OTD in History… August 4, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaims US will remain neutral in World War I

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OTD in History… August 4, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaims US will remain neutral in World War I

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history August 4, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signs a proclamation of American neutrality with the European countries which had just declared war days earlier on July 28. Wilson repeated that the US will remain “impartial in thought as well as in action” in his address to Congresson August 19. Americans supported Wilson’s “policy of neutrality” and keeping the country out of the European war. Neutrality, however, would become more difficult in February 1915 as Germany declared “unrestricted submarine warfare against all ships.” The US was destined to be affected by Germany’s assault by sea, as they traded the most with Great Britain and would continue to do during the so-called period of neutrality.

Germany increasingly attacked US ships trading with and traveling to Great Britain and those with American passengers aboard. In February 1915, Germany hit the William P. Frye, an American ship carrying grain to Britain. The most notable case, however, was the ship the Lusitania hit on May 7, 1915, off the coast Ireland, where 1,198 died including 128 Americans. The British owned ship was traveling with nearly two thousand passengers from New York to Liverpool. Germany claimed they were justified as the ship contained 173 tons of ammunition, but the outcry led to an apology and cessation of the submarine warfare.

Historian M. Ryan Floyd in his book Abandoning American Neutrality: Woodrow Wilson and the Beginning of the Great War, August 1914 — December 1915 argues neutrality was a “paradox created by Wilson’s idealistic aim to bring the belligerents to the peace table and his pragmatic goal of buttressing the US economy between August 1914 and December 1915. During this formative period, the quandary created by his effort to pursue both visionary and pragmatic objectives made his agenda untenable and convinced him to intentionally violate American neutrality.” (Floyd, 9)

Wilson won reelection in 1916, based on his neutrality policy of keeping America out of the war but that pledge did not last long. In 1917, Germany resumed submarine warfare sinking four American ships in March. Historian Robert w. Tucker notes in his book Woodrow Wilson and the Great War: Reconsidering America’s Neutrality, 1914–1917 “America’s journey from neutrality to war to a failed peace is largely the story of Woodrow Wilson’s journey from neutrality to war to a failed peace.” (Tucker, 21)

Seeing negotiating peace was impossible, Wilson finally took a stand. On April 2, 1917, Wilson asked in a Joint Address to Congress that they declare war deeming it his “constitutional duty” and they obliged, finally the US would enter the war on the side of the allies. Only with the infusion of soldiers and armaments would tip the balance in the allies favor against the Central Powers ending what the world believed then was the war to end all wars.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Floyd, M R. Abandoning American Neutrality: Woodrow Wilson and the Beginning of the Great War, August 1914-December 1915. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Tucker, Robert W. Woodrow Wilson and the Great War: Reconsidering America’s Neutrality, 1914–1917. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

President Wilson’s Declaration of Neutrality

Woodrow Wilson, Message to Congress, 63rd Cong., 2d Sess., Senate Doc. No. 566 (Washington, 1914), pp. 3-4.


The effect of the war upon the United States will depend upon what American citizens say and do. Every man who really loves America will act and speak in the true spirit of neutrality, which is the spirit of impartiality and fairness and friendliness to all concerned. The spirit of the nation in this critical matter will be determined largely by what individuals and society and those gathered in public meetings do and say, upon what newspapers and magazines contain, upon what ministers utter in their pulpits, and men proclaim as their opinions upon the street.

The people of the United States are drawn from many nations, and chiefly from the nations now at war. It is natural and inevitable that there should be the utmost variety of sympathy and desire among them with regard to the issues and circumstances of the conflict. Some will wish one nation, others another, to succeed in the momentous struggle. It will be easy to excite passion and difficult to allay it. Those responsible for exciting it will assume a heavy responsibility, responsibility for no less a thing than that the people of the United States, whose love of their country and whose loyalty to its government should unite them as Americans all, bound in honor and affection to think first of her and her interests, may be divided in camps of hostile opinion, hot against each other, involved in the war itself in impulse and opinion if not in action.

Such divisions amongst us would be fatal to our peace of mind and might seriously stand in the way of the proper performance of our duty as the one great nation at peace, the one people holding itself ready to play a part of impartial mediation and speak the counsels of peace and accommodation, not as a partisan, but as a friend.

I venture, therefore, my fellow countrymen, to speak a solemn word of warning to you against that deepest, most subtle, most essential breach of neutrality which may spring out of partisanship, out of passionately taking sides. The United States must be neutral in fact, as well as in name, during these days that are to try men’s souls. We must be impartial in thought, as well as action, must put a curb upon our sentiments, as well as upon every transaction that might be construed as a preference of one party to the struggle before another.

OTD in History… June 14, 1777, Continental Congress adopts the Stars and Stripes as the American flag, 1916 President Wilson proclaims it as Flag Day

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OTD in History… June 14, 1777, Continental Congress adopts the Stars and Stripes as the American flag, 1916 President Wilson proclaims it as Flag Day

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted in a resolution the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the newly formed United States of America. Nearly one hundred and forty years, later on, June 14, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson celebrated the first proclaimed Flag Day honoring and celebrating the American flag. The next year he delivered an address just two months after declaring war and plunging the US into the First World War. Flag Day officially became an observed holiday on June 14, 1949, under President Harry Truman when Congress passed it as a law.

In 1777, the Continental Congress passed the Flag Act to regulate the general appearance of the flag. The act stated, “Resolved: That the flag of the United States be made of 13 stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Who actually designed and created the first is more myth than fact, with the common theory that General George Washington commissioned the flag, “New Jersey Congressman Francis Hopkinson” designed it and the first was “sewn by Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross.”

President William Howard Taft signed the first act that standardized the flag’s appearance. He signed an executive order on June 24, 1912, regulating the proportions and placement of the stars and stripes on the flag. After Hawaii and Alaska were admitted as states, President Dwight Eisenhower ordered the stars arrangements on the flag to fit stars for all 50 states.

Flag Day, however, did not start as a government proclaimed holiday. Bernard J. Cigrand, a teacher in Waubeka, Wisconsin first observed the holiday in 1885, and he is considered the “Father of Flag Day.” Cigrand, gave over 2,000 speeches in his life promoting Flag Day as holiday and he served as the president of the American Flag Day Association and the National Flag Day Society. He first suggested the national observance in “an article for the Chicago Argus entitled ‘The Fourteenth of June.’”

President Wilson first proclaimed Flag Day on May 30, 1916. In his proclamation, he wrote:

I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as FLAG DAY with special patriotic exercises, at which means shall be taken to give significant expression to our thoughtful love of America, our comprehension of the great mission of liberty and justice to which we have devoted ourselves as a people, our pride in the history and our enthusiasm for the political programme of the nation, our determination to make it greater and purer with each generation, and our resolution to demonstrate to all the world its, vital union in sentiment and purpose, accepting only those as true compatriots who feel as we do the compulsion of this supreme allegiance.

The next year as the country entered World War he gave his address “at the Sylvan Theater near the Washington Monument,” where he listed Germany’s transgressions as reasons for war, and claimed the “military masters of Germany,” were a “sinister power that has at last stretched its ugly talons out and drawn blood from us.”

At the start of his speech, President Wilson linked the World War to other conflicts where the flag was flown:

“We meet to celebrate Flag Day because this flag which we honour and under which we serve is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thought and purpose as a nation. It has no other character than that which we give it from generation to generation. The choices are ours. It floats in majestic silence above the hosts that execute those choices, whether in peace or in war. And yet, though silent, it speaks to us. — speaks to us of the past, * of the men and women who went before us and of the records they wrote upon it. We celebrate the day of its birth; and from its birth until now it has witnessed a great history, has floated on high the symbol of great, events, of a great plan of life worked out by a great people. We are about to carry it into battle, to lift it where it will draw the fire of our enemies. We are about to bid thousands, hundreds of thousands, it may be millions, of our men. the young, the strong, the capable men of the nation, to go forth and die beneath it on fields of blood far away, — for what? For some unaccustomed thing? For something for which it has never sought the fire before? American armies were never before sent across the seas. Why are they sent now? For some new purpose, for which this great flag has never been carried before, or for some old. familiar, heroic purpose for which it has seen men, its own men, die on every battlefield upon which Americans have borne arms since the Revolution?

These are questions which must be answered. We are Americans. We in our turn serve America, and can serve her with no private purpose. We must use her flag as she has always used it. Wo are accountable at the bar of history and must plead in utter frankness what purpose it is we seek to serve.”

Congress passed a statute recognizing Flag Day in 1949, and President Truman signed on Aug. 3 of the year. Flag Day is not an official holiday but each President has declared the day ever since.

READ MORE

Leepson, Marc. Flag: An American Biography. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2006.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

History Buzz March 8, 2013: Julian Zelizer interviews John Milton Cooper Jr.: Princeton’s Wilson School celebrates centennial of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration as US president

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Wilson School celebrates centennial of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration as U.S. president

Source: Woodrow Wilson School Office of Communications, 3-8-13

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson as the 28th President of the United States, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs hosted a conversation with Wilson biographer John Milton Cooper Jr., Class of 1961.

Cooper, author of “Woodrow Wilson: A Biography,” was interviewed Feb. 21 by Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian who is a professor of history and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School. The event celebrating the centennial of Wilson’s inauguration March 14, 1913, was co-sponsored by the Wilson School and the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum….READ MORE

Featured Historians January 20, 2013: Julian Zelizer: Obama’s speech: Learning from Lincoln, Wilson, FDR

FEATURED HISTORIANS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/featured_historians.jpg?w=500&h=80&h=80

HISTORY OP-EDS

Obama’s speech: Learning from Lincoln, Wilson, FDR

Source: Julian Zelizer, CNN, 1-20-13

Watch this video

1865: Lincoln talks of ‘sin of slavery’

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • Julian Zelizer: Second term inaugural addresses are always a challenge
    • He says the public has had four years to make a judgment about the president
    • Obama can learn from second term speeches of Lincoln, Wilson, FDR
    • Zelizer says they did a good job of unifying America and sketching vision of the future

Editor’s note: Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” and of “Governing America.”

The second inaugural address is always more difficult than the first. When a president-elect first steps onto the national stage, he still enjoys a certain degree of innocence and hope. Americans are waiting to see if the new president will be different. When a new president delivers his speech, voters don’t yet have a record that might make them cynical.

But by the second term, voters are familiar, and often tired, with the occupant of the White House. Even though they liked him more than his opponents, the president has usually been through some pretty tough battles and his limitations have been exposed. It becomes much harder to deliver big promises, when the people watching have a much clearer sense of your limitations and of the strength of your opponents.

So President Barack Obama faces a big test when he appears before the nation Monday….READ MORE

History Buzz October 11, 2010: Medical Historian Susan Reverby Uncovers Guatemalan Syphilis Experiment

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. Her blog is History Musings

RELATED LINKS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

IN FOCUS:

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Simon Schama’s appointment as history tsar an insult, says Mary Beard: The appointment of historian and presenter Simon Schama as the Coalition Government’s new history tsar has been condemned as insincere and insulting by a leading academic. Simon Schama, the historian, will advise the Government to ensure that all pupils learn Britain’s ‘island story’ before leaving school. Prof Mary Beard, classics professor at Cambridge University, described the announcement as an example of Michael Gove, the education secretary, “playing to the populist gallery”. She described the idea that a celebrity could be “parachuted” in to solve problems as insulting to British teachers and as an insincere stunt to grab attention…. – Telegraph, UK, 10-8-10
  • Tony Platt: Nuremburg Laws now on display at the National Archives “symbolically important”: The laws signed by Adolf Hitler taking away the citizenship of German Jews before the Holocaust were placed on rare public display Wednesday at the National Archives. The Nuremberg Laws were turned over to the archives in August by The Huntington, a museum complex near Los Angeles where they were quietly deposited by Gen. George Patton at the end of World War II. The papers will be on display in a separate gallery from the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence through Oct. 18…. – AP (10-6-10)
  • Group of historians petition the National Park Service to restore Blair Mountain historic status: A group of distinguished historians, educators, and filmmakers has published an open letter to the Department of the Interior to protest the National Park Service’s decision to remove the Blair Mountain battlefield in Logan County, West Virginia, from the National Register of Historic Places…. – HNN Staff (10-6-10)
  • John C. Cutler, Tuskegee and Guatemalan Syphilis Doctor, in His Own Words: Many media outlets have noted that John C. Cutler, the late doctor who led the U.S. Public Health Service syphilis experiment on Guatemalan inmates and later participated in the Tuskegee experiment, defended the latter well into the 1990s, most famously for a 1993 PBS Nova documentary entitled The Deadly Deception.
    Cutler: The Tuskegee study has been grossly misunderstood and misrepresented this way. And the fact was that it was concern for the black community, trying to set the stage for the best public health approach possible and the best therapy, that led to the study being carried out….
    We were dealing with a very important study that was going to have the long-term results of which were actually to improve the quality of care for the black community so that these individuals were actually contributing to the work towards the improvement of the health of the black community rather than simply serving as merely guinea pigs for the study. And of course I was bitterly opposed to killing off the study for obvious reasons…. – HNN Staff (10-3-10)
  • Guatemalan syphilis experiment: in the name of public health?: Of course everyone has heard by now the appalling discovery unearthed by Wellesley College professor, Susan Reverby on how the US Public Health Service (a medical branch of the US government) conducted clearly unethical and dangerous syphilis experiments in Guatemala in the mid-40s…. – Examiner.com (10-2-10)
  • Wellesley’s Susan Reverby Unearths Government Research: Digging in the archives at the University of Pittsburgh, Wellesley College medical historian Susan M. Reverby knew what she found was important enough to keep it *out* of the book she was writing on the history and myths surrounding the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study. She did not expect what she finally wrote up to make it to the White House, through the State Department and to Guatemala…. – News Blaze (10-2-10)
  • U.S. Apologizes for Syphilis Tests in Guatemala: From 1946 to 1948, American public health doctors deliberately infected nearly 700 Guatemalans — prison inmates, mental patients and soldiers — with venereal diseases in what was meant as an effort to test the effectiveness of penicillin… – NYT (10-1-10)
  • Son of Dead Sea Scrolls Expert Is Convicted: The son of a prominent professor at the University of Chicago was convicted on Thursday of impersonating a New York University professor and other scholars who disagreed with his father’s theories on the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jurors took half a day to find the son, Raphael Haim Golb, a 50-year-old real estate lawyer, guilty on 30 of 31 counts, including identity theft, criminal impersonation and aggravated harassment…. – NYT (10-1-10)

OP-EDs:

  • Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom: Liu Xiaobo: His Writings, His Life, His Win: I’ve never met Liu Xiaobo. I only know him through his powerful writings—and through watching compelling interviews with him, most notably in the prize-winning documentary The Gate of Heavenly Peace, a film about the 1989 protests. The film spawned a wide-ranging website that includes a section on the movie’s main characters—a very good first destination for anyone trying to get up to speed on the past activities and recent trials of the latest Nobel Peace Prize winner…. – Dissent (10-8-10)
  • Timothy Snyder: Why Laptops in Class are Distracting America’s Future Workforce: As these first few weeks of the college semester begin, professors look out expectantly into grand lecture halls, where they see, rather than faces of students, the backs of open laptops. The students, for their part, are looking intently at the laptop screens. What are they doing as they stare forward with such apparent focus?…. – CS Monitor (10-7-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Alan Brinkley: Anatomy of an Uprising: GIVE US LIBERTY A Tea Party Manifesto By Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe, BOILING MAD Inside Tea Party America, By Kate Zernike THE WHITES OF THEIR EYES The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History By Jill Lepore
    Jill Lepore, a historian of the American Revolution and a staff writer at The New Yorker, has written a brief but valuable book, “The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History,” which combines her own interviews with Tea Partiers (mostly from her home state, Massachusetts) and her deep knowledge of the founders and of their view of the Constitution. The architects of the Constitution, she makes clear, did not agree about what it meant. Nor did they believe that the Constitution would or should be the final word on the character of the nation and the government. It was the product of much compromise, and few were satisfied with all its parts…. – NYT, 10-8-10
  • Bill Bryson: If Walls Could Talk: AT HOME A Short History of Private Life Many adults have a fantasy that if they could go back to college — now that the desire to party, drink and sleep around has faded to a burnished memory — they’d get so much more out of it. The publishing industry often reflects this wish. Every season brings offerings that are right at home on anyone’s continuing-ed syllabus: innovative, original ways to study world history through lenses trained on the minutiae of salt or cod, earthworms or spices, tea or telephones. Now, finally, for those of us who wrestled with Rocks for Jocks, pined amid Physics for Poets and schlepped through college on 101s of any and every subject — the beloved survey courses — here’s that most popular professor, Bill Bryson, with a fascinating new book, “At Home: A Short History of Private Life.” NYT, 10-8-10
  • When the City Defined Who’s Who: ETHAN MORDDEN mulled titling his latest social and cultural history “From Mrs. Astor to Truman Capote, or the Rise of New Yorkism in American Life.” Instead, he settled on a more generic (and inviting) title with a more specific subtitle: “The Guest List: How Manhattan Defined American Sophistication — From the Algonquin Round Table to Truman Capote’s Ball” (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99)…. – NYT, 10-8-10
  • Tony Blair: The Convert: A JOURNEY My Political Life The years since the end of the cold war divide into two very different ages. The first, the 1990s, was dominated by the rise of free markets and free trade across the globe. The second, since 9/11, has been defined by terrorism, counterterrorism, war and Islamic radicalism. Bill Clinton is the symbol of the first decade and George W. Bush of the second. Tony Blair is the only major political figure to span both eras, beginning his political life in the corridors of Davos and ending it in the mud flats of Basra. He tells both tales in his engrossing memoir, “A Journey,” but they never fuse into one larger story…. – NYT, 10-8-10
  • Robert G. Kaiser: Book review: ‘Magic and Mayhem: The Delusions of American Foreign Policy From Korea to Afghanistan’ by Derek Leebaert: How refreshing to read a smart, polemical book that is deliciously rude to many grand poohbahs of our time while making good sense about the mess the United States now finds itself in across the globe. On these grounds alone Derek Leebaert deserves our gratitude. But with “Magic and Mayhem,” he performs a greater service by ringing a persuasive alarm bell about the dangers inherent in our repeated attempts to put things right in countries we don’t really understand and cannot control, from Korea six decades ago to Afghanistan right now. And he does it without any of the ideological tendentiousness so typical of our public debate these days…. – WaPO, 10-8-10
  • Lawrence Jackson: Book Review: Eugene Robinson’s ‘Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America’: Eugene Robinson’s new book, “Disintegration,” opens with an account of a Washington dinner party dripping with influential Americans whom the reader can only assume are white. But these kingmakers, gathering shortly after the election of Barack Obama, turn out to be black…. – WaPo, 10-8-10
  • In Bob Woodward’s ‘Obama’s Wars,’ Neil Sheehan sees parallels to Vietnam: In another of his superbly reported insider accounts, “Obama’s Wars,” Bob Woodward recounts how a new president may well have embroiled himself in a war that could poison his presidency — just as his predecessor, George W. Bush, destroyed his with a foolhardy war in Iraq and Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were ruined by the war in Vietnam. The grim mountains and deserts of Afghanistan are a boneyard of invading foreign armies. The British rulers of colonial India sent an Anglo-Indian army into Afghanistan in 1839 to establish it as a buffer state against the advances of imperial Russia in Central Asia. The enterprise faltered against Afghan resistance, and the main garrison at Kabul — about 4,500 troops and 12,000 family members and camp followers — decided to retreat back to India in January 1842. Afghan tribesmen fell upon them in the snows of the mountain passes and slaughtered them without pity. Only one man, a doctor named William Brydon, reached safety. A few others were spared as prisoners and subsequently rescued…. – WaPo, 10-3-10
  • Nicholas Phillipson: The Wealth of an Intellect: Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life Against this backdrop, it comes as something of a surprise to discover “Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life” by Nicholas Phillipson (Yale, $32.50). Mr. Phillipson, an honorary fellow in history at the University of Edinburgh, has written an unabashedly intellectual biography in which Smith’s economics thinking is only part — at times, a smallish part — of a larger, inherently philosophical story…. – NYT, 10-2-10
  • Andrew Cayton Reviews Ron Chernow: Learning to Be Washington: WASHINGTON A Life Today, books about Washington continue to appear at such an astonishing rate that the publication of Ron Chernow’s prompts the inevitable question: Why another one? An obvious answer is that Chernow is no ordinary writer. Like his popular biographies of John D. Rockefeller and Alexander Hamilton, his “Washington” while long, is vivid and well paced. If Chernow’s sense of historical context is sometimes superficial, his understanding of psychology is acute and his portraits of individuals memorable. Most readers will finish this book feeling as if they have actually spent time with human beings. Given Chernow’s considerable literary talent and the continued hunger of some Americans for a steady diet of tales of Washington and his exploits, what publisher could resist the prospect of adding “Washington: A Life” to its list?…. – NYT, 9-30-10Excerpt
  • Ron Chernow: Dusting Off an Elusive President’s Dull Image: WASHINGTON A Life When George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States, he had only one original tooth left. It was “a lonely lower left bicuspid,” according to Ron Chernow’s vast and tenaciously researched new biography. But Mr. Chernow was not content merely to write about the tooth and its larger implications, which range from questions about Washington’s apparent reticence in later life (did his dental troubles keep him from speaking?) to his harshly pragmatic attitude toward slavery (he purchased slaves’ teeth, perhaps for use in dentures). Mr. Chernow also paid a personal visit to the tooth at the medical library where it is stored…. – NYT, 9-28-10
  • CAROLINE ELKINS reviewing Ingrid Betancourt: Deliverance: EVEN SILENCE HAS AN END My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle In her gripping memoir, “Even Silence Has an End,” Betancourt captures the despondency wrought by Fat Martha’s pronouncement with a blend of power and self-awareness that inscribes not just this one disturbing moment but her account’s every page. “Like Alice in Wonderland, I was falling, falling into a bottomless well,” she writes. “This was my black hole. I was being sucked down, dragged down into the bowels of the earth. I was alive only so that I could witness myself dying.”… – NYT, 9-30-10
  • David S. Reynolds Reviews Eric Foner: Learning to Be Lincoln: THE FIERY TRIAL Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery Do we need yet another book on Lincoln, especially in the wake of all the Lincoln volumes that appeared last year in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of his birth? Well, yes, we do — if the book is by so richly informed a commentator as Eric Foner, the DeWitt Clinton professor of history at Columbia. Foner tackles what would seem to be an obvious topic, Lincoln and slavery, and manages to cast new light on it…. – NYT, 9-30-10

FEATURES:

  • Scholar uses Berkshires for black history project: Mississippi-born Frances Jones-Sneed moved to western Massachusetts feeling like a foreigner in the snowy hamlets of the Berkshire Mountains. She and her husband, who had taken a teaching job there, were one of the area’s few black families.
    Then Jones-Sneed was hired as a history professor at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. There, she stumbled upon lost figures of the area’s rich black history.
    With the help of students, she found a slave who sued for freedom, a late 19th-century baseball player who later ended up in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and a Civil War chaplain who challenged Lincoln over discrimination against black soldiers…. – Boston Herald, 10-5-10

PROFILES:

  • Janet Stone: Retired professor pens history of AASU: Janet Stone, Armstrong professor of history emerita and university historian, has published “From the Mansion to the University: A History of Armstrong Atlantic State University 1935-2010.” The 400-page hardcover book was researched over several years and includes material starting with the founding of the college in 1935 to the day that current president Linda M. Bleicken took office in July 1. Illustrated with images of Armstrong across the decades, the book includes 13 chapters and an epilogue…. – Savannah Now, 9-28-10

QUOTES:

  • Gil Troy: Israel: A Belly-Dance Video and the Specter of Delegitimization But other reasons are not so concrete. They are in the air, says McGill University history professor Gil Troy, wafting on currents detectable to the antennas that Jews have developed over thousands of years of living with anti-Semitism.
    “Israel is the only country whose very existence is still being debated,” he says. Troy believes Israel is “the only country that still seems to be on probation.” Consider Pakistan, also founded in 1948: when its chief nuclear scientist sells the bomb to rogue states, as A.Q. Khan did more than once, “people don’t jump from criticizing that action to questioning why Pakistan was created in the first place,” Troy says.
    The need to nurture U.S. support against Iran was only one reason Netanyahu came around to the Obama Administration’s bid for talks, says Troy. “The second is this question of delegitimization.” And though not all criticism of Israel amounts to opposition to its existence, he says, some people “use these Facebook incidents, they use aberrations, they use the flotilla to say, ‘Aha. It’s no good. We should end it.’” It meaning Israel, where the middle-aged recall being taught as schoolchildren to chant, “The whole world is against us,” with a brave defiance that comes less easily to adults. – Time, 10-8-10
  • Why is This GOP House Candidate Dressed as a Nazi?: Historians of Nazi Germany vehemently dispute this characterization. “These guys don’t know their history,” said Charles W. Sydnor, Jr., a retired history professor and author of “Soldiers of Destruction: The SS Death’s Head Division, 1933-45,” which chronicles an SS division. “They have a sanitized, romanticized view of what occurred.” Sydnor added that re-enactments like the Wiking group’s are illegal in Germany and Austria. “If you were to put on an SS uniform in Germany today, you’d be arrested.”
    Christopher Browning, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said, “It is so unhistorical and so apologetic that you don’t know to what degree they’ve simply caught up innocent war memorabilia enthusiasts who love putting on uniforms.”… – The Atlantic, 10-8-10
  • As Games Begin, India Hopes to Save Its Pride: “You see the mismanagement all around,” said Jaya Kakkar, a professor of history at the Shyam Lal College of Delhi University. “There is no accountability. Every day they say all is well, but all is not well. We are paying for all this, and this is what we are getting? These games have become a national shame.”… NYT (10-2-10)
  • A History Professor Responds To Our Posts About Texas Textbooks: I greatly enjoyed reading your work exposing the craziness surrounding the Fox promotion of the Christian/Islam fake controversy surrounding Texas textbooks. As a history professor I constantly struggle with the fact that historians are the only professionals that are told by others, untrained in the profession, how they should teach or study their craft. The obvious fact is that the board members… in Texas like (State Board of Ed member Cynthia) Dunbar, simply don’t like the fact that Muslims are mentioned in a favorable light. Any serious historian knows that there is no bias in history books that emphasize Muslims. In my experience the bias is the other way. Most students that I teach here have no clue about the contributions Muslims have made to knowledge, science, history, or culture. It is my hope that by exposing this drivel we can begin to work towards a day when the Texas State Board of Education is an appointed group of experts trained in their field instead of a bunch of elected idiots whose knowledge of history doesn’t go much further than the average lay person. We do a disservice to our students by holding their curriculum hostage to electoral politics. Keep up the great work! – Fox, 9-27-10

INTERVIEWS:

  • Jon Wiener: Uncovering The ‘Truth’ Behind Lennon’s FBI Files: Oct. 9, 2010 would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday. Fresh Air remembers the legendary musician with excerpts from interviews conducted with people who knew him, and people who studied his life. This discussion with Jon Wiener was originally broadcast on Jan. 25, 2000… – NPR, 10-8-10
  • A Lesson In Firefighting History: Robert Siegel speaks with Mark Tebeau, an urban historian at Cleveland State University, about the history of fire marks in the United States. Fire marks indicated whether a homeowner was insured for fire protection. Tebeau is also the author of Eating Smoke: Fire in Urban America…. – NPR, 10-8-10
  • Professor to interview former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education: Timothy Slekar, professor of education and head of the Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences at Penn State Altoona, will conduct a radio interview with former United States Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch on Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 11 a.m. on WRTA 1240 AM in the Altoona area. Ravitch is an education historian, an education policy analyst and currently serves as a research professor in New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The interview will be streamed on the Web at http://socialstreamingplayer.crystalmedianetworks.com/radio/wrta?from=external online. – Penn State Altoona, 10-8-10

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Retired UCR professor to be honored by Queen Elizabeth II: Henry Snyder, UC Riverside professor of history emeritus, will be presented with the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire medal Oct. 16 in Los Angeles…. – Southwest Riverside News Network, 10-9-10
  • Historian Gordon-Reed Named MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius Grant’ Recipient: Acclaimed historian and law professor Annette Gordon-Reed is among 23 winners of 2010 MacArthur fellowships: Acclaimed historian and law professor Annette Gordon-Reed is among 23 winners of MacArthur fellowships, announced Monday by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Winners collect $500,000 in grants that are paid out over five years. Gordon-Reed, the winner of a Pulitzer Prize for “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,” holds professorships in law and history at Harvard University. Gordon-Reed’s writings have been credited with reshaping conceptions of colonial and early-American interracial relations through the examination of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, the slave who had children Jefferson is alleged to have fathered.
    The MacArthur Foundation website entry for Gordon-Reed says that, by “disentangling the complicated history of two distinct founding families’ interracial bloodlines,” the historian has been “shaping and enriching American history with an authentic portrayal of our colonial past.” – Diverse Education, 9-28-10

SPOTTED:

  • John Brewer: British historian discusses countrymen’s love of art and travel: John Brewer, professor of literature and history at the California Institute of Technology, delivered his lecture “From Grand Tour to Tourism?: Neo-classicism, Modern Sentiment and the Business of Travel in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries” in Rapaporte Treasure Hall Tuesday, offering students a trip through Europe and through time. Brewer spoke of the “Grand Tour” in great depth: Young aristocratic men in 18th century Britain made this voyage, often accompanied by their tutors. It was a rite of passage before these men became landlords or husbands and had to fulfill more serious duties…. – The Brandeis Shoot, 10-8-10
  • Historian, professor Woody Holton lectures on Abigail Adams: Abigail Adams was not just a First Lady, but was also an early feminist, learned audience members at Woody Holton’s lecture on Sunday afternoon. The lecture, which took place in the Brown-Alley room, was sponsored by the Friends of Boatwright Memorial Library in honor of “Abigail Adams,” the new book by the historian and associate professor of history and American studies. Holton told the audience of about 50 people that he had a very canned lecture prepared, which he had already given about 60 times, and so was going to speak about something different, which was Abigail’s relationship with the other women in her life…. – The Collegian — University of Richmond, 10-6-10

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY MAKES ITS MOST IMPORTANT COLLECTIONS RELATING TO SLAVERY AVAILABLE ONLINE: Rich trove of material becomes easily accessible at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollection The New-York Historical Society is proud to announce the launch of a new online portal to nearly 12,000 pages of source materials documenting the history of slavery in the United States, the Atlantic slave trade and the abolitionist movement. Made readily accessible to the general public for the first time at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollections, these documents from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represent fourteen of the most important collections in the library’s Manuscript Department….
  • Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs,” is the only comprehensive website on the famous Reagan-era government scandal, which stemmed from the U.S. government’s policies toward two seemingly unrelated countries, Nicaragua and Iran. Despite stated and repeated denials to Congress and to the public, Reagan Administration officials supported the militant contra rebels in Nicaragua and sold arms to a hostile Iranian government. These events have led to questions about the appropriateness of covert operations, congressional oversight, and even the presidential power to pardon…. – irancontra.org
  • Tony Platt: Nuremburg Laws now on display at the National Archives “symbolically important”: The laws signed by Adolf Hitler taking away the citizenship of German Jews before the Holocaust were placed on rare public display Wednesday at the National Archives. The Nuremberg Laws were turned over to the archives in August by The Huntington, a museum complex near Los Angeles where they were quietly deposited by Gen. George Patton at the end of World War II. The papers will be on display in a separate gallery from the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence through Oct. 18…. – AP (10-6-10)
  • Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online: The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content. Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years…. – NYT, 5-13-10
  • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Ron Chernow: Washington: A Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • George William Van Cleve: A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic, (Hardcover), October 1, 2010.
  • John Keegan: The American Civil War: A Military History, (Paperback), October 5, 2010
  • Bill Bryson: At Home: A Short History of Private Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • Robert M. Poole: On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Robert Leckie: Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Manning Marable: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • G. J. Barker-Benfield: Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility, (Hardcover), November 15, 2010
  • Edmund Morris: Colonel Roosevelt, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Michael Goldfarb: Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, (Paperback), November 23, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • Former history professor Rhys Isaac dead at 72: Rhys Isaac, former Distinguished Visiting Professor of Early American History at the College, has died of cancer. He was 72. Isaac, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for his book “The Transformation of Virginia, 1740 -1790,” enjoyed an exemplary career in teaching and research, most especially in his scholarship on Colonial North America. He remains the only Australian historian ever to win a Pulitzer…. – William and Mary News, 10-7-10
  • Moshe Lewin, scholar of the Soviet Union, dies at 88: Moshe “Misha” Lewin, professor emeritus of history, died August 14, in Paris, France. He was 88 years old. Dr. Lewin was born in Wilno, Poland in 1921 to ethnic Jewish parents who died in the Holocaust. He moved to the Soviet Union in 1941 ahead of the invading Nazis and enlisted in the Soviet army in 1943. He received his BA from Tel Aviv University, Israel in 1961. That same year he received a research scholarship to study at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he earned a PhD in 1964. He served for one year as director of study at L’École des hautes études in Paris, before becoming a senior fellow at Columbia University in New York City. Prior to his arrival at Penn in 1978, Dr. Lewin was a research professor for 10 years at Birmingham University in England. As a professor of history at Penn, Dr. Lewin was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1995. He retired and was accorded emeritus status that same year…. – UPenn Almanac (10-5-10)
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