Full Text Obama Presidency February 24, 2009: President Barack Obama’s Address to Joint Session of Congress Transcript

POLITICAL BUZZ


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery

Address to Joint Session of Congress
Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Madame Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, and the First Lady of the United States:
I’ve come here tonight not only to address the distinguished men and women in this great chamber, but to speak frankly and directly to the men and women who sent us here.
I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has – a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family. You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.
But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this:
We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.
The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth. Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.
Now, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that for too long, we have not always met these responsibilities – as a government or as a people. I say this not to lay blame or look backwards, but because it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we’ll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament.
The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank. We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before. The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year, yet we keep delaying reform. Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for. And though all these challenges went unsolved, we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before.
In other words, we have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.
Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.
Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that’s what I’d like to talk to you about tonight.
It’s an agenda that begins with jobs.
As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by President’s Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets. Not because I believe in bigger government – I don’t. Not because I’m not mindful of the massive debt we’ve inherited – I am. I called for action because the failure to do so would have cost more jobs and caused more hardships. In fact, a failure to act would have worsened our long-term deficit by assuring weak economic growth for years. That’s why I pushed for quick action. And tonight, I am grateful that this Congress delivered, and pleased to say that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is now law.
Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90% of these jobs will be in the private sector – jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges; constructing wind turbines and solar panels; laying broadband and expanding mass transit.
Because of this plan, there are teachers who can now keep their jobs and educate our kids. Health care professionals can continue caring for our sick. There are 57 police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis tonight because this plan prevented the layoffs their department was about to make.
Because of this plan, 95% of the working households in America will receive a tax cut – a tax cut that you will see in your paychecks beginning on April 1st.
Because of this plan, families who are struggling to pay tuition costs will receive a $2,500 tax credit for all four years of college. And Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage to help them weather this storm.
I know there are some in this chamber and watching at home who are skeptical of whether this plan will work. I understand that skepticism. Here in Washington, we’ve all seen how quickly good intentions can turn into broken promises and wasteful spending. And with a plan of this scale comes enormous responsibility to get it right.
That is why I have asked Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort – because nobody messes with Joe. I have told each member of my Cabinet as well as mayors and governors across the country that they will be held accountable by me and the American people for every dollar they spend. I have appointed a proven and aggressive Inspector General to ferret out any and all cases of waste and fraud. And we have created a new website called recovery.gov so that every American can find out how and where their money is being spent.
So the recovery plan we passed is the first step in getting our economy back on track. But it is just the first step. Because even if we manage this plan flawlessly, there will be no real recovery unless we clean up the credit crisis that has severely weakened our financial system.
I want to speak plainly and candidly about this issue tonight, because every American should know that it directly affects you and your family’s well-being. You should also know that the money you’ve deposited in banks across the country is safe; your insurance is secure; and you can rely on the continued operation of our financial system. That is not the source of concern.
The concern is that if we do not re-start lending in this country, our recovery will be choked off before it even begins.
You see, the flow of credit is the lifeblood of our economy. The ability to get a loan is how you finance the purchase of everything from a home to a car to a college education; how stores stock their shelves, farms buy equipment, and businesses make payroll.
But credit has stopped flowing the way it should. Too many bad loans from the housing crisis have made their way onto the books of too many banks. With so much debt and so little confidence, these banks are now fearful of lending out any more money to households, to businesses, or to each other. When there is no lending, families can’t afford to buy homes or cars. So businesses are forced to make layoffs. Our economy suffers even more, and credit dries up even further.
That is why this administration is moving swiftly and aggressively to break this destructive cycle, restore confidence, and re-start lending.
We will do so in several ways. First, we are creating a new lending fund that represents the largest effort ever to help provide auto loans, college loans, and small business loans to the consumers and entrepreneurs who keep this economy running.
Second, we have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and re-finance their mortgages. It’s a plan that won’t help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford, but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values – Americans who will now be able to take advantage of the lower interest rates that this plan has already helped bring about. In fact, the average family who re-finances today can save nearly $2000 per year on their mortgage.
Third, we will act with the full force of the federal government to ensure that the major banks that Americans depend on have enough confidence and enough money to lend even in more difficult times. And when we learn that a major bank has serious problems, we will hold accountable those responsible, force the necessary adjustments, provide the support to clean up their balance sheets, and assure the continuity of a strong, viable institution that can serve our people and our economy.
I understand that on any given day, Wall Street may be more comforted by an approach that gives banks bailouts with no strings attached, and that holds nobody accountable for their reckless decisions. But such an approach won’t solve the problem. And our goal is to quicken the day when we re-start lending to the American people and American business and end this crisis once and for all.
I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time, they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer. This time, CEOs won’t be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over.
Still, this plan will require significant resources from the federal government – and yes, probably more than we’ve already set aside. But while the cost of action will be great, I can assure you that the cost of inaction will be far greater, for it could result in an economy that sputters along for not months or years, but perhaps a decade. That would be worse for our deficit, worse for business, worse for you, and worse for the next generation. And I refuse to let that happen.
I understand that when the last administration asked this Congress to provide assistance for struggling banks, Democrats and Republicans alike were infuriated by the mismanagement and results that followed. So were the American taxpayers. So was I.
So I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you – I get it.
But I also know that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger, or yield to the politics of the moment. My job – our job – is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility. I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can’t pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can’t get a mortgage.
That’s what this is about. It’s not about helping banks – it’s about helping people. Because when credit is available again, that young family can finally buy a new home. And then some company will hire workers to build it. And then those workers will have money to spend, and if they can get a loan too, maybe they’ll finally buy that car, or open their own business. Investors will return to the market, and American families will see their retirement secured once more. Slowly, but surely, confidence will return, and our economy will recover.
So I ask this Congress to join me in doing whatever proves necessary. Because we cannot consign our nation to an open-ended recession. And to ensure that a crisis of this magnitude never happens again, I ask Congress to move quickly on legislation that will finally reform our outdated regulatory system. It is time to put in place tough, new common-sense rules of the road so that our financial market rewards drive and innovation, and punishes short-cuts and abuse.
The recovery plan and the financial stability plan are the immediate steps we’re taking to revive our economy in the short-term. But the only way to fully restore America’s economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world. The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care; the schools that aren’t preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit. That is our responsibility.
In the next few days, I will submit a budget to Congress. So often, we have come to view these documents as simply numbers on a page or laundry lists of programs. I see this document differently. I see it as a vision for America – as a blueprint for our future.
My budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue. It reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited – a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession.
Given these realities, everyone in this chamber – Democrats and Republicans – will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars. And that includes me.
But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges. I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves; that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity.
For history tells a different story. History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. In the wake of war and depression, the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle-class in history. And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the moon, and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world.
In each case, government didn’t supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive.
We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril, and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again. That is why, even as it cuts back on the programs we don’t need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.
It begins with energy.
We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet, it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient. We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.
Well I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders – and I know you don’t either. It is time for America to lead again.
Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history – an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, science, and technology.
We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.
But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.
As for our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not, and will not, protect them from their own bad practices. But we are committed to the goal of a re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it. Scores of communities depend on it. And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.
None of this will come without cost, nor will it be easy. But this is America. We don’t do what’s easy. We do what is necessary to move this country forward.
For that same reason, we must also address the crushing cost of health care.
This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, one million more Americans have lost their health insurance. It is one of the major reasons why small businesses close their doors and corporations ship jobs overseas. And it’s one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget.
Given these facts, we can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold.
Already, we have done more to advance the cause of health care reform in the last thirty days than we have in the last decade. When it was days old, this Congress passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for eleven million American children whose parents work full-time. Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy, and save lives. It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time. And it makes the largest investment ever in preventive care, because that is one of the best ways to keep our people healthy and our costs under control.
This budget builds on these reforms. It includes an historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform – a down-payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American. It’s a commitment that’s paid for in part by efficiencies in our system that are long overdue. And it’s a step we must take if we hope to bring down our deficit in the years to come.
Now, there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform, and that is why I’m bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week.
I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. It will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough. So let there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.
The third challenge we must address is the urgent need to expand the promise of education in America.
In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a pre-requisite.
Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma. And yet, just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation. And half of the students who begin college never finish.
This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.
Already, we have made an historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan. We have dramatically expanded early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life. We have made college affordable for nearly seven million more students. And we have provided the resources necessary to prevent painful cuts and teacher layoffs that would set back our children’s progress.
But we know that our schools don’t just need more resources. They need more reform. That is why this budget creates new incentives for teacher performance; pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We’ll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools.
It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education. And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask this Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Senator Orrin Hatch as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country – Senator Edward Kennedy.
These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework after dinner, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, and read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father when I say that responsibility for our children’s education must begin at home.
There is, of course, another responsibility we have to our children. And that is the responsibility to ensure that we do not pass on to them a debt they cannot pay. With the deficit we inherited, the cost of the crisis we face, and the long-term challenges we must meet, it has never been more important to ensure that as our economy recovers, we do what it takes to bring this deficit down.
I’m proud that we passed the recovery plan free of earmarks, and I want to pass a budget next year that ensures that each dollar we spend reflects only our most important national priorities.
Yesterday, I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office. My administration has also begun to go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs. As you can imagine, this is a process that will take some time. But we’re starting with the biggest lines. We have already identified two trillion dollars in savings over the next decade.
In this budget, we will end education programs that don’t work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them. We’ll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq, and reform our defense budget so that we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use. We will root out the waste, fraud, and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn’t make our seniors any healthier, and we will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.
In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. But let me perfectly clear, because I know you’ll hear the same old claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people: if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime. In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut – that’s right, a tax cut – for 95% of working families. And these checks are on the way.
To preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must also address the growing costs in Medicare and Social Security. Comprehensive health care reform is the best way to strengthen Medicare for years to come. And we must also begin a conversation on how to do the same for Social Security, while creating tax-free universal savings accounts for all Americans.
Finally, because we’re also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget. That is why this budget looks ahead ten years and accounts for spending that was left out under the old rules – and for the first time, that includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price.
We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.
And with our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat al Qaeda and combat extremism. Because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens half a world away.
As we meet here tonight, our men and women in uniform stand watch abroad and more are readying to deploy. To each and every one of them, and to the families who bear the quiet burden of their absence, Americans are united in sending one message: we honor your service, we are inspired by your sacrifice, and you have our unyielding support. To relieve the strain on our forces, my budget increases the number of our soldiers and Marines. And to keep our sacred trust with those who serve, we will raise their pay, and give our veterans the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned.
To overcome extremism, we must also be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend – because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America. That is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists – because living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture.
In words and deeds, we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun. For we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America. We cannot shun the negotiating table, nor ignore the foes or forces that could do us harm. We are instead called to move forward with the sense of confidence and candor that serious times demand.
To seek progress toward a secure and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors, we have appointed an envoy to sustain our effort. To meet the challenges of the 21st century – from terrorism to nuclear proliferation; from pandemic disease to cyber threats to crushing poverty – we will strengthen old alliances, forge new ones, and use all elements of our national power.
And to respond to an economic crisis that is global in scope, we are working with the nations of the G-20 to restore confidence in our financial system, avoid the possibility of escalating protectionism, and spur demand for American goods in markets across the globe. For the world depends on us to have a strong economy, just as our economy depends on the strength of the world’s.
As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us – watching to see what we do with this moment; waiting for us to lead.
Those of us gathered here tonight have been called to govern in extraordinary times. It is a tremendous burden, but also a great privilege – one that has been entrusted to few generations of Americans. For in our hands lies the ability to shape our world for good or for ill.
I know that it is easy to lose sight of this truth – to become cynical and doubtful; consumed with the petty and the trivial.
But in my life, I have also learned that hope is found in unlikely places; that inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of Americans who are anything but ordinary.
I think about Leonard Abess, the bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn’t tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, ”I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn’t feel right getting the money myself.”
I think about Greensburg, Kansas, a town that was completely destroyed by a tornado, but is being rebuilt by its residents as a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community – how it can bring jobs and businesses to a place where piles of bricks and rubble once lay. “The tragedy was terrible,” said one of the men who helped them rebuild. “But the folks here know that it also provided an incredible opportunity.”
And I think about Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina – a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom. She has been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this room. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp. The letter asks us for help, and says, “We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters.”
We are not quitters.
These words and these stories tell us something about the spirit of the people who sent us here. They tell us that even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency, and a determination that perseveres; a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.
Their resolve must be our inspiration. Their concerns must be our cause. And we must show them and all our people that we are equal to the task before us.
I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.
And if we do – if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis; if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity; if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, “something worthy to be remembered.” Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

History Buzz: February 2009

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor/Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

February 16, 2009

HISTORY BUZZ:

THIS
WEEK:

THIS WEEK ON THE BUZZ….

US
POL.:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIG.
NEWS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

  • C-SPAN: Historians Survey of Presidential LeadershipCSPAN, 2-16-09
  • Lincoln wins: Honest Abe tops new presidential survey: It’s been 145 years since Abraham Lincoln appeared on a ballot, but admiration for the man who saved the union and sparked the end of slavery is as strong as ever, according to a new survey. Lincoln finished first in a ranking by historians of the 42 former White House occupants. The survey was released over Presidents Day weekend. – CNN, 2-16-09
  • Richard Norton Smith: “Presidential rankings: Leadership”: “Bill Clinton and Ulysses S. Grant aren’t often mentioned in the same sentence – until now,” Smith notes – with both boosted “significantly higher than in the original survey conducted in 2000. All of which goes to show two things: the fluidity with which presidential reputations are judged, and the difficulty of assessing any president who has only just recently left office.” Swamp Politics, 2-17-09
  • Douglas Brinkley “Presidential rankings: Leadership”: “As much as is possible, we created a poll that was non-partisan, judicious and fair minded, and it’s fitting that for the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln that he remains at the top of these presidential rankings,” Brinkley says. “How we rank our presidents is, to a large extent, influenced by our own times. Today’s concerns shape our views of the past, be it in the area of foreign policy, managing the economy, or human rights.” – Swamp Politics, 2-17-09
  • Edna Greene Medford “Presidential rankings: Leadership”: “The survey results also reinforce the idea that history is less about agreed-upon facts than about perceptions of who we are as a nation and how our leaders have either enhanced or tarnished that image we have of ourselves,” Medford adds. “Lincoln continues to rank at the top in all categories because he is perceived to embody the nation’s avowed core values: integrity, moderation, persistence in the pursuit of honorable goals, respect for human rights, compassion; those who collect near the bottom are perceived as having failed to uphold those values.” – Swamp Politics, 2-17-09
  • Quiz: How well do you know your presidents?: Professor Paul Harris has taught history at Minnesota State University Moorhead for 23 years, and during that time he’s come to know that U.S. presidents aren’t always students’ specialty. – In-Forum, ND, 2-15-09
  • Ronald C. White Jr.: Why Lincoln still matters: CNN talked with White about Lincoln’s impact on the country, President Obama’s affinity for him and what lessons Lincoln has to offer Americans of today. – CNN, 2-12-09
  • James McPherson: 5 Questions About Lincoln: On the occasion of Lincoln’s 200th birthday, he kindly consented to the following interview, with questions posed by Britannica senior editor Jeff Wallenfeldt…. Britannica Blog, 2-11-09
  • Eric Foner interviewed by Bill Moyers: More books are coming during this bicentennial year. Here’s my most recent favorite, “Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World.” It’s a collection of original essays by prize-winning historians, including the book’s editor, Eric Foner…. – Bill Moyers Journal on PBS, 2-6-09
THIS
WEEK
IN
HIST.:

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

    On This Day in History….

  • 16/02/1741 – Benjamin Franklin’s General Magazine (2nd US Mag) begins publishing
  • 16/02/1760 – Native American hostages killed in Ft Prince George SC
  • 16/02/1864 – Battle of Mobile, AL – operations by Union Army
  • 16/02/1914 – 1st airplane flight (LA to SF)
  • 16/02/1917 – 1st synagogue in 425 years opens in Madrid
  • 16/02/1959 – Fidel Castro named himself Cuba’s premier after overthrowing Batista
  • 17/02/1621 – Miles Standish appointed 1st commander of Plymouth colony
  • 17/02/1801 – House breaks electoral college tie, chooses Jefferson pres over Burr
  • 17/02/1865 – -18] Battle of Charleston SC
  • 17/02/1865 – Columbia SC burns down during Civil War
  • 17/02/1870 – Mississippi becomes 9th state readmitted to US after Civil War
  • 17/02/1915 – Edward Stone, 1st US combatant to die in WW I, is mortally wounded
  • 17/02/1933 – US Senate accept Blaine Act: ending prohibition
  • 17/02/1933 – 1st issue of “Newsweek” magazine published
  • 17/02/1938 – 1st public experimental demonstration of Baird color TV (London)
  • 17/02/1943 – Dutch churches protest at Seyss-Inquart against persecution of Jews
  • 17/02/1949 – Chaim Weitzman elected 1st president of Israel
  • 17/02/1964 – US House of Reps accept Law on the civil rights
  • 17/02/1969 – Golda Meir sworn in as Israel’s 1st female prime minister
  • 17/02/1972 – President Nixon leaves Washington DC for China
  • 18/02/1503 – Henry Tudor created Prince of Wales (later Henry VIII)
  • 18/02/1688 – Quakers conduct 1st formal protest of slavery in Germantown, Pa
  • 18/02/1861 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis inaugurated at Montgomery Ala
  • 18/02/1865 – Union troops force Confederates to abandon Ft Anderson, NC
  • 18/02/1865 – Evacuation of Charleston, SC; Sherman’s troops burn city
  • 18/02/1927 – US and Canada begin diplomatic relations
  • 18/02/1970 – US president Nixon launches “Nixon-doctrine”
  • 19/02/1807 – VP Aaron Burr arrested in Alabama for treason; later found innocent
  • 19/02/1878 – Thomas Alva Edison patents gramophone (phonograph)
  • 19/02/1881 – Kansas becomes 1st state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages
  • 19/02/1919 – Pan-African Congress, organized by W E B Du Bois (Paris)
  • 19/02/1941 – Nazi raid Amsterdam and round up 429 young Jews for deportation
  • 19/02/1942 – FDR orders detention and internment of all west-coast Japanese-Americans
  • 19/02/1945 – US 5th Fleet launches invasion of Iwo Jima against the Japanese
  • 19/02/1963 – USSR informs JFK it’s withdrawing several thousand troops from Cuba
  • 19/02/1986 – US Senate ratifies UN’s anti-genocide convention 37 years later
  • 20/02/1547 – King Edward VI of England was enthroned following death of Henry VIII
  • 20/02/1809 – Supreme Court rules federal govt power greater than any state
  • 20/02/1839 – Congress prohibits dueling in District of Columbia
  • 20/02/1861 – Dept of Navy of Confederacy forms
  • 20/02/1869 – Tenn Gov W C Brownlow declares martial law in Ku Klux Klan crisis
  • 20/02/1933 – House of Reps completes congressional action to repeal Prohibition
  • 20/02/1941 – 1st transport of Jews to concentration camps leave Plotsk Poland
  • 20/02/1962 – John Glenn is 1st American to orbit Earth (Friendship 7)
  • 21/02/1764 – John Wilkes thrown out of Engl House of Commons for “Essay on Women”
  • 21/02/1792 – Congress passes Pres Succession Act
  • 21/02/1804 – 1st locomotive, Richard Trevithick’s, runs for 1st time, in Wales
  • 21/02/1857 – Congress outlaws foreign currency as legal tender in US
  • 21/02/1862 – Confederate Constitution and presidency are declared permanent
  • 21/02/1862 – Texas Rangers win Confederate victory at Battle of Val Verde, NM
  • 21/02/1874 – Benjamin Disraeli replaces William Gladstone as English premier
  • 21/02/1885 – Washington Monument dedicated (Wash DC)
  • 21/02/1895 – NC Legislature, adjourns for day to mark death of Frederick Douglass
  • 21/02/1916 – Battle of Verdun in WW I begins (1 million casualties)
  • 21/02/1943 – Dutch RC bishops protest against persecution of Jews
  • 21/02/1965 – Black nationalist leader Malcolm X is assassinated.
  • 21/02/1972 – Richard Nixon becomes 1st US president to visit China
  • 22/02/1630 – Indians introduce pilgrims to popcorn, at Thanksgiving
  • 22/02/1819 – Spain renounces claims to Oregon Country, Florida (Adams-Onis Treaty)
  • 22/02/1821 – Spain sells (east) Florida to United States for $5 million
  • 22/02/1854 – 1st meeting of Republican Party (Michigan)
  • 22/02/1856 – 1st national meeting of Republican Party (Pittsburgh)
  • 22/02/1861 – On a bet Edward Weston leaves Boston to walk to Lincoln’s inauguration
  • 22/02/1864 – -27] Battle at Dalton Georgia
  • 22/02/1889 – Pres Cleveland signs bill to admit Dakotas, Montana and Washington state
  • 22/02/1900 – Hawaii became a US territory
  • 22/02/1924 – 1st presidential radio address (Calvin Coolidge)
  • 22/02/1967 – 25,000 US and S Vietnamese troops launched Operation Junction City, offensive to smash Viet Cong stronghold near Cambodian border
IN
THE
NEWS:

IN THE NEWS:

  • Groundbreaking civil rights book republished: Amid the terror and oppression, civil rights pioneer W.E.B. DuBois published a groundbreaking book in 1924 that challenged the pervasive stereotypes of African Americans and documented their rarely recognized achievements. His book, “The Gift of Black Folk: The Negroes in the Making of America,” detailed the role of African Americans with the earliest explorers to inventions ranging from ice cream to player pianos…. – AP, 2-17-09
  • African-American studies expanding But some say wider focus, however, obscures original social justice aim : Programs have come and gone since then. Charles E. Jones, president of the National Council for Black Studies, says there are about 325 programs at universities across the United States, down from a high of 450 in the 1970s. – Houston Chronicle, 2-16-09
  • John Taylor Leaving as Nixon Foundation Executive Director: John H. Taylor, President Nixon’s former chief of staff and executive director of the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation since 1990, is leaving his Foundation position on Feb. 15 to accept the call of the Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles, J. Jon Bruno, to serve full time as vicar, or priest in charge, of St. John Chrysostom Episcopal Church and School in Rancho Santa Margarita, California…. – www.nixonlibraryfoundation.org, 2-10-09
  • New Report: Fixing problems in the State Department Office of the Historian won’t be easy: A management crisis in the State Department Office of the Historian threatens the future of the official “Foreign Relations of the United States” (FRUS) series that documents the history of U.S. foreign policy, according to a newly disclosed report on the situation…. – Secrecy News, written by Steven Aftergood, is published by the Federation of American Scientists, 2-12-09
OP-
EDs:

OP-EDs:

  • Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore explain the relationship between history and fiction in their latest project, Blindspot: What happens when historians write fiction? We decided to find out. Blindspot, our novel, is set in 1764, in Boston, a city reeling from the economic downturn following the French and Indian War, and beginning to simmer with the fires of liberty. The book tells the story of Stewart Jameson, a Scottish portrait painter fleeing debtor’s prison, and Fanny Easton, the fallen daughter of one of Boston’s richest merchants, who poses as a boy to gain a situation as Jameson’s apprentice. Their lives take a turn when Samuel Bradstreet, Speaker of the Massachusetts Assembly, is murdered the day Jameson and Easton are to paint him. – OAH Newsletter, 2-1-09
  • Allan J. Lichtman takes the presidential debates to Russia: Like E. H. Carr, I believe that history is as much about the future as about the past. This belief has guided my rather unorthodox forty-year career as a historian and led me to become an unofficial stand-in for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in mock presidential debates this past September in Russia. – OAH Newsletter, 2-1-09
REV-
IEWS:

REVIEWS:

  • Shelby Steele on Robert J. Norrell: Pride and Compromise: UP FROM HISTORY The Life of Booker T. Washington …Robert J. Norrell, in his remarkable new biography, “Up From History,” gets around this problem the old-fashioned way: by scrupulously excavating the facts of his subject’s life and then carefully situating him in his own era. – NYT, 2-15-09
  • Mary Frances Berry: 50 Years of Struggle: AND JUSTICE FOR ALL The United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Continuing Struggle for Freedom in America Mary Frances Berry faces some substantial obstacles in trying to animate the comparatively more diffuse leadership and more amorphous saga of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, her subject in “And Justice for All.” – NYT, 2-15-09
  • Eric J. Sundquist, Christine King Farris: A Dream Obscured Understanding Martin Luther King Jr. and his most famous speech: KING’S DREAM, THROUGH IT ALL Reflections on My Life, My Family, and My Faith …Each chapter of Sundquist’s intelligent and important book focuses on one of several themes in the speech, unpacking the sources of the words and placing them within a broader civil rights context…. – WaPo, 2-15-09
  • Matthew Dallek on Adam Cohen, Burt Solomon: Starting Out Strong How Roosevelt’s first 100 days still set the agenda today: NOTHING TO FEAR FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America, FDR v. THE CONSTITUTION The Court-Packing Fight and the Triumph of Democracy Adam Cohen, an assistant editorial page editor of the New York Times, now weighs in with Nothing to Fear. It’s a valuable addition, a deeply sympathetic and thoroughly convincing portrait of FDR and five of his senior advisers that unearths how the aides’ interactions with Roosevelt helped to spawn the New Deal…. Still, FDR’s court-packing plan didn’t mortally threaten American democracy, as journalist Burt Solomon claims in FDR v. The Constitution…. – WaPo, 2-15-09
  • Liaquat Ahamed: Who Caused the Great Depression? Lessons from an era in which four men held sway over global finance: LORDS OF FINANCE The Bankers Who Broke the World It was a ruinous decision. as Liaquat Ahamed notes in Lords of Finance, all the gold mined in history up to 1914 “was barely enough to fill a modest two-story town house.” There simply was not enough of it to fund a global conflict or to allow economic recovery afterward…. – WaPo, 2-15-09
  • David Kushner: What happened when a black family tried to live the suburban American dream: LEVITTOWN Two Families, One Tycoon, and the Fight for Civil Rights in America’s Legendary Suburb So the Levitts bought up 3,500 acres of potato farmland at Island Trees on Long Island and, according to David Kushner, “hatched their ambitious plan: to mass-produce the American dream for the common people, the veterans coming home from the war.”… – WaPo, 2-15-09
  • Michael Burlingame: Bio of Lincoln drawing rave reviews: Burlingame will himself be judged for his new, nearly 2,000-page, cradle-to-grave biography. So far the reviews are glowing: The historian, say his peers, has written the most comprehensive of all accounts of the complex, idiosyncratic president by sifting through untold reams of material, some out-of-the-way and rarely, if ever, considered… – Chronicle of Higher Ed, 2-13-09
BLOGS:

BLOGS:

  • Gary Fouse: CampusWatch Complaint “UC Irvine’s Anti-Israel, Anti-American Hate-Fest: On January 31, 2009, a conference took place at UC Irvine (UCI) titled, “Whither the Levant? The Crisis of the Nation State: Lebanon, Israel, Palestine.” Organized by the Levantine Cultural Center of Los Angeles and the Middle East Studies Student Initiative, the conference featured two documentaries about the 2006 war in southern Lebanon, three panel discussions, and a number of Middle East studies academics. In spite of the neutral sounding title, the conference was a one-sided exercise in bashing Israel and America. – Frontpagemag.com, 2-16-09
  • Open letter from a group of Iraqi archaeologists concerned about premature opening of Iraq Museum: We are now facing another type of destruction, the destruction that can result from lack of knowledge. We have learned of the plans to open the Iraq Museum within two weeks. While we are not in principle opposed to the opening of the museums of Iraq, and feel that the cultural heritage of a nation ought to be open to the public, such an act must proceed according to international standards of museology and conservation…. – Letter dated Feb. 11-2009 (distributed through IraqiCrisis email), 2-11-09
QUO-
TES:

QUOTES:

  • Mark Miller “Chiefs: Presidents’ Day commemorates leaders’ lives”: Mark Miller, assistant professor of history, said Lincoln and Washington in particular are celebrated because they are ranked in the top three in any polls of historians. “George Washington ranks for actions taken both before he was president and after he became our first chief executive,” he said. “Lincoln’s major importance lies in his leading the union during the Civil War, and by its ultimate victory, held the nation together.” Miller said both men were of great character. “They had to make hard and unpopular decisions, but their decisions have been proven over time to be the right ones,” he said. – SUU Journal Online, UT. 2-17-09
  • Earl Mulderink “Chiefs: Presidents’ Day commemorates leaders’ lives”: Professor of History Earl Mulderink said both men served at critical times in the nation’s history. “Washington and Lincoln left us with stirring words, and both seemed to have great personal integrity that places them above many of the lesser individuals who have served as President,” he said. – SUU Journal Online, UT. 2-17-09
  • Tycho de Boer “Make room for Millard: Celebrating ‘unknown’ presidents” George Washington and Abraham Lincoln might get all the attention, but this Presidents Day, take a moment to remember the forgotten ones, said Saint Mary’s University assistant history professor Tycho de Boer. “I think we should know about all of them,” de Boer said…. Our recent presidents are more likely to be remembered thanks to 24-hour news. “Because of the media coverage, we’re just going to remember them more,” de Boer said, “combined with the fact they have more power than ever.” – La Crosse Tribune, WI, 2-15-09
  • “Make room for Millard: Celebrating ‘unknown’ presidents”: It’s hard to imagine rising to the highest rank in our country and being forgotten, but that’s become the fate for many a former president, sometimes because of the circumstances that got them into office, said Winona State University history professor John Campbell. Some weren’t elected, but inherited the job after the president died or was killed in office. “If they would’ve just remained as vice presidents, we really wouldn’t have heard of them,” Campbell said. Chester Alan Arthur (1881-1885) was said to have “looked like a president,” rising to the rank after James Garfield (1881) was assassinated. “Both of those guys were pretty second rate political figures,” Campbell said. “Arthur was in the right place at the right time.”…. “I think one of the reasons whey we hear about a handful of presidents is that they tended to be presidents during wartime,” Campbell said. “Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, all are associated with warfare and successful wars.” – La Crosse Tribune, WI, 2-15-09
  • Richard Burkhardt “At Darwin’s 200th, what made him controversial has evolved”: Burkhardt has a special soft spot for Alfred Russel Wallace, who independently came up with a theory of natural selection about the same time as Darwin did, and in fact sent the theory in a letter to Darwin, not knowing that the elder scientist had come up with a similar theory and was taking his good time to publish it. “A lesser man than Wallace might have found it funny” that Darwin only published after reading his work, Burkhardt says. A working-class scientist, unlike Darwin, an aristocrat who married into the Wedgwood china fortune, Wallace was generous in the credit he gave to his elder. “Wallace even titled one of his own books ‘Darwinism,'” Burkhardt marvels. – Urbana/Champaign News-Gazette, IL, 2-15-09
PRO-
FILES:

PROFILES:

  • Charles W. Sanders Jr.: Professor uses army experience to interest students in classroom: Sanders, associate professor of history, incorporates his army experience in his teaching style and world outlook. He tells history as a series of stories about what he calls the “human dimension of things.”… – Kansas State Collegian, KS, 2-16-09
  • Lonnie Bunch: Curator is overseeing his most important collection ever—the history and culture of a people: …The official was Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian’s planned National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), in Washington, D.C. n Bunch and his staff realized how having an African-American in the White House for the first time could energize the envisioned museum’s startup efforts…. – Chicago Tribune, 2-8-09
  • Robert Caro spent decades living LBJ’s life. His goal with the last volume is the same as it was with the first: to endure: What made Johnson run? That was the question that, for several months in the late 1970s, drove Robert Caro mad. Never mind that Caro was better equipped to answer it than perhaps any other man, living or dead. For years, he had been at work on a nonfiction chronicle of Lyndon Johnson’s early life…. – Newsweek, 2-7-09
INTER-
VIEWS:

INTERVIEWS:

  • Richard Norton Smith … A Historian’s Take on Obama (interview): Last year’s gripping campaign and the wave of popularity behind Barack Obama have focused tremendous attention on the White House and the presidency. As the country marks Presidents Day, TIME spoke with author and historian Richard Norton Smith about America’s “schizoid” relationship with its President, the lofty expectations for Obama and the way history’s verdicts can shift over time. – Time Magazine, 2-16-09
  • Phillip Payne “History Professor Uses Harding Legacy to Assess Bush”: A presidential scholar who has studied Warren G. Harding’s legacy is weighing in on how former president George W. Bush is likely to be remembered. There’s been much debate in recent weeks about how history will treat George W. Bush. He left office with one of the worst approval ratings of any president. But historians say it will be years before the determination of where Bush stands among the nation’s worst presidents. – WBFO, NY, 2-3-09
  • Historian for Hire: A conversation with Phil Cantelon: Scholar entrepreneur Phil Cantelon has discovered that it is possible to make research and writing pay. In 1980, he and three collegues hung a shingle for their services as historians, building a business whose clients would eventually range from the United States government to a Las Vegas museum devoted to organized crime. – Bruce Cole in Humanities, magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), 1-1-09
FEAT-
URES:

FEATURES:

  • Exhibition Review: A Lifetime’s Collection of Texts in Hebrew, at Sotheby’s: Is bibliophilia a religious impulse? You can’t walk into Sotheby’s exhibition space in Manhattan right now and not sense the devotion or be swept up in its passions and particularities. The 2,400-square-foot opening gallery is lined with shelves — 10 high — reaching to the ceiling, not packed tight, but with occasional books open to view. Each shelf is labeled, not with a subject, but with a city or town of origin: Amsterdam, Paris, Leiden, Izmir, Bombay, Cochin, Cremona, Jerusalem, Ferrara, Calcutta, Mantua, Shanghai, Alexandria, Baghdad and on and on…. – NYT, 2-16-09Slide Show
HON-
ORS:

HONORS, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

  • James McPherson, Craig L. Symonds share $50,000 Lincoln Prize: James McPherson, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War history, “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” was cited for “Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief.” The other winner was Craig L. Symonds for “Lincoln and His Admirals: Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy, and the Civil War.” – Canadian Press, 2-11-09
  • Carole McAlpine Watson: Historian named temporary head of NEH: The Obama administration today named Carole McAlpine Watson as acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has filled that role since last month’s departure of Bruce Cole, who had led the endowment since 2001…. – Chronicle of Higher Ed, 2-10-09
SPOT-
TED:

SPOTTED:

  • Panelists examine history of black leadership: Four scholars and leaders discussed the evolution of black leadership from the early days of slavery to the election of Barack Obama at a forum entitled “Before there was Barack” at the Marvin Center Monday night… “It’s not the Jesse Jacksons and Barack Obamas, but the people who supported them [who made changes],” James Jones added. “Supporters are the real leaders.” – Daily Eastern News, IL, 2-17-09
  • Dave Roediger “History professor thinks racism is on its way out”: Roediger, history professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, talked about his book “How Race Survived U.S. History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon.” – Den News, 2-4-09
  • Norman Naimark: History a ‘creative process,’ at the Award-Winning Teachers on Teaching series sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning, Stanford University: “History teaches about everyday men and women making decisions, society moving in one direction or another, good people and bad people,” he said. History allows us to “recreate this moral universe.” – Cynthia Haven at the website of the Stanford News Service, 1-30-09
EVENT
CAL.:

EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • February 18 & 19, 2009: Historians to hold court at IWU, ISU Founder’s Days – Wednesday, Abraham Lincoln scholar and Pulitzer-Prize nominee James Horton headlines the Illinois Wesleyan University convocation, marking the campus’ 159th birthday. On Thursday, ISU celebrates its 152nd birthday. ISU is the oldest public university in the state. – Bloomington Pantagraph, 2-17-09
  • February 23, 2009: The University of Southern Indiana College of Liberal Arts symposium “Abraham Lincoln’s Life and Legacy” has been rescheduled for Monday, Feb. 23. The symposium was originally scheduled for yesterday but the USI campus was closed due to the winter storm. – Henderson Gleaner, KY, 1-29-09
  • February 24, 2009: Michael Burlingame, Abe Lincoln scholar coming to town: Northwestern Oklahoma State University will participate in celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s 16th president, during an event on Tuesday, Feb. 24, from 7 to 9 p.m. in Herod Hall Auditorium. -
  • February 19 – May 30, 2009: UNL professor curates ‘dreamy’ exhibition at Folger Shakespeare Library: Carole Levin, Willa Cather professor of history at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has curated a new exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream” will run Feb. 19 through May 30. – Media Newswire (press release), NY, 2-17-09
  • March 2, 2009: Women’s History Month Lecture Explores Rape and the Civil War: Dr. Crystal N. Feimster, an assistant professor of history at UNC Chapel Hill, will discuss rape in the Civil War South for a lecture marking Women’s History Month at 4 p.m. Monday, March 2. The event, free and open to the public, will be held in Moore HRA, Room 2211. – UNCG University News, NC, 2-17-09
  • April 3-4, 2009: The Obama Phenomenon: Race and Political Discourse in the United States Today, University of Memphis
ON TV:

ON TV:

  • History Channel: “How the Earth Was Made: The Deepest Place on Earth,” Tuesday, February 17, @ 9pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “More American Eats,” Wednesday, February 18, @ 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld: 09 – Freemason Underground ,” Wednesday, February 18, @ 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Decoding The Past: Cults: Dangerous Devotion,” Thursday, February 19, @ 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Investigating History: Lincoln: Man or Myth?,” Thursday, February 12, @ 5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld: 09 – Freemason Underground ,” Thursday, February 19, @ 6pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Dogfights: The Greatest Air Battles,” Friday, February 20, @ 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Dogfights: Tuskegee Airmen,” Friday, February 20, @ 4pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “First to Fight: The Black Tankers of WWII: First to Fight: The Black Tankers of WWII,” Friday, February 20, @ 5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Shootout: Iwo Jima: Fight to the Death,” Friday, February 20, @ 6pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Stealing Lincoln’s Body,” Friday, February 20, @ 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Lincoln Assassination,” Friday, February 20, @ 10pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “MonsterQuest,” Marathon, Saturday, February 21, @ 2-5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Stealing Lincoln’s Body,” Saturday, February 21, @ 5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” Saturday, February 21, @ 8pm ET/PT
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV: History Saturday at 1:00 PM, and Sunday at 5:00 AM Freedom’s Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers Author: Richard Newman -
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV: Saturday at 3:00 PM, and Sunday at 1:00 AM 1960 LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies Author: David Pietrusza -
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV: Sunday at 3:45 AM The Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation Author: Nancy Rubin Stuart -
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV: History Sunday at 11:15 AM, Sunday at 8:30 PM, and Monday at 2:30 AM Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan Author: Kim Phillips-Fein -
  • History Channel: “Ku Klux Klan: A Secret History,” Monday, February 23, @ 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Crime Wave: 18 Months of Mayhem,” Monday, February 23, @ 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Godfathers,” Monday, February 23, @ 10pm ET/PT
BEST
SEL-
LERS:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

  • Jon Meacham: AMERICAN LION #9 — (13 weeks on list) – 2-22-09
  • Barack Obama: THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS 2009 Obama’s Inaugural Address as well as two by Lincoln, the Gettysburg Address and an Emerson essay. #15 — (1 week on list) – 2-22-09
  • Niall Ferguson: THE ASCENT OF MONEY #18 – 2-22-09
  • Ronald C. White Jr: A. LINCOLN #20 – 2-22-09
  • Gwen Ifill: THE BREAKTHROUGH #25 – 2-22-09
  • THE AMERICAN JOURNEY OF BARACK OBAMA, by the editors of Life magazine. #28 – 2-22-09
  • Annette Gordon-Reed: THE HEMINGSES OF MONTICELLO – #34 – 2-22-09
NEW
BOOKS:

COMING SOON BOOKS:

  • The New York Times, Obama: The Historic Journey, February 16, 2009
  • Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, February 24, 2009
  • Paul D. Escott, What Shall We Do with the Negro?: Lincoln, White Racism, and Civil War America, March 1, 2009
  • David Donald, Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War, March 1, 2009
  • Joel C. Rosenberg, Inside the Revolution: How the Followers of Jihad, Jefferson and Jesus Are Battling to Dominate the Middle East and Transform the World, March 10, 2009
  • Neal Bascomb, Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi, March 11, 2009
  • Jeff Guinn, Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde, March 10, 2009
  • Karen Greenberg, The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days, March 13, 2009
  • William Greider, Come Home, America: The Rise and Fall (And Redeeming Promise) of Our Country, March 17, 2009
  • John Guy, Daughter’s Love: Thomas More and His Dearest Meg, March 17, 2009
  • John Gill: 1809 Thunder on the Danube: Napoleon’s Defeat of the Habsburgs, Vol. II: The Fall of Vienna and the Battle of Aspern, March 19, 2009
  • Alan Huffman, Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History, March 24. 2009
  • Amir Taheri, The Persian Night: Iran from Khomeini to Ahmadinejad, March 25, 2009
  • Simon Schama, American Future: A History, May 19, 2009
OBITS:

DEPARTED:

  • Alfred A. Knopf Jr., Influential Publisher, Dies at 90: Alfred A. Knopf Jr., who left the noted publishing house run by his parents to become one of the founders of Atheneum Publishers in 1959, died on Saturday. He was 90, the last of the surviving founders, and lived in New York City. – NYT, 2-16-09

Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at 2:53 AM

February 2 & 9, 2009

HISTORY BUZZ:

THIS
WEEK:

THIS WEEK ON THE BUZZ….

US
POL.:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIG.
NEWS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

  • The Lincoln Canon: There are too many Lincoln books. Which are indispensable? – WaPo, 2-8-09
  • David W. Blight on Ronald C. White Jr.: Abe the Intellectual A new biography highlights Lincoln’s curious mind and constant jottings A. LINCOLN A Biography - WaPo, 2-8-09
  • Catherine Clinton: On Her Own Why hasn’t Mary Todd Lincoln emerged from her husband’s shadow? MRS. LINCOLN A Life - WaPo, 2-8-09
  • William Safire: Reviews of New Lincoln Books Lincoln Monuments – NYT, 2-8-09
  • Laying claim to Lincoln: States go all out for celebration of 16th president’s bicentennial – Indianapolis Star, 2-8-09
  • Lots of Lincoln: 16th president everywhere as his 200th birthday approaches – Columbus Dispatch, 1-25-09
BIG.
NEWS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

  • AHR won’t be considering article about Kutler’s Watergate transcripts – Note to Peter Klingman from the staff of the American Historical Review in response to his submission, 2-6-09
  • Stanley Kutler: Attacked by historian Peter Klingman in frontpage NYT news story New York Times frontpage story, 1-31-09
  • Spencer Crew: Time to end Black History Month? “I don’t see it going away,” said Spencer Crew, a history professor at George Mason University, adding that a diverse year-round history curriculum can still be augmented in depth during Black History Month. “There’s a Women’s History Month,” Crew said. “No one would argue that we don’t need to be reminded of women who have done things that are important.” – AP, 2-6-09
  • Wayne Glasker: Black History Month holds greater meaning this year: “It’s important to remember what everyone has done,” said Wayne Glasker, an associate professor of history and director of the African American Studies Program at Rutgers University-Camden. “I do think the election of a black president has an impact on young people. They see possibilities that older generations perhaps did not see. You lead by example and this is a wonderful example for the younger generation.” – Cherry Hill Courier Post, NJ, 2-1-09
  • Black History at Lunchtime Series runs through February at Vanderbilt University: The Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center will host a series of free, public lunchtime discussions led by academic leaders in celebration of Black History Month. The Black History at Lunchtime Series: “The Quest for Black Citizenship in the Americas” will begin Wednesday, Feb. 11, at noon in the Black Cultural Center’s auditorium. -
THIS
WEEK
IN
HIST.:

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

    On This Day in History….

  • 08/02/1622 – King James I disbands the English parliament
  • 08/02/1690 – French and Indian troops set Schenectady settlement NY on fire
  • 08/02/1837 – 1st VP chosen by Senate, Richard Johnson (Van Buren admin)
  • 08/02/1861 – Confederate States of America organizes in Montgomery, Ala
  • 08/02/1865 – 1st black major in US army, Martin Robinson Delany
  • 08/02/1887 – Dawes Act passed (indians living apart from tribe granted citizenship)
  • 08/02/1894 – Enforcement Act repealed, making it easier to disenfranchise blacks
  • 08/02/1904 – Russo-Japanese War begins
  • 08/02/1915 – “Birth of a Nation” opens at Clune’s Auditorium in LA
  • 08/02/1940 – Lodtz, 1st large ghetto established by Nazis in Poland
  • 08/02/1942 – Congress advises FDR that, Americans of Japanese descent should be locked up en masse so they wouldn’t oppose the US war effort
  • 08/02/1944 – 1st black reporter accredited to White House, Harry McAlpin
  • 08/02/1969 – Last edition of Saturday Evening Post
  • 08/02/1971 – South Vietnamese troops invade Laos
  • 08/02/1973 – Senate names 7 members to investigate Watergate scandal
  • 09/02/1775 – English Parliament declares Mass colony is in rebellion
  • 09/02/1825 – House of Representatives elects John Quincy Adams 6th US president
  • 09/02/1861 – Tennessee votes against secession
  • 09/02/1861 – Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens elected president and VP of CSA
  • 09/02/1942 – Daylight Savings War Time goes into effect in US
  • 09/02/1943 – FDR orders minimal 48 hour work week in war industry
  • 09/02/1950 – Sen Joseph McCarthy charges State Dept infested with 205 communists
  • 09/02/1964 – 1st appearance of Beatles on “Ed Sullivan Show” (73.7 million viewers)
  • 10/02/1676 – Wampanoag Indians under King Philip kill all men in Lancaster Mass
  • 10/02/1763 – Treaty of Paris ends French-Indian War, surrendering Canada to England
  • 10/02/1934 – 1st Jewish immigrant ship to break the English blockade in Palestine
  • 10/02/1954 – Eisenhower warns against US intervention in Vietnam
  • 10/02/1967 – 25th Amendment (Presidential Disability and Succession) in effect
  • 10/02/1989 – Ron Brown chosen 1st black chairman of a major US party (Democrats)
  • 11/02/1531 – Henry VIII recognized as supreme head of Church in England
  • 11/02/1768 – Samuel Adams letter, circulates around American colonies, opposing Townshend Act taxes
  • 11/02/1790 – Society of Friends petitions Congress for abolition of slavery
  • 11/02/1861 – US House unanimously passes resolution guaranteeing noninterference with slavery in any state
  • 11/02/1861 – President-elect Lincoln takes train from Spingfield IL to Wash DC
  • 11/02/1945 – Yalta agreement signed by FDR, Churchill and Stalin
  • 11/02/1953 – Pres Eisenhower refuses clemency appeal for Rosenberg couple
  • 11/02/1531 – Henry VIII recognized as supreme head of Church in England
  • 11/02/1752 – Pennsylvania Hospital, the 1st hospital in the US, opened
  • 11/02/1768 – Samuel Adams letter, circulates around American colonies, opposing Townshend Act taxes
  • 11/02/1790 – Society of Friends petitions Congress for abolition of slavery
  • 11/02/1811 – Pres Madison prohibits trade with Britain for 3rd time in 4 years
  • 11/02/1861 – US House unanimously passes resolution guaranteeing noninterference with slavery in any state
  • 11/02/1861 – President-elect Lincoln takes train from Spingfield IL to Wash DC
  • 11/02/1945 – Yalta agreement signed by FDR, Churchill and Stalin
  • 11/02/1953 – Pres Eisenhower refuses clemency appeal for Rosenberg couple
  • 12/02/1733 – Georgia founded by James Oglethorpe, at site of Savannah
  • 12/02/1793 – 1st US fugitive slave law passed; requires return of escaped slaves
  • 12/02/1825 – Creek Indian treaty signed. Tribal chiefs agree to turn over all their land in Georgia to the government and migrate west by Sept 1, 1826
  • 12/02/1865 – Henry Highland Garnet, is 1st black to speak in US House of Reps
  • 12/02/1873 – Congress abolishes bimetallism and authorizes $1 and $3 gold coins
  • 12/02/1909 – National Assn for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) forms
  • 12/02/1915 – Cornerstone laid for Lincoln Memorial in Wash DC
  • 12/02/1924 – President Calvin Coolidge makes 1st presidential radio speech
  • 12/02/1950 – Sen Joe McCarthy claims to have list of 205 communist govt employees
  • 12/02/1962 – Bus boycott starts in Macon, Georgia
  • 13/02/1566 – St Augustine, Florida founded
  • 13/02/1635 – Oldest US public institution, Boston Latin School founded
  • 13/02/1861 – Abraham Lincoln declared president
  • 13/02/1864 – Miridian Campaign fighting at Chunky Creek and Wyatt, Mississippi
  • 13/02/1895 – Moving picture projector patented
  • 13/02/1907 – English suffragettes storm British Parliament and 60 women are arrested
  • 13/02/1957 – Southern Christian Leadership Conference organizes in New Orleans
  • 13/02/1968 – US sends 10,500 additional soldiers to Vietnam
  • 14/02/1130 – Jewish Cardinal Pietro Pierleone elected as anti-pope Anacletus II
  • 14/02/1689 – English parliament places Mary Stuart/Prince Willem III on the throne
  • 14/02/1848 – James K Polk became 1st pres photographed in office (Matthew Brady)
  • 14/02/1876 – A G Bell and Elisha Gray apply separately for telephone patents Supreme Court eventually rules Bell rightful inventor
  • 14/02/1896 – Theodor Herzl publishes “Der Judenstaat”
  • 14/02/1949 – 1st session of Knesset (Jerusalem Israel)
  • 14/02/1962 – 1st lady Jacqueline Kennedy conducts White House tour on TV
  • 14/02/1971 – Richard Nixon installs secret taping system in White House
  • 15/02/1851 – Black abolitionists invade Boston courtroom rescueing a fugitive slave
  • 15/02/1861 – Ft Point completed and garrisoned (but has never fired cannon in anger)
  • 15/02/1862 – Grant’s major assault on Ft Donelson, Tennessee
  • 15/02/1879 – Congress authorizes women lawyers to practice before Supreme Ct
  • 15/02/1903 – 1st Teddy Bear introduced in America, made by Morris and Rose Michtom
  • 15/02/1918 – 1st WW I US army troop ship torpedoed and sunk by Germany, off Ireland
  • 15/02/1929 – St Valentine’s Day massacre (Chicago)
  • 15/02/1933 – Pres-elect Franklin Roosevelt survives assassination attempt
  • 15/02/1965 – Canada replaces Union Jack flag with Maple Leaf
IN
THE
NEWS:

IN THE NEWS:

OP-
EDs:

OP-EDs:

  • Michael Kazin: A Liberal Revival of Americanism – WaPo, 2-8-09
  • Alan Brinkley: Railing Against the Rich … A Great American Tradition – WSJ, 2-7-09
  • Niall Ferguson: Keynes can’t help us now – LAT, 2-6-09
  • Tevi Troy: Trojan Horse Threats to American health care lurk within the stimulus package – Weekly Standard, 1-29-09
REV-
IEWS:

REVIEWS:

  • Patrick Tyler: Friends and Enemies, Enemies and Friends A WORLD OF TROUBLE The White House and the Middle East — From the Cold War to the War on TerrorNYT, 2-6-09
  • Barry Werth: Intellectual Selection: BANQUET AT DELMONICO’S Great Minds, the Gilded Age, and the Triumph of Evolution in AmericaNYT, 2-1-09
  • Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Adam Gopnik: Charles Darwin, Abolitionist: DARWIN’S SACRED CAUSE How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin’s Views on Human Evolution, ANGELS AND AGES A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life NYT, 2-1-09
  • Adrian Desmond and James Moore: DARWIN’S SACRED CAUSE How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin’s Views on Human Evolution, First Chapter – NYT, 2-1-09
  • Adam Gopnik: ANGELS AND AGES A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life, First Chapter – NYT, 2-1-09
  • Cari Beauchamp: Ready for His Close-Up JOSEPH P. KENNEDY PRESENTS His Hollywood Years NYT, 2-1-09
  • Peter Martin, Jeffrey Meyers: Lives of Johnson SAMUEL JOHNSON A Biography, SAMUEL JOHNSON The Struggle NYT, 2-1-09
  • Robin Wilson: How to Measure a Cheshire Grin?: LEWIS CARROLL IN NUMBERLAND His Fantastical Mathematical Logical Life: An Agony in Eight Fits - NYT, 2-1-09
  • Jessica Helfand: Still Life, with Scissors and Glue SCRAPBOOKS An American HistoryWaPo, 2-1-09
  • Steven Johnson: Breath of Thought: THE INVENTION OF AIR A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of AmericaNYT, 1-25-09
  • Adam Kirsch: Judaism’s Redefiner BENJAMIN DISRAELINYT, 1-25-09
  • Claire Berlinski: Thatcher’s Legacy “THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE” Why Margaret Thatcher Matters NYT, 1-18-09
  • Mark K. Updegrove: Crisis Management BAPTISM BY FIRE Eight Presidents Who Took Office in Times of CrisisNYT, 1-18-09
  • Alan Brinkley: ‘This Is Our Moment’ – NYT, 1-18-09
  • Gwen Ifill: Demographics and Destiny THE BREAKTHROUGH Politics and Race in the Age of Obama NYT, 1-18-09
  • David Greenberg on Adam Cohen and Burt Solomon: Fearless Leader NOTHING TO FEAR FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America, FDR V. THE CONSTITUTION The Court-Packing Fight and the Triumph of Democracy - NYT, 1-18-09
  • Burt Solomon: FDR V. THE CONSTITUTION The Court-Packing Fight and the Triumph of Democracy , First Chapter – NYT, 1-18-09
  • Eric J. Sundquist: A New National Scripture KING’S DREAMNYT, 1-18-09
  • Eric J. Sundquist: KING’S DREAM, First Chapter – NYT, 1-18-09
BEST
SEL-
LERS:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

  • Jon Meacham: AMERICAN LION #5 — (11 weeks on list) – 2-8-09
  • THE AMERICAN JOURNEY OF BARACK OBAMA, by the editors of Life magazine. #7 — (11 weeks on list) – 2-8-09
  • Niall Ferguson: THE ASCENT OF MONEY #12 — (7 weeks on list) – 2-8-09
  • Gwen Ifill: THE BREAKTHROUGH #13 — (1 week on list) – 2-8-09
  • Ronald C. White Jr: A. LINCOLN #13 – 2-8-09
  • Adam Cohen: NOTHING TO FEAR – #27 – 2-8-09
  • Liza Mundy: MICHELLE – #28 – 2-8-09
  • Evan Thomas: A LONG TIME COMING #30 – 2-8-09
BLOGS:

BLOGS:

QUO-
TES:

QUOTES:

  • Jennifer Bean Bower “Across Generations, Traces of a Poor Maid’s Murder”: Jennifer Bean Bower, a Winston-Salem historian who has written about the case, cites the power of oral tradition, a power transcending the passage of 115 years. “There were a lot of people who remembered,” she says. “People who were children who saw the hanging and told their descendants.” – NYT, 2-2-09
  • Frank Snowden: Becoming the professor ‘Associates in Teaching’ program to offer doctoral students the opportunity to plan, teach Yale courses: “graduate students should benefit enormously from such an experience in terms of their career development… Additional opportunities of this type to gain valuable teaching experience should also be an asset in a job market that looks as though it will be tight, at least in the near future. Most of all, however, this program should provide a productive and exciting educational experience both for the graduate students and for the professors involved.” – Yale Daily News, 1-28-09
PRO-
FILES:

PROFILES:

INTER-
VIEWS:

INTERVIEWS:

FEAT-
URES:

FEATURES:

HON-
ORS:

HONORS, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

SPOT-
TED:

SPOTTED:

  • David Levering Lewis: Obama election won’t resolve ‘problems of race,’ historian says – Baltimore Sun, 2-8-09
  • Benny Morris: Protestors oppose speech by Israeli historian, author – http://www.middletownpress.com, 2-2-09
  • Norman Naimark: Encourages young historians: ‘They can do better than we can': Naimark gave his talk, “Passing the Torch: Thoughts about History, Teaching, and Mentorship,” on Jan. 29 for the Award-Winning Teachers on Teaching series sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University – Stanford Report, 1-30-09
EVENT
CAL.:

EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • February 11-12, 2009: Scholars to hail Darwin at university The origin of a long debate – Online Athens, GA, 2-7-09
  • February 13, 2009: History forum highlights Dutch capitalism in America: A look at Dutch commercial capitalism in America is the focus of the next history forum presented by the California State University, Bakersfield history department. Oliver Rink will present Wampum, Furs and Builders: Dutch Commercial Capitalism Comes to America. The talk will provide a glimpse into the trading empire of the United Provinces of the Netherlands on Friday, Feb. 13, at 3:30 p.m. in the Albertson Room. – Mas, CA, 2-5-09
  • February 23, 2009: The University of Southern Indiana College of Liberal Arts symposium “Abraham Lincoln’s Life and Legacy” has been rescheduled for Monday, Feb. 23. The symposium was originally scheduled for yesterday but the USI campus was closed due to the winter storm. – Henderson Gleaner, KY, 1-29-09
  • February 24, 2009: Michael Burlingame, Abe Lincoln scholar coming to town: Northwestern Oklahoma State University will participate in celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s 16th president, during an event on Tuesday, Feb. 24, from 7 to 9 p.m. in Herod Hall Auditorium. -
  • April 3-4, 2009:The Obama Phenomenon: Race and Political Discourse in the United States Today, University of Memphis
ON TV:

ON TV:

  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV: Politics, “The Reagan I Knew” Author: William F. Buckley, Sunday at 7:00 PM, and Monday at 3:00 AM
  • PBS: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln at 8 p.m. Feb. 9. on the American Experience – PBS
  • History Channel: “The Samurai,” Monday, February 9, @ 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld: Alcatraz Down Under,” Monday, February 9, @ 9pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Ancient Discoveries: Ancient New York ,” Monday, February 9, @ 10pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Nostradamus: 2012,” Tuesday, February 10 16, @ 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Slave Catchers, Slave Resisters: Slave Catchers, Slave Resisters,” Wednesday, February 11, @ 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Battlefield Detectives: The Civil War: Gettysburg,” Wednesday, February 11, @ 4pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Battlefield Detectives: The Civil War: Antietam,” Wednesday, February 11, @ 5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Horrors at Andersonville Prison: The Trial of Henry Wirz,” Wednesday, February 11, @ 6pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Lincoln,” Thursday, February 12, @ 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Investigating History: Lincoln: Man or Myth?,” Thursday, February 12, @ 5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Conspiracy?: Lincoln Assassination,” Thursday, February 12, @ 6pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “USS Constellation: Battling for Freedom,” Friday, February 13, @ 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Deep Sea Detectives: Slave Ship Uncovered!,” Friday, February 13, @ 4pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Wrath Of God: Snowbound: The Curse of the Sierra,” Friday, February 13, @ 6pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Wrath Of God: Buffalo Blizzard: Siege and Survival,” Friday, February 13, @ 6pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “History’s Mysteries: Ship of Gold,” Friday, February 13, @ 7pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld,” Marathon, Saturday, February 14, @ 2-5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The White House: Behind Closed Doors,” Saturday, February 14, @ 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre,” Saturday, February 14, @ 10pm ET/PT
NEW
BOOKS:

COMING SOON BOOKS:

  • Daniel Mark Epstein: Lincoln’s Men: The President and His Private Secretaries, January 27, 2009
  • Susan Jacoby, The Age of American Unreason (Reprint), February 10, 2009
  • Thomas E. Ricks, The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008, February 10, 2009
  • David Elliot Cohen, Obama: The Historic Front Pages, February 11, 2009
  • The New York Times, Obama: The Historic Journey, February 16, 2009
  • Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, February 24, 2009
  • Paul D. Escott, What Shall We Do with the Negro?: Lincoln, White Racism, and Civil War America, March 1, 2009
  • David Donald, Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War, March 1, 2009
  • Joel C. Rosenberg, Inside the Revolution: How the Followers of Jihad, Jefferson and Jesus Are Battling to Dominate the Middle East and Transform the World, March 10, 2009
  • Neal Bascomb, Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi, March 11, 2009
  • Jeff Guinn, Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde, March 10, 2009
  • Karen Greenberg, The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days, March 13, 2009
  • William Greider, Come Home, America: The Rise and Fall (And Redeeming Promise) of Our Country, March 17, 2009
  • John Guy, Daughter’s Love: Thomas More and His Dearest Meg, March 17, 2009
  • John Gill: 1809 Thunder on the Danube: Napoleon’s Defeat of the Habsburgs, Vol. II: The Fall of Vienna and the Battle of Aspern, March 19, 2009
  • Alan Huffman, Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History, March 24. 2009
  • Amir Taheri, The Persian Night: Iran from Khomeini to Ahmadinejad, March 25, 2009
  • Simon Schama, American Future: A History, May 19, 2009
OBITS:

DEPARTED:

Posted on Monday, February 9, 2009 at 3:38 AM

Top Young Historians: 100 – Jason M. Opal

Top Young Historians

Jason M. Opal, 32

Note: This is the 100th Top Young Historian HNN has profiled!

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of History and George C. Wiswell Jr. Research Fellow, Colby College
Area of Research: Jacksonian Democracy and the politics of “vengeance” in early national America; international law in Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary public life; Thomas Paine and anti-imperialism in the eighteenth century
Education: Ph.D, History, Brandeis University, 2004.
Major Publications: Opal is the author of the Beyond the Farm: National Ambitions in Rural New England, University of Pennsylvania, March 2008, and the editor of Common Sense and Other Writings by Thomas Paine, Norton Critical Edition, Jason M.  Opal JPGforthcoming (under contract).
Opal is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “The Labors of Liberality: Christian Benevolence and National Prejudice in the American Founding,” Journal of American History, 94 (March 2008), lead article; “Exciting Emulation: Academies and the Transformation of the Rural North, 1780s-1820s,” Journal of American History, 91 (September 2004), lead article, winner of Binkley-Stephenson Award; “The Making of the Victorian Campus: Teacher and Student at Amherst College, 1850-1880,” History of Education Quarterly, 42 (2002). Featured and reviewed in November 2002 Chronicle of Higher Education; “The Politics of ‘Industry': Federalism in Concord and Exeter, New Hampshire, 1790-1805,” Journal of the Early Republic, 20 (Winter 2000).
Opal is currently working on, “Freeborn Outlaws: Personal and National Sovereignties in Revolutionary North America, 1750-1830,” Avenging the People: Andrew Jackson and the Ordeal of the Early United States.
Awards: Opal is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Colby College, Class of 2006 Charles Bassett Teaching Award, 2006; Organization of American Historians, Binkley-Stephenson Award for Best Scholarly Article, 2005;
Colby College, George C. Wiswell, Jr. Research Fellowship in American History, 2004 to present;
Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Charlotte W. Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship, 2002-03;
New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, Regional Fellowship, Summer 2002;
American Antiquarian Society, Legacy Fellowship, Summer 2002;
Spencer Foundation/Brandeis University, Research Grant for Interdisciplinary Seminar on Education, 2002;
Brandeis University, Rose and Irwin Crown Fellowship in American History, 1998-2002;
Cornell University, Department of History, George S. Lustig Prize, Outstanding Senior, 1998.

Personal Anecdote

Historians should read cozy anecdotes with skepticism, but…well, when I was twelve, my family went to see Les Miserables at the Shubert Theater in Boston. I was swept away by the dramatic tale of hunger and poverty, redemption and rebellion. During the car ride home, I kept pestering my parents and my brother with all manner of questions. Why did so many people suffer? Were things really so bad in nineteenth-century France? Why hadn’t the Revolution of 1789 made life better? A few years later, the quick collapse of the Soviet Empire-and the brutal repression of the democratic protests in China-made these historical questions seem all the more real and vital and living.

So, I went to college knowing I would major in history and thinking I would study revolutions. Because of the great professors I met at Cornell and then Brandeis, I came to focus on the American Revolution and its aftermath. Where did this revolution come from? What did it accomplish? How does it continue to shape, define, and diminish democracy in America? As a teacher and scholar, I try to use many different strands of analysis so that I can ask big questions and study enduring themes. My first book was a study of ambition in the post-Revolutionary age, especially among the rural households of New England; my new project is about vengeance and its ascent in American foreign policy and nationalism. (My wife, Holly, jokes that I’m writing a series about the seven deadly sins of the early United States. First ambition, now vengeance…) I’m also working on an edited collection of Tom Paine’s work, which has allowed me to learn again about a thinker and radical I thought I knew.

In any case, corny as it sounds, I try to retain a childish enthusiasm for the study of the past. This is fairly easy to do, because I am more and more convinced that studying history is an ethical as well as intellectual journey. By revealing to us the whole sweep of the human drama, across huge swaths of space and time, and by enabling us to comprehend people unlike ourselves, history jars us out of a narrow, shallow self-regard. It can make us more humble and decent, more compassionate and curious. So I consider myself very lucky to be able to learn and teach and write history for a living.

Quotes

By Jason M. Opal

  • The eventual emergence of ambition into a national creed was of course a long and fitful process, full of continuities and adaptations, through which the prevailing values of a primarily rural and household-based society gave way to those of a largely urban and individualized one. That much is clear. But the slow and uneven pace of cultural evolution can conceal rather sudden shifts in the cultural climate, after which certain ideas, conceits, and institutions gain traction while others give ground. The ensuing changes do not simply reveal and reflect the social and economic trajectories we now see; they also help to make those trends happen, and to frame how people remember and respond to them. To recognize this is not to impose simplicity on a kaleidoscopic world, nor to replace “material” explanations with purely ideological ones. It is, instead, to appreciate the interplay of ideas and circumstances, of aspirations and situations, within particular stages of recoverable history.One of these cultural shifts began in the United States during the late 1780s, after the narrow victory of the Federal Constitution over more localized hopes for the new states. With the creation of the “extended republic” came a widespread effort to uproot households and communities from their provincial identities and to align them Beyond the Farm National Ambitions in Rural New England JPG with national judgments of self and success, value and virtue, public need and personal worth. While trying to turn a specific kind of ambition into an organizing principle of national life, this effort also took aim at alternate, more familiar, and typically more viable forms of aspiration for those living in a rural social order of laboring households and interdependent neighbors. More and less than a set of adaptations to market expansion and integration, “the installation of ambition” was a discernible project, a drawn-out campaign that entailed innovations in both the imaginative and discursive realm (how people thought and ideas operated) and the institutional and social terrain (how people were conditioned and resources deployed). It also occasioned a moral controversy that mostly ensued, not between social groups or political factions, but within communities, families, and individuals. This book offers a social history of that personal and cultural struggle-a story of restless sons and ambivalent fathers, resilient women and defeated men, bright-eyed reformers and hard-bitten neighbors.

    The restless sons were the focal points of the changes and conflicts at hand, because they, more than their sisters, stood to inherit both the local properties that brought independence and the national society that promised (and demanded) something more. For this reason, young men predominate in the pages that follow. But how to study them? Who to investigate and who to leave out? Any attempt to generalize about the young men of the young republic will tend to exaggerate the appeal and momentum of the project to promote ambition. It will also miss the inner struggles that ambitious striving brought (and still brings). A resort to biography, on the other hand, would lose the collective sway and texture of the larger effort in the details of a single life. By way of both narrative design and methodological compromise, then, I have crafted this history of ambition around six young men who found that passion to be compelling, inspiring, or necessary in their lives, and who therefore sought to transcend a social world and personal identity built on independence. — Jason M. Opal in “Beyond the Farm National Ambitions in Rural New England”

  • Of all the keynote speakers who addressed their respective states on July 4, 1788, the Rev. Enos Hitchcock of Providence, Rhode Island may have had the most difficult task. Two weeks earlier, New Hampshire, the requisite ninth state, had approved the Federal Constitution; a few days after that, leading Federalists from Providence had tapped him to make a “suitable” oration on the approaching holiday. Like most Providence residents-and almost every Congregationalist pastor-Hitchcock supported the new Constitution as a vital reply to social unrest and fiscal chaos. The rural majorities of Rhode Island, however, overwhelmingly opposed the plan, and on the night of July 3rd, hundreds or possibly thousands of them (some armed) marched to the seaport and told the authorities to banish any mention of ratification from the next day’s festivities. The event should herald independence only, they insisted. Meanwhile, black residents planned another celebration, one that would suitably applaud the state’s recent decision to criminalize the slave trade. “May Unity prevail throughout all Nations,” they toasted. Rev. Hitchcock shared these enlightened aspirations and tightly associated them with the Federalist cause. But he also knew that his listeners would include slave-owners as well as Anti-Federalists, and that these men had very different hopes for the new nation than he did.As it happened, Hitchcock may have been the perfect man for the delicate job. Contemporaries recall him as an affable gentleman who enjoyed creature comforts and social harmony. Having married into independent wealth, he had a talent for looking on the bright side of things and promoting the virtues espoused by his church, the First or Benevolent Congregational Society. Noting that religion was a blessing to “all nations of the world,” its charter welcomed “any good man” to a fellowship based “not on the prejudice of party, but on the broad basis of Christian philanthropy.” Ever since his settlement in 1783, Hitchcock had tried to heal the sectarian rifts that raged with special intensity in his adopted state. All of his public addresses during the 1780s stressed the virtues of denominational harmony, and at least two of them closed with his stated hope for a future in which “universal love smiles on all around.” If anyone could please everyone, it was the Benevolent pastor.

    However unique he was for his geniality, though, Hitchcock was not a seminal interpreter of either Christian or Enlightenment morality. Even admiring members of the Benevolent Church recall that he was “seldom original” and “not profound” in the pulpit. Compared to the Rev. Samuel Hopkins of Newport, Rhode Island, among others, Hitchcock was a theological lightweight. And although he belonged to the Society of the Cincinnati and knew many of the leading lights of the infant republic, he had little influence in national politics. Hitchcock’s significance derives instead from his earnest, even caricatured embrace of a moral and political identity that peaked during the 1780s; he is important for what he reflects rather than what he accomplished. Along with a wide range of public figures, this pastor considered “liberality” the indispensable quality for the people and institutions of a presumably enlightened age. He was determined both to be liberal and to spread liberal values, and never more so than during his July 4th, 1788 oration. — Jason M. Opal in “Exciting Emulation: Academies and the Transformation of the Rural North, 1780s-1820s,” Journal of American History, 91 (September 2004)”

    About Jason M. Opal

  • “Through the lives of six ‘ordinary’ rural men who left their fathers’ farms in search of something better, Jason Opal explains how ambition came to stand near the center of U.S. national character. Both a collective biography and a sweeping historical synthesis, Beyond the Farm sheds new light on the transformation of civil society and boldly revises our understanding of the emergence of capitalism.” — Catherine E. Kelly, University of Oklahoma
  • Rural Americans in the early republic discovered that they were capable of being much more than what their fathers had been. This assumption, that hard work–what was then called enterprise and self-improvement– could make one better than one’s original lot, was a fundamental change in how young rural American men thought about their own identities and lives. It required, first, recognizing that change was good, and that one could and even should reject one’s family’s longstanding practices. The second, central to J. M. Opal’s argument in this insightful, well-written book, was ambition–the fostering of a desire to improve one’s self, to better one’s own lot in life…..
    No institution was more important than the academy. In Opal’s best chapter, he demonstrates how the national elites’ goals for the new republic spurred the proliferation of private academies around New England….
    Democratic ambition rejected the classical fear that ambitious elites would threaten society. Instead, it redefined ambition as a healthy spur to self-improvement for all citizens. If today that drive has led to a materialistic, shallow, overly individualistic society, we cannot forget that in the period between the American Revolution and the Civil War it also liberated the human spirit. Let us thank Opal, therefore, for historicizing ambition and its public spiritedness in the past and hope with him that if ambition “worked differently in the past it might do so in the future” (p. 192). — Johann Neem (Department of History, Western Washington University), H-SHEAR (August, 2008)
  • This elegantly written and carefully argued article examines those rural private academies that were :the primary educational innovation of the new republic,” their effort to impose discipline and encourage student achievement by “emulation” (essentially encouraging students to follow the example of others who excelled), and the resistance the academies provoked within their communities. Although situated within the larger debate over preindustrial mentalités, the article deemphasizes the signifi cance of an emerging market economy. Both sides in the debate over academies worked within the constraints of a developing capitalistic system; both, moreover, could claim justifi cation within the ideology of the revolution. And yet their responses to an initiative that emphasized liberal education over basic skills and individual achievement over corporate eff ort marked an important divide in early American society and culture. By sympathetically interpreting those responses, tracing their roots, and explaining their implications, Opal provides a fresh, evocative perspective on an important part of post-revolutionary America. — Bruce Levine, University of California, Santa Cruz; Pauline Maier, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chair; and James H. Merrell, Vassar College, upon awarding the Organization of American Historians’ Binkley-Stephenson Award in 2005 for the best scholarly article published in the Journal of American History during the preceding calendar year
  • “Professor Opal is one of the best professors at Colby. He is intelligent, compassionate, fair, challenging, interesting, bold and cultured. I could not respect him any more than I do.”…
    “Amazing professor – incredibly passionate and transfers the same passion to his students. A must at Colby – you have to take a class with this man, and take advantage of his open door office hours…. Super approachable and endlessly helpful.”…
    “He’s the best professor I’ve ever had! I hate history and now I want to take another class with him.”…
    “He’s the best professor I’ve ever had! I hate history and now I want to take another class with him.”…
    “I love the class. He is so passionate about the subject you can’t help but be interested too! He is very helpful outside of class, too, and is a great prof. to just have a quality conversation with.”…
    “I love him. His classes are so interesting, and organized, he always has a very detailed syllabus, and he’s a very helpful paper-grader. He also tastefully sprinkles his lectures with jokes, baseball analogies, and references to The Onion.”…
    “sooo engaging, really into the material, young enough to relate to the students.”
    “Prof Opal is a really great teacher and is really enthusiastic about the material. I am definitely going to take another class with him….”
    “Really great lectures… good guy too… I’d take another class!” — Anonymous Students
  • Posted on Monday, February 16, 2009 at 1:17 AM

    On This Day in History…. February 12, 1809 the 16th President Abraham Lincoln in born

    By Bonnie Goodman, HNN, 2-12-09

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. She blogs at History Musings

    INTRODUCTION

    On this day in history… February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln the 16th President of the United States was born in a one-room cabin on his family’s Sinking Spring Farm in Kentucky. This made him the first president to born out of the thirteen original colonies.

    abraham-lincoln-625 On the bicentennial anniversary of his birth, historians and the public alike revere Lincoln as one of the country’s greatest presidents, but Lincoln entered the Presidency in 1861 during the country’s most divisive times and on the brink of civil war. Prior to winning the presidential election for the new Republican Party in 1860, Lincoln had worked as a lawyer, a state legislator in Illinois, and served one term as a Congressman in the United States House of Representatives, he ran for the Senate twice, but lost both times.

    Lincoln presided over the country’s greatest challenge, the Civil War against the Southern Confederates states, and steered a victory that preserved the Union. In 1863, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, abolishing slavery, one of the main contention points between the North and South, thereby ending an institution that kept a large portion of America’s population in bondage. Lincoln was known as a master debater for his soaring oratory, and his Gettysburg address is one of the most quoted speeches in history.

    Lincoln became the first President assassinated in office, when John Wilkes Booth Lincoln shot him on April 11, 1865 in Ford’s theater just two days after General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederacy at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. The President became a martyr for his country, but was unable to see through his plans for reconstruction after the war.

    Two hundred years later, Lincoln’s vision for rights and freedom for African Americans, a process which begun with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution ending slavery, has come to fruition with the election of another president from Illinois, Barack Obama. Obama, the nation’s first black president, has compared himself to Lincoln throughout his presidential campaign from his announcement to seek the presidency in front of the Illinois State Legislature in Springfield to his inauguration ceremony where he was the first president since Lincoln to be sworn in with the Lincoln Bible.

    On the eve of Lincoln’s bicentennial, President Obama praised Lincoln stating, “For despite all that divided us – North and South, black and white – he had an unyielding belief that we were, at heart, one nation, and one people. And because of Abraham Lincoln, and all who’ve carried on his work in the generations since, that is what we remain today.”

    BICENTENNIAL NEWS

    • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln was the first president born beyond the original 13 states…. – US News & World Report, 2-10-09
    • From kids to Obama, nation marks Lincoln’s 200th: Folksy, melancholy Abraham Lincoln would have been dumbfounded by the fuss over his birthday Thursday. Bells tolled, wreaths were laid, speeches intoned and banjos picked to mark the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth in a Kentucky log cabin. At the Lincoln presidential museum in Springfield, hundreds of excited schoolchildren joined in reciting the 16th president’s Gettysburg Address — an attempt to break the record for the biggest worldwide crowd reading it aloud together. – AP, 2-12-09
    • Happy 200th, President Lincoln: Bells tolled, wreaths were laid, speeches intoned and banjos picked across the nation Thursday in honor of the Great Emancipator. Abraham Lincoln was hailed on his 200th birthday with celebrations from his home states of Kentucky and Illinois to the nation’s capital. President Obama and congressional leaders praised Lincoln as the embodiment of American ideals of freedom, equality and unity. – USA Today, 2-12-09
    • Reflections On Lincoln’s 200th Birthday: As the nation marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the hallowed image of the sixteenth president seems to be everywhere. It is estimated that more than 14,000 books have been written about Lincoln. In this Lincoln bicentennial year, there are books about books about Lincoln. Record high prices are being paid for authentic Lincoln memorabilia. President Obama, a big fan of Honest Abe, has described Lincoln’s life as “a fundamental element of the American character.” – CBS News, 2-12-09
    • 200 years later, a more complex view of Lincoln: Born 200 years ago Thursday in a log cabin on the Kentucky frontier, Abraham Lincoln today sits deified in a marble temple on the National Mall in Washington. Americans are still trying to figure out how he came such a long way, and what kind of man made the trip. Having saved the Union, freed the slaves and redefined freedom, Lincoln was struck down in his hour of triumph. He is the most compelling figure in U.S. history, the subject of about 16,000 books in English, more than anyone except Jesus and Shakespeare. – USA Today, 2-11-09
    • A Curious-Looking Hero Still Mesmerizes the Nation Even Tiniest Lincoln Relics Command Reverence: As Washington prepares to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth Thursday, Abraham Lincoln is venerated as a national saint — part man, part myth…. – WaPo, 2-11-09
    • Ford’s Theatre packs in the stars for reopening: Presidential present and past intersected again Wednesday night when President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama joined stars in honoring one of his inspirations: Abraham Lincoln. The Ford’s Theatre Society held a star-studded reopening to celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth and award film greats George Lucas and Sidney Poitier with Lincoln Medals. The invitation-only ceremony was held at Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. – USA Today, 2-11-09
    • Laying claim to Lincoln: States go all out for celebration of 16th president’s bicentennial – Indianapolis Star, 2-8-09

    HISTORIANS’ QUOTES

    • Historian James M. McPherson about Lincoln mystique: Three things, I think. … He leads the Union to victory but then is martyred at the very moment of victory.
      The second thing is the Emancipation Proclamation, the abolition of slavery, one of the great events I suppose in American history from several perspectives.
      And the third I think is just the unlikely, log-cabin-to-White House, rags-to-riches, obscurity-to-fame-to-tragedy trajectory of his life.
      There’s nobody else quite like that I think in our history who appeals on several levels of fascination, curiosity, horror. …
      Also, Lincoln did not keep a diary. A lot of his letters, especially his personal letters to his wife, and hers to him, were destroyed. So there are some mysteries about Lincoln.
      Lincoln has become a touchstone for a succession of contemporary viewpoints. The gay community wanted to find a gay Lincoln, so they managed to do that, with or without evidence. The radical civil rights movement sometimes invoked Lincoln, as Martin Luther King did in his “I Have a Dream” speech. … But then Lerone Bennett damns Lincoln as a white supremacist who held back the cause of black freedom and equality.
      So everybody has to find Lincoln as either a supporter or as a whipping boy. It’s a remarkable phenomenon. I don’t think it’s true of any other American. You don’t find that happening very much, let’s say, with George Washington. But you do find it with Lincoln. – Dallas News, 2-11-09
    • Ronald C. White Jr. “10 Questions for Abraham Lincoln scholar”: His life. He starts with less than one year of formal education in a backwoods frontier town in Kentucky. And yet somehow he rises from that to become president of the United States. Lincoln’s story is even more compelling to people in Europe. He’s the American story — anybody can rise to whatever level they want….
      I want to evoke the unpretentiousness of Lincoln. There were no street numbers on houses in his day. “A. Lincoln” is what he had on the front of his house in Springfield (Illinois, when he served as state legislator)….
      I want to portray him in all his humanity. He’s not some marble god sitting in a memorial. His humor and satire could bite and hurt. He was a shrewd politician. He gets no high marks as a husband, with all that Mary went through with their two young sons dying (at the ages of 2 and 10). This is not a saintly biography, but a story of the development of Lincoln….
      He had the ability to combine high and low culture. He could speak to the common person. I argue that he wasn’t some spontaneous genius, but he worked very, very hard at it. I often say to my students, “There is no such thing as good writing. There is good rewriting.” That’s what Lincoln did. And there’s a beauty in his language. He wrote “out loud” — he would whisper a word out loud as he wrote it. For his First Inaugural Address, the last paragraph was suggested by [then Secretary of State] William Seward, whose suggested wording began, “I close.” Lincoln extended it to, “I am loathe to close.” You can hear the music of it….
      He loved poetry. That’s one of the keys as to why he was a good speaker. John F. Kennedy also loved poetry. Our best speakers have an ear for poetry. Lincoln loved to read Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Shakespeare. He said he read with two senses: his eyes and his ears. He loved to read poetry aloud, to hear the sound of it. One of his secretaries said, “The president read Shakespeare until my ears almost burned off.”…
      He would write notes on little slips of paper and stow them in his top hat or in the bottoms of the drawers of his desk. He was thinking things through. He always began with a problem: The problem of slavery. The problem of secession. The problem of the Dred Scott decision. He would work his way into looking at the problem through his writing. I call his notes his “intellectual diary.” Sometimes his notes would become the basis of a future speech….
      The most important lesson Lincoln could teach Obama is that he will need to school himself. Lincoln taught himself to be president on the job. Painfully aware of his own shortcomings — in administrative abilities and military understanding, to name but two — his success wasn’t simply in the nature of his political genius… but in the hard work he expended day after wearing day in the White House. – UCLA Today, 2-12-09
    • Harold Holzer “Honest Abe Made History in New York”: “It can truly be said that Lincoln was made in New York. His political career took flight only when he triumphed at Cooper Union and his speech was reprinted in five New York daily newspapers and republished in a best-selling pamphlet and when he posed for Brady — a pose that launched a thousand engravings and lithographs and virtually did the campaigning for him during the presidential race when Lincoln himself, true to tradition, stayed home and said nothing.” – MSNBC, 2-11-09
    • Harold Holzer “A Curious-Looking Hero Still Mesmerizes the Nation Even Tiniest Lincoln Relics Command Reverence”: “He’s approachable and unreachable at the same time…. He compels us to learn more, but there’s always something we’re not going to get. – WaPo, 2-11-09
    • Henry Louis Gates, editor of “Lincoln on Race and Slavery” “Abe Lincoln: Born in a log cabin, 200 years ago”: “Lincoln’s accomplishments and a century and a half of mythologizing have had Lincoln’s image so capacious that you can find anything there.” – AP, 2-8-09
    • Gary Scott Smith “The legacy of Abraham Lincoln”: On Feb. 12 we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The relatively short history of our nation makes this a particularly momentous milestone. Of all of our leaders after the founders, only Franklin Roosevelt approaches Lincoln’s renown and stature. In poll after poll, historians and political scientists rate Lincoln as one of our greatest presidents, often the greatest.
      Many have portrayed Lincoln as a paragon of piety, a champion of freedom, a demigod, and the national redeemer. Despite his unorthodox views, many laud Lincoln as the nation’s most exemplary Christian chief executive. No American, Theodore Roosevelt insisted, more fully applied what the churches taught than Lincoln. The 16th president “stands at the spiritual center of American history,” historian Sidney Mead argued.
      Most scholars and other Americans, though, portray Lincoln much more positively. As we see it, during the most trying time in American history, Lincoln testified to God’s sovereignty, held together a coalition of free and border slave states, kept his fragmented party from falling apart, defeated the rebel states militarily, liberated four million slaves, and preserved the Union. Henry P. Tappan, the president of the University of Michigan, wrote Lincoln in 1862 that he hoped the history of the country would someday read: “Then the United States redeemed and regenerated commenced a new career of prosperity and glory; and Abraham Lincoln was hailed by his countrymen and by mankind as the second father of his country, and the hero of Liberty.” Tappan’s wish has largely been granted. – Early County News, 2-11-09
    • William Bartelt “Indiana working to bolster its Lincoln legacy”: Her death in 1818 left Lincoln with an early sense of human mortality, said William Bartelt, author of “There I Grew Up: Remembering Abraham Lincoln’s Indiana Youth.” Thomas Lincoln, a farmer, remarried about a year later. Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln bonded with Lincoln and his older sister and encouraged young Abe’s voracious appetite for reading and learning, said Bartelt, an adjunct history professor at the University of Southern Indiana. “We can’t underestimate the importance of Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, who came in and showed him a great deal of love and I think really built up his self-confidence,” he said. “She destroys all of the stepmother myths. She said he was the best boy she ever saw.” – AP, 2-11-09
    • Eric Foner “Revoking Civil Liberties: Lincoln’s Constitutional Dilemma His suspension of habeas corpus is part of what some consider the “dark side” of his presidency”: In the months before he was assassinated, Lincoln found, to his surprise, that he was unable to convince Missouri’s Republican leaders—who had grown accustomed to their newfound powers—to put an end to martial law in the state. The lesson he learned, historians say, may have been a simple one: “It is much easier,” says Eric Foner, a professor of history at Columbia University, “to put these restrictions in place than it is to stop them.” – US News & World Report, 2-10-09
    • Edward L. Ayers, president of the University of Richmond “Virginia Embracing Lincoln”: “If you look at what children are taught, you see only praise for Abraham Lincoln. I would think white Virginians think Abraham Lincoln was the greatest president.” – Richmond Times Dispatch, VA
    • Gerald Prokopowicz “Lincoln dinner speaker welcomes questions”: “It’s always good to travel around to see what people are doing to remember Lincoln’s birthday,” he said. Prokopowicz was a commercial and real estate attorney before entering graduate school to pursue history, his “passion.” “I always loved history and law proved less interesting,” he said. He became interested in Lincoln while in graduate school at Harvard. He was a research assistant under David Herbert Donald, who wrote the 1995 New York Times bestseller “Lincoln.” “Up to that time I’d seen him as a mythic figure, a plastic saint,” Prokopowicz said. “I was already interested in the Civil War period and Lincoln was always in the back of my mind but working with Professor Donald helped me get a closer look at this figure.” “When I began to study him I found him fascinating, not because he was flawed but because he was real.”… “In North Carolina, some people respect Lincoln but he’s not a universally admired figure as in the Midwest, where every town has businesses or schools or streets named after him,” he said. “I’m curious to visit your part of country again and see how Lincoln is viewed across the country. He is really a universal figure in a lot of ways.” – Redlands Daily Facts, CA, 2-11-09

    BARACK OBAMA AND LINCOLN

    Abraham Lincoln

    • Obama praises Lincoln’s legacy at Ford’s Theatre: Calling the theater “hallowed space” where Lincoln’s legacy thrives, Obama praised him for restoring a sense of unity to the country, according to the prepared remarks he was to deliver to the crowd. “For despite all that divided us — North and South, black and white — he had an unyielding belief that we were, at heart, one nation, and one people,” Obama said. “And because of Abraham Lincoln, and all who’ve carried on his work in the generations since, that is what we remain today.” – AP, 2-11-09
    • “Obama and Lincoln: parallels between the centuries:” President Barack Obama is not the 21st-century Abraham Lincoln, although if you followed his campaign, you could be forgiven some confusion. From the time two years ago when Obama declared his presidential candidacy in Springfield, Ill., to his pre-Inaugural celebration before the Lincoln Memorial, Obama has linked himself to that earlier tall, skinny fellow from Illinois who was born 200 years ago today…. But drawing too many parallels between them is premature in the fourth week of Obama’s presidency. That might seem obvious, but it’s worth emphasizing, said Jason Jividen, assistant professor of political science at the University of Saint Francis. That people fall for the Obama-as-Lincoln story says something about the adept politics of Obama’s campaign and the desire of reporters for a story that resonates so powerfully with American history. “There’s nothing remarkable about politicians appealing to Lincoln,” Jividen said Wednesday. Teddy Roosevelt’s supporters compared him to Lincoln, as did Woodrow Wilson’s and Franklin Roosevelt’s. “So much of this comparison has been initiated by Obama and his speechwriters,” Jividen said. – News Sentinel, IN, 2-11-09
    • Caroline E. Janney “Historian: Obama will affect how we remember Lincoln on the 200th anniversary”: “Lincoln, who was born 200 years ago on Feb. 12, is known as a great speechwriter, thinker and consensus builder,” says Caroline E. Janney, an assistant professor of history who studies Civil War memorials and remembrance. “While people are watching how Obama is following Lincoln, many may not realize that today’s president is shaping the way we remember the 16th president. Memory is always crafted by its contemporary context.”
      “Obama has consciously constructed his connections to Lincoln from announcing his campaign in Springfield to using Lincoln’s Bible during the inauguration. Obama and his staff are hoping to use the nation’s collective memory to set the tone for this administration. The way Lincoln’s image is used will affect how we remember Lincoln. In the celebration of his 200th birthday, it will be interesting to see what celebrations focus on and what images from 2009 will carry forward.”
      “Two prominent ways Lincoln is remembered are as the great emancipator and as a rugged frontiersman who was a self-made man. But these perceptions are contested. Some historians argue that slaves emancipated themselves and Lincoln was not the key force in their freedom. Others try to dispel the image of him as frontiersman who educated himself because he was part of a middle-class family and he married a woman from a slave-holding family.”
      “People are going to remember different things during different points of history. Even if this year was not the 200th anniversary, national healing is still important because our nation has been so polarized in recent years. Of course, this is nothing like the 1860s, but it’s always helpful to look at the past to see what we can learn from it.” – Lafayette Online, 2-11-09
    • Michael Burlingame “Obama encourages connections to Lincoln”: Lincoln historian Michael Burlingame will follow Obama with his own remarks at the ALA banquet. “I hope he discusses what he admires most about Lincoln’s leadership, his inspiration from Lincoln’s anti-slavery position and as a war leader,” Burlingame said. “Lincoln was a war president and Obama is, of course, a war president.” – Galesburg, 2-11-09
    • Doris Kearns Goodwin “Historian: Lincoln ahead of his time”: “First of all, he would kill anybody in debates. He was so good at debates. He could stand on par with Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert [and] Jay Leno without missing a beat, and people would feel a sense of his person as a result of that….
      I think the fact that [President Obama] has embraced Lincoln is only a good thing. It means he’s got a mentor. Whenever a president looks back on history, it means they don’t have to start all over again. I think the main thing that [Lincoln] would do would be to assure Obama that he had been through difficult times before and that somehow this country has the strength to get through these difficult moments. He would probably tell him that he has to keep a continuing conversation with the American people. That’s what Lincoln did so well during his presidency.” – Chicago Sun-Times, 2-11-08
    • Doris Kearns Goodwin talks about Lincoln and his team of rivals: “What an extraordinary experience it was to have spent so much time with this man who created the most unusual team in presidential history, made up of his chief rivals, each one of whom was better educated, more experienced, more celebrated than he, each one of whom thought he should be president instead of Abraham Lincoln. And yet in the end he was able to bring this group together into a team that won the war, saved the union and ended slavery forever….
      Certainly the situation he is facing is as difficult as anyone has faced since the Great Depression. Probably not as difficult as Lincoln faced with the country falling apart right beneath him, with the possibility that Washington, had it been attacked by the Confederates, the whole government structure would have been undone.
      Lincoln later said that if he’d known the pressures he was going to be under from the inauguration to Fort Sumter, those six weeks, he would not have felt he could have lived through them. I’m sure that Obama is feeling that enormous sense of pressure right now.” – Herald Tribune, 2-10-09
    • Doris Kearns Goodwin “Historian: Obama should take pointers from Abe Lincoln”: “Hillary Clinton was his biggest rival. I think she’ll be a very good secretary of State.” “Obama will have to decide what he’ll have to do” about the welter of sticky problems he faces, said the Pulitzer Prize-winning scholar and author…
      “He refused to give in to despair,” said Goodwin, adding that Lincoln found consolation in the idea that he might be able to leave the world a better place…. – Bradenton Herald, 2-10-09

    Political Highlights February 10, 2009: Reactions to Obama First Press Conference and the Economic Stimulus Plan

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    Also: February 9, 2009: President Obama’s First Press Conference

    THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

    The First Lady read to children at Mary's Center in Washington,  D.C.

    White House photo 2/10/09 by Joyce N. Boghosian

    FLOTUS at Mary’s Center

    That was Mrs. Obama’s message to a group of young people at a non-profit community organization in Washington, D.C. — where she spoke about her own humble beginnings.Watch the video

    President Obama at a town hall in Ft. Myers, FL

    White House photo 2/10/09 by Pete Souza

    POTUS in Ft. Myers, FL

    On Tuesday, February 10, 2009, President Obama held a town hall in Ft. Myers, FL — one of the towns hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis.See the slideshow

    Mrs. Obama visits the Department of the Interior

    White House photo 2/9/09 by Joyce N. Boghosian

    FLOTUS at Interior

    In a visit the Department of the Interior, Mrs. Obama spoke about how important it is to protect our natural resources and move towards a clean, sustainable energy future.Read the First Lady's remarks

    President Obama addresses town hall in Elkhart, Indiana

    IN FOCUS: STATS

    In Focus: Stats

    • Gallop Poll: Feb. 6-7 Gallup poll released yesterday that shows 67 percent of the public approves of the way the president is handling the stimulus debate and only 31 percent approve of Republican efforts on the legislation, 48 percent approve of how Democrats are handling it. — Bloomberg, 2-10-09
    • FACTBOX: How Obama plan ranks against New Deal, other programs – Reuters, 2-10-09
    • Treasury Department Fact Sheet on the Rescue Plan Overhaul [PDF] – Download PDF

    THE HEADLINES….

    The Headlines…

    • House and Senate close in on compromise: Top lawmakers and White House officials ended more than nine hours of closed-door negotiations on the economic stimulus bill shortly before midnight Tuesday indicating a final deal on the roughly $800 billion bill is possible as early as Wednesday. – CNN, 2-11-09
    • $3 trillion! — Senate, Fed, Treasury attack crisis: On a single day filled with staggering sums, the Obama administration, Federal Reserve and Senate attacked the deepening economic crisis Tuesday with actions that could throw as much as $3 trillion more in government and private funds into the fight against frozen credit markets and rising joblessness.
      “It’s gone deep. It’s gotten worse,” President Barack Obama said of the recession at a campaign-style appearance in Fort Myers, Fla., where unemployment has reached double digits. “The situation we face could not be more serious.” – AP, 2-11-09
    • Bailout Plan: $2.5 Trillion and a Strong U.S. Hand: The White House plan to rescue the nation’s financial system, announced on Tuesday by Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, is far bigger than anyone predicted and envisions a far greater government role in markets and banks than at any time since the 1930s. – NYT, 2-11-09
    • GOP group gets tough against Republicans who support stimulus: An influential conservative political action committee is pledging to support primary challengers to any Republican senator who supports President Obama’s stimulus package — the latest public show of dissatisfaction from the right over the massive measure before Congress. – CNN, 2-10-09
    • Deal on stimulus bills mired in details: The Senate approves its version of the economic stimulus package, but reconciling it with the smaller House bill will be no easy task. Obama stumps for his plan in Florida. – LAT, 2-10-09
    • Geithner’s bear of a day: The Obama administration’s revamped program to fix the nation’s ailing financial markets was met with harsh criticism Tuesday, as the stock market tumbled and lawmakers complained that it lacked details and missed essential targets. – AP, 2-10-09
    • For Geithner’s Debut, a Lukewarm Reception: For Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner as much as for the troubled government program to bail out the financial system, Tuesday amounted to a do-over. – NYT, 2-10-09
    • Angered by stimulus plan vote, Republican vows to oust Specter: U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter’s vote for the Senate stimulus bill is stimulating long-festering Republican opposition to his re-election. Mr. Specter, whose term expires next year, was one of three GOP senators who voted for the Senate version of the economic recovery measure. The vote prompted Glen Meakem, the CEO of the former Internet firm FreeMarkets, to declare his determination to play a still unspecified role in ousting the veteran Republican in the 2010 GOP primary. – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2-10-09
    • Stimulus, Partisanship Mean Obama Faces a Harsh New Reality Although the bill passed the Senate, only three Republicans signed on: It took only two weeks from Inauguration Day for harsh reality to overtake Barack Obama. But he is now facing a burgeoning list of challenges that have plagued his predecessors for at least a generation, starting with the intense partisanship of Washington and the difficulty of finding compromise on critical issues—coupled with a unique economic crisis that seems to worsen by the day. A massive economic stimulus package passed the Senate Tuesday after winning House approval earlier, but major compromises will be needed to reconcile the two versions of the plan, which Obama says is vital to economic recovery. “The realization hits pretty quickly. He is beginning to confront the enormity of the challenges of governing,” says Rutgers political scientist Ross Baker. – US News & World Report, 2-10-09

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    The First Lady read to children at Mary's Center in Washington,  D.C.

    White House photo 2/10/09 by Joyce N. Boghosian

    FLOTUS at Mary’s Center

    That was Mrs. Obama’s message to a group of young people at a non-profit community organization in Washington, D.C. — where she spoke about her own humble beginnings.Watch the video

    President Obama at a town hall in Ft. Myers, FL

    Political Quotes

    • Treasury Secretary Geithner speaking about the new Financial Stability Plan: “Our plan will help restart the flow of credit, clean up and strengthen our banks, and provide critical aid for homeowners and for small businesses. As we do each of these things, we will impose new, higher standards for transparency and accountability.” – WH Blog, 2-10-09
    • Liveblog: Ft. Myers, FL townhallWH Blog, 2-10-09
    • Obama: ‘There Is No Easy Out’ for Wall Street: In Exclusive Interview, President Warns of ‘a Perfect Storm of Financial Problems’ – ABC News, 2-10-09
    • Obama: No ‘Easy Out’ for Wall Street Transcript Excerpts: Terry Moran Interviews President Obama:
      Well, you know, Wall Street, I think, is hoping for an easy out on this thing and there is no easy out. Essentially, what you’ve got are a set a banks that have not been as transparent as we need to be in terms of what their books look like.
      And we’re going to have to hold out the Band-Aid a little bit and go ahead and just be clear about some of the losses that have been made because until we do that, we’re not going to be able to attract private capital into the marketplace…..Well, because ultimately, what happens is going to depend on how the markets respond over the long term, not today or the next day but a month from now or two months from now. How effective we are in actually cleaning out some of these bad assets out of these banks.
      If we’re doing a good job and we’ve got a template that creates transparency and accountability, clarity and consistency in terms of how we’re applying this program, then what we’ll end up seeing is private capital coming back into the marketplace.
      If we do a poor job, then private capital will continue to stay out and frankly, at, at a certain point, the government can’t replace all that private capital, so you know, our job is to get this right, get the model right….

      Well, you know, I’m constantly trying to thread the needle between sounding alarmist but also letting the American people know the circumstances that we’re in. And the fact of the matter is that we are in not just an ordinary recession, we are in a perfect storm of financial problems and now, a decline in worldwide demand that is resulting in huge numbers of jobs being shed, the lowest consumer confidence we’ve seen, credit locked up.
      And so this was a big difficult situation. Now, I think we’ve got to keep perspective. We’re not going through the Great Depression. I know there have been some analogies there but when FDR took over, unemployment at that time was 30 percent, as opposed to 7.5 or 7.6.
      And so, you know, I think it’s important to recognize we’ve still got enormous assets, we’ve got the same workforce that we did that’s as productive as it’s ever been, we’ve still got some of the best universities in the country and, you know, a wonderful infrastructure and some great companies.
      You know, I spoke with the CEO of International yesterday, who’s investing billions of dollars in opening up new plants in the face of this recession. And so some of what we need is just a restoration of confidence and people’s belief that in fact, we can harness all these resources to continue to be the most dynamic economy on earth.
      But we’re not going to get there by pretending that we don’t have some very big problems and I think the American people understand that.

      Let me, first of all, point out, I — I think there are a number of different arguments that have been leveled at, at this recovery package. There are a set of folks who just don’t believe in government intervening in the marketplace, period. I mean, they’re still fighting FDR and the New Deal and you have — these are the same folks who think we should be privatizing Social Security and you know, we — there’s no room for government to help people get health care and on and on and on.
      So there’s a big ideological battle that they want to fight. Frankly, I think that fight’s already been won, the American people certainly think so. That’s not the argument that makes much sense to them. There are then people who I think are making a sincere argument that if you look at the stimulus package, that maybe some things are more stimulative and some things are not….

      I think that they made a decision that they want to continue the same fights that we’ve been having over the last decade. The American people, on the other hand, realize that we want something different; hence, the results of the election.
      And, you know, I think if you look at how people are doing right now and how the Republicans have responded to a great deal of overtures by me, I think it’s pretty clear that the American people would like to see a different way of doing business. But old habits break hard and, and you know, I, I understand that and so we’re going to keep on reaching out and eventually, I have confidence that it’s going to pay off.

      I think there are going to be other areas where we can potentially work together and I’m still hopeful that some Republicans take their cues from Republican governors and Republican mayors like Charlie Christ down here in Florida who recognize that not doing anything is simply not an option…. – ABC News, 2-10-09

    HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

    Historians’ Comments

    • Martha Kumar “Obama Press Conference”: According to Towson University presidential historian Martha Kumar, Obama held a prime time press conference earlier than any president in history, beating Richard Nixon by almost a month. Now, he needs to hold 31 more to pass Ronald Reagan for total number of East Room get togethers with the White House press corps. – Real Clear Politics, 2-9-09
    • Douglas Brinkley “Obama Adopts Elkhart as Everytown in Pitch for Stimulus Plan”: That’s what he should have done in the first place, rather than getting bogged down in negotiations with Congress, Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University in Houston, said. “Obama needs to show that he’s a leader of a movement, that a change isn’t just having a black man in the White House, that we really are in an era of clean government and progressive reform,” Brinkley said. – Bloomberg, 2-10-09
    • Allan Lichtman “Obama Adopts Elkhart as Everytown in Pitch for Stimulus Plan”: Obama’s news conference, broadcast live on major broadcast and cable news channels, was “highly forceful and successful and should help the president with the American people and the Congress,” said Allan Lichtman, a political history professor at American University in Washington. “He did not shrink from the magnitude of the crisis, but like FDR expressed confidence that the problem could be solved with decisive action.” – Bloomberg, 2-10-09
    • Charles Calomiris “What’s Missing in Geithner’s Bank Plan The Obama Administration’s Financial Stability Plan isn’t a clean break with the past, because it doesn’t spell out clearly who will lose “: Charles Calomiris, a Columbia University economic historian who has studied banking crises, says the key mistake of the Obama Administration is trying to come up with a plan that emphasizes political palatability over economic reality. To buy support, Calomiris says, the plan emphasizes “very careful investments over a period of time with a lot of upside potential for taxpayers, and with all sorts of limits on what bankers can do.” The problem with that approach, Calomiris says, is that it doesn’t do enough to make the banks truly healthy, and just prolongs the crisis. He favors taking strong action to improve banks’ health dramatically and quickly by guaranteeing them a floor price on their real estate assets, even though such action would be criticized as a giveaway. Says Calomiris: “What makes sense economically doesn’t make sense politically, so I’m not very optimistic.” – Business Week, 2-10-09
    • Charles Geisst “Vague rescue plan disappoints Dow plunges 380 points as Geithner rolls out stimulus package; investors say lack of detail sparked mass sell-off”: Charles Geisst, a financial historian and professor of finance at Manhattan College, said he doesn’t believe the public-private partnership will work, and suggested Mr. Obama’s team may be stalling with yesterday’s announcement. “It’s too vague, it’s not firm enough, and it’s just more of the same,” said Prof. Geisst, author of a forthcoming book called Collateral Damage. “I think they’re trying to buy time … I think what they’re trying to do is tread water until they can figure it out.” – Globe and Mail, 2-10-09
    • Richard Skinner: “Political Partisanship Deeply Rooted, Says Professor”: “If Obama thinks it will be easy to overcome these divisions, he’ll end up being disappointed,” notes Bowdoin Visiting Professor of History Richard Skinner. “Partisanship is an underlying part of our political system now and a lot of Republicans just don’t like the direction he’s taking the country.”
      “We need to move beyond outdated notions of presidents above party politics,” he writes, “and instead understand presidents who are passionately engaged in them and seek to use their parties as tools of governance.” – Bowdoin News, 2-10-09

    Political Highlights February 9, 2009: President Obama’s First Press Conference

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

    Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

    President Obama, at his White House news conference on Monday night, where he discussed the Democratic stimulus plan and opposition to it by Republicans.

    IN FOCUS: STATS

    In Focus: Stats

    • FACT CHECK: Obama has it both ways on pork: Obama’s sales pitch on the enormous package he wants Congress to make law has sizzle as well as steak. He’s projecting job creation numbers that may be impossible to verify and glossing over some ethical problems that bedeviled his team. – AP, 2-9-09
    • Obama’s Ratings: The Gallup Organization released a poll Monday showing Obama’s approval rating holding steady at 67 percent, with Congress much less popular. Republicans in Congress drew only 31 percent approval, and Democrats had 48 percent. The poll also showed that 80 percent think it’s either important or critically important that a stimulus plan be approved. – AP, 2-9-09
    • Senate Vote 61-36 in Favor: The Senate on Monday voted 61-36 to end debate on an $838 billion economic stimulus bill, one more vote than needed to avoid a potential filibuster on the measure when it goes to a final vote as early as Tuesday. – PBS Newshour, 2-9-09

    THE HEADLINES….

    Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

    Though conceding that “the plan is not perfect,” President Obama asserted that “a failure to act will only deepen this crisis.” More Photos >

    The Headlines…

    • Analysis: Obama makes serious case for stimulus: No drama with Obama. No joking with Obama. In his first prime-time news conference, Americans saw a determined, deadly serious President Barack Obama make his case for a historically huge economic recovery plan — pledging to push it through Congress in record time, even if he and fellow Democrats must steamroll Republicans to do it. No more blind bipartisanship with Obama, either…. – AP, 2-9-09
    • Analysis: Obama learning to deal with Washington’s partisan ways: In his first three weeks in the bully pulpit, President Barack Obama has offered a post-partisan vision while resorting to old-school pressure tactics. So far he has managed to draw three Republican votes – learning, as presidents inevitably do, that Washington will not bend easily to his will. – Dallas Morning News, 2-9-09
    • Obama: ‘Only Government’ Can Break Cycle of Job Loss, Economic Downturn: President Obama, in his first prime-time press conference, warns that a failure to pass his economic recovery plan could “turn a crisis into a catastrophe.” – Fox News, 29-09
    • Obama presses case for stimulus: President Obama took his case for more than $800 billion in economic stimulus directly to the American people Monday, accusing Republicans of playing politics with a plan that’s “exactly what this country needs.” – USA Today, 2-9-09
    • It Seemed Familiar, and Yet So Different: President Obama insisted that he was nothing like his predecessor. “What I won’t do is return to the failed theories of the last eight years that got us into this fix in the first place,” he said Monday night, “because those theories have been tested, and they have failed.” Yet Mr. Obama’s first prime-time presidential news conference had an eerie similarity to the first one held by George W. Bush, in 2001. – NYT, 2-10-09
    • Taking on Critics, Obama Puts Aside Talk of Unity: President Obama has made a show of reaching across the aisle since taking office, inviting three Republicans into his cabinet and wining and dining other opposition leaders. But by Monday, he sounded like a candidate back on the trail, railing against the status quo and dismissing critics as apostles of a failed philosophy. – NYT, 2-10-09
    • Live Blogging the Obama News ConferenceNYT, 2-9-09
    • Obama to Congress: Pass stimulus, don’t play games: President Barack Obama, urgently pressuring lawmakers to approve a massive economic recovery bill, turned his first news conference Monday night into a determined defense of his emergency plan and an offensive against Republicans who try to “play the usual political games.” – AP, 2-9-09
    • Obama Says Failing to Act Could Lead to a ‘Catastrophe’: President Obama took his case for his $800 billion economic recovery package to the American people on Monday, as the Senate cleared the way for passage of the bill and the White House prepared for its next major hurdle: selling Congress and the public on a fresh plan to bail out the nation’s banks. – NYT, 2-9-09
    • Stimulus bill draws Kennedy back to Senate: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy returned to the Senate in the midst of his battle with brain cancer Monday to vote for President Barack Obama’s massive economic stimulus package. “We are obviously very concerned” about the recession, Kennedy said as he donned a coat and stepped into an elevator to leave following a key test vote. He was expected to return Tuesday for the vote to approve or reject the measure. – AP, 2-9-09
    • Stimulus bill narrowly survives Senate test vote: An $838 billion economic stimulus bill backed by the White House survived a key test vote in the Senate on Monday despite strong Republican opposition, and Democratic leaders vowed to deliver legislation for President Barack Obama’s signature within a few days. – AP, 2-9-09

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    President Obama in the East Room of the White House. (Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

    Political Quotes

    • Press Conference Transcript: Obama takes questions on economy: CNN, 2-9-09 Download Mp3: …As we speak, similar scenes are playing out in cities and towns across America. Last Monday, more than 1,000 men and women stood in line for 35 firefighter jobs in Miami [Florida]. Last month, our economy lost 598,000 jobs, which is nearly the equivalent of losing every single job in the state of Maine.
      And if there’s anyone out there who still doesn’t believe this constitutes a full-blown crisis, I suggest speaking to one of the millions of Americans whose lives have been turned upside-down because they don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from.
      And that is why the single most important part of this economic recovery and reinvestment plan is the fact that it will save or create up to 4 million jobs, because that’s what America needs most right now.
      It is absolutely true that we can’t depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life.
      It is only government that can break the vicious cycle, where lost jobs lead to people spending less money, which leads to even more layoffs. And breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that’s moving through Congress is designed to do.
      When passed, this plan will ensure that Americans who’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own can receive greater unemployment benefits and continue their health care coverage…..
      But as we’ve learned very clearly and conclusively over the last eight years, tax cuts alone can’t solve all of our economic problems, especially tax cuts that are targeted to the wealthiest few Americans. We have tried that strategy time and time again, and it’s only helped lead us to the crisis we face right now.
      And that’s why we have come together around a plan that combines hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the middle class with direct investment in areas like health care, energy, education, and infrastructure, investments that will save jobs, create new jobs and new businesses, and help our economy grow again, now and in the future….
      Now, after many weeks of debate and discussion, the plan that ultimately emerges from Congress must be big enough and bold enough to meet the size of the economic challenges that we face right now.
      It’s a plan that is already supported by businesses representing almost every industry in America, by both the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. It contains input, ideas and compromises from both Democrats and Republicans.
      It also contains an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability so that every American will be able to go online and see where and how we’re spending every dime. What it does not contain, however, is a single pet project, not a single earmark, and it has been stripped of the projects members of both parties found most objectionable.
      Now, despite all of this, the plan’s not perfect. No plan is. I can’t tell you for sure that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hoped, but I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure to act will only deepen this crisis, as well as the pain felt by millions of Americans.
      Now, my administration inherited a deficit of over $1 trillion, but because we also inherited the most profound economic emergency since the Great Depression, doing little or nothing at all will result in even greater deficits, even greater job loss, even greater loss of income, and even greater loss of confidence.
      Those are deficits that could turn a crisis into a catastrophe, and I refuse to let that happen. As long as I hold this office, I will do whatever it takes to put this economy back on track and put this country back to work.
      I want to thank the members of Congress who’ve worked so hard to move this plan forward, but I also want to urge all members of Congress to act without delay in the coming week to resolve their differences and pass this plan.
      We find ourselves in a rare moment where the citizens of our country and all countries are watching and waiting for us to lead. It’s a responsibility that this generation did not ask for, but one that we must accept for the future of our children and our grandchildren.
      The strongest democracies flourish from frequent and lively debate, but they endure when people of every background and belief find a way to set aside smaller differences in service of a greater purpose. That’s the test facing the United States of America in this winter of our hardship, and it is our duty as leaders and citizens to stay true to that purpose in the weeks and months ahead.
      After a day of speaking with and listening to the fundamentally decent men and women who call this nation home, I have full faith and confidence that we can do it, but we’re going to have to work together. That’s what I intend to promote in the weeks and days ahead.
    • President Obama, Indiana Town Hall on Economic Recovery, 2/9/09, REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT TOWN HALL, Concord Community High School, Elkhart, Indiana, February 9, 2009:
      I don’t know if you guys have been noticing, but we’ve had a little debate in Washington — (laughter) — over the last week or two about the economy. You know, we tend to take the measure of the economic crisis we face in numbers and statistics. But when we say that we’ve lost 3.6 million jobs since this recession began, nearly 600,000 in the past month alone; when we say that this area has lost jobs faster than anywhere else in the United States of America, with an unemployment rate of over 15 percent, when it was 4.7 percent just last year; when we talk about layoffs at companies like Monaco Coach, and Keystone RV, and Pilgrim International — companies that have sustained this community for years — we’re not just talking numbers, we’re talking about Ed. We’re talking about people in the audience here today. People not just in Elkhart, but all across this country. We’re talking about people who have lost their livelihood and don’t know what will take its place.
      We’re talking about parents who’ve lost their health care and lie away at night, praying their kids don’t get sick. We’re talking about families who’ve lost the home that was the corner — their foundation for their American Dream. Young people who put that college acceptance letter back in the envelope because they just can’t afford it. That’s what those numbers and statistics mean. That is the true measure of this economic crisis…. – WH Blog, 2-9-09

    HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

    White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. (Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

    Historians’ Comments

    • ELLEN FITZPATRICK, University of New Hampshire “Obama Courts Public Support for Economic Stimulus Plan President Obama traveled to Indiana Monday and planned a primetime news conference to build support for the stimulus bill that is nearing a final Senate vote. Reporters examine the next steps for the stimulus plan.”:
      Absolutely. I think it was essential. Barack Obama is in the position of undertaking one of the largest attempts to stimulate the economy in modern American history, and he’s doing it after four decades of a political culture that has turned around a bashing of the federal government.
      We’ve had very strong anti-federal government, anti-tax language and mobilization of extreme views on all sides and even in the middle around that message. And he is attempting to do something that flies in the face of that and to try to educate, re-educate the public that the federal government can actually do good on behalf of all the citizens. – PBS Newshour, 2-9-09
    • ROGAN KERSH, NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service “Obama Courts Public Support for Economic Stimulus Plan President Obama traveled to Indiana Monday and planned a primetime news conference to build support for the stimulus bill that is nearing a final Senate vote. Reporters examine the next steps for the stimulus plan.”:
      Every president — every modern president has tried it. Ronald Reagan was the most successful. He came into office facing a hostile Democratic Congress, promised a program of tax cuts. Congress fiddled, didn’t move much on it. He went directly to the people, called going public, and got an overwhelming number of folks writing and calling their members of Congress.
      These are elected officials. They listen to their constituents. And that helped Reagan get his tax cut through. It was known as the velvet steamroller plan after that, so successful was he.
      Other presidents haven’t had as much luck. Jimmy Carter tried to go to the people complaining about the malaise of a sort of slowed down presidency around economic and other issues, didn’t have as much luck. So one has to use this carefully.
      At the same time, Obama we know is a master of mobilization. He’s the chief — he’s playing mobilizer-in-chief now. And I think he’s going to have success, judging from the pictures today of making members of Congress listen, as your previous guests have been saying. – PBS Newshour, 2-9-09
    • Julian Zelizer: Commentary: Obama’s 100 days of problems?: Tomorrow marks the end of the third week of President Barack Obama’s Hundred Days. After what can only be described as a euphoric inauguration, Obama has encountered some trouble. Despite his effort to court Republicans in the House, he failed to obtain a single GOP vote for the economic recovery package….
      It is still too early to know what the economic recovery bill will mean for Obama’s Hundred Days. His response to the negotiations in conference committee over the next two weeks could be a defining moment for his presidency. The huge size of this legislation raises the stakes beyond what many presidents confronted in their Hundred Days.
      On the one hand, Obama might have found a compromise, moving through Congress one of the most ambitious uses of government to strengthen the economy in several decades. If this is the case, the rough patches from the first weeks will quickly be forgotten.
      On the other hand, if the legislation turns out to be misguided — or if it is weakened too much in the congressional negotiations — and fails to stimulate the economy or provide substantial relief to struggling states and unemployed workers, then this bill could become an albatross for Obama and Democrats.
      The failure of the financial bailout legislation of September, 2008 diminished the confidence of many Americans in government intervention, leaving the impression that a lot of money was thrown into a sinkhole. This could happen again. If Obama makes the wrong decisions in the negotiations, he might find himself in rougher waters as the midterm elections approach. – CNN, 2-9-09
    President Obama’s news conference in the East Room of the White House. (Photo: Doug Mills/ The New York Times)

    Download Mp4

    White House photo by Pete Souza

    Top Young Historians: 99 – Christopher E. Forth

    Top Young Historians

    Christopher E. Forth, 41

    Basic Facts

    Teaching Position: Howard Professor of Humanities & Western Civilization, University of Kansas
    Area of Research: Cultural history of gender, sexuality and the body, modern European intellectual and cultural history, modern France
    Education: Ph.D., History, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1994
    Major Publications: Forth is the author of Masculinity in the Modern West: Gender, Civilization and the Body (Palgrave, 2008), The Dreyfus Affair and the Crisis of French Manhood (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004; paperback 2006), and Christopher E. Forth JPGZarathustra in Paris: The Nietzsche Vogue in France, 1891-1918 (Northern Illinois University Press, 2001).
    He has also co-edited Sexuality at the Fin de Siècle: The Makings of a “Central Problem” (University of Delaware Press, 2008), French Masculinities: History, Culture and Politics (Palgrave, 2007), Cultures of the Abdomen: Diet, Digestion and Fat in the Modern World (Palgrave, 2005), and Body Parts: Critical Explorations in Corporeality (Lexington, 2005).
    Forth has written numerous scholarly articles and book chapters, including “Surviving our Paradoxes? Masculinity, Modernity, and the Body,” Culture, Society and Masculinities, 1, no. 1 (Spring 2009); “Manhood Incorporated: Diet and the Embodiment of ‘Civilized’ Masculinity,” Men and Masculinities (2009); “The Novelization of the Dreyfus Affair: Women and Sensation in Fin-de-Siècle France,” in Victorian Crime, Madness, and Sensation, edited by Andrew Maunder and Grace Moore (London: Ashgate, 2004), 163-178; “Neurasthenia and Manhood in Fin-de-Siècle France,” in Cultures of Neurasthenia from Beard to the First World War, Marijke Gijswijt-Hofstra and Roy Porter, eds. (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2001), 329-361; and “Bodies of Christ: Gender, Jewishness, and Religious Imagery in the Dreyfus Affair.” History Workshop Journal, 48 (Autumn 1999): 18-38.
    He is currently writing a book entitled Flab: A Cultural History of Obesity, which is under contract with Reaktion Books (UK). Awards: Forth is the recipient of numerous research grants and fellowships, including:
    Keeler Intra-University Professorship from the University of Kansas (2010);
    Two Discovery Grants from the Australian Research Council (2006);
    Two small grants from the Australian Research Council (1999, 2000);
    Five faculty research grants from the Australian National University (1998-2004);
    Travel grant from the Wellcome Trust for the History of Medicine (2001);
    Three faculty research grants from the University of Memphis (1995-97);
    Camargo Foundation Fellowship (1993);
    Younger Scholars Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1987).
    While teaching in Australia Forth also won a Carrick Institute Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning ["For Developing Innovative and Effective Multimedia Techniques for the Research-Driven Teaching of European and American Cultural History"] (2006) and a Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Australian National University (2006).
    Additional Info:
    Editorial Advisory Board, Men and Masculinities;
    Editorial Board, Culture, Society and Masculinities.

    Personal Anecdote

    When I was in fifth grade my teacher announced to the class that I would grow up to be a historian. Not that I took this very seriously: I just happened to know who Patrick Henry was, and was pretty sure that, whatever a historian did, it must be pretty boring. In fact it was not until tenth grade that the idea of an academic life began to hold any kind of appeal for me. This was not because of what I learned in any high school history class, but from stumbling upon a tattered copy of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment in my English class. My teacher said I could have the book “as long as you read it.” I did and it changed my life, generating an interest in the history of ideas that led me to literature, philosophy and social theory. I found each of these fields fascinating, but apparently so hemmed in by disciplinary conventions that focusing on any one of them seemed tantamount to bidding farewell to the others. When I began my university work I settled on history because it seemed like an open intellectual space in which to examine virtually anything pertaining to human society so long as it happened in the past. Ultimately what attracted me to history was its sense of openness and possibility, apparently limited only by the questions one brought to it. I’m not sure what my fifth grade teacher would have to say about this, but it seems she was right after all.

    My specific interest in the cultural history of gender, sexuality and the body was sparked during my final semester of graduate school and has never ceased to inform my work. Feeling the need to make sure I had read “everything” on my period before submitting my dissertation on the first French reception of Nietzsche’s work, I happened upon Bram Dijkstra’s Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture (1986), and quickly became enthralled. Dijkstra’s rich analysis of how depictions of women in art and literature were informed by developments in biology, psychology, medicine and social theory – and how many of these representations seemed like compensations for a spectrum of male anxieties – completely changed my view of intellectual and cultural history. I became sensitive to how gendered language is often used to describe social and political phenomena, and reflected on the numerous instances in my dissertation where I had treated such language uncritically. A closer focus on how various groups described Nietzsche and his followers in gendered terms seemed worth pursuing, and while it was impractical to recast the dissertation at that late date, I developed this theme more fully when revising the text for publication. Thanks to these new insights the end result, Zarathustra in Paris: The Nietzsche Vogue in France, 1891-1918, provided a more complex perspective on the dynamics of cultural reception and intellectual politics, and a springboard for much of my subsequent work.

    Quotes

    By Christopher E. Forth

  • One of the ironies of the gendered discourse of civilization is that, despite the terror, torture, warfare and domestic violence that is Masculinity in the Modern West JPG perpetuated in the world, it is the capacity to enact and endure violence that is often represented as one of the most unjustly repressed aspects of male experience. Yet if violence and warfare are so often celebrated for their “regenerative” potential, it is perhaps because the more positive ideals of sacrifice and self-denial that defined the warrior code have, since the early eighteenth century, been systematically challenged by developments that emphasize the value of self-indulgence and softer lifestyles. While peace has been celebrated throughout modern history, it has also been criticized for its tendency to make individuals and societies complacent and weak. — Christopher E. Forth in “Masculinity in the Modern West (2008)”
  • About Christopher E. Forth

  • ‘Forth’s ambitious panoramic history of western masculinity is sweepingly broad, yet Forth has a keen eye for the revealing detail. With an analysis as sharp as his style is clear and erudite, Forth’s reach never exceeds his grasp. This is a most impressive work!’ — Michael Kimmel, Professor of Sociology at SUNY/Stony Brook and editor of Men and Masculinities
  • ‘Christopher Forth’s survey of masculinity in the West is the first historical synthesis of the rich literature in this field. He puts familiar materials together in surprising new ways and presents readers with some highly original and provocative interpretations that will prove to be important contributions to gender studies and cultural history. The wit and deftness of Forth’s style and his well-chosen examples make it a sheer delight to read.’ — Robert A. Nye, Horning Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History Emeritus, Oregon State University
  • “This is an important, extraordinary book. Forth demonstrates, with great acumen and wit, how the Dreyfus Affair transformed masculinity and corporeal experience in fin-de-siècle France” — Journal of Social History reviewing “The Dreyfus Affair and the Crisis of French Manhood”
  • “an original and exciting new book . . . Forth uses the Dreyfus Affair as a means to explore not only the contingency of manhood but also the subtle ways in which gender norms are implicated in racist imagery, class boundaries, and the construction of the intellectual in fin-de-siècle France” — American Historical Review
  • “an engaging and illuminating study . . . Forth reframes our understanding of the overall stakes of the battle between republican intellectuals and the forces of reaction” — Journal of Modern History
  • “an important, innovative work [that offers] a more complex and rich picture not only of the Dreyfus Affair, but also of the concerns of the period with regard to manhood, medicine and modernity” — Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
  • “By shifting the main focus from race to gender, from anti-Semitism to masculinity, Forth demonstrates just how deeply rooted in French culture the Dreyfus Affair was. If it was fears about the degeneracy of French masculinity that underlay the Affair, then the hysteria it generated is somewhat more comprehensible” — H-France
  • “Forth boldly sets out to fashion a fresh perspective, armed with the methodological insights of cultural histories of the body . . . . a strongly argued, well-illustrated and well-researched book” — European History Quarterl
  • y

  • “This work is significant because of the way it boldly reinterprets a staple subject in mainstream political history by examining questions of gender anxiety” — History: The Journal of the Historical Association
  • “Very intelligent man with a real passion for the subject.”….
    He is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. He is clearly very knowledgeable on the subject. His lectures are informative. If you enjoy the material, he is great, and I could not recommend him more.” — Anonymous Students
  • Posted on Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 1:46 AM

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