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For the past couple of weeks, the drumbeat of war has been reverberating louder and louder here in the Cave of the Moonbat; tonight will find us moving the argument from the parlor to the field of battle.  Once-strong parties have devolved into panderers and wafflers, Compromises have been made and abandoned, and moral certitude has somehow become the foe of literalist interpretations of the Constitution.  In fact, by this point, all a country would need to spark a civil war would be a paralyzed government, a poor leader, and a tortured legal judgment or two.

Join me, if you will, in the Cave of the Moonbat, for a look at the second-worst presidency in our history - a chief executive so poor at his job that even today, a handful of court historians (in FauxNewspeak, "some people") still assert that he out-sucks George W. Bush.  They're wrong, but the fact that they can even make the argument ought to tell you something...

Cross-posted at Progressive Historians

The violence, strife, and dissention of the 1850s called for a great leader, a person of strong conviction who had the imagination and the will to see the nation through one of the greatest-ever threats to its existence, but the voters delivered something else instead.  It wasn't entirely their fault, as the political parties - one straightjacketed by the near-instinctual need to pander to the traditional power elite, the other rip-roaringly youthful and ardently sectional - the other had offered up some pretty lame candidates.

Both James Buchanan (old-school D-Pennsylvania) and John C. Fremont (neophyte R - Western frontier) had been chosen by their respective parties based primarily on the fact that neither had anything to do with Bleeding Kansas.  Fremont had served only a couple of years as one of California's first duo of Senators, and "Old Buck" was safely distant as America's minister to England during the Pierce administration, so neither had ever had to take public stands on the extension-of-slavery question.  It'd be like our contemporary parties running two people who had never expressed a public opinion on Iraq.

The Last Democrat

Buchanan did not achieve a majority of the popular vote - nearly a quarter of the electorate, mostly ex-Whigs, was siphoned off by the hardcore nativist American Party and their no-longer-Compromise-of-1850'n Millard Fillmore) - but he easily carried the Electoral College over Fremont, whose support did not extend very far south.  All of the whopping six hundred votes "The Pathfinder" received from slave states came from Delaware and Maryland, but his support grew more strident with every mile that one traveled north.  The Republicans claimed 1856 to be a "victorious defeat" with some justification: it was quite clear to all concerned that all it would take to seat a Republican in the White House in 1860 would be to get just one of the big northern states - maybe Illinois or Pennsylvania - to flip.

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While the revamped Know-Nothings skirted the slavery issue by scapegoating recent immigrants and refugees from the Irish Potato Famine, and the Republicans openly preached abolition - "Free speech, free press, free soil, free men, Frémont and victory!" - Buchanan and future ski-town namesake John Cabell Breckenridge boldly deferred the question to the people of the territories, presumably because the whole popular sovereignty thing was working out so well in Kansas.  Southerners, sensing defeat by any other name, got behind Old Buck, but they also sent dire warnings to the North about the make-or-break issue of electing a Republican president: do so, they intimated, and the South might have no other option but to secede.

There's a pretty good chance that the Civil War would have started in 1856, had Fremont (who was no Lincoln) gotten the nod, but that eventuality was deferred as president-elect James Buchanan prepared to take office early the next year.  Eager to establish continued spinelessness as public policy, he sought out a couple of Supreme Court Justices, who were even then deliberating on a slavery case that much of the public was watching with great interest.  They apparently reassured the incoming president, who afterwards felt confident enough that sectional balance could be maintained that he said in his inaugural address:

What a happy conception, then, was it for Congress to apply this simple rule, that the will of the majority shall govern, to the settlement of the question of domestic slavery in the Territories. Congress is neither "to legislate slavery into any Territory or State nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States."

As a natural consequence, Congress has also prescribed that when the Territory of Kansas shall be admitted as a State it "shall be received into the Union with or without slavery, as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission."  A difference of opinion has arisen in regard to the point of time when the people of a Territory shall decide this question for themselves.

This is, happily, a matter of but little practical importance. Besides, it is a judicial question, which legitimately belongs to the Supreme Court of the United States, before whom it is now pending, and will, it is understood, be speedily and finally settled. To their decision, in common with all good citizens, I shall cheerfully submit, whatever this may be... (emphasis mine - u.m.)

He said that stuff on Wednesday, March 4th.

The Shortest Honeymoon in Presidential History   Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Until he achieved America's highest office, James Buchanan had had a pretty good, if quiet, run of a public career: He'd been in the House and the Senate for a decade each, and served as Polk's Secretary of State and Pierce's minister to England, but the political free ride came to a crashing halt two days after he took office.  In the Friday news dump from hell, the Supreme Court on March 6, 1857, announced its ruling in the case of a guy named Dred Scott.

The case is a little complicated - the above link, which goes to the PBS site, has a succinct description - and had been going on a lot longer than people nowadays realize (the first trial in the case was in 1847 in a court in Missouri), but in the end it boiled down to just a couple of questions: #1. Are blacks citizens?, and #2. Does a slave become free if his master moves him to free territory?

In 1850s America, the answer to #1 was a Quayle-brainer: Absolutely not.  This aspect of the ruling surprised few people.  It was in answering #2 that Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, writing for the majority, got his Scalia on and determined that his own perverse interpretation of the Constitution was at least 3/5s more righteous than that of any abolitionist.  An appointee of Andrew Jackson's, Taney had emancipated his own slaves back in 1819 - even paid pensions to those too old to work - but his attitudes about slavery grew meaner as the years passed.  By the time of Scott v. Sandford, he was not averse to using the term "northern aggression" to refer to the opponents of slavery, and had adopted a decidedly neocon-looking-at-New-Orleans point of view.  Taney appealed to history in justifying his ruling, by stating that the framers of the Constitution had viewed blacks as:

"beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."


For thinking this way, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts (the guy who'd been beaten with a cane by a Representative Preston S. "Bully" Brooks of South Carolina in 1856) would later say of Taney:

I speak what cannot be denied when I declare that the opinion of the Chief Justice in the case of Dred Scott was more thoroughly abominable than anything of the kind in the history of courts. Judicial baseness reached its lowest point on that occasion. You have not forgotten that terrible decision where a most unrighteous judgment was sustained by a falsification of history. Of course, the Constitution of the United States and every principle of Liberty was falsified, but historical truth was falsified also. . .

ibid.; (emphasis mine - u.m.)

Historiorant:  For all the scorn heaped upon him by his contemporaries - Lincoln may have tried to have him gitmo'd; CTers are welcome to Google "Taney Arrest Warrant" - judicial historians seem to be a little more forgiving of Chief Justice Taney, who might have been remembered among the great advocates of states' rights were it not for the penchant he developed for writing really intemperate things about slavery.  Oh, and he was married to Francis Scott Key's sister.

OK, I Get It: It Was a Dumb Ruling.  So What Did It Say?

Excellent question.  It basically stated that no black man ever had been or would be a United States citizen, and that the 37-year-old Missouri Compromise had been unconstitutional all along.  Turns out the dang thing was in violation of the 5th Amendment - can't deprive a man of his property without due process, y'know - and so every territory formed north of the 36°30' line should have been just as open to slavery as those formed in the south, ever since 1820.  Surprise!

Six justices concurred, including one northerner named Grier who had endured a little arm-twisting from the president-elect in order to get a bi-sectional imperator of the otherwise obviously pro-southern judicial activism.  Two others dissented, while one concurred with the ruling but not the reasoning.  Thus, just as in the installation of the current resident of the White House, it was the twisted legalistic renderings of a handful of self-interested zealots, who way overstepped the bounds of their authority in order to "settle the matter once and for all," that set in motion a chain of events with an increasing tone of inevitability.

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In the South, the Dred Scott decision was widely viewed as sensible and Constitutional: let the people decide on slavery extension through popular sovereignty, anywhere and everywhere, and not have their choices dictated to them by Compromises and back-room deals in Washington.  In the North, where the repeal of the Missouri Compromise by the Kansas-Nebraska Act had not diminished the assumption that its spirit still held true, the swelling ranks of enraged abolitionists declared that SCOTUS had "sullied the ermine" by playing politics.  They also began to scoff at the perception that the Court was scoffing at them - the meme shifted from banishing slavery from the territories to one of declaring that the opinion of the Court, given its current slavery-favoring majority, were of no more value or weight - nor were any more binding - than those of a "southern debating society."

Ever the Southern Appeaser

With the departure of John Brown from Kansas (oh, don't worry - our favorite spade-bearded, Bible-quotin', ass-kickin' abolitionist still has a part to play in all this), and a general leveling-off of the violence, attention in the territory turned to ratifying a state constitution that would be submitted to the federals as part of the impending application for statehood.  Presidents Pierce and Buchanan both chose to recognize the fraudulently-elected pro-slavery government - the one that had been installed through the not-so-good offices of a lot of Missouri "border ruffians" crossing to vote as pro-slavery Kansans - over the "rebellious" anti-slavery option the free-soilers had set up.  Kansas' proslavery government was based in Lecompton, and the referendum became known as the Lecompton Constitution.  In it, voters were given a cynical "choice" of Rovian diabolicalness.

Historiorant:  That's weird: I really thought "diabolicalness" was going to set off my spell checker.  Ya try'n get all Dr. Suess, and find out Noah Webster beat ya' to it - sheesh.  Anyway...

Here's a Moonbat-extrapolated ballot from the 1857 Kansas referendum as it might have appeared to a free-soiler wanting to vote slavery out of his new state

Ballot Issue

#1: Identity Check.  You're not from Missouri, are you? (wink, wink).....No

#2: Do you want to vote for the "with slavery" constitution? .....Of course not

#3: Do you want to vote for the "without slavery" constitution? (see note).....hunh?

           Note: By agreeing to the "without slavery" constitution, you also agree that what's ours is ours - by which we mean that we get to keep all the slaves that are already here.

#4: Review and answer Question #3.....Go Cheney yourself; I abstain

Abolitionist abstentions led to passage of the Lecompton Constitution, which President Buchanan tried to quickly shepherd through Congress.  The bill stalled when it ran into the "steam engine in breeches," Steven A. Douglas, Senator from Illinois - who was a true drinker of the popular sovereignty Kool-Aid, regardless of how wussy-ish the position would be viewed by historioranters in the future.  Nailing his colors to the mast in a way that my DINO Senator here in Colorado will never, ever, understand, Douglas alienated his considerable southern support for a presidential bid by flatly opposing any deal that didn't include an up-or-down vote on the entire constitution, which would have the effect of banning slavery and would not make provisions for a grandfather clause.  The schism hopelessly split the Democratic Party along sectional lines, but when Douglas got the compromise he wanted, he counted it a victory as free-soil Kansans flocked to the polls and seized control of the issue through the ballot box.

The Economics of Poor Leadership (as if we didn't already know)

Starting with the collapse of the New York City branch of the Ohio Life Insurance & Trust Company (which had been gutted by massive embezzlement) in August, 1857, the economy took a Bush-style nosedive as the public increasingly - and justifiably - lost confidence in the President's ability to manage the economy.  The fact that even a short depression had sectional overtones did not bode well for Old Buck or the nation, either: virtually every aspect of the Panic of 1857 was felt, perceived, and ridden out differently by factions in the North and South.  To wit:

  •     Gold - all Americans - the huge amount of gold pouring in from California led to massive inflation; loss of SS Central America, along with more than 400 souls and 30,000 pounds of gold, led to lack of confidence in US specie reserves by foreign governments and American citizens
  •     Grain - North - producers, who had hoped the Crimean War would go on forever, found that the bottom fell out of the price when the war ended and Russia turned her fields from battle to wheat-growing - South - though Russian cotton merchants were undercutting their pricing, the fact that demand remained strong led more and more southerners to think that Cotton really was King, and that they might just be able to finance a secession via the same favorable foreign trade that was enabling them to ride a bubble through the Panic.
  •     Business & Treasury - North - most of the 5000 business that failed within a year of the Panic were in the North; before the Panic, embarrassment at the large surplus in the Treasury (remember a couple of weeks ago, when I historioranted about how the 1800s are kinda like Bizarro World?), led to the lowest tariff since the War of 1812 - South - liked the low tariff, and continued support of it in the face of northern pleas for protectionist help handed the Republicans an important trade issue for use in the 1858 and 1860 elections.
  •     Railroads & Speculators - North - as it had most of the railroads in the country, it stands to reason that business failures among railroad companies hit the North especially hard; rampant speculation had further messed things up - South - didn't seem to care much, as railroad-financing problems in the North weren't really affecting the price of cotton.
  •     Homesteading - North - increasing numbers call for Washington to quit selling stolen Indian lands and just give it to anyone hardy enough to settle and live there; Some northern industrialists, fearful that the promise of free land would siphon off the wretched refuse from the teeming shores that worked their factories, opposed the idea of a homesteading act - South - was even more opposed, since the planned 160-acre parcels were way too small for slave labor to be properly employed.  Though a bill to sell land at 25¢ an acre passed through Congress in 1860, southern interests got Buchanan to kill it with a veto.
  • Cue the Tall, Skinny Guy

    Steven Douglas' Senatorial term was up in 1858, and Abraham Lincoln wanted his seat.  At 49, Lincoln was only a recent convert to the Republican cause; he seems to have undergone an epiphany with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and a scant four years later was a dyed-in-the-wool, ambitious leader in the upstart party.  To prove that this was so, he, as the Republican nominee to replace Douglas, brashly challenged the greatest orator of his age to a series of debates.  The Little Giant promptly picked up the gauntlet, and seven debates were held around the state in the summer and fall of 1858.

    Back in those days, candidates were stupid.  They didn't send small armies of lawyers to negotiate the temperature on the stage or the colors of the candidate's ties, they didn't script answers or ensure that certain topics would not be brought up, and - most stupidly of all - they didn't forbid attacks on one another, nor the direct questioning of the other guy.  A modern conservo-fascist would quickly wither under such a lack of conditions, but incredibly, men of the mid-19th century somehow found a way to express their beliefs in long-winded, thoughtfully worded, highly logical, dangerously personal arguments, despite the clear threats the format presented to "message control."

    Douglas, of course, argued for popular sovereignty.  Lincoln's views were a bit more nuanced, and not entirely in keeping with what we generally think of as the Great Emancipator's legacy.  He clearly did not believe in equality of the races, and often stated so when his opponent hinted that he did.  Douglas, for example, repeatedly swiftboated Honest Abe on the subject of Dred Scott, prompting Lincoln to say during the 7th debate (Alton, Ill., 10/15/58):

    I never have complained especially of the Dred Scott decision because it held that a negro could not be a citizen, and the Judge (Douglas) is always wrong when he says I ever did so complain of it. I have the speech here, and I will thank him or any of his friends to show where I said that a negro should be a citizen, and complained especially of the Dred Scott decision because it declared he could not be one. I have done no such thing, and Judge Douglas so persistently insisting that I have done so, has strongly impressed me with the belief of a predetermination on his part to misrepresent me.

    National Park Service  (emphasis mine - u.m.)

    (Historiokossians should note that this is a really cool site, with a numbered map and the transcripts from all 7 debates)

    Historiorant:  It's almost impossible to imagine a modern Republican calling someone a liar that politely, isn't it?

    Regarding the issue of racial equality, Lincoln was a bit more of the George Allen mode than that of Bill Clinton, at least when the public spotlight first shone on him:

    Now, gentlemen, I don't want to read at any greater length, but this is the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the institution of slavery and the black race. This is the whole of it, and anything that argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse. (Laughter)  I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary, but I hold that, notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. (Loud cheers) I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects-certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But in the right to eat the bread, without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man. (Great applause.)

    Ottawa, Ill., 8/21/58  (emphasis mine - u.m.)


    The record shows that Lincoln was acutely aware of the failings his arguments exposed on his own side, as well as Douglas'.  Here, Abe addresses the weaseliness of the popular sovereignty position:

    "This declared indifference, but, as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world-enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites-causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty-criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.

    Ottawa, Ill., 8/21/58  (emphasis mine - u.m.)

    The Freeport Q&A

    In their second debate (August 28, at Freeport), Lincoln pounded Douglas with some of the heavy artillery of abolitionist logic: he asked what would happen in the event a state were to vote against slavery in its own legislature - would the state's right to do so be upheld, or would the federal will reign supreme?  Douglas again proved he was no Ken Salazar when he fired back an unequivocal and historically verifiable argument of his own.

    Basically, Douglas said that if states didn't want slavery, then their legislatures simply wouldn't pass the laws necessary to protect it - the practice would never become established in those places where the will of the people was strongly enough opposed.  He based his argument on pretty solid historical footing - he had studied how popular opposition to federal silliness had brought an end to Jefferson's "damnbargo," and we future-dwellers are lucky enough to have seen it further play out with the repeal of Prohibition and the current failed war on indigenous plants.

    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    Steven's "Freeport Doctrine" went a long way toward securing enough votes for his Democratic supporters that he would be tapped to be Senator (this was before the 17th Amendment, remember), but it may well have cost him a run the presidency.  In the South, now thoroughly-alienated Dems saw Douglas as just another Northerner willing to blow off the Supreme Court as he saw fit - even if he did seem to be the only one willing to raise the fear specter by conjuring up images of Frederick Douglass riding in a carriage with a white man's wife while the carriage's owner sits outside driving the team. (see Douglas' speech at Freeport, 8/28/58).  Lincoln, of course, had ambled his lanky self into the national spotlight in such a manner that his defeat was another victorious one for the Republicans - he was positioned as a party leader for the presidential elections of 1860, even as Douglas would have to wrestle with the ethics of serving only two years of the term his hard-fought victory had earned him in order to go after an increasingly less-certain stab at the Oval Office.

    Historiorant:  Back in those days, politicians of principle resigned the seats they were holding when they ran for higher office.  This was the established custom among upstanding men and women until megalomaniac Joe Lieberman showed us all in 2000 that it is indeed possible to keep your cake and lunge for more, too. UPDATE: I blew it on this particular historiorant; Joe was not nearly as unique as I half-remembered. Please see the comments by sardonyx for an historical breakdown of the practice.

    Who the #@*% Planned This?  Rummy?

    Ever since his return in 1856 from helping Kansas bleed, John Brown had been making the abolitionist-fundraising circuit in New England.  He was trying to drum up the cash for a guerilla army that would secretly invade the South, capturing weapons, freeing slaves, and establishing a reminds-me-of-South-Africa style autonomous homeland.  He'd met with William Lloyd Garrison, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, among many others, but his efforts to raise support for the venture he had in mind were far less successful than he'd hoped; his yet-to-be-assembled army would have 200 Sharps carbines (located in a barn in Iowa) and an order for 1000 pikes as their armament.

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    From the standpoint of doing what it would take to establish a little Emirate of Waziristan right here in America, Brown tried to get it right.  He held a constitutional convention, formed a government, and generally smoothed the way for the spontaneous creation of a semi-autonomous free state right in the middle of the South.  Things almost came apart on him a couple of times, most notably when Hugh Forbes - an English mercenary who'd fought with Garibaldi in Italy and who'd been hired (but not paid) by Brown to play Von Steuben to his still-nonexistent forces - tried to expose Brown to northern Senators, which forced him to postpone his still-premature plans until the summer of 1859.  As it turned out, however, Brown's greatest deficiency probably - like a certain Secretary of Defense who shall remain nameless - came in the area of recruitment.

    On June 3, Brown implemented his plan to invade the South by moving to a farm near Harper's Ferry and waiting for the volunteers to show up.  The papers his secret Secretary of War and he had drawn up called for 200 riflemen and 950 pikers to be part of a 4500-man battalion that would sweep into the South like a force of abolitionist nature.  Regrettably for the would-be emancipator, only 21 guys (16 white, 5 black; 12 of whom had fought with him in Kansas and including at least 3 of his own sons) were around for the great day of reckoning.  Turns out that Frederick Douglass, whose support Brown dearly craved, had been actively spreading the word in the black community not to follow Brown's lunatic lead - tried to talk him out of it face-to-face, too.

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    So it was that John Brown (known aliases: "Nelson Hawkins," "Shubel Morgan," and "Isaac Smith"; printable nicknames: Osawatomie Brown, Old Man Brown, Captain Brown and Old Brown of Kansas) led only a handful of followers against the lightly-guarded but weaponry-rich arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia on October 16, 1859.  Though they were now in possession of 100,000 muskets and rifles, they quickly found that 21 guys can only pull so many triggers at a time.  The anticipated army of rebels never did appear, and Brown and his diminishing forces found themselves penned in by the local militia.

    Exit the Homegrown Terrorist

    A company of Marines commanded by Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee arrived, and by the morning of October 18, had Brown surrounded.  Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart was sent in to negotiate Brown's surrender, to which the abolitionist expressed a preference for dying on the spot.  Unwilling to fulfill Brown's ambitions of martyrdom, Lee ordered the building stormed, and Brown was taken into custody after fierce hand-to-hand fighting.  .

    After a doctor was trotted in to find him competent to stand trial, he was brought before a judge on October 27.  On November 2, after 45 minutes of deliberation, he was found guilty of everything and sentenced to death (of course).  He was then incarcerated for a month, during which he was permitted visitors and saw his letters published in northern papers.  His righteous tone and seeming moral clarity won ever more support for direct action among abolitionists - Emerson himself predicted that Brown's execution would "Make the gallows as glorious as the Cross."

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    By the time he finally dangled on December 2, Brown had polarized the nation.  His composure while ascending the gallows steps is legendary, as are his last words: This is a beautiful country.  Among Southerners, his name became a verb - abolitionists wanted to violently "Brown" them - but in the North, he approached savior status - Harriet Tubman said, "it was God in him."  Abe Lincoln was a little more circumspect, and a whole lot more creepily prophetic:

    "(The Brown) affair, in its philosophy, corresponds with the many attempts, related in history, at the assassination of kings and emperors.  An enthusiast broods over the oppression of a people till he fancies himself commissioned by Heaven to liberate them.  He ventures the attempt, which ends in little else than his own execution."

    (excerpted from Kennedy, et al; The American Pageant, 12th ed.; Houghton-Mifflin Company; New York; 2002, pg. 422)


    And since Lincoln is as good a man as any to quote on the eve of 9/11 remembrances (and a better one than anybody currently at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue), your resident historiorantologist will now will now close this mercilessly-long diary with the promise of looking at the Election of 1860 when we return to the topic of American Politics after a brief hiatus - see note below.


    In local news, next week will mark a first for the staff (okay, me) here in the Cave of the Moonbat - I'm handing over the keys to historiorantrix aphra behn while I tackle an unavoidable mountain of grading.  aphra has graciously agreed to conduct tours down some of the as-yet-unexplored tunnels branching from Women's History Cavern (they're reputed to lead to Seneca Falls), giving me a much-needed "weekend off" to read what 130 10th graders thought of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's A Midwife's Tale.  Please make sure you leave the place as deliciously cluttered as when you found it - and remember: There may be a pop quiz when I get back...

    Originally posted to Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 04:29 PM PDT.

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    Comment Preferences

    •  Moonbat's feeding bowl (102+ / 0-)

      Thanks for deciding to duck into the Cave and look at some real history instead of polluting your beautiful minds by watching Triumph of the Will “Path to 9/11.”   ABC/Disney’s falsification of the historical record is unconscionable, and brings again to mind the words of Charles Sumner – which I’ll record again here because they’re so damn relevant, particularly tonight:

      “the Constitution of the United States and every principle of Liberty was falsified, but historical truth was falsified also...”


      "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

      by Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 04:16:56 PM PDT

    •  This should be required reading (20+ / 0-)

      in every American school.  Thanks so much for these wonderful historical lessons.  

      If we're dumb. Then God is dumb. And maybe a little ugly on the side.

      by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 04:17:47 PM PDT

      •  And thank you, (14+ / 0-)

        for reminding us that Frank Zappa will live forever!

        "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

        by Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 04:25:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  REAL history taught in our classrooms? (10+ / 0-)

        Oh my, Ghost of Frank Zappa! That might make us all educated and we can't have that!

        Most of these diaries set me to thinking about some of my favorite historical pilgrimages. This one reminds us all of the wonderful site of Harper's Ferry, WV.

        On June 3, Brown implemented his plan to invade the South by moving to a farm near Harper's Ferry and waiting for the volunteers to show up.  The papers his secret Secretary of War and he had drawn up called for 200 riflemen and 950 pikers to be part of a 4500-man battalion that would sweep into the South like a force of abolitionist nature.  Regrettably for the would-be emancipator, only 21 guys (16 white, 5 black; 12 of whom had fought with him in Kansas and including at least 3 of his own sons) were around for the great day of reckoning.  Turns out that Frederick Douglass, whose support Brown dearly craved, had been actively spreading the word in the black community not to follow Brown's lunatic lead - tried to talk him out of it face-to-face, too.

        If you've never been to Harper's Ferry, it is well worth the visit. It's not only a historically wonderful site, it's very pretty also.

        One of these days, I should undertake a series of diaries about great progressive history pilgrimage sites. Maybe the diary I promise to provide for the Waldheim Cemetery pilgrimage, to accompany Unitary Moonbat's piece on the 1890 anarchists, will inspire me.

        Gary Trauner, WY's progressive candidate. Kick out Barbara Cubin!

        by kainah on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 04:40:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I hope you have fun doing this (21+ / 0-)

      because we know you aren't getting paid.  :-)

      Seriously, thanks for giving us this great series.

      Rep. Peter King (NY-03) is an ASSHOLE!

      by pontificator on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 04:18:20 PM PDT

      •  Ask advisorjim (11+ / 0-)

        for ideas on how to make a few $ on your Daily Kos contributions.

        Turn off your T.V. and pay attention.

        by peeder on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 04:21:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Been meanin' to speak with someone about that... (10+ / 0-)

        but it looks like peeder has a suggestion even as I type.  Thanks for the kudos, mojo, and support!

        "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

        by Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 04:29:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  always pretty tough to make money writing history (7+ / 0-)

          I've always found it hard to make much writing about history. While there are thousands of outlets happy to publish your work, most of them don't pay much, if anything, primarily because there is a large pool of history profs (many of whom can't write worth a damn) and amateur historians (many very good but driven by passion, not money) who never ask to be paid.

          I wrote plenty of history for minor sums while making my real money off of relatively boring (in my view) travel articles. Travel, cooking, fashion .... that's where the freelance writing money is. In the minds of editors, history remains a "niche" market -- by which they mean, "if that's your niche, you better find another way to make a living." Unless, of course, you can make yourself into one of the 4 or 5 popular history superstars that the publishing industry allows to thrive.  

          Gary Trauner, WY's progressive candidate. Kick out Barbara Cubin!

          by kainah on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 04:59:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I know what you're saying about niches (10+ / 0-)

            My undergrad degree was straight history, no teaching license, pre-law, or anything else to make it marketable.  I mowed a large number of lawns with that degree, until I was finally able to scrape together the resources to go back to school and get a teacher's cert.  I learned some valuable lessons during those hungry years, and they all confirm exactly what you've said.

            "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

            by Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 05:18:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Moonbat is most certainly a superstar (10+ / 0-)

            Anyone who has this kind of rec list batting average is a superstar by merit.

            Moonbat makes history fun.

            Turn off your T.V. and pay attention.

            by peeder on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 05:39:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I am humbled, sir. Thanks. - n/t (5+ / 0-)

              "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

              by Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 08:07:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  What peeder said. (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kainah, kilo50, Unitary Moonbat, epppie

                My wife was a history-hater.  Learned to loathe it in school--but kept up her solid A average.  Still despised it, found it boring, pointless and meaningless.

                And she was right.

                What she was taught was as exciting as ill-preserved, week old porridge.

                I've had 20 years to undo that damage.  She eagerly reads good historical fiction and is 100% my teaching real history to our kids.

                Truth is... there's a screaming, aching void out there for history that people can read, "get," understand, and not be rolled in dates that will be on the test.

                Rants from the Cave: History for people who thought history was dead and boring (but were so very wrong) is a project that is urgently needed.  There are lots of folks out there who know that the "history" that's pumped into their kids' heads leaks right back out and they're concerned.

                The only way to make it stick it to make it sticky--and fill it full of snarky fish hooks to catch their delight.

                I suspect that you'd find a bigger market than you'd guess.  There are, for example, a shitload of intelligent, educated, relatively liberal folks who are homeschooling... and are desperate for stuff that's not the result of terminally boring congress between Disney and a dead librarian... with which to inform their kids.

                I know; I see a lot of those folks around....

                "I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor." King George III

                by ogre on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 10:23:37 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  If I was Ted Turner, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Unitary Moonbat

                  I'd start a REAL history channel.  And, somewhat in contrast with what you are saying, I wouldn't jazz things up.  I would do the opposite.  I think people want something that's a little bit more quiet, a little more slow moving, a little less eager to grab and hold attention.

                  I'd hire UM and AB for sure!

                  a hope that may come close to despair

                  by epppie on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 08:21:46 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  history is the story of people (0+ / 0-)

                  that's been my way of getting through to people who hated the history they were taught in school. (And didn't most of us??) Talking about the people and how it affects people's lives -- making those people come to life & making people empathize with them -- that's the key, IMHO.

                  Gary Trauner, WY's progressive candidate. Kick out Barbara Cubin!

                  by kainah on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 04:59:51 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  I certainly wouldn't contest that (0+ / 0-)

              All I was trying to suggest is that the big publishers tend to annoint 2 or 3 people to write "history" and then they hire them for every history project, whether that's their area of strength or not. Perfect example -- Stephen Ambrose, who wrote a wonderful book on Lewis & Clark, his personal passion, and an absolutely dreadful error-laden book on the establishment of the transcontinental railroad. But he was a superstar and so whatever he wanted to write, apparently, got published without the most minor fact checking.

              Breaking into that tier doesn't necessarily depend on skill -- which unitary moonbat certainly has in spades -- as much as it does on many seemingly uncontrollable factors.

              Sorry for being pessimistic; it's just the reality I've experienced and tried to learn to live with as someone who's dedicated to writing honest history about which I'm passionate -- whether or not it makes me any money. I suspect moonbat is the same way and my cynical side suggests that that commitment to honesty may be enough to keep you out of the superstar leagues. Superstar status seems to go to those who like to go with the flow rather than sticking rigorously to the facts.  

              Gary Trauner, WY's progressive candidate. Kick out Barbara Cubin!

              by kainah on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 04:57:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  kainah (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Please accept my apologies for not seeing this comment until Tuesday night - the last time I looked in on my userpage must've been just before you posted.  I missed the opportunity to toss you some mojo, but really, a post like yours deserves more than a little orange "4" - it should (and does) have my gratitude for your candor and honesty.

                I only pursue nonfiction here and at Progressive Historians, and only as a super-addictive, time-eating hobby.  This format allows me to "do" history in a way that my job as a high school teacher simply won't, and I'm really gratified by the support people around these parts have shown me.

                It would be great to make a living writing histories, but I'm of the same mind as you: I could never go the Fukuyama route to fame and fortune; my commitment to history itself is too deep for me to manipulate it to serve my own ends.  I mean, I know all the words, moves, and Bible quotes I need to be a televangelist, too - but here again, my troublesome sense of morality won't permit it.

                I'm currently trying my hand at some fiction, but the demands of the day job are heavy this time of year.  Slowly but surely, I keep telling myself.  Slowly but surely.

                Thanks again for the kind words and well-received advice.

                "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

                by Unitary Moonbat on Tue Sep 12, 2006 at 10:20:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  got to you in time for a 4 (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Unitary Moonbat

                  My biggest complaint, living in a university town, is probably all the dreadful writers that have to publish or perish and do it at the expense of good writers who deserve to be paid for their labors. The kind of stuff you've been writing should be worth, easily, as much as a piece on Thai cooking or a feng shui'ed room or an travel piece to Glacier NP, but if you know the freelance market, that's just laughable. I was lucky because I could also write it for the love of it -- had disability income and a loving husband with a good job to take care of my bills.

                  And I have to say, it's always frustrated me that so many people do history so badly!!

                  Anyway, keep up the excellent series. I print them out to enjoy at my leisure so will never have an on-point comment to make contemporaneously but will always drop by to give you a recommend.

                  If I can ever help with suggestions about the publishing end of your writing, don't hesitate to ask. And do make sure to let me know when you're getting close to the anarchists. (I may get so involved in the story that the dates -- which we all know don't matter at all really -- will meld away.)

                  Gary Trauner, WY's progressive candidate. Kick out Barbara Cubin!

                  by kainah on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 07:53:06 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  I'm looking forward to these nuggets (10+ / 0-)

      So much more nourishing without the "time compression".

      Cheers and thanks Unitary Moonbat.

    •  dang, master moonbat (6+ / 0-)

      it's about time. thank you. ROFLMAO.

      Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

      by MarketTrustee on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 04:25:06 PM PDT

    •  been reading the economic story (6+ / 0-)

      in 1800s America and you are right, they were strange times indeed.

      Winning without Delay.

      by ljm on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 04:43:14 PM PDT

    •  Didn't teach me this in school! (8+ / 0-)

      Dred Scott this and Dred Scott that, and at no time did I have any idea what it really meant.  Same with John Brown - although the the History Detectives helped to enlighten me some.  You have to wonder what would have happened if the Abolitionists had raised that army.  

      We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.

      by Fabian on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 04:44:26 PM PDT

      •  If you can find (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Avila, Fabian, Unitary Moonbat, epppie

        a copy, Terry "Bears Discover Fire" Bisson has an alternate history novel on that subject, "Fire On The Mountain."  

      •  Brown's case (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kilo50, Fabian, Unitary Moonbat, epppie

        was the Schaivo case of those times.  The whole damned society had intense opinions, even... no, particularly... when they didn't know enough to know jack about it.

        History's kind to Brown because in the end, his motivation was seen to be right, and morally correct.  On the flip side, the man was a maniac who was willing to unleash a bloodbath.  I can't examine him and his actions without undergoing the most remarkable binary flip-flops in my opinions on him.

        The letters he wrote from prison made him almost a Mandela figure--celebrities in Europe wrote seeking to save his life (may have even been some head of state, it's been a while since I read up on this).  Amazing, remarkable fellow.

        Perhaps the key to unlocking understanding of him is this: True Believer.  WHat Brown believed, he knew to be true, and true in that capital T sense.  In that, he's not really different from Osama....

        Having said that, one has to stop and look at the list of those who were entranced by him--folks not easily swayed and charmed; people like Emerson, and a horde of the incredibly powerful Unitarian preachers  of the time--people who understood how words could influence people.  And yet, the evidence suggests that a group that consisted of such folk were the secret cabal that funded Brown.

        One has to step back and remember that the issue of slavery had the entire society in a state of functional insanity.  Few people acted and reacted in ways that seem comprehensible... at a distance that lets us consider things with Vulcan detachment and a century and a half's knowledge of how things actually would play out....

        "I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor." King George III

        by ogre on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 10:35:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And don't forget... (12+ / 0-)

      ...the Civil War was Bill Clinton's fault.

      "...the big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart." -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

      by Roddy McCorley on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 05:09:19 PM PDT

    •  Great stuff as ever! (6+ / 0-)

      Love reading about Brown the way you're putting it. Nice clear narrative---I may "borrow" a bit next time I try to map this out for freshmen (w/ your permission of course). He's a confusing figure for them.

      "He that knew all that learning ever writ/Knew only this - that he knew nothing yet"

      by aphra behn on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 05:15:47 PM PDT

      •  Please do! (8+ / 0-)

        I'm still trying to get my head around him, too, and I'm glad you dug the way he came off - he's such a confusing (and polarizing) character that even an attempt to sound "fair and balanced" can wind up looking like a seesaw of hyperbolic statements.

        "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

        by Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 05:25:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Lincoln is confusing too. (6+ / 0-)

          I was thinking about John Adams earlier, because of  aphra behn's piece on Abigail.  In some ways, I think of them as the two most foundational figures in US political history, but each with such a pronounced achilles heel in connection with that (Sedition Acts, Habeas Corpus).

          a hope that may come close to despair

          by epppie on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 05:42:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  heroes, not gods (9+ / 0-)

            One of my favorite lines in 1776 is when Franklin asks Adams to remember that history should view them as men, not demigods. We do ourselves a disservice by expecting our heroes to be anything but human beings with flaws and contradictions.

            The mania for tearing down historical figures by elevating their flaws over their virtues is highly problematic. Of course some figures (Brown, for example) are so evenly balanced between good and bad that it's hard to know what to do with them.

            But some figures so CLEARLY have the good outweighing the bad---Lincoln is one of these, imnsho, as are FDR, Jefferson, and both of the Adamses!

            "He that knew all that learning ever writ/Knew only this - that he knew nothing yet"

            by aphra behn on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 05:48:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, I tend to idolize figures from history. (4+ / 0-)

              But I think I understand their failures better as I experience my own in life.

              a hope that may come close to despair

              by epppie on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 05:54:04 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  yes--they're more inspiring "warts and all" (6+ / 0-)

                I think of it this way. If the flawed human beings of the past could achieve so much, then what is our excuse today? They were no more or less capable than we are. It is inspiring, in a way.

                "He that knew all that learning ever writ/Knew only this - that he knew nothing yet"

                by aphra behn on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 05:56:29 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Television! (4+ / 0-)

                  I mean that seriously!  I was thinking about this just the other day:  whenever I'm near a television, it's almost impossible to ignore.  Everything else seems sort of dull, by comparison, and certainly not as insistent.

                  And it's my experience that when those flashing images insert themselves in your head, critical thinking, independent thinking, creative thinking - that all  
                  just melts away, is eaten away or flees.

                  Television may be no excuse, but it's a lot of the reason, I think.

                  a hope that may come close to despair

                  by epppie on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:04:31 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  I fully agree (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Avila, kilo50, Valtin, aphra behn, epppie

              Looking at historical figures through the lens of contemporary morality does a huge disservice to the practice of the art itself.  We've seen the pendulum swing hard on Columbus just in our lifetimes, and since we're the ones passing on the story to the next generation, the most likely picture our students carry away about him will be colored by the more-judgemental-than-the-past research being done by contemporary social historians.

              It's not that I want to start a flame war on Columbus in my own diary (please don't! :p), but I do think you raise an extremely important point about always remembering the context of past events.

              "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

              by Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:01:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  on the other hand... (5+ / 0-)

                Not to sound all Tevye ("Fiddler on the Roof"), but on the other hand...

                I do think there's a case to be made for looking at the effects of historical ations and trying to understand how people can come to choose something which is evil, or negatively affects people later well as how other people (flawed people!) managed to make a more benficial choice.

                For example, most Germans voting for Hitler thought he would do good things for their country. They weren't crazed psychopaths, so how DO you come to vote for a guy with mass murder on his mind?

                I find this kind of exercise important to my teaching. I really want students to think about their own place in shaping history. How can they try to maximize the good they do int he world while minimizing the evil? As the Iroquois say, to consider the effects of all actions not just on our own time, but for 7 generations to come.

                "He that knew all that learning ever writ/Knew only this - that he knew nothing yet"

                by aphra behn on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:27:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think much of the rest of the world (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  aphra behn, Unitary Moonbat

                  wonders how a nation of presumably reasonable people can elect Bushco again and again.

                  So such questions are surely relevant.

                  My Mom grew up in Germany during the Nazi years.  She told me that her neighbors had a picture of HItler under their Christmas tree.  How does that happen?

                  a hope that may come close to despair

                  by epppie on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 08:29:11 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I don't think morally judgemental views (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Unitary Moonbat

                of history are wrong - as long as we maintain an awareness that our own actions and opinions will be viewed the same way.

                That is, I don't think it's wrong to believe that there  is an absolute.  I think what's wrong is to think that we possess it.

                a hope that may come close to despair

                by epppie on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 08:26:48 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Thoreau, Darrow, King, RFK, TR. Susan Anthony, (5+ / 0-)

              Franklin, Twain, Murrow; ok to have heroes, absurd to expect perfection.

              "There ought to be a law against any man who doesn't want to marry Myrna Loy". - Brigadier-Gen. JM Stewart, noted Republican, also in a few films

              by Monique Radevu on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 09:49:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  John Brown novel: Cloudsplitter (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Unitary Moonbat

          Cloudsplitter, by Russell Banks, is an amazing piece of historical fiction told from the point of view of one of Brown's sons.

          Worth a read.

          Thanks for the diary.

    •  Realizing it was not the point, and (9+ / 0-)

      that you can't cover everything in pieces like this, but I think you let John Brown off pretty damn easy by focusing only on his "abolitionist" activities. The man was a cold-blooded murderer in Kansas, as bad as any anti-abortion nutcase today who justifies his slaughter because, well gee, it's in a good cause.

      And Fremont...oh my. I got stuck doing a paper on him one time. Lots o' hilarity with his career, although of course it got better after the Civil War came along. And a prime case of a guy who wound up in politics as a front man for his wife who was the real mover and shaker, being the daughter of Sen. Thomas Hart Benton and regarding it as the family business.  

      Other than that Mrs., I mean, other than that it is a spectacular job. You are on my must-read list henceforth and hereafter. :)

      Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?

      by Xan on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 05:31:18 PM PDT

      •  They were not all cold blooded (8+ / 0-)

        my ancestor was an example of the type who "ran" with Brown. He cared more about the corn crop than politics, but he cared enough about abolition that without a wife he left Ohio to settle in Kansas. He participated in some allegedly gritty stuff and suffered for it, true or not. He late joined the Union army when 64. He wasn't crazy in the conventional sense, though I would admit that he certainly seemed to have higher priorities than most of his fellows and certainly us today.

      •  Thanks! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Avila, walkshills, aphra behn, epppie

        The diary was already pretty long by the time I got to Brown, so I kinda fast-forwarded on his return trips to Kansas during his army-raising days.  Fwiw, I talked about him and some of his early Kansas activities in last week's installment.

        Gotta agree with you on Fremont - he blew it Bush-style when he was wartime governor of Missouri.  Gonna have hit that one in the upcoming Civil War episode.

        "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

        by Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:06:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Never apologize for length (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Unitary Moonbat, epppie

          By standards of any age other than our ADHD, channel-flippin', I'm bored, daddy, age, your works are mere hors d'ouvres.  Damned fine tasty ones, but how someone can comment on the arch-flattening, bladder-busting debates of Lincoln-Douglas and then worry that he's gone on too long... it is to laugh.

          "I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor." King George III

          by ogre on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 10:41:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  So Fremont was ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ogre, Unitary Moonbat
        the Michael Huffington of his time?

        What happens on DailyKos, stays on Google.

        by Jon Meltzer on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:55:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  disagree (4+ / 0-)

        Except slavery was an abomination to any civilized man.  Its moral depravity is crystal clear.   Any law (or any nation) which renders it permissible does not need to be obeyed or yield to.   And any man who would hold another human being in bondage, whether under color of law or not, is an enemy of humanity.   And if they will not yield up their human chattal by request, then they will do so by force of arms, if necessary.

        John Brown is one of the greatest anti-racists in the history of this country and one of the few white men ever whiling to give his life for the black man.

        It was true then and it is true today what Frederick Douglas said of John Brown: "Did John Brown fail? John Brown began the war that ended American slavery and made this a free Republic. His zeal in the cause of my race was far greater than mine. I could live for the slave, but he could die for him."

        And let us not forget the Founding Fathers of this country were traitors.  They were leaders of an armed insurrection and murdered representatives and soldiers of the sovereign in order to secede from Britain.  From that perspective, they weren't patriots.   They were murderers and traitors.  But we don't celebrate them as such and deservedly so.  For all their faults, they brought representative democracy back to the world for the first time, in any significant sense, since the Ceaser crossed the Rubicon and the Republic of Rome became an empire.

        "Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will." - Frederick Douglass

        by goblue72 on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 09:19:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Which reminds me of the Middle East (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kilo50, epppie

          As much as I despise the neocon agenda and as much as I despise the GOP's war in Iraq, there is one issue in the Middle East which I find myself continually in knots over: women's rights.  In many countries in the Middle East (and elsewhere), women are nearly chattel, almost slaves to the men in their society, particularly their husbands.   When I saw the women in Afghanistan under the Taliban, dressed in their head to toe veils of subjugation and oppression, what I saw was not a cultural practice, what I saw was the enslavement of half the population of that country.

          I really can't even call it a women's rights issue.  Its a human rights issue.  There are countries on this planet where women are virtual slaves.  And if our govt. announced it was invading said country in order for the declared pupose of liberating the women of that country, I honestly don't know what side I'd come down on.  

          Because slavery is one of those few issues for which it IS very much a wrong side and a right one.

          "Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will." - Frederick Douglass

          by goblue72 on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 09:32:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  slight dissent? (7+ / 0-)

      There is another school of thought that views Lincoln's vacillations on the slavery issue (compared to those of the more militant abolitionists) as the only practical way slavery could have been brought to an end in mid 19th Century America.  It says that for Lincoln stopping slavery's spread would have inevitably led to its demise down the road, and that Lincoln and the South understood this - which is why they weren't fooled by his moderate-sounding rhetoric and seceded as soon as they could after his election.  It says that Illinois was at the time the most racist northern state, and that to have taken Douglas' bait and actively said that he believed in the equality of the black race would have doomed him to defeat.  (Actually, Senators were not directly elected, and the Republicans outpolled the Democrats in the popular vote, but the Dems narrowly won control of the legislature, which was all that mattered.)  

      It is a mistake to look at these remarks from a 21st century mindset. And note that he doesn't actually say he doesn't think black folk were the equals of whites - all he says is that he had never stated publicly that he did think they were equals.  Reading the remarks you quote literally, they do admit the possibility that Lincoln did actually believe that blacks might in fact be equals in every way.  In 1858 Illinois, that counted as a fairly advanced position.

      In short thiw view holds that Lincoln was a masterful Machievellian in in service of the cause of the abolition of slavery.

      This argument is made most forcefully in the recent book "Father Abraham" by Richard Striner.

      I'm not a historian, and I have no definite opinion on this, but I did find this book fascinating.

      •  There is no question that Lincoln's antislavery (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Unitary Moonbat

        views were deep and strong (as I understand it, anyway).  But he did also have a strong sense of what was politically possible.  One of the most amazing things about him was his ability to balance extreme idealism and extreme pragmatism - I daresay few in history have been able to do this.
        More than that, Lincoln was very sensitive to the founding documents of the country, the Declaration and the Constitution.  While the states' rights issue was a blatant misdirection, it could not be competely dismissed without doing as much damage to the Constitution as slavery itself was doing.

        Lincoln definitely saw blacks as inferior, as I understand it.  The important thing about that, though, was that he was open to being persuaded differently.  Frederick Douglas did a lot of the persuading in that regard and he praised Lincoln for his ability and willingness to learn when Lincoln died.
        Lincoln may not have had all the right views, but he was willing to learn.  I'd like to think that his violations of habeas corpus can be seen in that light.  What american president had dealt with a major rebellion before?  He made mistakes and he learned from them.

        When we look back on abolition, we tend not to be aware of its darker side.  There WAS a darker side.  Many who supported abolition were NOT enlightened in their views on labor, which led to a lot of the friction that resulted in the NY draft riot.

        a hope that may come close to despair

        by epppie on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 08:43:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I had missed the section on Bleeding Kansas (9+ / 0-)

      when it was current. I have to say that all the installments have been excellent. The section on Kansas and this one are particularly interesting to me as my family had a connection with Brown that was not always readily admitted.

      My great-great-great grandfather, Jacob Bailus, was with Brown at Osawattomie and was correspondingly burnt out of house and home there for his involvement. It isn't certain that he was one of those wielding a sword or just in a support role, but it was reputed that he handy with one as legend says he had served as a cavalryman in France. At any rate he left that section of Kansas real quick after the massacre and later settled in the Uniontown-Fort Scott area. He didn't become active again in the conflict until General Price moved north to the Missouri River in Sept. 1861. Apparently he threw off his self-enforced step back into the shadows when Price approched Ft. Scott as close as Drywood Creek. He and his eldest son joined the Union Army in the 6th Kanasa Volunteer Cavalry. Jacob was 64 nad his eldest son was 13. Jacob was paroled by the army in July 1863 and his son was buried somewhere near Ft. Smith AR.

      A lot of people had hearts that burned with white hot furnaces during that time, both sides, but I have always thought that my ancestor was one whose passion was equaled by few. Sorry to be long just a human note on that time.

      •  Glad you caught it! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Avila, epppie

        Some of the comment threads in that one were great - lots of personal stories like the fantastic one you posted here, plus the supporters of the modern Jayhawks came out in force and provided some cool images of Jayhawks through History.

        "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

        by Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 07:31:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  They were right to feel that way about slavery (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kilo50, Unitary Moonbat

        People were entirely correct in feeling strongly about slavery. What Brown did in Kansas was entirely justified, going to people who thought they had a right to enslave others and giving them a taste of their own medicine.

        His plan at Harpers Ferry was not crazy, either. See my post further down this thread. John Brown is the greatest hero in American history.

        •  I don't entirely agree (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Unitary Moonbat, epppie

          that slave owners, apologists or anyone profiting from slavery should deserve an automatic violent death, but then I have never been a slave either.

          It might be important to remeber that as far as Kansas pre-1861, there were a lot of economic issues and rivalries, sometimes plain and simple blood feuds over cattle or beaten down grain or even a broken fence that were convieniently covered with a mantle of partisanship. You simply had to be there to understand it down in your bones.

        •  Completely agree (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kilo50, Unitary Moonbat, epppie

          Some things are just evil.  There is no nuance, no context, no relatavism.  There is evil and there is good.  And slavery was evil.  And owning a slave was to commit a mortal sin.   Does this make all slaveowners in our history into evil men?  No.  But in owning a slave, they commited an evil act.

          And if someone was willing to take a stand to stop this evil, then so be it.  And folly on those who stood in their way.  

          I think Lincoln was right.  God wrought his righteous vengeance upon the face of this country in blood and in tears.    And we deserved it.

          "Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will." - Frederick Douglass

          by goblue72 on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 09:42:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  In sentiment (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Unitary Moonbat, epppie

            I can not argue against your comment. I am sobered to know that your argument and its stand on moral correctnrss is the very same noted by those anti-abortionists who blow up clinics and snipe at doctors.

            My comments are only slightly different in that I think they are horribly wrong and don't understand the context of Kansas in 1856-1858. My ancestors notes the many nights he stayed awake with loaded rifles listening for riders. How they kept a weapon at hand at all times in the fields, often with a young one armed as well on watch. The small kids hid in caves along the river bank when Pop was away in town. It was a frightful way to live. The anti-abortionists can't argue they live in the same circumstances, but they use the example of the abolitionists to plead their case.

            •  doesnt make them right (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kilo50, Unitary Moonbat, epppie

              Just because they make a claim to being modern day abolitionists does NOT make them right, and therefore, they are not equivalent.

              There is a difference and it is an easy one to make.   There are honest, legitimate differences of opinion on abortion.  There really is no clear "right" side.  It is the definition of uncertainty.

              Slavery is, and just as importantly, WAS different.  Even many of the Founding Fathers acknowledged as much, even if they were unable themselve to give up their slaves.  Even Jefferson knew slavery was wrong - he called it "a political and moral evil." (See Jeffrerson, Notes on Virginia)  

              "Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will." - Frederick Douglass

              by goblue72 on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 10:06:13 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Understand where you're coming from... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kilo50, epppie

          But I don't accept that murder's a solution to anything.

          "I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor." King George III

          by ogre on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 10:43:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The war freed the slaves (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Unitary Moonbat, epppie

            The Civil War -- which resulted in mass death -- freed the slaves. So it was a solution to slavery. What happened in Bleeding Kansas -- and what happened with John Brown's raid -- was only a prelude.

            It was awful, but the worst of the violence was committed by the slaveholders. If they'd not launched a bloody rebellion, it wouldn't have been necessary to have a war to put it down!

            •  I warily accept that some wars... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Unitary Moonbat

              --very, very, very few--are inescapable and necessary.

              But we make a distinction between war and murder.

              The Civil War was, I think, unavoidable.  The Founders knew that slavery was an abomination and that they could not eliminate it and keep the slave states in the Union.  So they punted--and even in doing so, some of them worried that they'd created a nightmare for their descendants.

              They were right; they did.

              Not that there weren't solutions that could have been implemented.  But the Southern aristocrats were utterly unwilling to give up slavery, not because of the economics (though that played a part, but it could have been worked out, negotiated), but because they would no longer own those who served them, I think.  They would have had to begin to see the slaves as people, and treat them as people with rights.

              Brown's raid was a fantasy.  It lacked a connection with enough people to implement it.  When only 21 men showed up, he should have reconsidered.  Instead, he continued on, imagining that somehow, somewhere, some way... there'd be a horde of people if only he seized the armory.

              And that was delusional.

              As I wrote elsewhere, I can't think about him without experiencing the strangest polar flip-flops in how I view him.

              "I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor." King George III

              by ogre on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 12:47:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Great job, Moonbat, as always (8+ / 0-)

      Your treatment of John Brown was very interesting, as he is to this day a very polarizing figure. I think the latter point is important to make, and the result comes out in your portrait, which strives to be very objective. As something of an historian myself, I would question whether in the end it is a successful strategy. I would admit the historian is in a pickle when it comes to portraying contraversies around race, racism and even slavery (as it reflects upon current race relations). I think you did a great job.

      By the way, Brown sincerely hoped for a slave rebellion. The idea was not so fanciful as one might think. The example of Nat Turner and some others -- bloody but small uprisings of slaves -- had led to a real paranoia about slave uprisings in the South (kind of similar to the paranoia about terrorists, which I hope to God is passing). While today we can surmise the chances of slave rebellion on a mass scale to be small, many contemporaries believed it was only a matter of time. The slave was so much social tinder waiting to be lit, especially so after the Dred Scott decision. Brown got a lot of money from some very big and famous contributors in the North, and they knew all about the main details of Brown's plot.

      "Hypocrite lecteur, -- mon semblable, -- mon frère!" -- Baudelaire

      by Valtin on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 05:52:19 PM PDT

      •  A follow-up to myself (6+ / 0-)

        Come to think of it, the slaveowning South, fearful of slave rebellion were not so wrong, after all. When Lincoln later did bring freed black slaves into the Union Army, and raised black regiments to fight, it made a huge impression on the South, helping break their morale.

        Many, many slaves abandoned the plantations and fled to the Union lines. It was a massive slave rebellion, half-spontaneous, half-coordinated by the Union Army.

        If my analysis hold here, it makes an even stronger case for lowering the lunacy gauge on Mr. John Brown.

        I'm sorry too that you left out John Brown's most famous quote/prophecy:

        I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land: will never be purged away; but with Blood. I had as I now think: vainly flattered myself that withought very much bloodshed; it might be done.

        (John Brown's last letter, written on day he hanged. From "John Brown: a Biography," by Oswald Garrison Villard.)

        "Hypocrite lecteur, -- mon semblable, -- mon frère!" -- Baudelaire

        by Valtin on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:19:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Grant, Sherman and Lincoln (5+ / 0-)

          all acknowledged, directly or indirectly, that the emancipation of the slaves and their induction into the Union Army was a "force multiplier" on the battlefield and strategically. Remember if a black Union soldier was later captured it was very likely he would not end up in Andersonville. The wet forest was going to be his last rest.

          Sherman when marching through Georgia credited the destruction his trail of contraband left behind as equal to his army and the bummers. My ancestor in the 6th KS Cav wrote about the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, sorry thats what their title was, and their impact in a little known battle at Honey Springs OK in July 1863. There they literally won the battle for the Union though out numbered. This was a few days before the fight at Fort Fisher told so eloquently in the movie "Glory." The 1st KS Clr'd Inf charged a gap in the line and routed the Texan Confederates. The loss to the Confederates kept Indian Territory under Union occupation, at least the settled majority of it, for the rest of the war. Few today know what those former slaves accomplished with their courage.

          Lastly Lincoln alluded in his 2nd Inaugral just how heavy a price this country paid for slavery when he said that perhaps every drop of blood shed by the lash would have to be repaid on the battlefield. I feel that is a debt we are still paying today. Lincoln knew that France and England would be held back from active involvement as long as the North held the high moral ground of fighting a war for moral reasons. It paid off. Perhaps he was a calculating politician, but at least he did what was right when it was practical to do so.

          •  Darwin and the black regiments (7+ / 0-)

            An interesting sidenote. After the war, Darwin read Army Life in a Black Regiment by James Higginson (their white commander) to his family. In later years, admiring the abolitioinist, Union officer and promoter of black equality, Higginson, Darwin invited him to Down to see him when Darwin was an old man.

            The black regiments and their legacy was also responsible, in part, for the length of time it took to disenfrancise blacks in the South. The memory of their heroism tempered the racist agenda, so that Jim Crow segregation in the South was not fully consolidated until the late 1890s, a full 30 years after the Civil War, and twenty or so after the withdrawal of federal troops from the South. C. Vann Woodward famously discussed this, among other things, in his classic work, The Strange Career of Jim Crow. This book is essential reading for understanding the evolution of race relations from the mid-nineteeth through the mid-twentieth century, setting the stage for today's sorry picture.

            "Hypocrite lecteur, -- mon semblable, -- mon frère!" -- Baudelaire

            by Valtin on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 07:09:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Any politician unable to be calculating... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Unitary Moonbat, epppie

            won't get into office or won't retain it long at all.

            It's one of the reasons that I rate Clinton as one of the finest politicians in US history.  He has simple remarkable skills and intuitions.  Like him or not, he's a rock star in his field.

            "I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor." King George III

            by ogre on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 10:48:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The problem with Clinton (0+ / 0-)

              is that he gave up crucial territory.

              Admittedly, that might not have been such a problem if Gore hadn't lost the election in 2000 (been robbed of it, I would say).


              a hope that may come close to despair

              by epppie on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 08:52:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Slavery was a big issue in the Revolution, (0+ / 0-)

            to the point where you could almost say that the Revolution turned into a war to preserve slavery.   At the crucial point in the war, as I understand it, the British tried to position themselves as saviors to the slaves, probably a political mistep for them.  They hoped to achieve the kind of force magnification and demoralization in the South that the Emancipation
            Proclamation later achieved.  The revolutionaries then positioned themselves as protecting the rights of the slaveowners - had they not done so, the South might not have stayed with the Revolution and the war would have been lost.  

            Jefferson is such an interesting case.  Without his lifestyle, he would surely never have become the brilliant writer for freedom that he became, but that lifestyle depended on slavery!

            a hope that may come close to despair

            by epppie on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 08:58:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Once again, UM, great work (5+ / 0-)

      and tell the Guardian I say Hi.  Say, is the Guardian of Forever a registered voter?  Or is prejudice against intelligent beings with a historical perspective still to rampant?

      I can only hope that those 10th graders have at least a small percnetage of the appreciation for your work that we do here on DKos.  As you have mentioned before there are limitations to what you can do in the classroom, but even then I have a hard time believing that you are not a great teacher.

      Live Free or Die-words to live by

      by ForFreedom on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 05:56:02 PM PDT

      •  If the Gaurdian of Forever in the back of (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Avila, aphra behn, epppie

        the Cave were any help with elections, I'd have fixed 2000 and/or 2004 by now.  Alas, unlike Kirk's, mine seems to only be a window, with no potential to actually alter events of the past - only perceptions of them.

        And thanks for the kind words about the kids - I know some of them wander into the Orange Forest occasionally, but I may try to get a little more cross-curricular usage out of those Crusades diaries in a couple of months...

        "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

        by Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:13:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Check out this great new Blog... (11+ / 0-)

      called Progressive Historians

      UM and other great historical writers/bloggers contribute to it.

      Great diary UM, and thanks

      "A child miseducated is a child lost" John F. Kennedy

      by Pam from Calif on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:02:23 PM PDT

    •  Fremont (7+ / 0-)

      Fremont was the biggest celebrity the Republicans could get on the ticket - not for his brief time in the Senate but for his derring-do reputation and premature seizure of California during the Mexican War. (The Feds made him give it back, since the war hadn't actually started IIRC.) He rather wanted to be an American Clive, I think.

      Economic -5.00 Social -5.49

      by Swordsmith on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:02:29 PM PDT

      •  He's a colorful character (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Avila, Swordsmith, kilo50, aphra behn, Leila

        I kept running into the term "erratic" when I was doing the research on him.  I don't think either guy took to the stump - do you happen to know any specific instances why Fremont might've gotten pinned with such a label?  Did he have foot-in-mouth disease, or something?

        "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

        by Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:20:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Erratic perhaps (5+ / 0-)

          due to his very Eastern, very European style of campaigning in Missouri in fall 1861. He kept a very colorfully costummed coderie of mounted Hussars around him, all led by ex-pats of 1848 revolutions. He favored the Europeans-German regiments and their commanders, especially Sigel and Osterhaus etc. He had numbers on his side, well drilled troops in comparison to the rabble of Price yet failed to press any advantage. Halleck and the Iowans such as Curtis distrusted him and in that day they all camapaigned in the papers as well as on the field. Fremont didn't do himself any favors by refusing most visitors to his HQ. He was very secretive and as mentioned earlier he was aligned with the Benton-Blair camp, which had rivals.

        •  UM: regarding Fremont (6+ / 0-)

          I'm not sure if you were limiting your research to the pre-war Pathfinder stuff, but he was certainly erratic during the war. In fact, he had to be relieved of command (he was later reinstated to a far-away department).

          He started by proclaiming his own emancipation order early on in the war, and Lincoln had to scramble to rescind it before Maryland and other border states joined the Confederacy. When Lincoln asked Fremont to rescind the order, Fremont replied that he would only do it if he were ordered to do it. And Lincoln, being Lincoln, cheerfully complied, and Fremont fumed, grumbled, and made an insubordinate ass of himself, whereupon Lincoln relieved him of duty.

          I should note here that the most liberal Republicans were furious with Lincoln because of this move. The outcry from the abolitionists sounded a lot like the fury you find here on dKos sometimes when one of our guys/gals makes a political move when we'd rather see him/her make an ideological one

          Fremont was also (in)famous for his lavish camp lifestyle, which reportedly included lots of oysters and champagne as well as headquarters guards who were required to be at least six feet tall. (See Shelby Foote, J.M. McPherson).

          "...hope is not the equivalent of optimism. Its opposite is not pessimism but despair. So I'm always hopeful." William Sloane Coffin

          by mxwing on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:44:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is strange (5+ / 0-)

            how the persona of a commander can be labled and stuck. Fremont as you noted had a lavish style in the field, yet was very attentive of his men. Later when replaced by Curtis the Confederate opponent, Van Dorn, entertained with kidneys stewed in sherry and served on silver, yet drove his men 3 days through sleet and rain through the  Bostons of NW Arkanasas with little sleep and no rations to speak of. Van Dorn was widely regarded as dashing and daring, a commander in the Napoleonic style, and in fact was an utter failure in opertaions. Fremont just didn't have the right press.

            •  Right. But. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              walkshills, kilo50, Unitary Moonbat

              Fremont was insubordinate, press or no press.

              "Stonewall" Jackson was known for treating his troops poorly, and W.T. Sherman was known for treating his well and sleeping in the dirt with them on the march.

              McClellan was also known for treating his troops well, and they adored him for it. His naysayers, on the other hand, started calling him "McNapoleon", which still sort of resonates today.


              "...hope is not the equivalent of optimism. Its opposite is not pessimism but despair. So I'm always hopeful." William Sloane Coffin

              by mxwing on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 07:37:02 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Absolutely correct (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mxwing, walkshills, Unitary Moonbat

                As a Northern sympathizer I completely appreciate your reference to TJ Jackson, he of saintly memory, and the the fact that he drove his troops hard. Too hard at times. True it paid of at 2nd Manassas, but not so much at McDowell WV in the winter of '61, eh?

                Lincoln was entirely correct in relieving Fremont. He was insubordinate to the commander in chief and the district commander as well. It is one of the lesser what if's of the American Civil War as to whether Fremont would have ever achieved a victory in SW Missouri in fall of 1861. Lord knows we can't tell from the actions of Halleck immediately after. He dispersed the converging Union columns to other theaters. It is true they did make a difference at their new locations. I suspect the contemporaries were right when they doubted Fremont's military competency as events in the Shenandoah in spring 1862 later played out ( at the hands of St. Jackson no less. )

                •  You rock. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  walkshills, kilo50, Unitary Moonbat

                  And you're at least as much of a CW geek as I am!

                  St. Jackson captured my great*4 grandfather at Harpers Ferry a couple of days before the battle at Antietam. It's entirely possible that I owe my life to ol' Stonewall! Well, to Stonewall and the fact that they were still exchanging prisoners at that point in the war...

                  "...hope is not the equivalent of optimism. Its opposite is not pessimism but despair. So I'm always hopeful." William Sloane Coffin

                  by mxwing on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 08:14:11 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Thats very kind (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    mxwing, walkshills, Unitary Moonbat

                    But I am afraid you do have me pegged completely as a CW geek. While it is true, it is also personal. My ancestors died to make men free. That is something I am very proud of. Not just because they did so while swept up in patriotic fervor. Not just because they did so at great personal cost, in money and blood, but mainly because they did so out of a sense of right makes might and right early on as well. I still have my g-g-g-granfathers Springfield he carried. It will be passed to my son when he is old enough along with the stories, as historically accurate as I can make them, of the man who carried it and most importantly why.

                    •  So beautiful. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      kilo50, Unitary Moonbat

                      And I completely understand your passion for this part of our history. I feel exactly the same way. In fact, I find the whole story of our nation to be touching, compelling, and deeply meaningful.

                      If more people knew the story behind this risky revolutionary enterprise -- this dazzling experiment -- they wouldn't treat it with such casual indifference. I must admit that it sort of galls me that people in the US (as of this writing, anyway) have the luxury of taking the fruits of our national struggles for granted. I suppose that's the best possible circumstance, but still. These days, it feels like it could all go to hell in a handbasket on a moment's notice, and there aren't very many people who could stand up and say: WAIT! That's not how this country is supposed to be!

                      Because not many people know the history any more.

                      As an American, I thank you for your plans to pass along our history to your son. I'm sure he'll cherish it as you do.

                      My six-year-old seems a bit indifferent at this point.

                      And I married a Canadian.

                      I'm currently planning strategies to keep from bursting into tears the first time my daughter has to memorize the Gettyburg Address. My dad rammed his religion down our throats; I'm going to try really hard not to do the same thing with my daughter and my passion for our Civil War.

                      One last thought: I think history is sexy. It's sexy like a good Cabernet -- rich, deep, lingering -- or like a hint of woodsmoke in the air on a fall evening. It's resonant. It hums and vibrates, and it changes you every time you come in contact with it.

                      History is hot. I would love to see more of it in the popular culture and less of, say, the exploits of a certain hotel heiress...

                      "...hope is not the equivalent of optimism. Its opposite is not pessimism but despair. So I'm always hopeful." William Sloane Coffin

                      by mxwing on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 10:44:21 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  So much to reply to (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        mxwing, Unitary Moonbat

                        but I will keep it brief,as its late here on the West Coast too and say that thanks to people Like UM history can indeed be sexy. My wife was a good student and got her A's in history ( science major ) but had no appreciation for it at all until she stood on ground that I could detail just what had happened there, the smoke and fear and pain and thirst and cold that those men felt, and why that mattered. It helped to read her the diary entries and it became alive as if a dream. That is what it takes. Either a personal tour by a devoted lover of history or a devoted lover of history who is an excellent wordsmith too, like UM and some others here tonight. History is only boring if you don't know how to retell it.

                        •  kilo50 (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          mxwing, aphra behn

                          Just wanted to say "thanks" for your adding so many great stories and comments to tonight's diary - you've really kept the conversation moving, and I (who have always been more of a generalist than any type of expert; I probably don't even qualify as a "Civil War buff" in George Castanza sense) really appreciate it.  Thanks again! :-)

                          "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

                          by Unitary Moonbat on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 11:28:04 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  More than welcome (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            mxwing, aphra behn, Unitary Moonbat

                            I fear to bore those who are not so inclined, but how can Jacob Bailus' story of life on the frontier and fighting in the 6th KS not inspire? Later he shows up at Fort Hays shooting buffalo for a certain Lt Col who has a rendevous with a whole lot of angry natives in 1876, but that is a story I have not completely confirmed just yet. I know he was there as was the 7th Cav, but I can't prove he got paid.

                  •  I would note if your ancestor was an infantryman (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    mxwing, Unitary Moonbat

                    he would have served in a New York regiment, yes? Perhaps the 126th or maybe even the 32nd Ohio?

                    •  He was actually in the cavalry. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      aphra behn, Unitary Moonbat

                      He was a member of the 1st Federal Maryland Cavalry. Maryland, as I know you know, was one of a handful of states with soldiers on both sides.

                      Tradition has it that the 1st Federal MD and the 1st Confederate MD fought each other at Gettysburg. When my sis and I were there a few years ago, we saw the monument placed by the state of MD commemorating their soldiers on both sides who fought in that battle.

                      "...hope is not the equivalent of optimism. Its opposite is not pessimism but despair. So I'm always hopeful." William Sloane Coffin

                      by mxwing on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 10:22:03 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Thats some special bona-fides there mxwing (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        mxwing, aphra behn

                        Not too many can claim that kinda ancestry, if you are as seems to be a hard core CW geek. I am not an expert on the Eastern Theater. My specialty is the Trans-Mississippi, for ancestral reasons. That said, 1st MD Cav was in Greggs Div on July 2nd and so certainly would have been on the field. I can check to see if the two MD's faced each other on the cavalry fight field on the 3rd. Like I said I am not an expert on OOB in the East.

                      •  mxwing (0+ / 0-)

                        Just now realized that I hadn't sent you a thank-you note when I posted the one to kilo50 - sorry!  And thanks!  The back-and-forth in these threads was really excellent, and I much appreciate it.

                        "He shall bow to no authority and acknowledge no king." - Lucian

                        by Unitary Moonbat on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 03:59:06 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  UM -- thanks! (0+ / 0-)

                          That's so nice!

                          However, I really should be thanking you. Your history diaries are so deliciously excellent -- fun to read, informative, thought-provoking. Just the best. Thank you, thank you.


                          "...hope is not the equivalent of optimism. Its opposite is not pessimism but despair. So I'm always hopeful." William Sloane Coffin

                          by mxwing on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 02:31:55 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

        •  By "erratic," I suspect they mean "illegitimate" (5+ / 0-)

          That was a big part of the Democrats' negative campaign against Fremont.

          Then-Colonel Fremont became famous as an explorer in the Rockies, leading three expeditions from 1842-45 and then writing a popular book about them. (His permanent rank seems to have been captain; he was also son-in-law of Thomas Hart Benton and had both fame and popularity, and the political clout that goes with them.)

          He leads a group into California in 1846 (still part of Spain) and stays for three months before local authorities persuade him to leave. He shows up again 3 months later and takes command of secessionist American forces in California. He then joins forces with the American Naval commander in the area, who declares himself governor. (The Feds send someone else as military governor, confusing the issue, plus there's a Mexican rebellion which nearly pushes the feuding Americans out of the region. Fremont does some fighting against this rebellion, and is later appointed civil governor by one of the two fighting American commanders. The other commander sets up his own government in Monterey while Fremont governs from LA. Fremont goes to Washington to plead his case in 1847, where he's promptly court-martialed, convicted of mutiny, and dismissed from the army. President Polk restores his commission, but Fremont resigns anyway.

          As a civilian and famous explorer, he led another expedition to California that went better for him than his followers - 11 of them died on the way, but Fremont found gold on his new lands, got rich, and was elected to the Senate, before running for president a year later.

          He would go on to have equally rocky and adventurous experiences both in the Civil War and after - rising repeatedly to great heights only to have things go disastrously wrong.

          Economic -5.00 Social -5.49

          by Swordsmith on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 07:04:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That is a succinct description of Fremont (5+ / 0-)

            that covers him very well. I have always thought of him as the Officially US Polk Sanctioned Filibuster for the North West of Mexico. The Mexican government very wisely looked at guys like Fremont and Walker with a jaundiced eye. They were trespassing without passport and as the facts later showed were up to no good.

            I have heard those who would forgive Fremont and company as they were simply taking ground the Mexicans had no interest in using. I have also heard the same people justify the seizure of Native American lands with the same excuse. Tough old world ain't it?

    •  Once again, I am having trouble opening (7+ / 0-)

      comments in your diary.  If I continue to be unable, please accept this "4", and several others, in the spirit in which they are given.  Will post this with my fingers crossed.

      Vote Jerry McNerney for Congress CA11

      by Friend of the court on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:14:00 PM PDT

    •  Thanks again UM (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Avila, Leila, Unitary Moonbat

      Always a treat to read your work.

      "the Greater Good and the Greater Profit are not compatible aims" -- Yann Martel

      by baba durag on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:16:08 PM PDT

    •  Lieberman's overreach in 2000 (6+ / 0-)

      was not for the crime you tag him of at all, though he was certainly guilty of it in 2004 when he ran for President without resigning his Senate seat...along with John Kerry. Lugar and Specter did the same in 1996; Harkin and Kerrey in 1992.

      The only modern Senator to resign his seat to run for President was Bob Dole in 1996, which he did when he'd locked up the nomination.

      Lieberman's historical crime was actually greater: running for two offices at the same time. He was the Vice Presidential candidate and running for re-election to his safe Senate seat.

      However, he was not the first to do so; both Johnson in 1960 (they changed Texas state law to allow it) and Bentsen in 1988 (the same law was still on the books) ran for Senate and Vice President at the same time, and Johnson actually won both races. Fortunately, Texas had a Democratic Governor at the time so the Dems got to keep the seat for a little while through temporary appointment; unfortunately, the special election that followed went to John Tower (who lost to LBJ in Nov. 1960) and the Republicans.

      The crime you accuse Lieberman of (running for office while holding another) is one that occurs all the time. Only members of the House invariably risk their seat each time they run, whether for the same or a different office. Most Senators and Governors only run for President when they don't risk losing their seat. Senators have actually run for President, and then for re-election to their Senate seat when they fail in the early going, conveniently before their state's senatorial primary's filing deadline (for example, Humphrey in 1960 and Gramm in 1996).

      2000 was a fairly typical year, all things considered: George Bush was in the middle of a four-year term as Governor while Joe Lieberman was running simultaneously for Vice President and Senator.

      There may be other examples from the 20th century; the Senate did not become an elective office until after the seventeenth amendment (1913).

      © sardonyx; all rights reserved

      by sardonyx on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:16:28 PM PDT

    •  Wonderful as always, UM. (8+ / 0-)

      I sure would love to see some emphasis put on the fact that the party of Lincoln was liberal, and the party of Justice Taney et al. was conservative.

      I just about spat out my coffee when I read recently that Ann Coulter had declared the (modern) Republican party to be the party of "Blacks are people and you don't kill babies...", or some such.

      Lincoln would not recognize the modern Republican party. And of course, none of the Civil War-era Democrats would recognize our party, either, which is fine by me.

      Do you plan to do a piece on the big switcheroo, when the Republicans became the conservative and the Dems became the liberals?

      "...hope is not the equivalent of optimism. Its opposite is not pessimism but despair. So I'm always hopeful." William Sloane Coffin

      by mxwing on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 06:21:22 PM PDT

    •  More fun to read this than my high school (4+ / 0-)

      history books.  One correction.  I think Joementum got the idea of running for two offices at once from Lyndon Johnson or at least had LBJ as a precedent.

    •  Oh, man! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Unitary Moonbat, epppie

      My favorite Dkos series, and about the runup to the Civil War, to boot!  Haven't even read yet, and I'm rec'ing this!

    •  What a historical spectacular Unitary Moonbat! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Avila, walkshills, Unitary Moonbat

      Lincoln probably was going to "Gitmo" him since he did suspend habeau corpus in a, ahem, move as the unitary executive.  

      This deserves to be savored!

      Every time history repeats itself the price goes up - Anon.

      by Pithy Cherub on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 07:39:17 PM PDT

    •  Wow, thanks! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      walkshills, kilo50, Unitary Moonbat

      It's not easy to find history recounted so lucidly.

      I especially like how Lincoln used a oratorical sleight of hand, or perhaps, a coded message, in his opinon of blacks:

      I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary, but I hold that, notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

      Notice he LIES at the beginning of this statement, claiming no equality between races.  And yet, only a few sentences later, he invokes the Declaration of Independance, asserting that blacks are entitled to ", liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  Those elipses are in fact Lincoln's main point, since the message of this passage is precisely what is omitted, namely, that "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal..."

      I had no idea that Lincoln had mastered this sort of coded language well before Herr Rove.  And I would never have noticed Lincoln's white lie if not for Rove and his endless trickery.  He throws Southerners a bone by emphasizing that he feels blacks are unequal, but then renders it moot by invoking Jefferson's words from the Declaration of Independence (which had to be used to condemn slavery, since nowhere in the constitution is there any mention of equality).  

      Here's a prime example of how a little deliberate vagueness in campaigning can be a good thing in politics.  If Lincoln had thrown red meat to the abolitionists, where would he have gotten?  

      "When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat." ~ Mark Twain, on watermelon

      by Subterranean on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 07:50:36 PM PDT

    •  Fabulous painting by Thomas Hovenden (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Avila, kilo50, aphra behn, Unitary Moonbat

      The Last Moments of John Brown is an incredible painting. It was part of an exhibit of American paintings a few years ago which came to Mobile and I couldn't take my eyes of that one. You might be interested in a link to more information on that artist...if so follow this link and use the imagebase zoom to see how beautiful it is.

      Great diary!

      "Never wrestle with pigs - you'll just get dirty and the pigs will love it."

      by alabamaliberal on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 08:13:27 PM PDT

    •  The answer to #1 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Unitary Moonbat, epppie

      is actually not a no brainer. Five states, including North Carolina, allowed free blacks to vote when the Constitution was adopted. That was one more than allowed Jews to vote.

      Excellent diary, though, and engagingly written. Keep up the good work.

    •  John Brown, USA's greatest hero (6+ / 0-)

      John Brown was the greatest hero in the history of this country. His attacks on the pro-slavery gangsters at Pottawatomie were entirely justified retribution for the slaveholders' attacks on the advocates of freedom. And as for his long-term plan -- the one that led to Harpers Ferry -- it was not nearly as crazy as it sounds now.

      W.E.B. DuBois, in his biography of Brown, goes into some detail about what it involved. It was to have involved a lot of guerrilla activity in the mountains that would essentially have set up a new, much larger and more brazen stop on the Underground Railroad, both allowing slaves to escape and providing a base for further resistance attacks throughout Dixie. In light of the mass defections of Southern black slaves to Union ranks during the war -- not to mention the entire subsequent history of guerrilla warfare in the revolutions of the twentieth century -- Brown's plan was not that off the mark.

      It was not well-executed. But it had a real effect. It electrified the country. The extent of the support for Brown in the North, not only among blacks but among whites -- amounting to a large, militant minority, and in some areas an outright majority -- scared the hell out of the white South. It's no accident that Herman Melville called him "the meteor of the war," because he was. And I take Frederick Douglass seriously when he said that:

      His zeal in the cause of freedom was infinitely superior to mine. Mine was as the taper light; his was as the burning sun. I could live for the slave; John Brown could die for him.

      John Brown was also not crazy. None of his contemporaries -- including Douglass -- thought he was mentally unstable. Brown was religious, but it's not as if he walked around saying he had visions of angels (which was the case of Nat Turner, another  leader of a slave revolt). He was distinguished from other white abolitionists -- and most black abolitionists, too -- only by his sheer determination, physical courage, and utterly uncompromising commitment to racial equality.

      The powers that be in this country still have an interest in upholding the idea that a white man has to be crazy to lay down his life for black people's freedom. It's our job to show that heroes like Brown -- and Schwerner and Goodman and Viola Liuzzo -- were not crazy, but deserve to be honored.

      •  Thats a pretty bold (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ogre, Subterranean, Unitary Moonbat

        and well staked stand there pghred. I have some of my ancestors recollections told second hand regarding Brown that somewhat correspond to your take on him. We today have to remember that living in Kansas as an abolitionist with the Border Ruffians about at all times, often your very neighbor, would be somewhat similar to living in Lebanon or Iraq today. Not conducive to a long life.

        Their general opinon was that Brown was relentless because of his Christian faith and there simply was no way to moderate him. He often laid low, but only to enable a return to the field.

      •  Wonderful comment. Thank you. (3+ / 0-)

        Recommended reading for those interested in John Brown:

        • John Brown, Abolitionist biography by David C. Reynolds
        • Cloudsplitter, novelization by Russell Banks
        •  love Russell Banks - good for you to mention this (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Unitary Moonbat

          fairly obscure fictionalisation - Banks is an excellent writer. "The Sweet Hereafter" is my fave (filmed by Atom Egoyan).

          "There ought to be a law against any man who doesn't want to marry Myrna Loy". - Brigadier-Gen. JM Stewart, noted Republican, also in a few films

          by Monique Radevu on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 09:56:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  John Brown frightens us. (4+ / 0-)

        Sometimes, when faced with an institution like slavery that is so clearly immoral by any objective view, we fail to take up the full challenge of opposing it if doing so means we face threat to our livelihoods or our very lives.

        Then along comes someone like John Brown who's moral clarity is so bright, and who's righteous courage is so steadfast, that it scares us - not because we think him wrong, but because our own failures are ever the more clear when standing next to him.

        To look on the face of John Brown is to look into a mirror that shows us our own moral shortcomings.  We need people like John Brown to remind us that some things are worth figthting for, even if we might die in the attempt.

        "Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will." - Frederick Douglass

        by goblue72 on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 09:57:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I second this view (0+ / 0-)

        he was not a crazy man, only a determined one.  I find it so interesting that so many today condemn him for his violence, yet David Thoreau, who turned "civil disobedience" into a political theory, wrote such a compelling and widely read "defense" of him.  So sad that he still needs to be defended.

        There is more to truth than increasing its spin

        by hearthmoon on Sun Sep 17, 2006 at 06:50:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks, UM! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aphra behn, Unitary Moonbat
      We've really had some wankers in office in America, & too few  great people.

      This is my favorite series.  Have fun grading those papers...;-)

      I'm sure the cave will be in good hands.

      "We need to focus on this terrorism issue," Clinton said during a White House news conference. July 30, 1996

      by x on Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 09:08:48 PM PDT

    •  One chilling footnote (4+ / 0-)

      to John Brown's hanging is that among the observers of it that day was John Wilkes Booth.

    •  Reading about Buchanon makes me wonder (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Unitary Moonbat

      what awaits Bush's successor in office.  It seems to me that Bush has put us in such a hole that it will take a great leader, a Lincoln-esque leader, to get us out, and even then it may not happen without great bloodshed.

      a hope that may come close to despair

      by epppie on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 09:12:52 AM PDT

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