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History: On learning from and writing history

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Mar 16, 2010, 10:00am Top

Maybe there is extraneous info out there that is just interesting or thought provoking;that doesn't fit under any particular thread.

Like this book I have been thumbing through that is called The Man in the Ice. Yes the Touchstone is correct. And please note it is one very poorly written book but..on p.253 it discusses a mass murder of something like 30 people.

Mind you,The Man in the Ice area of focus is the 5,000 year old Neolithic folks in the geographical area of Italy, Austria, and Switzerland.

Somehow, I always thought mass murders were a more contemporary phenomena as opposed to a genetic predisposition of the human race.

Mar 16, 2010, 5:26pm Top

If nothing else was at work regarding mass murder 5,000 years ago in central Europe, lack of population density might have required a lot of walking to achieve high numbers.

A semi-interesting side question for the day may be, "When does mass murder slip into war?" 30 murdered people may have exterminated a village or a tribal group at that time.

Jul 23, 2010, 11:04am Top

I am 69 years old and amazed how much I have to learn about human nature. As an example, I offer up this bit of news.....


Do others know about this industry? I never heard of it....

Jul 26, 2010, 2:18pm Top

My wife and I were out walking the trails of Bash Bish Falls


and I happen to chat with a gentleman who is active with the SIA. The SIA is made up of members, world-wide, who have a strong interest in preserving, interpreting and documenting our industrial past and heritage.

More info on same here:

It is a different way of exploring history and seems to be getting more popular with the passing of time.


Sep 30, 2010, 8:11pm Top

In case you are wondering where your tax dollars are going and why the U.S. infrastructure is in rapid decline, then you may have it explained here....


The 700 billion dollar annual appropriation for the US military is more than the military budgets of all the countries on this planet combined.

Oct 4, 2010, 12:58pm Top

New species.....


I find it interesting that a new species is so old.

Oct 4, 2010, 1:53pm Top

Thank, Urquhart, for that cool link. Of course, these species are only new to us. But it's exciting when we find them!

Oct 4, 2010, 2:22pm Top

In the tropics one can find 40-50 species of ant on a single tree so it's not surprising that new things are found, but it's cool when they are found near a deep water volcano.

Nov 25, 2010, 12:26pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Nov 25, 2010, 12:36pm Top

Well, here's a little history of human decoration, the permanent things we do to express our interests of the moment:

Nov 30, 2010, 5:25am Top

This is porn for psychopaths/sociopaths. Grotesquesly enough, this is but a small branch of a larger industry. Go high enough up the socio-economic scale and head out to the fringes...the fulfillment of extremely jaded tastes is not a pretty sight!!

Nov 30, 2010, 5:27am Top

That was a reply to #3. Sorry, I've not mastered the art of posting.

Nov 30, 2010, 11:14am Top

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War

Apparently people can't agree on what the Civil War was about.


Nov 30, 2010, 11:40am Top

>14 Urquhart:
From the article on a planned "secession ball in Charleston and a 10-day re-enactment of the Confederate encampment at Fort Sumter ... honor{ing} those South Carolinians who signed the state’s ordinance of secession":

“We’re celebrating that those 170 people risked their lives and fortunes to stand for what they believed in, which is self-government,” Mr. Antley {a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans} said. “Many people in the South still believe that is a just and honorable cause. Do I believe they were right in what they did? Absolutely,” he said, noting that he spoke for himself and not any organization. “There’s no shame or regret over the action those men took.”

Mr. Antley said he was not defending slavery, which he called an abomination. “But defending the South’s right to secede, the soldiers’ right to defend their homes and the right to self-government doesn’t mean your arguments are without weight because of slavery,” he said.
Really? Still? Yuck.

For an excellent book on the Civil War in historical memory see Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory by David Blight

Nov 30, 2010, 3:33pm Top

"Do they think secession is going to make the Ohio River wider?"

I forget exactly where I read that quote, last summer I was doing a lot of reading on the subject. Self delusion was a primary fact of Southern life after the Revolutionary War. First they had to readjust the "their but for the grace of God go I" attitude toward slaves to one that better fit their new belief that all men possess certain inalienable rights. They did this by changing their view of slaves from unlucky human beings to viewing them as sub-human. When those very sub-humans began outsmarting them and escaping in larger and larger numbers the Southerners had to invent a vast Northern conspiracy to steal their property. Once they had convinced themselves of these lies the post war lies were easy.

The North did much the same thing. The early religious activity against slavery was aimed at ending sexual relations between the races. Levi Coffin wrote that the only way he felt racial mixing could be stopped was to separate the races. What brought large numbers of Northerners to the cause was the Fugitive Slave Act. The majority of Northerners were more than happy to let slave catchers and Abolitionists fight it out. The Fugitive Slave Act required them to take part in hunting and returning slaves much like Obama's health care reform will force people to have insurance. We know how welcome that has been.

Nov 30, 2010, 3:36pm Top

to stand for what they believed in, which is self-government But evidently they didn't think all "selves" should be able to govern. In the book A Renegade History of the United States Thaddeus Russell has some very interesting and, I think, intelligent interpretations of historical movements, but he bases them all on his central thesis which is that African Americans because of their individualistic, pleasure seeking nature were better off as slaves. In slavery they could have their everyday needs cared for by their owners and could be left to pursue fine clothes and music. This man is a historian who had a job teaching at Barnard College before people began to wonder why his classes were so popular.

I just finished reading At the Dark End of the Street in which black women just laughed at the idea of white men trying to protect the purity of their children through outlawing integration. They said the white man was trying to protect the purity of his wife's children, while he ignored the children he fathered elsewhere on his "night time integration" activities. Minds can be very compartmentalized when it comes to race.

Nov 30, 2010, 4:21pm Top

>17 Citizenjoyce:
Looking at the preview on google books, there are no footnotes in Russell's book, just a list of sources for each chapter. This is rather convenient for him. It's harder to critique an author when you can't quite tell where he's getting his information. But I note that he includes Fogel and Engerman's Time on the Cross, a work that was severely criticized for it's strained, statistically based conclusions about the conditions of slavery. It's surprising to see someone still relying on that work.

Nov 30, 2010, 4:25pm Top

eromsted, he's after fun and shock value, so I think he chose the sources that would fit.

Edited: Nov 30, 2010, 4:59pm Top

The same, "because of their individualistic, pleasure seeking nature", was said about the German immigrants during the 19th century. Over-the-Rhine: When Beer was King went into Cincinnati's German history very deeply. Morgan is not a historian but his account of the Election Day Riot of 1855 in which the Know Nothings attempt to steal ballot boxes from German Wards was the best of five versions I read. The other four were written before 1965 and seem to have ignored the German side of the story.

I can not get the touchstone to work for this book.

Nov 30, 2010, 5:18pm Top

Nov 30, 2010, 5:20pm Top

Thank you.

Nov 30, 2010, 10:23pm Top

>17 Citizenjoyce: Thanks for the tip on the Renegade History, I won't buy that book.

I'd like to back up to the South and the Civil War.
I live in Atlanta and I have been to a meeting of the Civil War Round Table. I have seen the "lost cause" attitude up close and personal. One of the men who ran the group had the last name of Cobb, a family that was very prominent in Georgia during the Civil War.
My comment is that the Southerners who started secession and the Civil War said it was about slavery.
I read The Mind of the Master Class and the South at that time was obsessed with the fact they were a slave holding society. That was their identity and they knew it.
The problem is that with the slavery comes the whippings, miscegination and overseers. It bothered Mary Chestnut a lot. But you have to be honest and our bit as historians is to stand up for the truth.

Dec 1, 2010, 11:30am Top

>19 Citizenjoyce:

I've skimmed through the chapter on slavery on google books (I think some of the pages with illustrations are missing) and there is something here a little more than "fun and shock value." His main point seems to be that capitalism, and especially the work patterns that came with the industrial revolution, should not be equated with freedom. I can follow him this far. And he is building on a literature that highlights the difficulty of inculcating factory work rhythms in a working population that was largely agrarian in origin. But living in sin does not imply that the past was a garden. To say that industrial labor was not freedom does not imply that pre-industrial peasant life was freedom. And it is particularly perverse to extend this to finding freedom in slavery.

To reach this strained conclusion he makes some really big leaps. He argues that a set of essentially hostile caricatures and stereotypes in fact represent a hidden truth about slaves and slave culture. It's one thing to say that blackface was in part an attempt by whites to express something missing from their modern urban existence. It's something else entirely to say that blackface represented the real freedom of slaves.

He gives an overly credulous reading of the WPA slave narratives. Scholars have pointed out for years that these recollections can not be taken at face value as true pictures of slave life.

He makes a false equation of slave resistance and slave freedom. That slaves obstructed the work routine of the plantation by slowdowns, breaking tools, etc is hardly evidence that slaves had more freedom. In fact industrial workers have engaged in exactly the same kinds of resistance. This is more a point of similarity than difference. But perhaps the most laughable analogy was when he equated periodic flight from the plantation with vacations. Sure, hiding out in the forest, sneaking in at night to steal supplies, evading the slave patrols, facing possible brutal punishment on return, that's a vacation. And we are to believe that slaves absconded not because of the oppression of the slave regime, but in protection of their pre-capitalist culture of freedom. Sure.

Reading this was just rather sad. I appreciate the attempt to consider history through a perspective on freedom more substantive than that extolled under liberal capitalism. And I appreciate the attempt to get away from the progress narrative paints American history as a story of freedom ever more triumphant. So it's disheartening to find a text that's so very, very sloppy in thought and execution.

Dec 1, 2010, 3:17pm Top

I read the book because of the idea that the pursuit of individual pleasure was behind many of the freedoms we value today. He puts forth the idea that madams promoted birth control before Margaret Sanger and that they publicly placed value on non-functional dress, dancing and non reproductive sex thus giving other women the idea of freedom. He shows how many cultures had such fondness for the freedom of black people that they put on black face and performed black music. He says that without the renegades we'd all be working 16 hours a day 6 days a week, having only reproductive sex, reading only the bible or self help literature, eating only for sustenance, wearing plain unadorned clothing; and that African Americans were the epitome of renegades who sought personal pleasure. I think there's something behind this. But the only way he can make African Americans the heroes of his fun story is to say that there's something about their essence that makes them renegades, and renegades live better lives if someone else is responsible for their food, clothing, housing, child care and health care. Slavery fits these circumstances, but the only way he can show slavery to be beneficial is to theorize that it wasn't as harmful as we PC people think it was. So he said rape wasn't prevalent, and slaves were neither overworked nor punished severely because if they were they would "just leave". At no time does he mentioned what happened to these slaves who just left and were then captured and brought back. He merely says that the slaves left if conditions were bad and came back when they wanted.

I think he was trying to make his classes, and his book, interesting and appealing for pleasure seeking Americans by glossing over or omitting everything that didn't fit with his theory. I think he also rather relishes the shock value of his theories and thinks they will make him more popular. It's too bad. I think he could have said much of what he wanted without having to twist history in this way, but I guess he didn't.

Edited: Dec 2, 2010, 1:12am Top

> 24, 25
If your description of this book is on target, as I assume it is, then all this "Radical History" has done is to accept and champion racist theories: His innovation is to invert the values in the equation, so Victorian (somehow I know he leans on that word) Whitey is the inferior one, instead of grinning, priapic Sambo, who knows that life is all about pleasing yourself. (Paging Dr. Skinner.)

What's "radical" about that? Nothing at all: In fact, far from uprooting worn-out ideas, this guy waters and fertilizes the very worst idea we've come up with in the West, the myth of race as something inherent in us.

I learned on another thread that this author failed tenure review and lost his teaching post. Good riddance. I'm sure he was entertaining, and his irreverent hedonism could not fail to delight 18- to 21-year-olds. It would have delighted me. But this is not history; this is a bull session about history. Undergrads can hold those on their own. They don't need instructors and monographs to help out. Anyway there's that Mental Floss book on American history; sounds like a much better bull session text. So I'm at a loss as to what "The Radical History" is good for.

Dec 2, 2010, 2:31am Top

The thing is, at this point, I don't think Russell thinks he did anything wrong or inauthentic. I'm hoping the book won't sell well, maybe that will make him rethink his approach - maybe not. It should do well in the south.

Dec 2, 2010, 7:37am Top

There were books written in the South in the 1850's with the premise that slaves were better off than people who worked for wages. Some even argued that all workers should be slaves. I feel that the author's main mistake was that he was more interested in his ideas than the historical evidence, a critical flaw for a serious historian.

Dec 2, 2010, 8:52am Top

In Ambitious Brew the German immigrants are said to see "native Americans", the WASP's in power, as a joyless lot who think that sewing bees and barn raising are recreation. I dismissed the claim that the "native Americans" would not even sit down to eat or have a drink until I found postcards from the era advertising some Cincinnati saloons and there was not a table, chair or stool in site.

My professor seemed amazed that the early drafts of my paper made no mention of African Americans. Sometimes it is not about race. I think Russell and a few other historians have forgotten that. I am not saying that race has not been a major factor in American history, just that it is not always the primary factor.

Dec 2, 2010, 11:40am Top

> 29

Are we discussing the 1850's? I am not sure that saloons are necessarily the universal measure not that I object to saloons :^) .

Dec 2, 2010, 2:33pm Top


1848 and after, I know it changed but not exactly when. In the neighborhood I was researching the saloon and the brewery were the universal measure. Outside, in the rest of the world not so much but they are still an interesting illustration of the difference in cultures.

"native American" saloon http://www.cincinnativiews.net/images/Weber_Bros.jpg

German beer garden http://www.cincinnativiews.net/images/Wielerts_sketch.jpg

Edited: Dec 3, 2010, 2:02am Top

>27 Citizenjoyce:
On the book selling well in the South: If the assumption is that racism (in the US) is a peculiarly southern problem, I will challenge that. I grant that racism "sells" well in the South when it comes to politics, for historical reasons. But defining the South as racist lets the rest of the country off the hook too easily. End of sermon.

>29 TLCrawford:
"Sometimes it is not about race." I think that what your professor was driving at is that it's fine to omit a large sector of the population from your analysis, but you have to explain why they're not included. Historians generally aren't satisfied (and I suspect you arent either) with covering "respectable white men"; that won't give you a very robust understanding of the past. It's also not very challenging.

Comparing "native" and German (were they called "Dutch"?) saloons is great, and omitting African Americans can be explained in several valid ways. (I'm assuming women of either race were usu. not allowed; is that right?) Maybe black men were excluded from saloons; maybe you have evidence that they drank a lot less, in this time and place, than the "native" and German men you're studying, I.e. They didn't have a comparable drinking culture. Maybe there is too little evidence to draw conclusions about them: your sources are silent. Maybe you just didn't have time to research African-American drinking establishments; if that's so, you might suggest it as "an area for further research" for others. All of these are valid. None is "about race" or being P.C. They just show that you are thinking. If Cincinnati had another sizable cultural group with a drinking culture at this time, you should ask the same questions about that group.

Dec 3, 2010, 1:54am Top

I was referring to the Virginia governor and attorney general who apparently didn't think slavery had much to do with the civil war. There appears to be a growing or at least more visible bunch who agree that slavery wasn't all that bad.

Dec 3, 2010, 2:17am Top

>33 Citizenjoyce:
Well, don't let a fringe stand in for the whole region. I know a number of Virginians, not just metro-DC Virginians, but not one of them afaik thought the governor spoke for them. If he'd had more support, he wouldn't have had to back, fill, and apologize the way he did.

And fwiw, I'm a southerner. I've met Klansmen and neo-Confederates, and I can tell you it doesn't happen every day. When the Klan stages a rally in a southern town, they have to bus in ringers from the state where they have their strongest following. Indiana.

The Klan is a clown troupe; the neo-Reb fringe is more dangerous. But don't imagine they have a lock on white public opinion. Besides, like most radical groups, leave them to themselves for a while and they split into bitter factions. It's happened to the Soms of Confederate Veterans. I'm waiting for the League of the South to spawn a rival called The Southern League. (cue: Life of Brian)

Dec 3, 2010, 2:34am Top

The governor was elected by a majority of the people. I can't think his views are new. Rand Paul was elected in Kentucky and was very open about the fact that he doesn't think the federal government has the right to enforce civil rights laws against private businesses. Admittedly I don't live in the south and have never even visited, but with all the support I've seen for flying the confederate flag and calling the civil war, ha, ha the war of northern aggression - it looks to me like the book would sell better there than in other parts of the country.

Dec 3, 2010, 9:31am Top


My paper was, is, focusing on the neighborhood economy of a neighborhood just North of Cincinnati’s city center. The area is known as Over-the-Rhine because of the German immigrants that built it and the Miami-Erie Canal that defined two sides of its triangular shape, the third is a line of steep hills. What I had written was mostly concerning the origin of the neighborhood, the new style (I learned) lager beer and the beer halls that made the area prosperous, the introduction of utilities such as public transportation, water, sewer, electricity, and telephone. In 1900 the neighborhood had over 90,000 people but only a few hundred African-Americans. As late as the 1950 Census the neighborhood has less than 2% non-white population.

Cincinnati African-Americans have a great history but until the construction of I-75 caused the destruction of their neighborhood they were not represented inside the neighborhood in question. Sometimes, even in the US, the story is not about race. Popular though in Cincinnati seems to be that African-Americans ruined the neighborhood when they moved in. My thesis is that in reality they moved into a neighborhood that was already mortally wounded by a number of government policies starting with the anti-German propaganda program that helped Wilson build support for entering World War I.

Edited: Dec 3, 2010, 3:51pm Top

>36 TLCrawford:
So "the story is not about race" because you're focusing on a well-defined area that was well over 99% white. That's perfectly straightforward.

Sounds like a fascinating paper. Since German speakers "built" the neighborhood, the nativism of newcomers seems esp. presumptuous in hindsight.

One thing about your thesis puzzles me: Is anti-German sentiment around WW1 entirely explained by "government policy"? Consider, if govt. propaganda started telling us right now that the Germans are all brutal, baby-killing Hun butchers, the response would prob. be astonishment and ridicule. Something else prepared people to believe these tales.

There are personal connections for me: My grandfather said his German-born mother abruptly stopped teaching him her native language in 1917. (This would have been in New York, maybe Brooklyn.)

I have a copy of the first orchestral record made in the US, the Boston Symphony Orchestra playing the finale of Tchaikovsky's Fourth; the German conductor's name is missing from the label. A collector friend told me the conductor, one Karl Muck, was in jail on some pretext, his actual crime being his Germanness. I assume it wasn't the Feds who detained him, but I could be wrong. Anyway the Victor Talking Machine Co. guessed that having his name on a record label might hinder sales.

Dec 3, 2010, 3:57pm Top

I've read only a little about anti-german propaganda. It seems we have a large capacity for demonizing whatever group happens to be convenient at the moment. When I was in college, college mind you, a man I knew was pining over the loss of the woman he loved. He couldn't marry her because she was Japanese and he was white of some sort. I didn't realize prejudice existed against the Japanese. I assume that this ability to scapegoat other races is prevelant thoughout the world. Is it less in Europe? I think Americans are vilified around the world because of Bush's policies, oh, and I guess for the "dirty American" image.

Dec 3, 2010, 5:08pm Top


Wilson put George Creel at the Committee on Public Information just to create the anti-German sentiment that eventually led to German language instruction being removed from schools, German language book and newspapers being removed from libraries. Even churches quit offering services in German. It wen to far that streets were renamed and even hamburger became Salisbury Steak.

I have a doctoral thesis by Dr. Guido Andre Dobbert coming through inter-library loan in which he compares German life in Over-the-Rhine in 1917 to Jewish life in Berlin in the 1930s. I won't have it in time to work it into the paper but it should be interesting.

Dec 3, 2010, 5:41pm Top

>36 TLCrawford:
A little modern Over-the-Rhine anecdote-

A little less than 10 years ago I spent some time in Cincinnati as an organizer for SEIU talking to nursing home workers. We would get lists of workers at nursing homes and look up their addresses. I spent much of my time knocking on doors. Low income people move a lot and we would often get multiple addresses per worker even when we weren't getting bad name matches.

I knocked on quite a few doors in Over-the-Rhine but I never once found one of our workers living there. I believe this was true of the other organizers as well. Our hypothesis was that anyone who was holding down a steady job moved out of the neighborhood as fast as possible. So, at least at that time, when it came to the residents of Over-the-Rhine I don't think there was a stable "they." It was a place to hang your hat when you couldn't even afford public housing (many of the nursing home workers lived in the large, publicly regulated apartment complexes that flanked the downtown area).

Grouping all of the poorest people together is certainly a problem but it is an unsurprising outcome of rent and property markets. Having no where to live when you're down on your luck is worse.

Dec 4, 2010, 9:28pm Top

I can beleive that, the old neighborhood is a maze of allyways and service corridors. Over 90,000 people lived there in 1900 but only 7,500 in 2000. Even if they still lived in the neighborhood it would be hard to find someone in all the empty space.

As late as 1996 there was a newspaper article arguing that Over-the-Rhine could be more than "just a wearhouse for the poor". Since then gentrification has arrived. Take a look at this. http://www.sibcycline.com/viewlisting.asp?mls=1237925&b=CIN&p=RESI&s...

My grandparents moved to the neighborhood in the 1930s and soon owned 11 buildings. In the early 1970s they sold one in trade for a twenty year of house trailer and a couple hundred dollars. Times change. There house is being renovated and I doubt I could afford to live there in a year or two.

Dec 4, 2010, 10:09pm Top

Isn't it ever the case when people have lived somewhere a long time and look back at all the money that could have been made had they had the foresight to buy, or keep, property. My father was forever telling me what a rich man he would have been if only---. A combination of knowledge of history with a good functioning time machine is what I want for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Yule...

Dec 6, 2010, 9:34am Top

Selling when the property was worthless I see as an accurate commentary on my family history ;-)

What I sometimes wonder about is how two people who came out of the hills of Kentucky manages to purchase the properties in the first place, during the Depression, when the banks were NOT writing inner city mortgages. There was a family story about Grandpa being innocently involved in a bank robbery but his account of the date did not check out. Someday I will look at that more closely.

Dec 7, 2010, 12:37pm Top

>39 TLCrawford:
Not to belabor the point, but if I were reviewing a paper that claimed that Wilson and Creel were the sole agents of anti-German behavior in the United States, I would give the author a very hard time about it. Creel may have played a necessary role in causing specific anti-German things to happen, like ending language instruction in schools. But the anti-German mood was not created ex nihilo by the government. To say it was is to ignore a persistent nativist strain in U.S. political culture, which had been churning out stereotypes of the beer-swilling, bomb-throwing, simple-minded, tight-fisted German for generations. Creel was updating and popularizing a prejudice that already had a history. The WW1 propaganda initiative was unprecedented in its brazenness, psychological sophistication, cynicism, and use of mass media. But it would be naive to assume that government propaganda could cause a critical mass of the public to believe anything. Even the Nazi campaign against Jews, which you and Dr. Dobbert imply a comparison with, drew on centuries of European folklore and half a century of pseudo-intellectual literature (in German, French, and English) to justify its assertions. (I used to have a book on the latter subject called The Politics of Cultural Despair. Bleak stuff.)

I'm just concerned that you may be arguing, "Govenment said it, so the sheeple believed it." That suffices for a blog post, but not for a serious historical argument.

Dec 7, 2010, 2:48pm Top

Anti-German and anti-Catholic behavior play a part in the neighborhoods entire history. The neighborhood's economy is the focus of the paper and the anti-German campaign is where I see the economy tip into decline. As you said, "The WW1 propaganda initiative was unprecedented in its brazenness, psychological sophistication, cynicism, and use of mass media." The neighborhood's monetary well being depended primarily on breweries, secondarily on beer gardens, burlesque theaters, and bars. German social organizations had their meeting halls in the neighborhood and brought in people, and their money, from all over the city. People with names like Macke and Seiverding stopped going to the neighborhood out of fear that people with names like Taft and Harrison would refuse to do business with "German sympathizers"

The loss of trade hurt the neighborhood then Prohibition hit them with no chance for recovery in between. When I started my research I thought this would be the first blow but I changed my mind as I uncovered the evidence.

Jan 3, 2011, 3:36pm Top

I am not sure if this relates to history but I think these are beautiful....


Jan 3, 2011, 4:24pm Top

Great pictures, thanks Urquhart. Spelunking doesn't appeal to me with all the darkness and tight quarters, but these caves now, I can see why you'd want to explore there.

Jan 4, 2011, 9:55pm Top

I have read that Francis Bacon is called “the last polymath”, so what facts allowed J. D. Bernal to lay claim to this title?

Jan 12, 2011, 8:23pm Top

You folks must be doing something right; we just got our 491st member added to the group today.

Of course the next question is why? Maybe the snow?

The more the merrier.

Jan 16, 2011, 10:12pm Top

Anyone out there with an interest in a really old map?


Apr 15, 2011, 9:11am Top

Edited: Apr 19, 2011, 7:15pm Top

Here in Westchester County, NY, I have noticed an increasing number of houses with this flag out front as well on bumper stickers but was not sure of its meaning or origin...

If interested check out...


Apr 18, 2011, 6:11am Top


Is it likely to be a local Tea Party surge?


Apr 18, 2011, 3:32pm Top

2011 Pulitzer Prize
The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner (W.W. Norton & Company)

For “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery,” (W.W. Norton & Company), a well orchestrated examination of Lincoln’s changing views of slavery, bringing unforeseeable twists and a fresh sense of improbability to a familiar story.

Apr 21, 2011, 12:27pm Top

>53 Urquhart:
I believe it's Revolutionary War era. The message: don't cause me problems and I won't cause you problems. An older version of walking softly with big sticks.

Apr 21, 2011, 3:32pm Top

Many thanks for the info. I guess the next question is whether or not you and others have seen their neighbors flying this flag. I am seeing it all around me....?

Edited: May 6, 2011, 8:59pm Top

Ok, I may be out of line on this one, but my thinking is this. Many people interested in history are also interested in military strategy and in details and in solving mysteries and finally how the answers might impact the future. With that as exhordium, I present to you the following.


and from another vantage point this:


If you think it inappropriate, I will of course take it down from the Miscellaneous thread.


May 7, 2011, 1:57am Top

The dogs are a great addition. I can't figure out why we don't use them in airports.

May 24, 2011, 5:03pm Top

Anyone with a serious interest in the Civil War?

Have at it:

Jun 11, 2011, 10:35pm Top

Of possible interest to folks:

Five myths about the American flag
By Marc Leepson, Published: June 10

Americans love our flag. We display it at concerts and stadiums to celebrate, and at times of national tragedy to show our resolve. We have our schoolchildren pledge allegiance to it; we have consecrated it in our national anthem; we have a holiday to honor it — Tuesday, in fact. Yet the iconography and history of the American flag, especially its early history, are infused with myth and misrepresentation. Here are five of the most prevalent myths.

1. Betsy Ross made the first American flag.

The Betsy Ross story is the most tenacious piece of fiction involving the flag. There simply is no credible historical evidence — letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, bills of sale — that Ross (then known as Elizabeth Claypoole) either made or had a hand in designing the American flag before it made its debut in 1777.

The story cropped up in 1870, almost 100 years after the first flag was supposedly sewn, when William Canby, Ross’s grandson, told the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia that his grandmother made the flag at George Washington’s behest. Canby’s sole evidence: affidavits from family members. The iconic 1893 painting of Ross sitting in her Philadelphia parlor with the sun beaming down on the flag in her lap is a scene invented by Charles H. Weisgerber, the artist and entrepreneur who profited from the Betsy Ross legend.

While Ross did make flags in Philadelphia in the late 1770s, it is all but certain that the story about her creating the American flag is a myth.

As President Woodrow Wilson, who presided over the first official national Flag Day on June 14, 1916, is said to have replied when asked his thoughts on the story: “Would that it were true.”

2. The red, white and blue colors symbolize American sacrifice.

No federal law, resolution or executive order exists providing an official reason for the flag’s colors — or their meaning. The closest thing to an explanation are the words of Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, who was instrumental in the design of the Great Seal of the United States. Thomson’s report to Congress on June 20, 1782, the day the seal was approved, contained a description of the colors, the same as those in the flag: “White signifies purity and innocence. Red hardiness and valour and Blue . . . signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.”

Various official documents and proclamations — including one by President Ronald Reagan marking 1986 as the “Year of the Flag” — have echoed that reasoning.

But the colors do not have, nor have they ever had, any official imprimatur. Historians believe that the use of red, white and blue in the Stars and Stripes has to do with the simple fact that they were the colors of the first flag of the American colonies, the Continental Colors. And there is little doubt where the red, white and blue of the Continental Colors came from: the Union Jack of England.

3. The Pledge of Allegiance has long been recited in Congress and other governmental bodies.

The pledge was written by magazine editor Francis Bellamy in 1892 for a nationwide public school celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s landing. In 1898, during the Spanish American War, New York became the first state to mandate that public school students recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of each school day. Many states followed suit, and the pledge remained a staple of the daily routine in many schools until 1988, when it became an issue in the presidential campaign.

Vice President George H.W. Bush criticized his opponent, Democrat Michael Dukakis, for vetoing a bill as governor of Massachusetts that would have required the pledge to be recited in public schools. Dukakis said he did so after being advised that the law was unconstitutional.

At the height of the campaign, on Sept. 13, 1988, the pledge was recited on the floor of the House of Representatives for the first time. Republican members of the House, who were in the minority, offered a resolution to that effect, and it was accepted by Speaker Jim Wright, a Democrat. Wright ruled that from then on, the pledge would be recited at the start of business each day that the House was in session.

The Senate did not begin daily recital of the pledge until June 24, 1999. Since then, the pledge has become part of the opening rituals of nearly all state and local governmental bodies.

4. It is illegal to burn the American flag.

It was illegal until 1989, when the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in Texas v. Johnson that burning the flag is a form of symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment. The case involved Gregory Lee Johnson, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, who had burned the flag during a protest at the 1984 Republican National Convention. He was convicted of violating Texas’s flag-desecration law, fined $2,000 and sentenced to a year in jail. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction, ruling that Johnson was exercising his First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

The Supreme Court’s decision invalidated a 1968 national flag-desecration law, as well as similar laws in 48 states (all except Wyoming and Alaska). In response, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act, but that law was also challenged and wound up in the Supreme Court. The court in 1990 essentially affirmed its earlier ruling, stating that any law banning flag burning violated free speech.

Those decisions led to a national movement to amend the Constitution to make flag desecration illegal. The leading voice in that effort has been the Citizens Flag Alliance, which was founded in 1994by the American Legion. Proposed amendments have come up regularly in the House and Senate since then but have yet to receive sufficient support.

5. It’s okay to wear a Stars and Stripes T-shirt.

The U.S. Flag Code frowns on the use of the flag “for advertising purposes.” It goes on to warn against the sale or display of any “article of merchandise . . . upon which shall have been printed, painted, attached, or otherwise placed a representation of” the flag to “advertise, call attention to, decorate, mark, or distinguish the article or substance on which so placed.”

In other words, when you wear a flag T-shirt or hat while reclining on an American flag beach towel near your American flag camping chair, you are violating the Flag Code. The code, which was drawn up at the first National Flag Conference in Washington in 1923, is part of the law of the land. But it is not enforced, nor is it enforceable. It is merely a set of guidelines, letting Americans know what to do — and what not to do — with our red, white and blue national emblem.

There is no Flag Police. You will not be arrested for wearing a flag-embossed T-shirt on Flag Day — or any other day of the year.


Marc Leepson is the author of “Flag: An American Biography” and, most recently, “Lafayette: Lessons in Leadership From the Idealist General.”

Read more from Outlook, friend us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

© The Washington Post Company

Dec 4, 2011, 5:37pm Top

Amazing Grace in Cherokee...


Edited: Dec 6, 2011, 8:44pm Top

> 61

Re #3, another amazing fact about the Pledge is that its author, Francis Bellamy, was a (gasp!) socialist.

His cousin Edward Bellamy is remembered for his utopian novel Looking Backward.

Dec 14, 2011, 10:23pm Top

Here are some of Bellamy's own words about the words he chose for the Pledge:

"It began as an intensive communing with salient points of our national history, from the Declaration of Independence onwards; with the makings of the Constitution...with the meaning of the Civil War; with the aspiration of the people...

"The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the 'republic for which it stands.' ...And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation - the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches. And its future?

"Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, 'Liberty, equality, fraternity.' No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all..."

He thought about liberty, equality, and justice for all but took out equality because of the inequality of women and African-Americans.

Jan 13, 2012, 6:12pm Top

Can you imagine the amount of courage it took to crew that vessel?

Edited: Jan 27, 2012, 12:50pm Top

Ok, I am sure all you intellectuals out there would say the following tv program is just pandering to my base and animal spirits but I am curious and must confess I am going to be watching........


But then again, the real question is would you do this in order to win your true love and defend her honor.

Jan 27, 2012, 12:55pm Top

Lordo'mercy, crazy stuff!

Jan 27, 2012, 1:50pm Top

Much more exciting with motorcycles. (what movie was that?)

Exactly how is it "Full Metal"? The armor appears to be well padded composites and the lance is of course wood.

Jan 27, 2012, 2:36pm Top

Tim, wasn't the lance wood in the Middle Ages?

See new thread for more:
'Reinacting The Middle Ages in the U.S. 2012'

Jan 27, 2012, 3:03pm Top

Yes, of course. Then it was the only material with the proper weight to strength ratio. Now we can make metal or composite plastics that would be stronger and lighter but they would not fracture like wood so, I think would be much more dangerous.

I have seen a match at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. It is impressive to see.

Apr 2, 2012, 12:50pm Top

So, the Prime Meridian ran through Washington D. C.? I knew there was some issue with where to place it but I thought that had been settled long before 1815. Until I started reading this page, http://hdl.handle.net/2027/nyp.33433081827002?urlappend=%3Bseq=21

The Ohio River originates 2 degrees, 56" west of Washington? Does anyone know more about that?

May 28, 2012, 11:46am Top

We haven't had any pictures of late so herewith a bit of history in pictures........


May 28, 2012, 1:05pm Top

Great pix, Urquhart, thanks.

May 31, 2012, 9:52am Top

O'Sullivan's pictures show the magnificent landscapes of the Old West with rough hewn patches of civilization scattered about. Great find Mr. Urquhart. Keep up the good work.

Jul 21, 2012, 9:44am Top

Jul 21, 2012, 11:05am Top

For Holland? No.

Aug 6, 2012, 6:42pm Top

A website for documents etc.


Aug 7, 2012, 9:20am Top

Aug 7, 2012, 8:47pm Top

We're not going down that conspiracy theory rabbit hole again, are we?

Aug 8, 2012, 4:57am Top

If anyone is that way inclined, pursuing the Libor story could be useful for more to know…

Aug 10, 2012, 5:24am Top

Before today's digital technology, photoreconnaissance satellites used film…


Aug 21, 2012, 1:17pm Top

Photos of Internment camp:


Aug 21, 2012, 1:35pm Top

Great pictures. Thanks, Urquhart.

Aug 21, 2012, 4:56pm Top

As bad as the idea of internment camps was, there were worse camps.


Aug 21, 2012, 9:26pm Top


Aug 22, 2012, 5:58am Top

Before concentration camps, plantations.

Colons and coolies the development of Cambodia's rubber plantations
by Margaret Slocomb

Aug 22, 2012, 12:44pm Top

I'm just reading Sea of Poppies right now. Evidently human beings have not evolved with the ability to handle power in any humane way.

Aug 22, 2012, 12:54pm Top

Of course not, but we seem to have evolved to be able to enjoy the product of poppies.

Aug 23, 2012, 2:44am Top

Summary of Montaigne heard in author interview…
“How to live : a life of Montaigne in one question and
twenty attempts at an answer” by Sarah Bakewell

read a lot, forget most of what you read, and be slow witted, keep a private room behind the shop, wake from the sleep of habit, guard your humanity, live temperately, do a good job but not too good a job, do something no one has done before, see the world, philosophize only by accident, reflect on everything, regret nothing, give up control, be ordinary and imperfect, let life be its own answer

Aug 23, 2012, 4:23pm Top

Well, there's a good summary.

Aug 23, 2012, 4:39pm Top

> 92

Could you please clarify for me what that quote is?

Is the summary by you, Montaigne, or the author?



Aug 23, 2012, 10:53pm Top

The interviewer asked listeners to write it down, so I did, and shared it.

Aug 28, 2012, 5:53pm Top


Many thanks.


Nov 9, 2012, 9:14pm Top

Re: the Petreus resignation and the woman in question.

Not what I would have thought.........


Nov 9, 2012, 10:49pm Top

Oh really? Why not? So just what would you have thought? Think very carefully before answering........

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 12:16pm Top

Mrs. Ashby

I'm not sure what is meant by the "Think very carefully before answering........" however I am interested in trends in history.

The mistress for Petraeus,Paula Broadwel, was a fitness champion at West Point with a graduate degree from Harvard, and so has an intellectual profile that I do not think matches that of the recent mistresses for:

Bill Clinton
John Edwards
Gary Hart
Mark Sanford
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Eliot Spitzer

to name but a few.....

I am sure there are exceptions to the trends, but the trends are the topic I am addressing here and in this forum.

I don't believe that the above list took the 'careful thinking' you suggested but maybe you were addressing another issue that passed me by.

Possibly things are different in your native Melbourne.


Nov 10, 2012, 6:04pm Top

That someone could lose his/her position because of adultery continues to amaze me. I think of sexual expression as a purely personal choice with no bearing on one's abilities as an economic or political entity. Surely we have to let these petty judgements go by the wayside soon.

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 6:33pm Top

Yes. But I can understand that if that person prominently plays the "family values" card (s)he would loose some credibility over a thing like this.

Nov 10, 2012, 6:32pm Top

Well, that's true. I do admit to a bit of schadenfreude when the "morally righteous" show their humanity.

Nov 10, 2012, 7:24pm Top

Now, now, there's no need to come over all defensive! Forgive me, I was afraid you were implying that there was something wrong with her, lacking moral fibre despite her military training. It appears to me that she's probably a perfectly normal woman who has succumbed to the perils of propinquity and the allure of a uniform. Who knows, maybe he's got hidden charms?

Given that I have never heard of Edwards, Sanford or Spitzer and their girlfriends, I take it that what you in fact think is that only bimbos take up with married men. If you think Broadwell is going against the trend, you should have come out and said so instead of relying on the old nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

I disagree with you. The awful truth is that there are many intelligent women, including our own Prime Minister (who a few years ago had a bit of a fling with a married colleague) who have appalling judgement in men, and not much sense of solidarity with their fellow woman either.

Then again, perhaps you are suggesting that married men usually only commit adultery with bimbos, which I think is an equally dubious proposition.

I am intrigued by your suggestion that there is a necessary connection between physical fitness and intellectual achievement, which I believe is worth serious consideration. Would you care to elaborate?

Things actually are different in my native Australia (not just Melbourne). People are not expected to resign from public office because of sexual misconduct, provided of course that it involves consenting adults. They may be in some trouble if there is a perceived conflict of interest, though in the case of Gareth Evans and Cheryl Kernot it was considered a bit of a coup by Evans, a positive convergence of interest; neither of them had to resign, but in due course Kernot got her comeuppance from the voters, not for the adultery but for her political treachery. As for Bob Hawke and the lovely and highly intelligent Blanche, say no more....

Stand by to watch Paul Howse not resign.

Nov 10, 2012, 9:02pm Top

I believe that he resigned over issues of security with CIA emails.

The first this I thought when I saw her picture on the link above was that the picture was not really professional. Then I thought that her idea of the title for the biography of the married man she was in an adulterous relationship with was, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus in poor taste to say the least.

Nov 12, 2012, 9:35am Top

As TLCrawford points out, the issue isn't the "morality" card but rather the security issues. The affair was discovered because Dr. Broadwell had sent ... intemperate ... emails to one of the executive secretaries at the CIA in an attempt to keep the secretary mum about it.

The problem is that when a high-ranking official of the CIA has skeletons in his closet, it can quickly become grist for blackmail -- and blackmailing a top intelligence official is the last thing we want.

Nov 12, 2012, 3:52pm Top

The problem is that when a high-ranking official of the CIA has skeletons in his closet, it can quickly become grist for blackmail -- and blackmailing a top intelligence official is the last thing we want. But isn't that what they used to say was the reason homosexuals couldn't get security clearances - because they were too subject to blackmail? We put way to much weight on sexual issues, and the more people are punished for their sexuality, the more likely we are to lose good people because of inconsequential issues.

Edited: Nov 12, 2012, 7:33pm Top

>107 Citizenjoyce:: But the issue wasn't the affair itself. It was the security breach involved in the threatening emails that Broadwell sent to Jill Kelley.

Nov 15, 2012, 12:27am Top

When Broadwell sent emails to Jill Kelly the "Florida socialite" (who wasn't on the CIA payroll) she wasn't telling her to keep mum, she was telling her to keep her paws off, having apparently caught Kelly playing footsies with Petraeus. That wasn't a breach of security, it was a breach of common sense. Then Kelly, having overlooked her own steamy communications with the unfortunate General Allen, went to her FBI admirer for help (as you do) and he started ferreting away even when his boss told him to desist, not to mention sending her photos of himself half naked...

I take it back, Broadwell's not normal, none of them are. You couldn't invent a story like this - cast of thousands, nobody any better than they ought to be, all displaying what one Twitterer has described as weapons grade stupidity. Agent Shirtless forsooth! Makes you think of agent Nelson Van Alden in Boardwalk Empire, if not Maxwell Smart (remember him?). John Le Carre meets, I dunno, Martin Amis, Michael Frayn, maybe even P. G. Wodehouse. A really ripping yarn!

There is some irony in the head of the CIA being brought undone by FBI snooping, but you have to worry about the national security of the USA being in the hands of such a motley crew.

Nov 15, 2012, 12:41am Top

When Broadwell sent emails to Jill Kelly

Has she confirmed that she did ?

Nov 15, 2012, 9:45pm Top

I have no idea, but there would be no need for her to say anything as the FBI has confirmed that she did. That's what set the whole thing off, them tracking down the source of the anonymous emails.

What we learn from the (very recent) history of this is something I have borne in mind for some time: never commit to email, even in draft, anything which you would not be willing to have FOIed. And bear in mind that the spooks don't have to bother with formal FOI requests, they just flash their badges at the service providers.

Nov 15, 2012, 11:49pm Top

My concern is the possibility of
a cracker somewhere ( Iran ? )
who has made muppets of all
concerned, input six e-mails,
output the butterfly effect on
the careers of two four star generals.

Nov 16, 2012, 10:52pm Top

No doubt there will be an internet site somewhere exploring your theory...

Nov 17, 2012, 3:41am Top

Meanwhile, the people with bodyguards need cyberguards
to advise them on the do's and don't's. The free service
providers mine their data for nuggets of gold you know.

Nov 17, 2012, 4:00am Top

Obviously. After all, there's no such thing as "free service".

Dec 28, 2012, 10:21pm Top

Dec 28, 2012, 11:42pm Top

Thanks for the site, Urquhart. I knew Santa Fe was old, but I didn't now it was that old.

Mar 28, 2013, 10:04pm Top

Totally off topic:


Ownership and membership

Online bookseller AbeBooks (now owned by Amazon) bought a 40% share in LibraryThing in May 2006 for an undisclosed sum. In January 2009, Cambridge Information Group acquired a minority stake in the company, and their subsidiary Bowker became the official distributor to libraries.

Mar 28, 2013, 10:09pm Top

Does that mean the chances of Rome owning LT and
erasing books to heretical forbidden lists is less likely?

Mar 28, 2013, 11:55pm Top

Mar 29, 2013, 8:37am Top


Thank you; that thread is important for everyone to read.


Apr 13, 2013, 11:40am Top

Very worrying, indeed!



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