and Cherokee. The last two come from the Arkansas branch of the family.

Also, some of the CP platform is nutty. Nuttiness is OK, but racism isn't. Did Obama reject the Nation of Islam's endorsement? I honestly don't remember.

Now who will I vote for? Maybe I'll write in Huckabee. He was also guilty of idiotic racist gaffes.


Prez debate #2 a short review

I actually took notes last night so this will be more detailed than the previous debate blog. I'm not sure anyone came out the winner. No one undermined themselves. But no one made a knockout punch either. As in most debates at this stage, they are trying so hard to be at the center that their differences are not pronounced.
1st topic: Current economic crisis
McCain - Government needs to take on more debt by purchasing bad mortgages as well as moving toward energy independence.
Obama - Take to task CEOs who go on junkets in the midst of the crisis, read AIG.
subtopic: Next Treasury Secretary
McCain - Warren Buffet or Meg Whitman
Obama - Buffet maybe but whoever it is needs to focus on the little guy
2nd topic: What's in the bailout package for the little guy
McCain - Insulted the questioner by telling him he had probably never heard of Fannie Mae before. Stabilized markets help you and buying crummy mortgages could help you and Obama was pwned by Fannie Mae
Obama - The bailout package…

live blogging the VP debate

AP photo credit.
Here are my notes as I listened on the radio, which leaves me less engaged and easily distracted so these notes are far from complete

john's notes on the VP debate:

Biden makes the case that deregulation is the issue and identified McCain as supporting deregulation and Obama warning against it 2 years ago

Palin on taxes. Reduce government. (is that another way to say deregulation?)

Biden points out McCain voting the same way as Obama.

Palin talks straight to the people. She lowered taxes.

Biden says it's fair to raise taxes on those who make over a quarter million. 95% of Americans will get tax break under Obama's plan. Palin counters that the tax burden under Obama shifts to businesses who won't be able to afford employees. Obama proposes a trillion dollars in new expenses. McCain health care plan is budget neutral.

Biden, redistribution is fairness.

Palin had to rein in the oil companies as governor. Obama voted for oil company tax breaks

Biden says McCain vot…