Tag Archive for history

Tuesday in Mooseville – Slaveholders-in-Chief Cont’d 2/19/19

A former slave of U.S. President Andrew Jackson (probably Betty Jackson) and two of her great-grandchildren; 1867

After Denise’s tour-de-force of a post on Sunday (if you haven’t already, be sure to read it here: I refuse to honor George Washington, and ‘founders’ who enslaved and sold human beings ), my efforts seem meager by comparison. But that’s never stopped me before, and I think it’s important to continue the litany of shame that is as much a part of our national heritage as all the mythology we’ve created about the Founders and their successors. Here then are the final six slaveholding presidents.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Primary Sources The Game: Who Said It? 12/11/18

You may notice these next few weeks…I’m in holiday mode.

I’m leaving Friday morning for our long holiday weekend with The Kiddo and SIL, and that’s where my head is at (and has been for at least a week). So instead of doing a deep dive into some obscure historical figure or event, I thought I’d stick with history…but let the community do the work! I’ll provide the quotes, and you provide the answer (not to worry, I’m making this multiple choice). I have included the hyperlinks to the source of the quote, labeled “Answer found here”, so you can check your answer or, if you’re in a less playful mood, skip the guessing and go straight for the answer. Have fun, and may your curiosity be piqued!

Tuesday in Mooseville – Primary Sources: William Howard Russell On the Civil War (Finally, Final!) 11/27/18

Caricature of the war correspondent William Howard Russell (1821-1907), from the magazine Punch, October 8, 1881. Artwork by Edward Linley Sambourne (1844-1910)

Reading the last four letters reprinted by Project Gutenberg (The Civil War in America, by William Howard Russell) was a soul-draining, but necessary, reminder that this is indeed who we are. What these letters show me is that without directly confronting our history, we will repeat our mistakes. Without recognizing the role of myth in the way our history is taught, we will not learn or grow. The good news is that as long as photos of young girls in tears after being tear-gassed shock us; as long as news of the death of yet another African-American man at the hands of police anger us; as long as we are willing to stand up and speak out, we have a chance. Who we are is not who we have to be.

(Today’s quotes provided without commentary; the parallels are so obvious that commentary seems superfluous.)

Tuesday in Mooseville – Primary Sources: William Howard Russell On the Civil War (2nd of 3) 11/20/18

William Howard Russell, “Bull Run Russell”, London Times between 1860 and 1865. First he was feted; then he was shunned.

I’m continuing with William Howard Russell’s dispatches to the London Times, written as he visited the United States at the beginning of the Civil War. Before I return to his reports, I want to share Russell’s philosophy about how his reports were written:

Russell viewed his job as listening to stories and retelling what he heard and saw, as making “bare statements” of fact. Privately, Russell admitted, “I would rather the North shd. be the victor than the South,” but publicly he tried to report what he observed without taking sides. (The Special Correspondent)

Today, we deride this form of journalism as mere stenography, but during the 1860s, the practice of maintaining “journalistic anonymity” and sharing the stories as they were heard was a relatively new practice. Of course, after his acclaimed reports on the Crimean War, Russell had no anonymity, and both North and South were eager to court his attention. Eventually, however, he angered both sides, who viewed him as a supporter of their opponent. The nickname, “Bull Run Russell” was a sarcastic and angry jibe by northerners at his brutal reporting on the Northern retreat after Bull Run. It would not take long for Southerners to join the North in its dismissive and often abusive attitude towards William Howard Russell.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Primary Sources: William Howard Russell On the Civil War 11/13/18

William Howard Russell during the Crimean War, 1855

I had never heard of William Howard Russell before reading Our Man in Charleston: Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South by Christopher Dickey (h/t basket and janesaunt for the book recommendation). Russell is NOT the secret agent of the book title; he was a foreign correspondent for The Times of London, who first gained fame as a Crimean War correspondent. His blunt and realistic portrayals of the cost of war were shocking and mobilizing for the British public, and Florence Nightingale is alleged to have been motivated to get involved with and change battlefield treatment practices in part because of Russell’s dispatches. In 1861, he travelled to the United States and the Confederate States, and his observations were published in the Confederacy-supporting Times. What follows are excerpts from his dispatches; the collection from which I am drawing is available here: The Civil War in America.

Tuesday in Mooseville – A Year At a Glance: 1927, Sears Edition 11/6/18

Lindbergh’s famous flight (20-21 May, 1927) commemorated by the U.S. Post Office

I figure we’re all going to have the attention span of a fruit fly today (What Animal Has the Shortest Attention Span? ), so I decided to do a light, but [hopefully] fun revisit of an old Sears catalogue. This time the year is 1927: the year of Lindbergh’s flight; the silent film, It, is released, making Clara Bow the first “It” girl; The Jazz Singer, the first film with “synchronized dialogue” (and the unfortunate use of blackface) is also released; the year production of the Model T ended and the Model A started; when the radio network CBS Is created; Stalin takes control in Russia, and Calvin Coolidge is president with the average net income for Americans being $5496.73 ($79,746.50 today). (Statistics of Income for 1927, p. 3). The Roaring Twenties were…

…a decade in which many of the defining characteristics of late twentieth century life were determined, particularly with regard to mass movements of society. Mass production, mass distribution, mass marketing, and mass consumption held sway, and the rise of a mass service industry followed, due in part to so-called “technological unemployment,” the forced movement of workers out of blue-collar jobs as a result of the increased efficiency of new machinery and processes. (Laboring to Prosper)

Sears was ready to meet the demand, with a catalogue featuring a cover with a Norman Rockwell drawing, showing a woman, a man, and the family dog poring over the pages of the Big Book.

Tuesday in Mooseville – A Year at a Glance: 1908, Sears Version 10/23/18

Sears Roebuck and Company Mail Order Plant, Bounded by Lexington and Grenshaw Streets, Kedzie Avenue and Independence Boulevard, Chicago, Cook County, IL; 1908.

I am a firm believer that too many history textbooks focus on dates and Big Events like wars, while giving scant coverage to the daily lives of the people who are living in and through those times. I was reminded of this while I was on my recent vacation; I picked up a reproduction of the 1908 Sears, Roebuck catalogue and have since spent more time than I care to admit reading the listings. I bought it as a resource for theatre costuming and props, but today I’m using it as a resource for connecting dates and big and small events with the people who lived in 1908.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Primary Sources: Edward Ross and Race Suicide 10/9/18

American sociologist and eugenicist Edward Alsworth Ross (1866-1951)


I had strongly considered backing off from difficult topics for awhile, in deference to the difficult past few weeks. But then I saw this tweet by one of my favorite Twitter-follows:


Some may not like the bluntness of @Ange_Amene, but I’ve always found her willingness to be true to herself, even if it enrages fellow Democrats and/or white feminists, to be refreshing and much-needed. And I also happen to think she’s right about “doesn’t know shit”; privilege more often than not has protected white folk from knowing and understanding history as it was, rather than as it was taught (often in support of white supremacy). So while it would be easier to stick with something lighter, today I’m focusing on a little-known phrase, “race suicide”, and how one prominent sociologist framed it and popularized the concept.

VNV Tuesday – …Doomed to Repeat It (Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930) 6/26/18

Willis C. Hawley (left) and Reed Smoot meeting shortly after the signing of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.

If you’re like me, the Smoot-Hawley (sometimes called Hawley-Smoot) Tariff Act is a vague memory from high school history class and a less-vague memory from this scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:

Since tariffs have been in the news lately, I thought this would be a good time to review the most infamous tariff act in United States history, the Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930.

VNV Tuesday – …Doomed to Repeat It (Chinese Restriction Act of 1882 ) 6/19/18


As usual, I present this post with the caveat that I am neither a scholar nor a specialist in this field; I’m merely providing an overview for those who wish to have a cursory explanation and enough information to enable continued research on one’s own. For the parenthetical part of the title of this post, I chose the less-common, but contemporaneously-accurate, reference to the Chinese Restriction Act, although today it is most often called the Chinese Exclusion Act. This was a conscious choice, guided by my desire to show the fluidity and evolution of the immigration restrictions directed at the Chinese, and later other Asian immigrants.