A Student of History

April 17, 2007

Keeping the Mass Holy

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 4:02 pm

Jennifer Graham has written a superb–and funny–column on National Review’s website, some of which is below.  It is a great read and she should be commended not only for her sentiments (which are mine too) but her writing.

The Second Vatican Council begat the “folk” Mass, which was sometimes called the “hootenanny” Mass in the 1960s. It was supposed to attract young people, with guitars and tambourines and weepy ballads only vaguely related to God. (In high school, I sang in a folk choir that once passed off the Beatles’ “Let It Be” as a communion song. McCartney’s lyrics referred to his biological mother, Mary, not the Virgin, but whatever.)

People dressed down for the folk Masses, usually celebrated on Saturday or Sunday evenings, and that was okay in that setting and at that time. But somewhere along the way, people got the idea that what’s fine and appropriate for 6 P.M. Saturday is acceptable at 10:30 A.M. Sunday, and in many churches, that’s where we are today: Torn blue jeans and untied hi-tops have become our Sunday best. Every service is a hootenanny now.

Was there a Medieval Church in America?

Filed under: Historic Places — John Maass @ 2:16 pm

If the findings of a recently deceased British historian can be substantiated, a Canadian town may well be able to trace its roots back to the late 1400s, around the time of John Cabot’s voyages to the New World. It may also have been the site of the first church built in North America. And the Newfoundland town may also have a new theory on the origin of its name.

According to Dr. Evan Jones of the University of Bristol, if (Dr. Alwyn) Ruddock is right, “it means that the remains of the only medieval church in North America may still lie buried under the modern town of Carbonear.”

Carbonear is among the oldest settlements in North America. The harbour was named by migratory fishermen before John Guy and the other settlers arrived in Cupids in 1610, to establish the first English settlement in Canada. The settlers mention Carbonear by name in their letters and journals. 

The name Carbonear may be French or Spanish. Some people think that the name comes from a Spanish word, carbonera, which can mean either “wood prepared for burning into charcoal”, “charcoal kiln”, or “woman who makes or sells charcoal”. If Carbonear is a French name, it might come from the French word Carbonnier, which is a family name from Picardy and Normandy in France. It might also come from La Carbonnière, which is a place-name in Normandy.

The rest of this intriguing story is here.

Irish Stone to be Moved?

Filed under: Historic Preservation,Ireland — John Maass @ 2:08 pm

Rumours that a 2,000-year-old pagan statue is to be moved from its home have sparked outrage in the north of Ireland.

The two-faced Janus figure at Boa Island, Co Fermanagh, has been linked to speculation that it will be removed to a Belfast museum to protect it from damage.

For more, click here.

April 16, 2007

In Memorium

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 4:54 pm

My deepest sympathies to the Virginia Tech community after such a huge loss…..

April 14, 2007

German machine gunners aim at Blacks

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 3:35 pm

Bundeswehr Logo.svg

This is disturbing, to say the least:”A video showing a German army instructor telling one of his soldiers to envision African-Americans in the Bronx while firing his machine gun was broadcast Saturday on national television,” reports CNN.com.  “The video, coming after scandals involving photos of German soldiers posing with skulls in Afghanistan and the abuse of recruits by instructors, seemed likely to raise more questions about training practices in Germany’s conscript army.”  The report goes on to quote a german official who says:

“We can no longer talk about an isolated case,” said Lt. Juergen Rose of the Darmstaedter Signal, a group of current and former army officers and sergeants who independently review military procedures.  Things like this don’t happen in the army on an everyday basis, but unfortunately in recent years there have been a number of comparable incidents.”

The Defense Ministry said the video was shot in July 2006 at barracks in the northern town of Rendsburg and that the army has been aware of it since January.

Besides the obvious racism here, my question is: Why would German recruits be motivated to perform at higher standards in machine gun training by imagining they were firing at African-Americans in Detroit?  I just don’t get it. When I was in the army in the 1980s, the SGT’s used to yell stuff about Russians, since they were (we assumed at the time) our chief enemy.  Are Michigan blacks regarded as a threat to Germans?  I don’t think so!  I still don’t get it….

April 13, 2007

The commercialization of everything

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 6:39 pm

This is a review essay on 2 new books, that do not relate specifically to history, but its worthwhile to recommend.  It is about kids and consumerism.  “These two books show us that McWorld — the commercialization of everything — has prevailed, that liberty is losing and that the market machine is turning our innocent kids into shallow, egoistic ‘kidults’ right in front of our eyes.”

A Matter of Perspective

Filed under: Wars — John Maass @ 3:43 pm

Was John Paul Jones, the famous American naval hero of the American Revolution, a <gulp!> pirate?!?!

Well, it depends on whether you were sailing with him, or if your town was looking into the muzzles of his ship cannons.  The latter perspective is that of the Scots, and can be read in an interesting piece here.  It includes the portrait of Jones below, which I had not seen before….

John Paul Jones captained the Bonhomme Richard...

April 12, 2007

Irish rebel made poetic request

Filed under: Ireland — John Maass @ 7:27 am

A letter detailing the final wishes of Easter Rising leader Padraig Pearse written just hours before his execution in 1916 is to go under the hammer at a Dublin auction house.   In it he asks Maxwell to ensure, among other things, that four poems written by him are handed to his mother or sisters, together with £7 in cash and other personal belongings taken from him after his arrest.

A BBC on-line article is here.

Patrick Pearse was born in Dublin, on November 10, 1879 to an English father (he was a sculptor) and an Irish mother.

Pearse became interested in the heritage and history of Ireland at a very early age and joined the Gaelic League when 21 years old. The purpose of the league was to promote Irish tradition and language and it was very much part of the revival of Gaelic consciousness that took place at the turn of the century. Pearse was an enthusiastic member and became editor of the leagues newspaper: An Claidheamh Solais (‘The Sword of Light’).

Pearse tried to use knowledge and education to defeat the English and insisted on the use of the native Irish language and founded St. Edna’s College near Dublin in 1908. St Edna’s structured its curriculum around Irish traditions and culture and tutored in both the Irish and English languages.

Pearse was a pioneer of Irish writing and published poems, stories, articles and essays to further the identification of Ireland as a separate culture.

The Gaelic League inevitably attracted militant nationalists and Pearse soon realised that it would take more than education and tradition to break the link with England.

In July 1914, Pearse was made a member of the Supreme Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), a militant group that believed in using force to throw the British out of Ireland.

When England entered the First World War Irish nationalism split between those who wanted to take advantage of England’s plight and those (including John Redmond) who wanted to assist England in the war in the hope of getting concessions when it was over.

John Redmond, a member of Parliament fighting for Home Rule, took a pro-British stance during the war. This alienated many Irish citizens and support for the Brotherhood grew. Shortly before 1915, the Irish Republican Brotherhood had plans for a full military revolution in Ireland. Pearse was a believer in a revolution while the British were occupied fighting a war in Europe. Pearse was opposed to Redmond’s stance and felt that the only way to liberate Ireland was by insurrection. His famous oration at the funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa (an Irish revolutionary) in August 1915 demonstrates this:

‘We stand at Rossa’s grave not in sadness, but in exultation of spirit… This is a place of peace sacred to the dead, where men should speak with all charity and all restraint; but I hold it a Christian thing… to hate evil, to hate untruth, to hate oppression, and hating them to strive to overthrow them… while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree, shall never be at peace.’

Pearse was heavily involved with the planning of the 1916 Easter Rising which was the catalyst for the subsequent War of Independence, Civil War and eventual declaration of a Republic in 1949.

The Rising failed as Pearse must have known it must. He was executed on May 3, 1916 with fourteen other rebels.

April 11, 2007

Is Christianity Leaving the Emerald Isle?

Filed under: Ireland — John Maass @ 8:09 am

There’s evidence in Ireland to suggest this.  According to a RTE story of 4/9/07, “One third of 15- to 24-year-olds cannot say where Jesus was born or what the Christian Church celebrates at Easter…The 15- to 24-year-olds were also more than twice as ignorant as the pensioners when it came to naming the Holy Trinity, with 53% of the younger group failing to answer correctly.  But the younger group outscored the older one by 48% to 44%when it came to naming the first book of the bible.”

The rest of the story is here.

April 10, 2007

“Fort Dobbs Gazette” Receives Award

Filed under: Historic Places,Wars — John Maass @ 9:49 am

Some news from N.C., about one of my favorite history sites: 

“Fort Dobbs Gazette” Receives Prestigious State Museums Publication Award
March 13, 2007

DURHAM — A Ft. Dobbs State Historic Site publication, the “Ft. Dobbs Gazette,” recently received the 2007 publication award for Best Newsletter – Black and White from the N.C. Museums Council (NCMC) at its recent annual meeting held in Hickory. NCMC strives to enhance public education by improving the administrative, interpretive, and collections practices of museums, historic sites, science centers and related facilities in North Carolina and annually recognizes achievements in the state’s museums.

Published by Ft. Dobbs State Historic Site, the Ft. Dobbs Gazette is a quarterly publication with approximately a thousand readers from 10 states and 40 cities and counties in North Carolina. The gazette highlights programming and site information, historical articles, and photographs, as well as educational material. Its content reflects the mission of the site, which is to “preserve and interpret the history of North Carolina’s only French and Indian War fort site to all citizens and visitors.” Funding for the gazette is provided by the Friends of Ft. Dobbs, a private, non-profit support group, supplemented by an educational grant from Iredell County Commissioners.

[A N.C. Provincial Soldier]

April 9, 2007

“Irish Question” Conference

Filed under: Ireland,The Academy — John Maass @ 11:05 pm
The Radical History Review seeks submissions for an issue that will explore the intellectual, historical and political implications of the “Irish Question” over the past eight centuries.

We depart from the premise that the national question and its resolution (or not) in Ireland is not only a major topic in Irish and British Imperial history, but one with fundamental implications for the evolution of the modern world, and the histories of colonialism and postcolonialism. We envision contributions focused on Ireland, first as a colony and then partitioned into two states after 1922, and the attendant “Irish diaspora” in England, Canada, the United States, and beyond. However, the editors do not assume that the Irish Question is restricted to people of Irish descent or the countries they inhabit: we are equally interested in the relationship of Ireland’s national struggle to Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

The issue will seek to explore a series of interlocking questions, including but not limited to:

1. Is Ireland a founding site of European imperialism and anti-imperial resistance, as well as post-colonialism? What are the implications for European or world history of moving the Third back into the First World?

2. How has the rise of a Revisionist historiography challenging the nationalist narrative paralleled Ireland’s move away from postcolonial dependency since the 1970s? What is its significance for historians outside of Ireland? What does it mean to deny the existence of a national revolution in Ireland?

3. What are the implications of the process beginning in the mid-nineteenth century whereby Ireland and Irishness was configured as exclusively Catholic? How has that identity played out on the world stage-is it equally relevant in all cases?

4. Why is “race” so rarely mentioned inside Irish history when the Irish as immigrants are so emphatically raced once they leave Ireland, whether as “becoming white” or not-quite-white? Does Ireland occupy a distinctive place in whiteness studies, or should it?

5. Is it useful or accurate to assert an “Irish Diaspora?” What are the implications of this particular form of diasporic studies?

6. How have the Irish, whether in Ireland or abroad, appropriated transnational forms of popular culture like soul and later hip-hop?

7. How influential has the Irish version of cultural nationalism been in the larger world? Can we link De Valera with Garvey and Ben Gurion, or is the Ireland sui generis, given the role of the Catholic Church?

8. How has Irish Republicanism been represented in popular and mass culture, in different parts of the world? Are these tropes and images similar to those assigned to other movements committed to armed struggle by any means necessary, or distinctively different?

9. What is the Irish Left, alongside or outside of Irish republicanism? Are its problems relevant to the problem of class politics in other national liberation struggles?

10. How has Irish women’s history and Irish feminism recast the National Question?

11. Are there distinctive Irish and/or Irish American discourses of sexuality and queerness-are they similar or different, and what role does demography play in Ireland’s distinctive history of sexual repression?

Though the RHR continues to publish monographic articles, we also invite Reflections, Interventions, roundtables, interviews, and reviews that go beyond books to look at popular historical representations, whether visual, cinematic, or textual. Potential contributors are encouraged to look at recent issues for examples of these non-traditional forms of scholarship.

Submissions are due by March 15, 2008 and should be submitted electronically, as an attachment, to rhr@igc.org with “Issue 104 submission” in the subject line. For artwork, please send images as high resolution digital files (each image as a separate file). For preliminary e-mail inquiries, please include “Issue 104” in the subject line. Those articles selected for publication after the peer review process will be included in issue 104 of the Radical History Review, scheduled to appear in Spring 2009.

Radical History Review
Tamiment Library, 10th Floor
New York University
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012Email: rhr@igc.org
Visit the website at http://chnm.gmu.edu/rhr/rhr.htm

April 8, 2007

231st Anniversary of Halifax Resolves

Filed under: NC History — John Maass @ 10:05 pm

Historic Halifax Celebrates 231st Anniversary of Halifax Resolves:


HALIFAX (April 5, 2007) — Make plans to mark 231 years of American independence from Great Britain on Thursday, April 12, at Halifax Day. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., festivities at Historic Halifax will celebrate the April 12, 1776, vote by North Carolina’s Provincial Congress to cut ties with the British Crown.

The program will feature costumed interpreters, living history demonstrations, “hands-on” activities, historic building tours, patriotic ceremonies and fun for the kids. It is sponsored by the Historical Halifax Restoration Association, Inc. All activities are free and open to the public.

Officials will honor the adoption of the Halifax Resolves in a commemoration ceremony at 2 p.m. During the ceremony, Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Lisbeth C. Evans will make a special announcement about the William R. Davie House restoration project. John Sanders, former director of the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Government, will be the guest speaker and discuss the history of the William R. Davie House.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 3 to 4 p.m., the site’;s historic buildings will be open for tours. Historical crafts and living-history demonstrations are also planned during these times. Visitors can learn about the Halifax area’s history through a self-guided museum tour and a 13-minute audiovisual presentation in the Historic Halifax Visitor Center, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The 1776 Halifax Resolves resolution was the first official action for independence made by any of the 13 original American colonies. Recognized on the North Carolina flag with the date, April 12, 1776, the event is one of the most important in the state’s history. Though the resolves document itself was signed by only Secretary of the Fourth Provincial Congress James Green Jr., the resolution was passed unanimously by the 83 delegates present. This year also is the 250th anniversary of the Town of Halifax being chartered, which occurred on November 21, 1757.

The first 85 years of the town of Halifax’s life are recalled in the historic site&’s preservation. The Owens House —;with a gambrel roof and furnished as the home of a prosperous Halifax merchant—is the oldest building and dates from about 1760. Two other buildings are also 18th-century, Eagle Tavern and the Tap Room.

The Roanoke River Valley’s prosperity during the 18th and 19th centuries is reflected in the many Federal-style plantation homes built here from the 1790s to the 1820s. A particularly elegant example is the 1808 Sally-Billy House. The Burgess Law Office probably dates from the same period, though its design is the older Georgian style. Thomas Burgess owned the building in the early 1800s, and it is furnished as his law office and town house.

The two public buildings within the historic district — the Clerk’s Office and the Jail — were built by the same contractor. The Clerk’s Office, built from 1832-1833, is where valuable court records were once stored. One of its rooms is furnished as a court official’s office and one as a printer’s office, complete with a press.

The jail was built in 1838. Other site features reflect everyday life in Halifax: Magazine Spring, long a town water source; the cemetery; Market Square, which served as the town park, pasture, and marketplace; and the river outlook, near the site of an early ferry landing.

Historic Halifax is located in Halifax County, a little over five miles east of Interstate 95. Take exit 168 onto State Route 903 and follow brown historic site signs to the Historic Halifax Visitor Center. For more information call 252-583-7191 or visit www.halifax.nchistoricsites.org. It is an agency of the N.C. Division of State Historic Sites, Department of Cultural Resources, a state agency dedicated to the promotion and protection of North Carolina’s arts, history, and culture.

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