23 October 2018

Relic Hunting Post #176 - Colonial Dandy Button

An interesting artifact recovery from an old farm here in the Shenandoah Valley. A colonial dandy button, circa 1810-1820:

15 October 2018

On My Nightstand

Recent acquisitions; one new book, one old:

And I love the dedication in Sydney Kerksis's classic reference manual on military buckles. Got a great deal on this one and it's a discard from the Atlanta Public Library.

13 October 2018

Winning the Hearts & Minds of Americans . . .

Who's doing it?
A new poll of likely North Carolina voters found that 70 percent disapproved of protesters’ toppling of the Silent Sam Confederate monument last month. (Source)
I've posted about this before. (See here, here and here.) The anti-monument protests seem to generate lots of heat, but very little light. As a matter of fact, the vandalism and protests may be having unintended consequences--at least in the minds of most Americans.

12 October 2018

General Robert E. Lee: Jan. 19, 1807 - Oct. 12, 1870

In Lexington apprehension battled with hope. The doctors remained confident, and Mrs. Lee talked of the time "when Robert gets well," but in her heart she was haunted by the look that had come into his eyes when he had tried vainly to answer her at the supper table and then had sat upright. "I saw he had taken leave of earth," she afterwards wrote. The superstitious whispered that his end was at hand because his picture had fallen down from the wall of his house; and when a flashing aurora lighted the sky for several nights some saw in it a beckoning hand. One Lexington woman took down a copy of The Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers and pointed significantly to this quatrain:

"All night long the northern streamers
Shot across the trembling sky:
Fearful lights, that never beckon
Save when kings or heroes die."

~ Douglas Southall Freeman

11 October 2018

Comments Here

I've just discovered a glitch in blogger not notifying me of comments on posts. I think I've caught up and posted those comments that were not posted over the last few weeks/months. I apologize. I was not ignoring readers' comments and I was not deleting them. It's just that I wasn't aware of them. 

Please keep reading and commenting. Your comment may not appear immediately but, if germane and civil, they will appear ASAP.

(Blogger has been rather buggy as of late which is one of the reason I hope to move to the new platform ASAP. Thanks for your patience!)

10 October 2018

Kent Masterson Brown's Newest Venture

"No, this way!"

Kent Masterson Brown is one of the few prominent historians today who approaches his subject from a traditional perspective. From Kent's website:
Too few citizens of our great country know even the most rudimentary facts about American History.  It is hardly taught in schools, and, if it is, it is often laced with the politics and “culture wars” of our time.  Consequently, our young people know precious little about even the basic story of America.  Such a lack of knowledge about American History poses a peril to the existence of our Republic.
So glad to see this happen as it is so desperately needed. More here at the new non-profit's website. You can set up an account free of charge and watch four of their excellent documentaries at no cost. You may also contribute to the effort.

09 October 2018

Lee Chapel Lecture By Dr. R. David Cox

From Lee Chapel:
Yesterday, we were honored to have a wonderful, well-attended entry in the Lee Chapel Fall Lecture series by Dr. R. David Cox, historian and professor at Southern Virginia University as well as longtime Lexington resident. It was a timely, engaging talk that invited excellent discussion and contemplation.
Wish I could have attended. But here's the next best thing:

04 October 2018

Older Americans Received a Better Education

I've participated in a number of online debates about the dismal state of American education these days. One of my frequent points is the *shameful performance of "experts" in a bloated, top heavy education system. Case in point:

National Survey
Finds Just 1 in 3 Americans Would Pass Citizenship Test

Just a third of Americans can pass a multiple choice "U.S. Citizenship Test," fumbling over such simple questions as the cause of the Cold War or naming just one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for.

And of Americans 45 and younger, the passing rate is a tiny 19 percent, according to a survey done for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
The disparity of scoring among the age groups is what interested me:
Surprisingly, the poll found stark gaps in knowledge depending on age. Those 65 years and older scored the best, with 74 percent answering at least six in 10 questions correctly. For those under the age of 45, only 19 percent passed with the exam, with 81 percent scoring a 59 percent or lower.
Surprisingly? I wasn't at all surprised. The demographic scoring the highest were, for the most part, educated in schools that had not yet been taken over by bureaucrats in Washington, universities and state capitols. Schools were, at that time, much more in the control of local citizens and parents ("non-experts"). Remember this the next time an "expert" talks down to you because of their "expertise" in education. Tell them to "follow the evidence"; which is what they claim to do - unless they don't like where it leads. Homeschooling, for example.

*As always, I fault politicians, bureaucrats and administrators for this state of affairs. There are many teachers doing the best they can within a system that is working against their best efforts. The proof is in the puddin'. Just follow the evidence.

Also, my family is heavily involved in education. My oldest daughter has a BS degree in history and is state certified to teach in Virginia. However, she has chosen to homeschool her 4 daughters. My next oldest daughter is a teacher in a private school. My youngest 2 daughters homeschool their children. My youngest son and his wife homeschool their 3 children. My wife and I homeschooled 4 of our 6 children and we were both active in local 4H clubs.  I have street cred.

01 October 2018

Rockbridge Civil War Round Table - Upcoming Talks

I've had the privilege of speaking at a number of CWRT's  in Virginia and have enjoyed each event. But I must say that the Rockbridge Civil War Round Table is undoubtedly the best - for a number of reasons:

1: Longevity and consistency
2: Venue/location
3: Range of speakers and perspectives.
4: Attendance

Consider their upcoming talks:

If you have the opportunity to attend any of these talks, you won't be disappointed!

29 September 2018

Black 47 & Irish Identity

UPDATE: I did watch this film Saturday evening and it is every bit as good as the critics claim. Great acting, some good action scenes and a compelling story. It's also a very dark film. The film has an interesting (and creative) ending. One of the main characters is faced with a choice; with one of those choices being the hope that America represents. I  highly recommend this film.

I hope to watch this tonight. Some have noted this film is a must see for anyone interested in Irish history. As a descendant of Coffeys, that would include me. The trailer looks awesome.

Set in Ireland during the Great Famine, the drama follows an Irish Ranger who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, as he abandons his post to reunite with his family. Despite experiencing the horrors of war, he is shocked by the famine's destruction of his homeland and the brutalization of his people and his family.
And IrishCentral.com notes:
The famine is the backdrop rather than the main theme which is just as it should be.  The film would be hopelessly dark otherwise. Consider that twice as many Irish starved to death as died in the American Civil War and you get some perspective of the reality. . . . Without the Great Hunger there would hardly be an Irish America, a JFK, a Henry Ford -- all roads lead to it when seeking to understand Irish identity.

28 September 2018

Historians' Perspectives

If you want to know a historian's perspective and understanding of a particular topic or subject area, read their books. If you want to know what informs that historians' perspective and understanding, read their tweets.

27 September 2018

"I Work To Be an Ancestor"

Though I'm not a Springsteen fan, this quote from an essay at the Imaginative Conservative is quite profound:
I work to be an ancestor. I hope my summation will be written by my sons and daughter, with our family’s help, and their sons and daughters with their guidance…. But this kind of story has no end. It is simply told in your own blood until it is passed along to be told in the blood of those you love, who inherit it. As it’s told, it is altered, as all stories are in the telling, by time, will, perception, faith, love, work, by hope, deceit, imagination, fear, history and the thousand other variable powers that play upon our personal narratives. It continues to be told because along with the seed of its own immolation, the story carries with it the rebirthing seed of renewal, a different destiny for those who hear it than the painful one my father and I struggled through. Slowly, a new story emerges from the old, of differently realized lives, building upon the rough experience of those who’ve come before and stepping over the battle-worn carcasses of the past. On a good day this is how we live. This is love. This is what life is. The possibility of finding root, safety and nurturing in a new season. The tree sprouts, its branches thicken, mature, bloom. It is scarred by lightning, shaken by thunder, sickness, human events and God’s hand. Drawn black, it grows itself back toward light, rising higher toward heaven while thrusting itself deeper, more firmly, into the earth. Its history and memory retained, its presence felt. ~ Bruce Springsteen

24 September 2018

On My Nightstand

I can't wait to get into this book. I've read some of the author's blog posts and the book is basically a compilation of those posts. I'm writing a review for a magazine and I'll post a short version of that review here in the near future.


21 September 2018

Victor Davis Hanson Nails It

Americans increasingly are either proud of past U.S. traditions, ongoing reform, and current American exceptionalism, or they insist that the country was hopelessly flawed at its birth and must be radically reinvented to rectify its original sins. . . . Will America keep dividing and soon resort to open violence, as happened in 1861? Or will Americans reunite and bind up our wounds, as we did following the upheavals of the 1930s Great Depression or after the protests of the 1960s?

The answer lies within each of us. ~ Victor Davis Hanson
And, just to be clear, I'm in the former camp of Americans described by Professor Hanson.

03 September 2018

Hiding History: Not Telling The Whole Story

Networks crop Farrakhan from Clinton/Jackson/Sharpton image at Aretha's funeral
Yet you have talking (empty) heads in the mainstream media and academia who just can't figure out why they're no longer trusted. Bubble dwellers. Sigh . . . sooo predictable.

More here.