Tag Archives: History

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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On Love

Jefferson loved two women in his life… both brought him periods of blissful happiness and profound sadness.  Through all the sadness, Jefferson’s optimism could always be felt-  He told his second love, Maria Cosway in 1786:

Head vs. Heart

Heaven has submitted our being to some unkind laws.  When those charming moments were present which I passed with you, they were clouded with the prospect that I was soon to lose you… I am determined when you come next not to admit the idea that we are ever to part again… May your days be many and filled with sunshine, may your heart glow with warm affections… Write to me often- write affectionately and freely as I do to you.  Say many kind things and say them without reserve.  They will be food for my soul…

Dear Friend

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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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Heart of the Matter

At the heart of historical revisionism is distrust… a lack of faith in previous interpretations of the historical record.  This blog has bitterly observed the crass consumerism and intellectual vanity that often drive outlandish revisions in our history.  But, a closer examination reveals the true divide between revisionist and traditionalist- trust.

Maybe there's hope

Maybe there’s hope

As historians rush to laud Alan Taylor’s new revisionof the American Revolutionary movement, the distrust is laid bare.  If revisionist historians refuse to come out and proclaim all previous work wrong, then there must be a lack of trust.  Was Gordon Wood trying to deceive us when explaining how radical our Revolution was?  Did Dumas Malone wish to hide Jefferson’s feelings on slavery and freedom?  Was Edmund Morgan deliberately distorting history when explaining racial diversity in Colonial Virginia?  All revisionists will say is that works like Taylor’s are now “the standards.”   To hell with what came before…

Unite us, David

Unite us, David

There is no mass historical conspiracy to disregard… races or classes of people.  Gordon Wood should be read in first year graduate courses and beyond.  In their zeal to legitimize controversial interpretations, revisionists like Taylor and Annette Gordon-Reed propagate the distrust of these noteworthy predecessors.

 

 

 

 

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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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Leave Madison Alone

Joe Ellis explained the absence of serious Madison biographies… by proclaiming “he’s boring as hell” and that “only lawyers like him.”   As previously stated, Ellis’s recent comments on the Framers and Original Intent cast doubt on the rigor of his scholarship- and these nuggets of wisdom only enhance the evidence of his misguided revisionism.

Never far apart

Never far apart

The revision Ellis is peddling holds that Madison and other Framers… rejected the doctrine of Original Intent on its face.  The only empirical evidence supporting this notion is Madison’s oft quoted explanation for not publishing his notes on the Constitutional Convention.  Once established, the government continued to disappoint Madison, driving him closer to his friend Jefferson.  During his presidency, Madison undoubtedly supported Original Intent as he battled John Marshall and Congress for the soul of the Constitution.  He feared the elasticity in the Constitution was being abused by ambitious demagogues- Madison wanted the power of government restrained- his original intent.

What have your wrought, Joe?

What have your wrought, Joe?

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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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