Tag Archives: History

Weekly History News Roundup

DNA suggests salmonella may have killed off Aztecsrare strain of bacteria discovered in corpses

 

Volunteers struggling to save historic Jewish sites in Middle East… ISIS targets Jewish heritage sites across region

 

National Museum of African-American history tops 1 million visitorslatest Smithsonian open just four months

 

Grad student discovers “lost” Whitman novel… mystery tale was published anonymously before the Civil War

 

Jackson-Trump comparisons do not stand up to historyThe 45th President wishes he were more like the 7th

 

Tennessee is first state to guarantee annual funding for Civil War preservationfund provides matching grants for private donations

A must visit

A must visit

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Beyond Comprehension

To his supporters, Trump is the second-coming of Reagan… but every day, each passing Tweet, Donald Trump embarrasses himself and our republic.  The most egregious behavior involves the apparent collaboration with Putin’s Russia.  Trump and his acolytes have done little to assuage the concerns of the media or critics; often, going as far as to defend Putin and his authoritarian methods.

Bromance

Bromance

Before one of the largest Television audiences in the worldTrump did the unthinkable- he equated the actions of the United States with those of Putin-  all comparisons to Reagan must end immediately.  The President of the United States implied to the world a moral equivalence exists between our republic and the ruthless autocrat in Russia.  Putin’s murders are documented and clearly show the brutal nature of his regime.  Trump’s smarmy innuendo is an indication of both ignorance and  complicity.  Far from making us safer, this man is emerging as a serious threat to our national security.

No comparisons here.

No comparisons here.

Reagan’s call for an end to totalitarianism…  shows just how different the two men really are:

“No, democracy is not a fragile flower. Still it needs cultivating. If the rest of this century is to witness the gradual growth of freedom and democratic ideals, we must take actions to assist the campaign for democracy.”….What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term — the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.”

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The Marble Face

George Washington achieved iconic status during… his lifetime.  His peers held him in such esteem that by the time of his death most Americans were left unaware of the life he led.  Washington quickly faded in the collective memory- he became a statue, figuratively as well as literally.  This dehumanization has caused Washington’s name and reputation to plummet in our national remembrance.  Recent polls of some 600 historians show Washington ranking #3 behind Lincoln and FDR.  Many of the same writers cite unwarranted “hero worship” as the reason for the decline.

Myth or man?

Myth or man?

What troubles many delusional historians… is that Washington was aware of his image as the great patriot-hero.  This was an image he went to great lengths to protect.  This type of self-awareness irks 21st century sensibilities, but was common and accepted in the 18th century.  Washington was not as well read, educated or worldly as his peers, but he always acted appropriately, worked efficiently, and governed wisely.

Remember

Remember

Washington should still be first… in the hearts and minds of his countrymen.  His great strength was character- the ability to lead men without ruling them.  The example he set has endured through the trials and tribulations of our republic- he is truly, the essential American.

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Great American Duels #2

Challenger: James Barron-  Former Commodore, United States Navy

Challenged: Stephen Decatur-  Commodore, Commissioner, United States Navy

The Offense:  James Barron was court martialed for his poor handling of the USS Chesapeake during the confrontation with the HMS Leopard in 1807.  Decatur served on the court and recommended Barron be barred from command for five years.  Barron spent those five years in Denmark composing a lengthy defense of his actions.  Upon his return, he applied for reinstatement to Naval command.  Decatur was one of many officers who opposed Barron’s reentry into the service.  Long jealous of Decatur’s fame, Barron singled out his younger rival and challenged him to a duel. 

Relegated to historical obscurity

Background:  Stephen Decatur’s naval career was marked by acts of heroism and exceptional performance under fire.  He was the youngest man in naval history to reach the rank of Captain and distinguished himself in the first and second Barbary Wars.  His stunning victories early in the War of 1812 helped keep morale high during some of the darker days of the conflict.  These exploits established him as one of country’s first heroes and earned the resentment of many fellow officers.   James Barron served without much distinction along side Decatur, rising to the rank of Commodore by 1812.  Barron’s failure to properly oppose the boarding action of the HMS Leopard cost him his commission.  Decatur’s position on the court-martial, as well as his vocal opposition to Barron’s reinstatement led to the duel.  By 1820, dueling was such a problem for the US Navy’s officer corps, there was actually a shortage of properly trained commanders.  

A life most bold and daring….

The Field of Honor:  March 22, 1820–Neither Second in the duel was a suitable choice, for both men wanted to see Stephen Decatur dead.  Barron’s Second was the unpredictable Jesse Elliott, an officer known for his burning ambition and hatred of Decatur.  Commodore William Bainbridge was chosen by Decatur, which was an unfortunate decision.  Bainbridge blamed Decatur for stealing his command during the second Barbary War.  The Seconds negotiated a deadly eight pace turn, guaranteeing bloodshed.  Decatur, a crack shot, did not plan on killing his challenger and made it known in the negotiations.  It is doubtful  either Second mentioned this to Barron.  The count was given by Bainbridge, shots had to be fired after ‘one’ and before ‘three’.  The duelists fired before ‘two’  and both went down with serious wounds.  Barron was struck in the lower abdomen but would survive.  Decatur was hit through the pelvis, severing three arteries, sealing his fate.  Decatur cried out, “Oh Lord, I’m a dead man!”   Barron answered back, “I forgive you, God bless you Decatur!”    The hero’s  funeral was attended by every member of Congress, the entire Supreme Court, President James Monroe, and over 10,000 citizens. 

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Exit Interview Pt. 3

Assessment of Barack Obama’s Presidency… Practically Historical attempts a nonpartisan analysis of the 44th President.

 

The Ugly

I'm not Bush

I’m not Bush

Arab sprung: Obama’s foreign policy was rudderless, and often alienated long-time allies.  The desperate attempt to sever ties to the Bush years was praised by the international community, but offered restored hope and strategic leniency to our enemies.  Hard withdrawal deadlines, reluctance to utilize force, and a willingness to support pell-mell regime change emboldened our enemies abroad and dangerously weakened our strategic position in the world.  The Iran nuclear deal could seriously destabilize the Middle East for years to come.

 

Underestimating the Junior Varsity: By 2009, few could argue that Bush’s surge of 2006 had pacified Iraq.  Obama’s stubborn adherence to a strategic recommendation(troop withdrawal by 2012)  by Bush officials may have won him political points, but it sacrificed the hard won peace in the Iraqi provinces.  ISIS emerged as a legitimate threat to peace in the region and US national security.  Obama’s half-hearted military response allowed once pacified regions of Iraq to fall under ISIS control.  His refusal to acknowledge the real threat these fanatics represent has allowed their influence to spread outside the region.  Miscalculations in Syria have prevented Obama from establishing a coherent policy for battling this very real threat to our security. 

Plan needed

Plan needed

Not my signature:  Every President wants to leave a lasting mark on domestic policy.  Obama’s legislative achievement was the Affordable Care Act- actual health insurance reform.  Every Democratic President since Truman wanted to reform the industry and cover more people.   The terribly complex and confounding legislation was heavy on regulation, passed on a party-line vote, and lacked public support nearly from its inception.  The law failed in many of its most basic goals and has wreaked havoc across the country with poorly conceived exchanges and ideologically driven mandates

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In A Dangerous World

“I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.”

 

These are not the words of George W. Bush… Ronald Reagan, or even John Kennedy.  This is the essence of the Truman Doctrine- a clear outline for America’s strategic place in the world.  Though primarily written by Dean Acheson, Harry Truman’s plain spoken manner made the intent abundantly clear.  Our security at home was directly tied to our vigilance abroad.

Carry the battle to them...

Carry the battle to them…

Would such decisive language be welcomed… by Democrats today? Politicians on both sides of the aisle seem to be embracing the self-destructive tenants of isolationism.  They are deluded as were our early leaders that neutrality was not only desired, but possible.

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Too Far Too Fast

The Warren Court had made a habit… out of rewriting Constitutional law.  Landmark civil rights cases such as Baker vs. Carr and Brown v. Board of Education drastically altered the segregated South, while Engel vs. Vitale and Griswold vs. Connecticut would fuel the culture wars for decades to come.  It was the criminal procedure mandates handed down by Earl Warren that have drawn his court’s legacy into question.  Brady vs. Maryland, Gideon vs. Wainwright, and  Escobedo vs. Illinois radically altered due process and police procedure, some argue to the detriment of law enforcement.  No other case symbolizes the Warren Court’s activism better than Miranda vs. Arizona, handed down on June 13, 1966.

Legislating from the bench

Few cases are as misunderstood…and detested as the ‘Miranda’ ruling.  The basic holding was that due process begins when a suspect is taken into custody, not when they enter legal proceedings.  Warren was not satisfied with a simple procedural question, taking the decision to the Constitutional level-

The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him.

“The Court is not a general haven for reform movements”.[

 It was now the responsibility of the state to inform the citizens of their 5th and 6th amendment protections The Warren Court was deeply divided in delivering a 5-4 decision.  Justice John Marshall Harlan did not approve of Warren’s reach, “nothing in the letter or the spirit of the Constitution or in the precedents squares with the heavy-handed and one-sided action that is so precipitously taken by the Court in the name of fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities….This Court is forever adding new stories to the temples of constitutional law, and the temples have a way of collapsing when one story too many is added.”    

Civil libertarians argue the technical risks of freeing criminals …is worth the protections the opinions offer, but Justice Byron White could not concur, “I have no desire whatsoever to share the responsibility for any such impact on the present criminal process. In some unknown number of cases, the Court’s rule will return a killer, a rapist or other criminal to the streets and to the environment which produced him, to repeat his crime whenever it pleases him. As a consequence, there will not be a gain, but a loss, in human dignity.”

 

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