30 May 2015

Dr. Walter Williams: "One of the Few Honest Academics"

I first discovered Walter Williams (no relation) in the 1980's. I've read a few of his books, I read every column he writes and I've listened to him host talk radio shows for countless hours. I consider him one of my mentors and he's had a profound impact on my thinking and worldview. I've featured a number of posts about him here over the 10 years I've been blogging. In the early 1990's, I had the opportunity to hear Professor Williams give a lecture at Bridgewater College here in the Shenandoah Valley. My son, his friend, another friend of mine and my pastor also had the honor of meeting him and shaking his hand after his lecture. He was outside, smoking a cigarette--something that might see him forced into sensitivity training today. The next time I saw him in person was, oddly enough, at the Museum of the Confederacy several years later. He was apparently there just as a tourist, like myself. I spoke to him, but I doubt he would recall.

Whatever your knowledge of Dr. Williams, I would strongly encourage you to watch the documentary released last year about his life. It is quite fascinating as he and others reflect on his transformation from a follower of Malcom X to one of the most eloquent and insightful defenders of free markets and liberty alive today. The film addresses a number of topics on race and history. But beyond that, there are a number of very simple, yet profound, life lessons that can be learned from Dr. Williams's life story and perspectives. It's almost an hour long, but I assure you - if you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll be glad you watched it. Here's just a few of the more interesting quotes from the film:

"The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery could not have done, Jim Crow and the harshest racism could not have done, namely to destroy the black family." ~ Dr. Walter Williams

"I am very, very happy that I got virtually all my education before it became fashionable for white people to like black people." ~ Professor Walter Williams 

"I don't have the level of respect for Congressmen that many people have." ~ Professor Walter Williams

"Walter is one of the few honest academics and it's harder to be honest in academia than in almost any other place with the possible exception of politics." ~ Dr. Thomas Sowell

Walter Williams: Suffer No Fools from Free To Choose Network on Vimeo.

28 May 2015

My "Rebel Yell" Essay

I just received confirmation that my 3rd (and probably last) essay for the online Civil War history resource, Essential Civil War Curriculum, has just completed peer review and the reviewer's comments were: "A good essay with some great quotations. The resources section is excellent too."
The Essential Civil War Curriculum is a Sesquicentennial project of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech. It is sponsored by two eminent Civil War scholars and authors, Dr. James I. (Bud) Robertson and Professor William C. (Jack) Davis both Professors at Virigina Tech. The Executive Director and Editor of the website is Mr. J.L.D. (Laurie) Woodruff of Toronto Ontario. The site content is subject to rigorous quality control with all essays and resources peer reviewed by a member of our Board of Historians who are today's foremost Civil War scholars.
My latest piece is about the Rebel Yell. I'll post a link as soon as it's live on the ECWC website. As noted, this will likely be my last essay for this very worthy project. I also wrote a piece about the Stonewall Brigade and another one about Civil War chaplains. It's been an honor and privilege to be able to contribute. And the project's Executive Director & Editor, Mr. Laurie Woodruff, has been a joy to work with. Without his commitment and enthusiasm the project never would have succeeded. It truly is a great resource for obtaining a good working knowledge of the Civil War and related history. I highly recommend it.

There are several other projects I'm working feverishly to complete, including the long promised (and long delayed) review of Kent Masterson Brown's documentary about Daniel Boone, another piece for a leading Civil War print publication and a product review for a relic/treasure hunting magazine.

These smaller writing projects are rather fun after writing and publishing 2 books since 2011. I'm trying to settle on my next book project, but can't seem to make up my mind between 3 different topics.

Shenandoah Valley View - Late Spring 2015

The view from my son's front porch. Almost Heaven, western Virginia.

25 May 2015

Memorial Day - The Graves of Our Fathers

 “A man who would not defend his father's grave is worse than a wild animal.”
~ Chief Joseph

Number 91 on a weathered, lonely, blank headstone; a shared grave with two other men. Not much of a tribute for someone who was a POW and died for his country. For 140 years my family knew nothing of what happened to my great-great grandfather, John Meredith Crutchfield. We did know that Grandpa Crutchfield left the family farm, walked to Gauley Bridge, Virginia (West VA today) and enlisted with the 60th Virginia Infantry, Company F at the beginning of the war. He owned no slaves. He simply wanted to defend his home. He was wounded at the Battle of Piedmont in the Shenandoah Valley (just a few minutes from my home here in Augusta County), taken prisoner by the Federals and transported to the infamous POW Camp Morton in Indiana where prisoners received cruel treatment at the hands of Union soldiers.

Transferred to Chimborazo Hospital in March of 1865 in a prisoner exchange, my grandfather died there on March 28. There, the story ended – or so the family thought. John Crutchfield’s widow died years later not knowing what had become of him. Had he deserted? Had he run off with another woman? Had he been killed in battle? No one knew until the 1950’s when my great aunt discovered the information about the Battle of Piedmont and Chimborazo. But the family still did not know what became of his body. Where was he buried or was he buried? Then I wrote this piece for the Washington Times’ Civil War column detailing some of my grandfather’s story. (This story refers to a "James" Crutchfield. That was my mistake, John is the correct name. John had a son named James that was born in 1861.) The story was read by a gentleman in Richmond; a fellow Sons of Confederate Veterans member. He was working on the restoration of Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond. This cemetery, where many Confederate veterans are buried, had fallen into shameful neglect in recent years. I was contacted by this gentleman and he told me that he knew for a fact that John Meredith Crutchfield was buried at Oakwood – family mystery solved. I love history. And I love the God of history who providentially shows us what we need to know to honor our fathers.

24 May 2015

Some Interesting Stats & Views on Homeschooling

New data released by the U.S. Department of Education shows that the more educated parents are, the more likely they are to homeschool their children. [How ironic.]
And this observation:
This growth confirms what we are seeing at HSLDA as well. Homeschooling will continue to grow as more parents are being exposed to the possibility and benefits of homeschooling. The major reasons people are choosing home schooling is that the primary competition to home schooling – public schools – is continuing to look less desirable. Violence at schools, bullying, academic digression, and social activism is increasing rather than decreasing, and more and more parents have come to the resolve that they simply can’t subject their children to this environment. Until these issues are addressed and get reversed, home schooling will continue to grow.
And . . .
“Among the top ones are children who are independent thinkers and have not been indoctrinated by the concept of institutional education . . .
And . . .
“Homeschooling has continued to grow more and more popular because the socialist agenda in schools to dumb down our society for the purposes of control has become more and more visible to parents,” Gerwitz adds. “They may not know why the schools are not working for their children, but parents can recognize failure when they see it.”
Isn't it interesting that parents can recognize the failure but the self-proclaimed "experts' can't. More here.

19 May 2015

We Are the Elite & Deserve Preferential Treatment

Ruling class elites are a frequent target of criticism here - particularly those in academia who want everyone to believe they are imminently more qualified on certain topics - not for what they've accomplished, but just because they have a degree. They demand to be treated differently. For lack of a better term, they are faux intellectual supremacists. They are the modern American aristocrats, at least in spirit. (No, not ALL academics, but enough to be noticeable.) This air of supremacy among ruling class elites is epidemic in modern America. I'm sure it's always been there throughout our history; to one degree or another. But it seems to be more rampant among academics, politicians and the media. Here's the latest example:
On Dec. 23, 2012, former NBC anchor David Gregory hosted an interview with National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre on “Meet the Press.”

As expected, the interview was hostile, with Gregory repeatedly badgering LaPierre over his not supporting a federal high-capacity magazine ban. But instead of simply talking about 30-round magazines, Gregory brought one on set to wave in front of the cameras. The problem? The “Meet the Press” studio is located in Washington, D.C., where merely possessing an empty high-capacity magazine is illegal. . . .

The punishment for possession of a high-capacity magazine is up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. NBC had apparently contacted the police to ask for special permission to use the magazine on air, and the request was denied. Gregory used it anyway and got a free pass on the consequences for doing so. 

To give some perspective, D.C. businessman Mark Witaschek had a single empty shotgun shell from a bird hunt, a spent brass casing and muzzleloader reloading supplies, which are considered ammunition under the law, in his Georgetown home when it was raided by dozens of police officers. Witaschek was prosecuted by D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan in a lengthy, two-year-long process and convicted. Nathan refused to prosecute Gregory.
How does that make you feel? More here from The Hill.

18 May 2015

Another College Dropout Success

After a recent Civil War blogger took a cheap shot insult (in his mind anyway - I took it as a compliment) at college dropouts, someone sent me the following quote/link which made me laugh out loud:
After making $5000 while sitting through a monotonous lecture he realized there were some things that his professors couldn’t offer him. This led to his passion for self-reliance and alternative education. (Source.)
Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes which I've stolen as my own. It comes from John Morris, who was (maybe still is?) legendary treasure hunter and adventurer Greg Stemm's partner. The quote was taken from one of the most interesting books I've ever read: Lost Gold of the RepublicThese two men made one of the most amazing and richest (both historically and financially) discoveries and recoveries in American history. Here's the excerpt from the book that contains the reference to the quote:
While the differences between the two partners were obvious to all, including them, they were also developing immense trust in each other. Both shared a common bond: a willingness to travel unconventional paths. John [Morris] had left college after three semesters for lack of interest. As he put it, they didn't have anything to teach him that he wanted to know.
And then there's Morris's partner, Greg Stemm:
He dropped out of college at the age of 20, and “took care of a sailboat for a gentleman in the entertainment business”. This was how he ended up working with Bob Hope, for whom he worked as a personal assistant-cum-location scout. “He was a bright guy and very kind to me. That’s what sidetracked me into advertising and marketing.”
By the mid-Eighties Stemm was still in advertising when, with a group of like-minded businessmen — including the Apple founder Steve Jobs and Michael Dell of Dell Computers — he set up the Young Entrepreneurs Organization, a network for fledgeling tycoons. Today YEO has 6,000 members in 70 countries. Stemm, though, still felt the call of the sea and when, in 1986, he met a shipbroker in a *bar in Grand Cayman, an opportunity arose that seemed too good to miss.
*As I discovered in college, I often learned much more valuable information and received a better education by skipping class and hanging out at the local bar - though I'm not comfortable recommending that course for others. ☺  

And as I've noted many times before, obtaining a college degree the conventional way may still be right for a lot of folks. Assuming you, A: Receive a full scholarship B: Have rich parents footing the bill C: Qualify for tons of grants D: Don't mind years and years of paying off astronomical student loans. But for the rest of us, the world of technology has opened up many other ways to learn and to become successful. I would highly recommend at least considering the unconventional path.

14 May 2015

Waynesboro, Virginia Then & Now

The first image is what my great-grandfather, Charles McGann, would have seen when he was 10 years old looking east down Main Street in Waynesboro, Virginia. My great-grandfather walked these streets many times as a young man, as did my grandmother, my father and, as I did. Where you see the animal standing farthest away is about where Colonel William Harman was killed by Yankee soldiers during the Battle of Waynesboro. The mountains beyond are the northern side of Rockfish Gap, through which Union General Sheridan passed en route to his James River Campaign and, ultimately, Appomattox. And to the right (South) of the Gap is the Crozet Tunnel through which Stonewall Jackson marched and through which I, along with some high school buddies, twice hiked (illegally) in the '70's. Work is now underway to convert the tunnel into a public bike path.

Image courtesy of Waynesboro Heritage Foundation.

What Is a Yankee?

Someone on another blog has insinuated that using the term "Yankee" in "2015" is, well, I'm not quite sure . . . improper somehow? Interesting. Well, here's how Merriam-Webster (in 2015) defines the term:
noun Yan·kee \ˈyaŋ-kē\

: a person born or living in the U.S.

: a person born or living in the northern U.S.

: a person from New England
And dictionary.com makes this observation (yes, in 2015):
Since the Civil War, American southerners have called all northerners Yankees. Since World War I, the rest of the world has used the term to refer to all Americans.
In my experience, the term is often used tongue-in-cheek to rib someone from the North and, believe it or not, as a term of endearment. I have two Yankee sons-in-law. I kid them about it all the time. And my Williams kinfolk are about as Yankee as could be - my great-great grandfather being a carpetbagger who, according to one of his death announcements, "never lost his yankee nasal twang." The term is also sometimes used as an insult, i.e. "damn Yankee." And anyone who reads much WBTS related history will come across the term quite frequently. So I'm not quite sure why someone would specifically feel a need to point the use of the term out unless, of course, they are somehow offended by the term. The term still (at least in the South) transcends the WBTS. And, like it or not, I imagine it will continue to do so for some time.

Lighten up. The late Southern humorist, Lewis Grizzard, might help some of y'all.

13 May 2015

A Sad Passing

George Hawke
My hometown of Waynesboro, Virginia has lost a great asset. Local historian George Hawke, who wrote and published a two-volume history of Waynesboro, passed away last week at the ripe old age of 93. Mr. Hawke's research was most helpful when I was writing The Battle of Waynesboro. His unpublished manuscript about Waynesboro native and privateer Hugh Gallaher, proved invaluable to my book. He was most gracious in allowing me to use and quote as much as I needed from his research. He will be missed, but leaves a wonderful legacy of preserving the history of the city he came to love so much.

From the News-Virginian obituary:
George Robert Hawke, 93, of 815 W. 11th St., passed away Wednesday, May 6, 2015, at Augusta Health. . . . Mr. Hawke was Past Secretary of the Waynesboro Evening Kiwanis Club, a former Chairman and lifetime member of the Waynesboro Historical Commission, a volunteer with the Rockfish Gap Visitors Center, author of two books titled A History of Waynesboro, a member of the Waynesboro Heritage Museum and worked with the Plumb House Restoration Group.

12 May 2015

Why Do So Many Yankee History Bloggers Focus on the South?

Update: This college dropout noticed something about the following response to my post:

So this college dropout (aka "writer in question") has been taught something by someone with an M.A. in history; to wit: "Analytical history is dominantly about personal/political agendas and leaves little room for examining historical claims based on analysis and interpretation."

So "analytical history" leaves little room for analysis and is about "political agendas"? Shucks, if I had just stayed in college I would have been able to make sense of that statement. 

Or, just perhaps, the remark was a Freudian slip. ☺

End of update.

Have you noticed how many yankee history bloggers focus on Southern themed topics when it comes to the War Between the States? From heritage, to what it means to be a Southerner, to the Confederate Battle Flag - they are absolutely obsessed. They seem to be more obsessed with Southern heritage than even those of us who actually claim that heritage. It's quite curious to observe. What's even more curious is their often clueless, narrow-minded perspective. Are they envious or what?

Professor David Blight has lamented, "Why doesn't the Confederacy just fade away?" I think part of the answer for the yankee historian is staring back at them in the mirror. I also think their obsession reveals much more about them than it does about their topic.

11 May 2015

More of Wackydemia's Superior Intellect on Parade

Oh my. The experts in all things intellectual. Uh-huh.
Students are required to perform “a gesture that traces, outlines or speaks about your ‘erotic self(s),'” according to the course syllabus. In the performance, all of the students are naked, along with the professor, Roberto Dominguez, who has taught the class for 11 years.
Get this image in your mind the next time a finger-wagging academic lectures you about your "preferred narrative" or your "warped view" of American history. I believe they have a rather large elephant in their room. And he keeps stepping on them.

More here.

10 May 2015

Happy Mother's Day From the Shenandoah Valley

Just a couple of miles from my home. Oh how I love the Shenandoah Valley.

Front Porch Pickin' #36 - Southern Style With Darius Rucker

. . . as the biggest African-American country artist in decades, he also brings a mildly utopian cast to songs like the endearing "Southern Style," about a good ol' girl who loves Lil Wayne and Lynyrd Skynyrd and "keeps her tan lines in the winter." You can't front on that.
Darius Rucker captures a perspective of "Southern Style." As always, we strive to bring you the very best in Southern culture and music from Appalachia and the rest of the American South in our world renowned Front Porch Pickin' series. Get your culture here.

09 May 2015

They Won't Be Around Much Longer

This his worth watching. One aspect of American Exceptionalism personified.

07 May 2015

Southerners Are Becoming More Health Conscious

I snapped this in a restaurant yesterday that's located in a stockyard facility here in the Shenandoah Valley.

And we go even further than that. We don't allow no hand washin' in the spittoons neither.

06 May 2015

Being a Reponsible Parent is Irresponsible

"Leave education to us experts."
My, my, my - can the world become any more nuttier? With every passing day, the answer invariably is YES. Everything seems to be upside down. Here's the latest example. We're hearing more and more these days about "privilege." The ideology is even creeping into some Civil War blogs. I'm actually surprised it took this long. It is all the rage these days, don't you know? But this latest example really takes the cake. The Daily Telegraph ran a piece about the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) recent report asking (are you ready for this?) whether parents should:
. . . read to their children before bedtime, claiming it could give your kids an “unfair advantage” over less fortunate children.
Make no mistake about it: This is the result of academia's illogical obsession with egalitarianism (for everyone but them, of course) and, institutionally, their disdain for tradition and anyone educating children besides themselves. Certainly even a lot of academics would roll their eyes at such an assertion but, like so many other kooky ideas in recent decades, this one will at some point probably gain some legitimacy among more and more academic elites. The ABC linked piece notes:
The power of the family to tilt equality hasn’t gone unnoticed, and academics and public commentators have been blowing the whistle for some time. Now, philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse have felt compelled to conduct a cool reassessment.
But don't despair. One of the educated "philosophers" noted in the ABC piece that there is a solution to this. But it's probably not the one you're thinking about:
One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.
You can't make this stuff up, can you? Morons.

The Drums of War

Fellow author Micheal Aubrecht has posted an interesting piece about drummer boys in the Civil War. Quoting historian Glenn Williams, Michael notes:
“Civil War drummers were on average about 18 years old. In fact, the Union Army tightened restrictions on age limits during the war, but there were still notable exceptions like Charles “Charley” King, who, at the age of 13, earned the somewhat dubious distinction of becoming the youngest soldier killed during the Civil War after he was mortally wounded during the Battle of Antietam, Md. Although King, who served in Company F, 49th Pennsylvania Infantry, was assigned to the rear to help with the wounded during the battle, a Confederate shell overshot the lines and struck him. He died three days later.”
Worth your time to read this interesting and often overlooked consideration of these young soldiers. Full post here.

02 May 2015

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

One of my favorite magazines, Garden & Gun, recently posted a piece about a meal in Charleston, South Carolina which celebrated the end of the War Between the States:
At the end of the Civil War, the city of Charleston, South Carolina, was starving. It had been years since even the rich had seen some of the dishes that locally renowned caterer and restaurateur Nat Fuller served to a group of war-weary diners in April of 1865, drawing upon his many connections in and outside the area. But perhaps more surprising than the fare on the table at his restaurant, the Bachelor’s Retreat, was the racial makeup of the restaurant that night. Fuller was a former slave, and he invited both white and black guests to the banquet. The dinner ruffled some aristocratic feathers at the time, and it also served as a modern-day inspiration for two culinary scholars who decided to bring its message of reconciliation into the twenty-first century . . .
You can read the full story here.

01 May 2015

Lee Chapel Has Moved To Richmond

Update #2: Kevin has now corrected the word use error I pointed out. You're welcome Kevin. Be sure and let us "ground maintenance" peasants know if you should need any further assistance. 

Update: For what it's worth, Kevin blames this all on "So many flags have been removed from various Confederate heritage sites that I apparently mixed them up today." Yes, I'm sure all that giddiness and celebration is bound to cause confusion. [End of update.]

Wow. That must have been quite an engineering marvel. Does Washington & Lee know this has happened?

For those who might not know, the chapel being referred to here is actually known as Confederate Memorial Chapel. Lee Chapel is in Lexington. Confederate Memorial Chapel is in Richmond. (Yankees often get confused about these things.) But it would appear fact-checking took a back seat to the snarky, emotional, celebratory announcement. And as of Noon today, readers of the post would have realized that none of the expert historians even noticed. You just can't make this stuff up.
I sure am glad the educated among us are keeping a sharp eye on those dumb Southern heritage types who are (according to one commenter), still "
extremely good at putting in man hours for volunteer work, such as ground maintenance." Good Lord.

(And that would be "affected", not "effected." Affect is a verb, effect is a noun.)

Kindness & Courage in Baltimore

Mercy and truth, wise as serpents, harmless as doves . . .