31 January 2009
"President Taft struck a responsible chord last Wednesday in his address in Richmond when in the course of his patriotic speech he warmly endorsed the establishment by the whole people of a lasting memorial to General Robert E. Lee at Washington and Lee University, the institution to which the illustrious military chieftain gave the closing days of his eventful life. The President said:
We have now reached the point where we can look back without prejudice and without partisan passion to the events of the Civil War. The North has come to admire to the full the heroes of the South, and the South admires to the full the heroes of the North . . . The full meaning of this endorsement will more readily be understood when it is recalled that President Taft had spent the greater portion of the day in visiting historic scenes in Richmond. He had stood in the hall of teh House of Delegates, the White House of the Confederacy; had spent a short time in Hollywood beside the tombs of President Monroe, President Tyler and President Davis; had gazed upon the monument erected to the memory of the only President of the Confederacy; had breathed the atmosphere of old St. John's church and stood by the historic pew in which Patrick Henry made his famous speech; and had viewed other places no less noted for their connection with history in its making. Under the spell of these influences President Taft gave utterance to his endorsement of the Lee memorial at Washington and Lee University."
The piece continues, citing similar comments by former President Teddy Roosevelt.
My point? There was a time in our Nation, before the left politicized history,when most Americans looked upon men like Lee with admiration and respect. When the left began attacking Southern heroes in pursuit of their agenda, Southerners often responded in kind, often very emotionally. Since the South was (and remains for the most part) conservative in much of its opinions, politics, and way of life, it became the favorite target of leftists and remains so today - "Jesusland" as one liberal commentator called it.
These so-called "new" and more "enlightened" interpretations of history are, more often than not, simply rehashes of old interpretations.
30 January 2009
27 January 2009
"Thus impoverished, writers and intellectuals generally veered sharply to the left in these years. Indeed, 1929-1933 was a great watershed in American intellectual history. In the 18th century American men of ideas and letters had been closely in tune with the republicanism of the Founding Fathers. In the 19th century they had on the whole endorsed the individualism which was at the core of the American way of life--the archetypal intellectual of the mid-century, Emerson, had been himself a traveling salesman for the spirit of self-help in the Midwest. From the early Thirties, however, the intellectuals, carrying with them a predominant part of academia and workers in the media, moved into a position of criticism and hostility towards the structural ideas of the American consensus: the free market, capitalism, individualism, enterprise, independence, and personal responsibility."
Many of Johnson's observations regarding the Great Depression are quite fascinating as we see this same phenomenon continuing and, with the current economic downturn, growing. And we continue to see hostility toward many of the founding principles of our republic. We're trading free market capitalism for a socialist-style "managed" economy, individualism for group-think, enterprise for handouts, independence for dependence, and personal responsibility for whining and finger-pointing. More excerpts and comments on Johnson's excellent historical analysis later.
Also, I have what I trust will be some very interesting posts coming up this coming weekend. One of these posts will be about Robert E. Lee and the ridiculous notion that his persona was "manufactured" by Southerners. Another one will be about one of my great-great grandfathers who was a carpetbagger (for those who think they know more than they actually do). That post will be of particular interest to one person in particular as it involves the readjuster movement in post-war Virginia.
And speaking of General Lee, I've been approached about working on a documentary about Lee in the near future. More as that develops. But until the weekend, I may not have any more posts as I have to go out of town on business Wed-Fri.
26 January 2009
24 January 2009
1. How common were Catholic Europe's infamous witch-hunts and witch-trials? Not very. Norman Davies, the British historian, estimates that 50,000 died. Or, 125 a year (on average) over a four-hundred-year period.
2. Historically, Protestants targeted more than witches. They were also classier victims.
3. The feminist image of the "innocent" female witch isn't entirely accurate. Iceland's male witches, for instance, were also targets.
4. Religious wars are terrible. Still, atheistic communist governments kill more civilians in "peacetime."
5. "Make love not war"? Forget Iraq and Afghanistan. Sexually transmitted diseases steal more lives.
6. Mark Twain: "A southerner talks music."
7. New York City was America's slave capital.
8. Europeans didn't have to introduce slavery to North America. The natives already owned slaves.
9. Afro-Americans served in the Confederate armies.
10. Is the South primitive? "The oldest women's college and the first public university were founded in the South," states the history writer, Clint Johnson.
11. Sorry Gore. "The claim that medieval scientists and theologians believed the earth is flat was concocted in the nineteenth century," says Tom Bethell.
12. Was Galileo's 1623 book, The Assayer, really controversial? In any case, Pope Urban VIII sanctioned its publication.
13. The Bible doesn't state that the world is flat.
14. Is the "extinct" ivory-billed woodpecker refusing to join the green movement's extinction list? Fact is, some researchers believe that the Elvis of the Bird Kingdom is alive and well. Keep your eyes open birdwatchers.
15. Patrick Moore is a famous "global burning" skeptic – and the co-founder of Greenpeace International.
16. Hippocrates, the righteous pagan pro-lifer? Uh-oh. The Hippocratic Oath affirms: "I will not give a fatal draught to anyone if I am asked, nor will I suggest such a thing. Neither will I give a woman a means to procure an abortion."
17. Unhygienic Christians? L. Thorndike writes in The History of Medieval Europe that "such occupations as butchers were under strict hygiene regulation."
18. Many "filthy" Medieval towns were known for their public baths, fine wines and open blue skies, in the warming period.
19. Don't touch your toes! "The gymnasia (literally, 'places to be nude in') were at the heart of Greek political and cultural life," says Anthony Esolen.
20. Note to Rick Warren: The Crusades were defensive in nature – not offensive. Europeans didn't feel right about Islamists invading their lands first.
21. Good news for Al Franken. Historian Thomas E. Woods writes: "LBJ was thought to have lost his Senate race until he discovered that he received an additional 202 votes from a small precinct. Interestingly, they voted in alphabetical order!"
22. In Reagan's so-called "decade of greed" charitable giving grew significantly.
23. Also, under Reagan pro-family spending programs increased by – take a deep liberal breath – 18 percent.
24. Liberals are right to point out that JFK sold thousands of books – but his ghostwriters deserve the credit for his awards.
25. Conservatives are right to point out that JFK's dad, Joseph, purchased between 30,000 and 40,000 copies of his son’s book, While England Slept.
26. Vegetarians need hunters. Why do they think their supermarket carrots have no bite marks?
27. Priceless. "The National Rifle Association has twice as many members as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace combined," states Frank Miniter.
28. Statistics suggest that bicycling is more dangerous than hunting (for children).
29. "Not all hunters are men. A 2006 survey by the National Sporting Goods Association (NGSA) found that 72 percent more women are hunting with firearms today than just five years ago," says Miniter. Expect this figure to rise. Thanks to Obama gun sales are booming.
30. Many of the early settlers, from women to children, used firearms – made in the North.
(Acknowledgments: The above quotes and facts were taken from Regnery Publishing's bestselling Politically Incorrect Guide series. Thanks to Tom Bethell, Clint Johnson, Robert J. Hutchinson, Anthony Esolen, Frank Miniter and Thomas E. Woods)
Self-promotion: Yours truly is quoted in both The Politically Incorrect Guide to the South and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War.
"By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound." (Emphasis mine.)
23 January 2009
This image is actually a photograph of Confederate *Colonel C. H. Withrow who once taught school at Fishburne Military in Waynesboro, Virginia - my hometown. It came into my possession after my father's death, along with a pewter cup with Withrow's name inscribed on it, "from the Class of '91." My father used to tell me that he could remember walking up the road from his home with his grandfather and feeding the old Colonel's horse, "Bird." That was in the late 1930's, early 1940's.
Colonel Withrow, along with his horse Bird, are both long gone. His image here simply pays homage to a time when the old veterans who fought in the War Between the States were still around to impact the lives of those around them; including my father. Dad never forgot the days he and his grandfather fed that old horse. Neither did he forget the stories told him by the old Colonel and the connection that it gave him to his past and the sacrifices that were paid on the very land upon which my father was born and grew up. Those memories were passed on to my father's son. And he won't ever forget either.
*I'm not sure if he was actually a Colonel or if that was just a complimentary title he used, as did many Southern gentleman in those days. I don't see any insignia on his coat, so I'm just not sure. Most of this is oral history though I have been able to verify a good portion of it.
22 January 2009
21 January 2009
Chronology of Jackson's Life:
1824 - Born the third child of Jonathan and Julia Beckwith Neale Jackson on January 21 in Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia).
1826 - Jackson’s father dies on March 26.
1830 - Jackson’s mother marries Blake B. Woodson. Thomas moves in with his step-grandmother, Mrs. Edward Jackson, and the rest of the family, including Uncle Cummins Jackson, at Jackson’s Mill near Weston, Virginia (now West Virginia)
1831 - Jackson’s mother dies on December 4.
1841 - Jackson is appointed constable of Lewis County, Virginia (West Virginia) on June 8.
1842 - Jackson is admitted to West Point on July 1.
1846 - Jackson graduates from West Point seventeenth out of a class of sixty with the rank of second lieutenant of artillery.
1847 - Fights in the Mexican War and is promoted to the brevet rank of major.
1848 - Stationed at Fort Hamilton, Long Island, New York. Jackson makes a public profession of faith in Christ and is baptized.
1850 - Transferred to various stations in Florida.
1851 - Appointed professor of artillery tactics and natural philosophy at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Virginia. He reports to VMI on August 13. He becomes a member of the Lexington Presbyterian Church on November 22.
1853 - Marries Elinor “Ellie” Junkin, daughter of the Reverend Dr. George Junkin, president of Washington College.
1854 - Jackson’s wife, Ellie, along with their infant child, die during childbirth.
1855 - He begins his “Colored Sabbath-school” in the autumn.
1856 - Jackson tours Europe during the summer months.
1857 - Jackson marries Mary Anna Morrison on July 16.
1859 - Jackson leads a company of VMI cadets to Harpers Ferry and follows radical abolitionist John Brown to the gallows in Charlestown, Virginia (West Virginia)
1861–63 - On April 21, 1861, Jackson leaves Lexington with 175 VMI cadets at the outbreak of the War Between the States.1 Jackson distinguishes himself during the ensuing two years as a brilliant and courageous officer and strategist. On May 2, 1863, Jackson is mistaken for the
enemy and shot by men of the Eighteenth North Carolina. Jackson’s arm is amputated, and he succumbs to complications from his wound on May 10. He is laid to rest in Lexington on May 15, 1863.
Jackson’s Marriages and His Descendants:
Jackson married twice. On August 4, 1853, Jackson married Elinor Junkin (1825–54), daughter of George Junkin and Julia Miller Junkin. Elinor died in childbirth on October 22, 1854. Their child, a son, was stillborn. On July 16, 1857, Jackson married Mary Anna Morrison (1831–1915), daughter of Robert Hall Morrison and Mary Graham Morrison. Anna’s family resided in North Carolina; her father was the retired president of Davidson College. Anna gave birth to a daughter, Mary Graham, on April 30, 1858; the baby died less than a month later. In November 1862, Anna bore a daughter, Julia Laura, the only Jackson child to survive into adulthood. She married William E. Christian in 1885; she died of typhoid fever in 1889, at the age of twenty-six. Her children were Julia Jackson Christian (1887–1991; married Edmund R. Preston) and Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian (1888–1952; married three times). Both of Jackson’s grandchildren had several children; thus there are many living descendants of Stonewall Jackson.—From the Virginia Military Institute Archives
Happy Birthday General.
20 January 2009
Was that really necessary? Was the inauguration of the man who says he wants to "heal the Nation" really the proper venue for such divisive rhetoric in a prayer?
And then there's this:
"Some in the crowd, weary of Bush's eight years in office, booed the president when the large viewing screens near the World War II Memorial flashed an image of the exiting president arriving at the swearing-in ceremony." (Complete story here.)
I know that President Obama did not approve of that conduct (booing President Bush) and I'm confident he would have stopped it if he could have. But despite the symbolism, despite President Obama's speech, despite the gushing media groupies, despite starry-eyed followers; it appears that little has changed. I honestly hope I'm wrong. Time will tell. Nonetheless, may God give President Obama the wisdom and courage to lead our Nation in the way of righteousness. And may the President listen to that still, small voice.
On page 8 of the Winter 2008 issue of CWPT's excellent publication, Hallowed Ground, there is a blocked piece of commentary titled: Join the Discussion - Website Exclusive. The text that follows says in part:
"Can't get enough of the Civil War on the web? CWPT has handpicked some of the internet's best blogs and forums for students of Civil War history. Visit http://www.civilwar.org/civilwarblogs/ to see our picks."
When you visit that link, you will find that there are currently 10 blogs and sites that CWPT has included as recommendations. I'm honored to find the Old Virginia Blog among this exclusive list. CWPT has this to say about my blog:
“Shenandoah Valley native Richard Williams maintains this lively blog with its focus on the Valley and its importance to the Civil War.”
Thank you CWPT. That one recommendation makes it all worth while. I hope readers will join me in supporting the worthy efforts of this great organization by becoming a member. I've been a member for about five years now. Please consider joining today.
"Of course, Lincoln freed no slaves. That's the myth. His Emancipation Proclamation was a military measure to demoralize and destabilize the rebellious South; it covered states he did not govern but did not apply in slaveholding states that remained under his jurisdiction." ~ Leonard Pitts, Jr., Miama Herald, 1/18/09
Myths, myths, and more myths. The Civil War blogosphere is full of discussion about myths when it comes to the War Between the States. Of course, most of these are academic blogs, thus their emphasis applies the ever-present template of negating so-called "Southern" myths, i.e. Lee's Christian character, Jackson's Christian character, The Lost Cause, and the absolutely idiotic notion that Lee's iconic figure can be attributed solely to Lost Cause sympathizers in the South (more coming on that in a future post, though I've already shot that notion full of holes).
Now comes Miami Herald journalist Leonard Pitts, Jr. (Pictured above) to our rescue with some cold shower reality.
(Read Mr. Pitts's insightful piece here. Watch the video too.)
19 January 2009
Rattus rattus ~ The Black Rat.
"At least 40 al-Qaeda fanatics died horribly after being struck down with the disease that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages."
This is a fascinating story.
Who's behind this? The CIA? The hand of God?
17 January 2009
Today's Lee-Jackson Day celebration in Lexington went very well. Though attendance was down a little bit compared to the last 2 years (I blame the cold and economy for that), we still had about 200 or so in attendance at Lee Chapel. (I skipped the ceremony at the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery this morning.)
After reading Michael Bradley's piece in North and South Magazine a while back (Read this previous post.), I decided to contact him and invite him to speak at today's service in Lee Chapel. Dr. Bradley graciously agreed. Before he spoke, Dr. Bradley had a book signing in the Lee Chapel Museum Shop. My daughter snapped this photo there. Its always good to see old friends each year, many who drive hours to attend the service. And, as always, the folks at Lee Chapel were most gracious in allowing our local SCV camp to use the chapel facilities. Just in case you've never visited, please do so if you're ever in the area. And don't forget to spend some time in the museum shop. They've got more good books on Lee and Washington concentrated in that little space than any place in the Old Dominion!
After the Lee Chapel service, about 100 folks had dinner (lunch for our Northern friends) at the historic Col Alto. I was accompanied by my lovely wife and one of my lovely daughters. While there, we enjoyed great food, fellowship and live bluegrass music. Ya shoulda been there!
Much of what passes today as "the authoritative final word" on a whole host of subjects including science, politics, economics, and, especially, historiography is, in the words of Chesterton, "fashionable insanity."
Hat tip to George Grant.
16 January 2009
"Patriotism is the love of a land and its people, nationalism is the love of a government." ~ Dr. Clyde Wilson
Reading some recent blog posts, editorials, and comments condemning Robert E. Lee as a traitor coming from those who consider themselves serious Civil War scholars, convinces me that these individuals have no fundamental understanding of federalism and how many 19th century Americans viewed their home states in regards to their state's relationships to Washington and the federal government. Condemning Lee as a "traitor" for resigning his army commission reveals a shallowness in interpretation. Those who hold to such views are, no doubt, suffering from "presentism" - superimposing their modern views of patriotism - love of, and loyalty to, a government - on to what was the common 19th century view: love of a land and its people. Let's examine Lee's decision in a little more detail and in light of this "less modern" view of patriotism.
In the first place, readers should carefully reflect on the fact that in 1861, Virginia had been a political entity for more than two hundred years and that Lee’s roots in Virginia could be traced to the year 1640. The United States had only been a reality for about 80 years. Furthermore, secession had been threatened before, most notably by Northern states. The Republic's viability was still somewhat tenuous in the eyes of many. Mobility and the common practice of relocating as we know it today was not possible, nor desirable, in the lives of most 19th century Americans, thus they were much more attached to their "sense of place" - their state and their immediate and extended families. This is where their most ardent loyalties lay. That sentiment was eloquently expressed in the words of Virginia historian, Philip Alexander Bruce:
It was this love of home, with its thronging recollections of the past both near and far . . . that nerved many a Southern soldier. . . . Love of the South was inextricably mixed up with this love of the family hearth. . . . Love of one particular spot, of one neighborhood, of one State, was the foundation stone of the love of the entire region which entered so deeply into the spirit of the Confederate soldier.
Thus Lee's decision to resign from the United States Army and ultimately take up his sword for the defense of his beloved Virginia is not surprising.
But Robert E. Lee had given his whole life to the Union for which his father, Henry Lee, the famous, "Lighthorse Harry Lee," had fought. Light Horse Harry Lee was a favorite of General Washington and was chosen by Congress to eulogize our first president. It was in his eulogy of Washington that Lee’s father first coined the phrase, "First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen." It is likely that these were not the only words of Lee’s father that came to his mind as he struggled with his dueling loyalties. During a debate in 1798 with James Madison, Henry Lee had stated, "Virginia is my country; her will I obey, however lamentable the fate to which it may subject me." Robert was born at the Lee ancestral mansion, Stratford Hall, and drew his first breath in the same room in which were born two signers of the Declaration of Independence, Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee. He had married Mary Custis, the daughter of George Washington Parke Custis, who was the adopted grandson of George Washington. Lee’s strong ties to the Union, and its founding, were both by blood and by choice. The depth of Lee’s love for, and loyalty to, the Union is something many students of Lee fail to give due consideration. It makes his decision all the more remarkable.
By the age of 54, Colonel Robert E. Lee had fought with honor and distinction in the Mexican War, served as Superintendent of West Point, quelled a domestic insurrection at Harper’s Ferry and was well respected as an army officer and engineer. Lee’s military prowess was well known. General Winfield Scott credited the United States’ victory over Mexico to the "skill, valor and undaunted energy of Robert E. Lee" and once referred to him as, "the greatest military genius in America." Lee and General Scott enjoyed mutual respect and admiration.
Lee's letter to General Scott declining Lincoln's offer to command federal forces to put down the rebellion was to the point:
Sir: – I have the honor to tender the resignation of my commission as colonel of the First Regiment of Cavalry. Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
In the words of Douglas Southall Freeman, it was "the decision Lee was born to make." Lee would cast his lot with Virginia, in full measure – there was no other thing he could do. Though he opposed secession and had termed it "revolution," he also would state, "A union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets…has no charm for me." Lee knew full well the likely consequences of his decision. Yet, even after the war, as the South lay in ruin, Lee would affirm the rightness of his decision:
"I did only what my duty demanded. I could have taken no other course without dishonour. And if it all were to be done over again, I should act in precisely the same manner."Lee's glorious victories against overwhelming odds have inspired volumes. Though the South ultimately lost, the Confederacy’s greatest general is as much recognizable as any in history, and more admired than any officer the North can claim. Robert E. Lee's sense of duty, his willingness to reject an offer for selfless reasons that would no doubt have taken him to the pinnacle of his military career, and for his love of his country - Virginia - makes him the quintessential American patriot.
Today is Lee-Jackson day in Virginia. Few will celebrate, few will remember. I'm proud to be one of the few.
Painting by John Paul Strain. The title is Never Against Virginia.
15 January 2009
Virginia also passed legislation four years later in 1782 which encouraged emancipation. That legislation went so far as to require slave owners to support their emancipated slaves who might not be able to sustain themselves in a gainful occupation. The slavery question continued to come up for debate and public discourse until Thomas Jefferson’s grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph (pictured here), introduced legislation in the House of Delegates in 1832 that would have ended slavery in Virginia. He proposed an idea that had originated with his grandfather (Thomas Jefferson), a proposal that had been defeated by the General Assembly in 1779. Randolph suggested that every male slave born after July 4, 1840, be granted his freedom upon his twenty-first birthday. The legislation would grant the same freedom to female slaves upon their eighteenth birthday. Randolph’s bill was defeated by only a “small majority.”
In fact, the Reverend Randolph McKim (1842–1920), a Confederate chaplain and one-time rector of Christ Church in Alexandria, wrote in A Soldier’s Recollections that Randolph assured him in 1860 “that emancipation would certainly have been carried the ensuing year, but for the revulsion of feeling which followed the fanatical agitation of the subject by the Abolitionists of the period.” And although the bill was defeated, the Virginia legislature “passed a resolution postponing the consideration of the subject till public opinion had further developed.” An editorial in the March 6, 1832, Richmond Whig praised the legislature’s efforts and further noted: “The great mass of Virginia herself triumphs that the slavery question has been taken up by the legislature, that her legislators are grappling with the monster, and they contemplate the distant but ardently desired result [emancipation] as the supreme good which a benevolent Providence could vouchsafe.”
(From a previous post.)
Obviously, the slavery issue is more complicated than this short post addresses, but suggesting that radical abolitionist agitation did not negatively impact Southerners' attitude is silly.
My hometown museum, the Waynesboro Heritage Museum, is opening a new exhibit tomorrow, January 16th. The exhibit focuses on early Waynesboro banks and will run through May. The WHM is actually housed in one of Waynesboro's old bank buildings. As a WHM member, I received a postcard announcing the exhibit and was reminded of the framed "Half-Century Confederate Memorial" which I own and which is shown here. (Click image to enlarge.)
This was a wall-hanging and calendar issued circa 1916 and includes images of Jeff Davis, General Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and other Confederate notables. Also pictured in the center of the print is the old Waynesboro National Bank building that used to sit catty-corner to where the WHM building is today. The Waynesboro National Bank building was torn down many years ago. The poster also had two calendars - 1917 and 1918 - at the bottom and notes that the bank has a surplus of $5500.00 - probably more than many of the banks seeking bailout money have; and their surplus was backed by gold!
This piece has an interesting history. When my grandmother died the day after Christmas in 1975, my father ultimately inherited the home built by his grandfather, Charles "Mr. Charlie" McGann. Mr. Charlie was the son of John McGann (Pictured in the family photo in front of the picket fence in my title header) who fought in the 51st Virginia during the Battle of Waynesboro, defending the very land that his son, Charles, would later build a home upon. That was the home inherited by my father. One day, when going through the attic, he came across this old calendar/poster in a dusty corner of the attic. It was in remarkably good condition, considering it had been stored in that hot/cold, humid/dry attic for over 25 years and is now approaching the century mark. When my father passed away in 2000, my stepmother passed the calendar on to me.
Back to the exhibit . . . so after finding out about the bank exhibit, I contacted the director at WHM and offered to loan this framed print for the exhibit. I dropped it off yesterday morning and the director, along with the curator, were estatic over being able to include it. A reception will be held Friday evening from 5 to 8 pm to kick off the new exhibit. If you're in the area any time soon, please stop by WHM for a visit.
14 January 2009
The Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy will observe the annual Lee-Jackson Virginia state holiday in the Old Hall of the House of Delegates of the Virginia State Capitol on Friday, January 16, 2009, beginning at 6pm. The public is welcome free of charge. Come enjoy the Old South while honoring two of Virginia’s most famous citizens, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. A special guest will be a member of General J.E.B. Stuart’s staff, German immigrant Colonel Heroes Von Borcke, one of the most feared Confederates according to many Northern accounts. Colonel Von Borcke will give an entertaining account of his fights with the Yankees. Anyone desiring information on this program should contact Brag Bowling at 804-389-3620.
See the piece here.
Saturday, 17 January 2009 Event Schedule: (All events, except the luncheon, are free and open to the public)
10 am - Stonewall Jackson Cemetery - Memorial Service and Tribute at the grave of Stonewall Jackson including special comments, music, and wreath laying ceremony. If you wish to place a wreath at the general's grave please rsvp before the ceremony.
Book Signing - Dr. Michael R. Bradley will be signing copies of his book It Happened in the Civil War in the Lee Chapel Museum gift shop beginning at around 11 am.
11 am - Parade through downtown Lexington leaving from Jackson's grave and proceeding to the parade ground at the Virginia Military Institute.
Noon - Lee Chapel - Memorial Service in honor of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson inside the beautiful Victorian chapel at Washington and Lee University. Lee Chapel was constructed under the direction of Robert E. Lee and his son, Custis. Lee Chapel contains the burial spot of the Lee family. Guest Speaker: Michael R. Bradley, Ph.D. Author of It Happened in the Civil War and other works.
(Note: No reenactment weapons are allowed on the Washington & Lee campus or in Lee Chapel. Also, no photography allowed inside Lee Chapel.)
1:30 pm - Luncheon (Tickets required). Our luncheon will be held at the historic Col Alto Estate and hotel at 601 E. Washington Street. Come enjoy great food and socialize with old friends and make new acquaintences. Please make your reservations by January 12th using our downloadable pdf form below. Price $20 per person. Choice of entree either Marinated Flank Steak or Chicken Florentine.
More details here.
(Click here for a short history of the Lee-Jackson Day celebration in Lexington.)
13 January 2009
~ Christopher Hitchens writing on Obama tapping Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State
You can read the rest of his piece here.
A reader posted the above at Kevin Levin's blog. Based on this and other comments, perhaps it's at the high school level where Zinn's book is being most "abused." Again, I think the main argument in my original post has been confirmed.
- *An interesting factoid about Will Rogers - he was the son of Clem Rogers, who served as one of Cherokee Confederate Stand Watie's cavalry scouts. Clem Rogers was also Cherokee. Also, Will Rogers once acted as "master of ceremonies" for a **rodeo and steer roping event staged for the United Confederate Veterans' reunion in Memphis in 1901. One source claims that there were over 100,000 veterans in attendance for that event.
** Speaking of rodeos, my youngest son (27) rode bulls for several years and was, at one time, Virginia state champion in his class. While bull-riding, he's broken his arm twice, the femur bone in his right leg once, his ankle once, and received 7 stitches in his head. Those aren't all his injuries, but those are the ones I can remember. Bulls don't like bullriders. He was finally convinced to try something safer, so he opted for bronco-busting. First ride out of the shoot he was thrown and broke his arm. He has a metal rod in that arm from a previous break and now a metal plate and 4 screws, along with a metal rod in his right leg. He decided that perhaps God does not want him to rodeo. The boy's a slow learner. (But I'm proud of him anyway.)
12 January 2009
Poor Al, 2009 is just not starting out well. And to think, we almost elected that genius as President.
The discussion was a little rough and tumble at times, and I, like the immortal Stonewall Brigade was vastly outnumbered and outgunned - but that's ok. For as with the immortal Stonewall Brigade's Valley campaign, I prevailed on my main points:
1. Zinn's work is admittedly politically motivated, leftist, revisionist history.
2. The book is widely used throughout academia (we just can't say, for sure, how it's used.)
All in all, a worthy effort. I'll now leave Zinn to his wacky conspiracy obsessed followers until I hear from the publisher regarding my inquiry.
11 January 2009
Would you agree that the "experts" have some credibility issues? My advice? Dress in layers.
10 January 2009
Which was my main point all along - that Zinn's book is influential and widely used. Kevin goes on in his lengthy post to explain that he uses it with a critical eye and suggests to his readers that is probably what others are doing.
I seriously doubt that, though I'm sure that is the case with some. And I do appreciate the fact that Kevin, along with others who have weighed in, acknowledge that Zinn's book is poor history. So let me attempt to cut through all the back and forth and some of the misunderstanding, some which I likely, though not intentionally, contributed to:
- All who have weighed in seem to agree that Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States is politically motivated from a hard left perspective. It would be hard to deny that since Zinn himself proudly proclaims it.
- The initial (though incomplete) evidence appears to indicate that Zinn's book is popular and widely used, though most academics involved in this discussion never had it assigned.
- I do not believe, as Ken Noe suggests, that the "majority of academics are commies." I do believe, however, that there is a pervasive leftist culture in much of academia. How anyone can argue different than that is beyond me. That does not mean that all professors are pinko commie-libs. Logic would suggest, nonetheless, that Zinn's perspective would more likely find favor in these institutions than would a more traditional approach to interpretation.
- I agree with Kevin Levin that Zinn's book could be used to instruct students comparing left/right interpretations of history, though Zinn's book is certainly an extreme example. As a matter of fact, I think that is a good idea, as long as Zinn's self-proclaimed leftist radicalism is made clear to students.
Unless conclusive evidence can be presented, we will have to agree to disagree.
As soon as I get a reply from the publisher, I will post on it. I will also post something later which further indicates Zinn's influence.
**Update: I know most of my readers have enough sense to ignore the totally idiotic comments on other blogs about me being close to wanting to "burn books", and wanting to "exclude information." Those making such comments are ignorant and diminish what credibility they hoped to have.
09 January 2009
Complete story here.
**Update: Chris Wehner very ably comes to my defense. Will The Deniers of Zinn admit they just might be wrong about Zinn's book and its use and influence?
The following quote was pulled from a review of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States over on HNN. It's a little dated, but relevant. Hopefully, it will also provide some remedial therapy for those who doubt the popular use of Zinn's book and its influence. Words in red are those of the reviewer:
Courses at the University of Colorado-Boulder, UMass-Amherst, Penn State, and Indiana University are among dozens of classes nationwide that require the book. The book is so popular that it can be found on the class syllabus in such fields as economics, political science, literature, and women’s studies, in addition to its more understandable inclusion in history. Amazon.com reports in the site’s “popular in” section that the book is currently #7 at Emory University, #4 at the University of New Mexico, #9 at Brown University, and #7 at the University of Washington. In fact, 16 of the 40 locations listed in A People’s History’s “popular in” section are academic institutions, with the remainder of the list dominated by college towns like Binghamton (NY), State College (PA), East Lansing (MI), and Athens (GA). Based on this, it is reasonable to wonder if most of the million or so copies sold have been done so via coercion, i.e., college professors and high school teachers requiring the book. The book is deemed to be so crucial to the development of young minds by some academics that a course at Evergreen State decreed: “This is an advanced class and all students should have read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States before the first day of class, to give us a common background to begin the class.”
And then there's this:
The anniversary volume of A People’s History of the United States comes with an encomium from one of the academic profession’s most honored figures, Eric Foner the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia College. A former president of the American Historical Assocation, Foner reviewed Zinn’s book for the New York Times. A quote from Foner’s review is featured on the cover of the anniversary edition: “Historians may well view it,” writes Foner, “as a step toward a coherent new vision of American history.” This makes a kind of sense because Foner himself is an unreconstructed leftist, whose judgments are evidently colored by his “social aims” as well.
You can read the rest of the review here.
(More to come).
"Since its publication in 1980, A People’s History of the United States has had six new editions, sold more than 1.7 million copies, become required classroom reading throughout the country, and been turned into an acclaimed play. . . [by] one of America’s leading historians."
"A People's History of the United States is undoubtedly the most popular, widely read radical analysis of U.S. history. First published in 1980, it has sold more than 1.7 million copies, become required reading in many high school and college classrooms and spawned several offshoot projects—most notably, the primary source reader Voices of a People's History of the United States." ~ Zach Zill, Socialist Worker
These quotes are taken from the publisher's comments about Zinn's newest adaptation (most appropriately a comic book) of one chapter of A People's History (the latest edition). See: Macmillan Academic. The above quotes, however, refer specifically to Zinn's original work.
(More to come.)
08 January 2009
What's extraordinary about Zinn's *book is that it does not contain one single source citation. I suppose when you make things up out of thin air, it's difficult to cite a source, other than your own biased agenda.
How often do we hear those in academia criticize "shoddy, poorly researched" history works that favor a more traditional, conservative view of America? Where is the criticism of Zinn's unprofessional approach? There is none. Rather, he's praised by other cultural Marxists. As a matter of fact, his book is used in many colleges and universities in America, and some high schools as well.
But, of course, we know that most academics have no bias or agenda. If that's so, then why would you use a resource that's assertions cannot be verified by readers and students?
(*I'm referring to the 2003 edition in this post. There is a newer edition and I don't know if Zinn was able to come up with some sources and references for his "masterpiece.")
Update: Be sure and read this update and watch for follow ups. The follow ups will be therapy for those of you in denial. Do not fear the truth, come to the light. ;)
07 January 2009
06 January 2009
"It does not matter that Nathan Bedford Forrest is a historical figure from the Civil War."
Why doesn't it matter? This is a Civil War magazine. According to the letter writer, it doesn't matter because the public will associate Nathan Bedford Forrest with Forrest Gump and the KKK. I'm not kidding:
"And for John Q. Public, it does not matter what Forrest's military record was (I must assume the writer speaks for the masses too), or the role he played during the conflict, because all John Q. Public will think when he sees this picture is, 'Hey, isn't that the guy who formed the Klan?' You remember, in the movie Forrest Gump, how Tom Hanks' character is named after him and he pulls the sheet over his head and rides off with the other Klansmen and the burning crosses?'"
I think it's quite a leap (to say the least) to jump from Nathan Bedford Forrest to Forrest Gump to the KKK. Is the writer suggesting that historical publications should consider Hollywood movies when making editorial decisions regarding the placement of historical images on their covers? Are editorial boards to tiptoe around controversial topics and persons so as not to "offend" anyone? The writer then states he's copying his letter to the Civil War Preservation Trust suggesting that organization condemn the cover and call on their members to cancel their subscriptions. Unbelievable.
And then there's this outrageous charge leveled at the magazine's editorial board:
"The 'best' benefit of the doubt that I can give the editorial board of your magazine is that you are ignorant and stupid and that no one gave any thought to the juxtaposition of the magazine's release and the date of the election. The 'worst,' unfortunately, is that you are simply racist; [We knew that was coming, didn't we?] that you considered the message that might be sent by featuring Forrest prominently on the magazine and decided to release it anyway."
To be clear, this writer's beef stems mainly from the timing of Forrest's image appearing on the cover of ACW, to wit: The inauguration of Barack Obama. I think the implied connection is quite a stretch. ACW is not a magazine of political commentary. If it were, then there might be something to complain about.
I wonder if all those who are unhappy with this cover ever get offended when two of the North's favorite pyromaniacs, Sheridan and Sherman, appear on the cover of Civil War publications. Where is the uproar over the racist policies of Sherman, or the genocidal statements of Sheridan in his post-war career of slaying Native Americans? Are we to ban the images of all those who might offend someone from Civil War magazine covers? If so, you might as well just put a big smiley face on each cover, though that would likely offend the chronically depressed.
To their credit, the editors of ACW weren't taking such irrelevant criticism without a fight. More importantly, the letter actually presented a wonderful opportunity for ACW to inform not only the writer of the letter, but thousands of other readers as well regarding the purpose of the magazine and some oft' ignored facts about Forrest (not Gump):
"As historians and lovers of history, we cannot shrink, deny or ignore historical facts because they are ugly or unpleasant. We can only elucidate the details to the best of our ability.
The first letter writer is correct in saying that "perception is everything. " [I would disagree with that cliched statement. Rather, reality is everything. You may perceive you can fly, but try jumping off of a ten story building and see whether your perception or reality wins the day.] But perception must be active and not frozen or fixed; otherwise, it is not perception but rather preconception.
It is no surprise that the image of Nathan Bedford Forrest elicits strong reactions. But what is surprising is that neither letter writer references the articles that feature Forrest in our January issue.
On P. 37, we acknowledge that Forrest's involvement in the Ku Klux Klan, but we also point out that Forrest quickly outgrew that organization's narrow and nefarious tenets. It is vital and necessary to debunk myths and adjust history as our understanding increases. For years, Forrest has been credited with founding the KKK, but our latest and best information informs us this is simply not true. Forrest, in fact, left the Klan and tried to disband it. This new information does not excuse or legitimize his involvement in the Klan, but it does add nuance. (Emphasis mine.)
History is not static. It grows as our knowledge grows - as a person might and sometimes does."
Well said gentlemen. Thank you for defending your position and informing your readers.
(Thanks to reader Douglas Hill for bringing this matter to my attention.)
Does anyone really take all these big government, socialist-wacko, Chicken Littles seriously?
They're a complete laughing stock.
05 January 2009
03 January 2009
I had the opportunity to travel to neighboring Highland County the Monday after Christmas. Here's just a few of the sites along the way. Highland County is the least populated county east of the Mississippi River. It's one of Virginia's secret treasures.
02 January 2009
"Pile on the protein and fats. Grandpa would have thought a Snackwell’s fat-free cookie was a space rock fallen from the skies. He ate protein with every meal-bacon and eggs with breakfast, turkey sandwiches for lunch, and meatloaf for dinner. Recent studies have disproven the theory that saturated fat is bad for you; it’s refined carbs that will truly bring about your downfall. Eating fat and protein boosts your testosterone levels; no wonder Gramps was always ready to swing an axe or shoot an elk. Protein provides muscle building nutrients and keeps you satiated for hours. Dig in."
Read the rest of the "Real Man's" diet plan for 2009 here.
~ Howard Zinn (One of academia's favorite historians.)
And there's more:
"I wanted my writing of history and my teaching of history to be a part of social struggle. I wanted to be a part of history and not just a recorder and teacher of history. So that kind of attitude towards history, history itself as a political act, has always informed my writing and my teaching." ~ Howard Zinn
"Serious"? "Sophisticated"? Please.
Of course, this attitude applies to a lot of what we see in modern Civil War studies. More to come later.
01 January 2009
Over the next day or so, I'll be posting some miscellaneous Christmas/December photos just for fun. Most of these will reflect one of the most wonderful & blessed holiday seasons in recent memory ~ family gathered close, a "day at the office" in Highland County, and other fun stuff. Here's the first. Grandpa (me) and my beauties: daughters, daughter-in-law (one of them), and granddaughters. Click on image to enlarge.
A graduate of Virginia Military Institute, Kevin's films have won many awards and he is a respected historian and filmmaker. I'm looking forward to hearing his presentation and seeing his work close up.