Category Archives: News

College Kids Never Knew

John Kennedy established the Peace Corps… in 1961.  Long considered a haven for idealistic college graduates, few people take the time to understand the organization’s true roots; the Cold War.   The Peace Corps was founded as an integral part of Kennedy’s “flexible response” doctrine.   Kennedy wanted to rebut the imperialist image the Soviets tagged Americans with in the third world.

With the stroke of a pen…

 

Americans on the ground, building schools, hospitals, wells, and roads;  Assisting teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs in how to better serve the interests of their people.  Kennedy wanted to provide a clear and peaceful alternative to the aggression and chaos of Soviet communism.  Since 1961, over 200,000 Americans have served in 139 countries.  What did Khrushchev come up with?

Nicky, I don’t know where that has been….

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Walking the Walk

Eisenhower lacked the rhetorical flourishes of Jack Kennedy… but when it came to defending Civil Rights in America, Ike accomplished far more than his successor.  Popular history has embraced Kennedy as a Civil Rights champion and largely ignored the record of Eisenhower.  This is largely due to the martyrdom  bestowed on Kennedy and Ike’s measured responses to crisis.

Signing the Civil Rights Act of 1957

The historical record shows Eisenhower to have the strongest Civil Rights record… since Reconstruction.  But, his incremental actions and tempered statements have made it easy for Progressive historians to disregard him as just another Republican.  We cannot overlook Eisenhower’s contribution to the advancement of Civil Rights in America:

Enforcing the Law

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Say it ain’t so Joe

Historians can say the darndest things…  the profession has been sullied by superfluous tales of alleged sexual dalliances, rumors, and tabloid style conjecture.  It’s open season on the Founding Fathers, the more outrageous the interpretation, the more air time and book sales can be generated.    The current crop of historians, struggling to carve themselves a slice of relevance, is degrading the profession to the point where the messaging more closely resembles Morton Downey Jr. than Dumas Malone, Edmund Morgan, or David McCullough.   Say something crazy, but say it often and say in LOUD !  

LISTEN TO MY HISTORY !

LISTEN TO MY HISTORY !

Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph Ellis… is known to stretch the truth about his past, but his scholarship is considered sound and his storytelling compelling.  Recent comments Ellis made during the tour for his latest book cast doubt on his judgement, if not his scholarship.  Ellis blasted the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United vs. FEC with highly partisan and poorly worded hyperbole.  Comparing Supreme Court cases to the Scott vs. Sanford ruling of 1857 makes for an interesting sound byte, but unless supported by relevant evidence(beyond Ellis’s political leanings) it is a dubious historical comparison intended to shock rather than enlighten.  He goes on to attack the Heller vs. DC ruling of 2009 as a scurrilous attempt by Conservatives to force the doctrine of Original Intent upon an unwitting society.  Ellis has a political axe to grind with supporters of the 2nd Amendment- his reputation as an historian providing a thin veil of legitimacy to his misguided partisanship.  He’s screaming that Original Intent is wrong and damaging our society- all the while, his new book stays on the best seller lists.

Trust me, I'm a professor

Trust me, I’m a professor

Joe should remember the words of his supposed hero–

“On every question of construction let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or intended against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” Thomas Jefferson

 

 

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Would He Belong?

Would Dwight D. Eisenhower be welcomed in today’s Republican party?… Today’s GOP- dominated by fiscal Conservatives like the so-called “freedom caucus;”  scrawny descendants of  Do-Nothings of the 80th Congress   who obstruct, protest, and bloviate over the slightest Federal spending.  The insistence on labeling government programs as “entitlements” will give these rank amateurs undue influence in policy making.  Programs like Social Security, GI Bill, unemployment insurance, the interstate system, Civil Rights and the National Parks are all seen as drains on our government and in need of outsourcing.

Let’s build interstates

Eisenhower oversaw the expansion of all these “drains” and expanded so-called entitlements ….  and had a very different view of governing:

In all those things which deal with people, be liberal, be human. In all those things which deal with people’s money, or their economy, or their form of government, be conservative.”

 

Ike’s domestic policy was bold and equitable in the face of … the traditions of his party.  Sadly, such a leader would be expelled by today’s Republicans–  no longer the party of Lincoln. 

 

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Weekly History News Roundup

Framers intended President to take a salary… Trump’s promise is not historically sound

 

Trump visits the Hermitage… Comparisons to Jackson are still being made

 

Park Service cuts affecting Philadelphia… Franklin Print shop and Declaration House to close this year

 

Yale’s removal of Calhoun name sparks interest... Minnesota considers changing lake name

 

Historians struggle to shape Obama’s legacy... partisanship stands in the way of scholarship

 

Old Hickory rolling over

 

 

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Facts in Five

Election of 1948 edition

 

  • Democrats briefly courted Dwight D. Eisenhower to challenge Truman for the nomination.  The Republicans were talking with Douglas MacArthur during the same period. 
  • Truman’s support for  NAACP legal efforts combined with his executive order desegregating the military caused the Southern Democrats to splinter and nominate Dixiecrat, Strom Thurmond.
  • Liberal Democrats rejected Truman as well- they nominated Henry Wallace as the Progressive party candidate.
  • Dewey’s lackluster campaign was best summed up by the poorly crafted message- “You know that your future is still ahead of you.”
  • As election day arrived, only Truman was convinced of his victory- many on his staff had already accepted other jobs. 

Harry1

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Piled Higher, Deeper

What makes an historian?… A collection of advanced degrees? The ability to thoroughly explain research? Published writing in a peer reviewed journal? Teaching eager young minds about the past? Could any combination of these qualify a person as an “historian?”

Tell us Mr. McCullough, what do you specialize in?

Tell us Mr. McCullough, what do you specialize in?

The narrow parameters of academic discipline… create the appearance of rigid professionalism, but in effect, provide only  compartmentalized confusion.  The specialization that permeates the digital age seems to have influenced all reaches of academia.  People no long study history, but must focus on some minute period of it.  The requisite for title of ‘historian’ is now a Doctor of Philosophy degree in some purposely narrowed time period, often accompanied by an equally specific cultural scope.  (PhD in 19th Century Female Labor Patterns-with a focus on the American Northeastern Corridor.)  Shouldn’t “historians” be able to speak intelligently and passionately about a variety of historical issues, similarly, as we expect  auto mechanics to be able to repair all types of cars?

Lawyers can be historians too...if they write the appropriate books...

Lawyers can be historians too…if they write the appropriate books…

The academic job market is shrinking… yet PhD’s are being handed out at record levels.  There is legitimate doubt as to the true economic value of such an advanced degree.  If the requisite skills can be acquired without the crippling debt and limited prospects- shouldn’t there be a reevaluation of  professional guidelines?  The field of history is changing at rapid pace- the professionals taking it on need to adjust to the race.

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