A Student of History

October 23, 2007

Local History

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 9:50 pm

1st Annual Prince William County History Forum
Saturday, March 8, 2008The first annual Prince William County (Virginia) History Forum will convene at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, Virginia on Saturday, March 8, 2008. We will share local history among scholars, teachers, students, archivists, librarians, museum curators, and the community at large who are interested in the history, environment and culture of Prince William County.

We are accepting proposals for presentations on all topics re: Prince William County history. All sessions will include a 30-minute presentation of original research followed by a 15-minute discussion. Presentations should include new, primary research that is unpublished, soon-to-be published or was recently published.

Send a one page proposal, along with a brief biography of 35 sentences for each presenter(s) to:
Robin L. Meyering (meyerirl@pwcs.edu),
Sue Austen (austensp@pwcs.edu), or
Charlie Grymes (president@historicprincewilliam.org)

October 22, 2007

Filed under: Early America,Historic Places — John Maass @ 9:20 am

A few days ago, I came across two very interesting sites I had no idea existed, both in southern Maryland. 

The first was St. Ignatius Church, founded in 1641.  That’s old!  According to the parish website and a historical marker at the church, St. Ignatius is the oldest Catholic Parish in continuous service in the United States. Fr. Andrew White and other Jesuits sailed on the Ark and the Dove to help found an English Colony, permitting freedom of religion. Fr. White settled among the Potobac Indians at Chapel Point, learned to speak their language, and soon baptized their Indian Tayak or Chief. 

Although often tried by repressive laws, the Jesuits continued to serve colonists, Indians, and slaves from the “olde wooden chapelle” by the point, and later from “Paradise Hill.” Supplies from the Manor Farm were offered to the Americans attacking Yorktown. With the return of peace, the present church was built in 1798. It was blessed by John Carroll, the first bishop of Baltimore.  Though suppressed worldwide in 1773, the Society of Jesus was restored in America by those who took their vows in this church in 1805. From here, saddle priests rode forth to serve all of Charles County, as well as parts of Prince George’s and Calvert Counties.

Union troops occupied St. Thomas Manor during the Civil War. Fire substantially destroyed the interior of the church and Manor House on December 27, 1866. However, by June 7, 1868, both were restored and rededicated.

For over 150 years, St. Thomas Manor at St. Ignatius was the home of Superiors of the Maryland Mission. Many missionaries lived and worked here. Courageous people worshiped here despite severe obstacles to their faith, and the famous visited for advice and counsel. From this manor, priests attended Catholics in an area from Virginia to Pennsylvania, developing new missions and establishing new residences. From here, all the older parishes of Charles County have been attended, and most were founded by priests of St. Thomas Manor.

There’s much more info at the website.  What is even more special about the site is that the interior of the church, built in 1798, is so lovely.  All the kneelers are hand embroidered.  And, the site has a spectacular view of the Port Tobacco River and surrounding countryside.  It is located off US 301, south of La Plata.

The second place we saw was Port Tobacco, located between US 301 and Indian Head Hwy., on the east side of the Potomac River.  There is a reconstructed courthouse there, a few old buildings and some markers but not much else.  Still, its a pretty spot and a nice drive to get there.  According to a tourism website, the town was founded in Charles County in 1641, on the site of an earlier Indian town.  The county seat was later relocated to La Plata, ten miles away.  More info I got from the web:

In 1727, an Act of the Maryland Assembly directed that a new courthouse be erected on the “East side of the Head of Port Tobacco Creek, at a place called ‘Chandler Town’ allowing 3 acres for a courthouse and a jail.” An additional 60 acres were to be divided into 100 lots to form the village. The courthouse was completed by 1729 and is assumed to have been of brick because its cost was recorded as 12,000 pounds of tobacco. No drawings have been found.

The Assembly officially named the village “Charles Town,” but that name failed to stick. The area had always been popularly known as Port Tobacco, and that is the name that endured. It could have been a corruption of the Indian name Potopaco, which through the years had been pronounced Portafacco, Potobac, Potobag, and Porttobattoo.  

[photo, Restored Charles County Courthouse, Port Tobacco, Maryland]


Filed under: Early America,NC History — John Maass @ 7:37 am

I just came across this at The Coastal Carolina Indian Center:

8/31/07 – Great news! CCIC is happy to announce that we have secured permission from the Historical Publications Division at North Carolina Archives to publish some wonderful historical research articles that have appeared in the North Carolina Historical Review over the years, including: “The Tuscarora Ascendancy” by Thomas Parramore (1982);  “In the ‘Scolding Houses’: Indians Before the Colonial Courts in North Carolina, 1684-1760” by Michelle LeMaster (2006); and “‘All This Poor Province Could Do’: North Carolina and the Seven Years’ War, 1757-1762” by John R. Maass (2002).

The website says that CCIC is committed to being the number one resource for educators, parents, students or any individuals interested in learning about the Indians of North Carolina’s coastal plain — past and present.  CCIC firmly believes that being able to preserve and educate others about the history of the Original People of Coastal Carolina is cause for celebration.  CCIC will engage in, as well as offer support and assistance to, research projects that focus on the history, culture and traditions of the Indians of Coastal North Carolina, including the documentation of such history.

A Sunday Trip

Filed under: Historic Places — John Maass @ 6:24 am

Yesterday here in Virginia was sunny and warm, so we took off down to the Northern Neck to go see the George Washington Birthplace National Monument, part of the NPS.  It is located about 35 miles southeast of Fredericksburg.  What is striking is how little historians and archeaologists now know about the actual house GW spent his first three years in.  They have located the foundation, but have no survining depiction or description of what the home looked like.

This lack of info, however, did not stop the faithful from erecting what they thought the house ought to look like, which is what stands today at the site.  Nevertheless, it is a very pretty spot on Pope’s Creek, and worth a trip to see it.  Our ranger guide was very good as well. Its also only 7 miles from Lee’s boyhood home, Stratford Hall.

[Foundation of original house; inaccurate repro in background]


Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 6:14 am

There’s an interesting piece on the (unfortunate) frequency of holocausts in recent history, found here at the New Oxford Review.

When I ask fellow Catholics if they are aware that an estimated five million Christian noncombatants were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, I usually receive a blank stare. Many Catholics are also unaware that saints such as Edith Stein and Maximilian Kolbe were canonized after being killed in Nazi death camps. Additionally, most Christians don’t stop to consider that tens of millions of Christian soldiers died fighting to crush Nazism.

October 21, 2007

AP Finds 2500 Teacher Molesters over 5 Years

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 6:27 am

Gee, I thought only Catholic priests abused kids……

From Fox:

An Associated Press investigation found more than 2,500 cases over five years in which educators were punished for actions from bizarre to sadistic.

There are 3 million public school teachers nationwide, most devoted to their work. Yet the number of abusive educators — nearly three for every school day — speaks to a much larger problem in a system that is stacked against victims.

Most of the abuse never gets reported. Those cases reported often end with no action. Cases investigated sometimes can’t be proven, and many abusers have several victims.

And no one — not the schools, not the courts, not the state or federal governments — has found a surefire way to keep molesting teachers out of classrooms.

The seven-month investigation found 2,570 educators whose teaching credentials were revoked, denied, surrendered or sanctioned from 2001 through 2005 following allegations of sexual misconduct.

How come the media only seems to target priests, not teachers, in their stories?  Could it be bias against The Church?

October 19, 2007

Movie Fun

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 9:07 pm

Yes, this is totally un-scientific, but here are

the Top 10 “Most Famous Movie Quotes”:

Well, click here.

October 18, 2007

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 6:36 am

In a prior post I wrote about Britain and the problems it faces internally with multiculturalism, as it is practiced there. 

In today’s Telegraph, there is a related opinion piece by blogger Steve Oakley.  He says:

Britain has always prided herself on being a mini USA; that is, a melting pot. We point to the Hugenots, Dutch land drainers and Flemish weavers then ignore the Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, the more orthodox Jews and today’s crop of extreme religious radicals, all of who [sic] keep themselves, and their families of all generations, to themselves.

The emphais is mine, used to highlight a major point about immigration.  There is no melting pot anymore, except for a few groups.  For the most part, immigrants come to the UK or USA, don’t blend in, then demand rights and benefits.  “Entire communities live in isolation from each other.”  That creates resistance and then bitterness among those already citizens.  Oakley has more:

The PC brigade, usually guilt ridden middle class types who wouldn’t know the working class if they fell over them, insist on cultural Apartheid by  insisting local authotirties provide muti lingual guides to all that is needed to live here. Of course a lady of Pakistani origin won’t learn English if she doesn’t have to. Which is a pity, because if you look diferent from me, eat strange foods and follow a religion delivered from a different cultural standpoint then the only thing our twisted brand of multiculturalism will bring is fear,  with its siblings suspicion and intolerance.

The saddest thing about our present situation is that the people who, I believe, genuinely want to bring people together, are the very ones who keep us apart, by allowing the cultutral Apartheid I describe above to continue; the only people with the power to fix the mess they have got us into – the politicians.

The Decline of Common Sense

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 6:20 am

Another example of stupidity and hubris, cloaked in the name of “health” and “rights”:

The Portland, ME school board on Wednesday approved a measure allowing middle-school students to gain access to prescription birth control medications without notifying parents.

The proposal, from the Portland Division of Public Health, calls for the independently operated health care center at King Middle School to provide a variety of services to students, including immunizations and physical checkups in addition to birth-control medications and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases, said Lisa Belanger, an administrator for Portland’s student health centers.

One parent said “This is about giving kids who are sexually active the tools that they need.” These are 11-13 year olds!  Does this idiot, Richard Veilleux, think his child is ready for sex, the responsibility that goes along with it and its consequences?  Preposterous.

October 17, 2007

Short Quiz

Filed under: The Academy,What is History? — John Maass @ 8:10 am

OK, here’s a short quiz that I use to show how academic historians are learning more and more about less and less, and gradually fading into irrelevancy.  Which of the following paper topics is NOT one that was presented at the AHA meeting in Atlanta in January 2007?


Orthodoxy and the National Soul: Crainic, Staniloae, and the Politics of Theological Rhetoric 

Geographies of the Self: Rethinking the Public Work of an Underground Nationalist in Communist Hungary, 1948—56 

The Yellow-Skinned Population is Strongly Given to Homosexuality: Envisioning China before the Cold War 

The Coca-Cola Campaign in India: Asserting Human Rights and Environmental Justice


Home on the Range: Gay Cowboys, Celibate Friars, and the Spanish Colonial Frontier, 1608-1729.  

“So, Your Daughter Is a Sportsman”: Gender Anxiety and Nationalism in the Golden Age of Sports 

Creating the Neighborhood Butcher Shop: Technology and Meat Shopping in the American City, 1850 — 1950 

Dichotomies of Uzbek Childhood: Gender and Education after Stalin Anticlericalism and Masculine Crisis: Satire, Sex, and Clerical Celibacy in Wilhelmine Germany 

Asylum of Disgrace: Sanitizing and Disciplining the Prostitute Body in Havana’s Hygiene Hospital, 1870 — 1900

Religion & the Founders

Filed under: Early America,The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 8:03 am


[GW Praying at Valley Forge-True?]

A few weeks ago, I posted on Christianity and the Founders, a subject that has been receiving lots of attention in the form of many books, articles, etc.  Now John McCain has weighed in, and says that the U.S. was founded on Christian principles and that these should be emphasized today.  Bold words from a presidential contender.  Related to this theme is an opinion piece in the Boston Globe, by James Carroll, which is here.  I include a snip of it below.

One of my proudest boasts as a schoolboy was an ability to both identify and spell what my teacher insisted was the English language’s longest word: antidisestablishmentarianism.

I had, of course, no idea what it meant. Now I know that it defines America’s political third rail onto which John McCain threw himself when he recently said that the United States was established as a “Christian nation.”

No, it wasn’t! Or so answered a chorus of critics, heading off an inevitable denigration of minority religions – and no religion. The disestablishmentarians always point out that the U.S. Constitution nowhere mentions God, and that the founders were Deist gentlemen whose God was so impersonally detached from history as to be not recognizably Christian at all. The framers of the American political system, appalled by what “establishment” had led to in Europe, took pains to set their government on a religiously neutral path.

But government is not nation. Just because McCain’s assertion is dangerous – as I believe it to be – does not mean it is untrue. For one thing, what the founders intended may weigh less than how the nation developed over the next two centuries. The Constitution created “an open national space,” in the scholar Mark Noll’s phrase, but, Noll says, instead of it being filled with Alexander Hamilton’s economic planning, Thomas Jefferson’s yeomanry or John Adams’s communalism, that space was seized by unexpected 19th-century “awakenings” of evangelical fervor.

[Another, cheesier version]

October 16, 2007

A broad, intense, and solid liberal arts education

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 6:31 am

Mr. Thomas Reeves’ most recent column is a good one, on HNN.

In it, he reiterates the crucial need for “a broad, intense, and solid liberal arts education offered in an atmosphere in which a wide range of substantial ideas and facts are studied and weighed carefully, and where morality is understood to be something more than what feels good. Such colleges and such students are the hope for the future of the intellectual and moral life of this country.”

Unfortunately, that isn’t what most folks are getting at “football factories and open admission campuses for job training and fun.”   

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