A Student of History

January 31, 2008

Key Tarleton Site Saved in Va.

Filed under: Early America,Wars — John Maass @ 2:41 pm

One of the key sites on Banastre Tarleton’s 1781 Charlottesville Raid is Castle Hill, on Rt. 231 in Albemarle County near Cismont.   Good news–the current owners worked with the Nature Conservancy and recently donated a conservation easement to the Conservancy, ensuring that development will be permanently restricted on the 1,203-acre farm.

Castle Hill

More details are here.

January 29, 2008

Causeway centre proposal rejected in NI

Filed under: Ireland — John Maass @ 7:34 am

From the BBC:

Environment Minister Arlene Foster has refused a developer’s application for a privately funded visitors’ centre at the Giant’s CausewayMrs Foster told the assembly that she saw some merits in Seymour Sweeney’s proposal.  But she said that she had to turn it down on planning grounds.

The Causeway become widely known as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ from the 1700s when  large numbers of visitor’s came to view this amazing array of basalt columns, it is estimated that there are around 40,000 in total. Today’s visitor is free to wander over the stones but it was not always the case. Growing worldwide fame brought increasing numbers of visitors which inspired a syndicate to engage in a profitable charge’scheme to view the stones at close hand. For over a century prior to this scheme, There had been disputes of access and ownership, the stones have been fenced off, access denied and several  legal challenges made. However, in 1897 one lengthy legal battle  between this syndicate and local people who objected took place, the High Court in London recognised that a road to the stones had existed for public access to the foreshore but turned down recognition of access over the stones. The Giants Causeway Company subsequently improved the site, fenced off the stones and  levied a charge to view them at close hand. The Causeway came into public ownership in 1963 when it was bought by the National Trust but it is thanks to a small band of people who stood up for an ancient right of way in the late 1800’s that has led to this free access today. A house once stood at the point where the mini-bus now turns round, a caretaker lived there to monitor the stones and turnstile, through the Giants Gate  was a Victorian tea room –  both have long since gone.  There is nothing left of a two hundred year old tradition that existed amongst local people, who would set up small stalls along the pathway that leads to the causeway or the  guides who would show you round or the boatmen who would row you round to  Portcoon Cave or round past the Causeway to view the spectacular Amphitheatre.

Beware the hubris of science

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 7:08 am

“In an age when scientific developments attract and seduce with the possibilities they offer, it’s more important than ever to educate our contemporaries’ consciences so that science does not become the criteria for goodness.”

–Benedict XVI, 28 January 2008

The National Museum of the U.S. Army

Filed under: Wars — John Maass @ 7:07 am

In 2013, along the Potomac in the heart of the Washington National Capital Region – something momentous will happen.  The National Museum of the United States Army will open its doors.  All American Soldiers will finally have what they have never had before – a home of their own, the one place they will want their family and friends and every American citizen to go to learn about, connect with, and share the achievements of the United States Army.

Click here for more.

January 28, 2008

Top 10 Archaeological Discoveries of 2007

Filed under: Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 2:23 pm

From Archaeological Magazine:

Hardly week goes by without a major archaeological discovery or the publication of a radical new theory about the human past. Reducing a year’s worth of these stories to the 10 most important was a tall order, especially since our intent was to go beyond the headlines and select those we thought made a significant impact on the field–ones that will be talked about for decades.

The Top Ten:  here.


Lismullin Henge, Tara, Ireland


Filed under: Early America — John Maass @ 2:22 pm

As part of its ongoing efforts to safeguard the historic and scenic nature of the views from Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., has purchased a prime 330-acre adjacent parcel, which Jefferson called Montalto (“high mountain”). Acquired by Jefferson in the 1770s, Montalto, which is commonly known as Brown’s Mountain, arises approximately 400 feet above Monticello across Route 53. At $15 million, this purchase is the largest single acquisition in the history of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Coincidentally, Jefferson championed another significant land acquisition for the exact same price in 1803: the Louisiana Purchase.  Image of Monticello Vegetable Garden with Montalto (Brown's Mountain) in the background

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s goal is to raise $15 million for the acquisition of Montalto. If fulfilled, this objective will protect a natural setting, celebrate history, accommodate the present, set a precedent for the future, and preserve Jefferson’s view and legacy.

Read more here.

January 25, 2008

Rare NC Currency

Filed under: Early America,NC History — John Maass @ 12:40 pm

This note is printed on fine quality period white laid paper, and was recently offered for sale at auction.  N.C. currency from the Revolution or colonial era is very rare, primarily because so much of it was printed on poor quality paper, or was burned upon redemption through taxation.  This note is very nice….

By the way, James Davis was N.C.’s first state printer.  According to an article on-line, In August 1751, Davis published the first North Carolina newspaper, The North Carolina Gazette. The weekly was published until 1761. Several years later, Davis began a second newspaper, The North Carolina Magazine: or Universal Intelligencer. Foreign news dominated the paper. Ads were mostly merchants’ lists of goods, legal notices and notices seeking runaway slaves.

The publication title returned to The North Carolina Gazette in 1768 and finally ceased publication in 1778, when his son, Thomas, his primary helper, went to fight in the Revolutionary War. The newspaper lasted longer than any other early paper – 10 years.

Davis, born Oct. 21, 1721, also printed currency, legislative journals and session laws. He printed at least 100 titles during the 33 years he served as public printer. Although most of the titles were official government books, he published the first nonlegal book written by a North Carolinian and published in the state, Clement Hall’s “A Collection of Many Christian Experiences.”

He served in the General Assembly as a representative and was elected to the Council of State. Before he died in 1785, Davis also served as county sheriff, justice of the peace and commissioner of the Port of New Bern. Davis also was selected to open the state’s first post office in 1755.

Davis’ son, Thomas, became state printer in 1782. He also started his own newspaper in 1785 in Hillsborough, The North Carolina Gazette.

Sacred potato

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 7:01 am

Making the sacred profane:


Jesus Image in Split Potato-click on photo for details.  How did I know the story would be from Florida even before I read the text??

January 24, 2008

PC UK does it again!

Filed under: PC — John Maass @ 7:04 am

Britain does it again!  I’m convinced the UK is the most politically correct place on earth, steadily undermining its culture and heritage.  Here’s the latest:

A story based on the Three Little Pigs has been rejected by a government quango in case it offends Muslims. 

The digital remake of the children’s classic was criticised by Becta, the education technology agency, because “the use of pigs raises cultural issues”.

Officials also attacked the story – called The Three Little Cowboy Builders – for stereotyping the building trade.  It is the latest in a string of bans slapped on seemingly innocuous children’s stories and nursery rhymes.

In the past, Baa Baa Black Sheep has become Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep to satisfy race relations, the Seven Dwarfs have been axed from Snow White to avoid offending the vertically challenged and the ending of Humpty Dumpty has been censored for fear of upsetting sensitive children.

More here.

January 23, 2008

Five Views of the Revolutionary War

Filed under: Early America,Wars — John Maass @ 11:06 am



The David Library

Five Views of the Revolutionary War


America’s Revolutionary War was a big, complex event, with many actors from nearly every part of North America and Great Britain. This winter and spring we offer five lectures that focus on five distinct groups of participants in the Revolution.

Thursday, February 7, 2008 — 7:30 PM

In observation of Black History Month: Christopher L. Brown, Ph. D., Professor of History, Columbia University, “The British Are Coming: The Politics of Black Loyalism in the American Revolution and After” — Swept up in war, often but not always unwillingly, were America’s African slaves, whom most white Americans would not allow to fight or leave their place of bondage. Thousands, both men and women, responded to the war’s disruption by escaping to the British Army wherever possible, especially in Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia, and declaring their loyalty to the British Crown. At the war’s end, many departed from the United States for various parts of the British Empire, where they formed new and diverse settlements.

Thursday, March 13, 2008 7:30 PM

Scott N. Hendrix, Ph. D., Instructor, Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, Ohio; David Library Fellow, “Upright Men Who Entered for Steady Advancement: The Centrality of Military Honor and Reputation for the Eighteenth-Century British Army Officer” — Seeing the war as both a duty and a career opportunity, thousands of officers of the British Army ordered their conduct and defined their role in the conflict according to strict rules of honor. This concept of honor largely determined their behavior both in victory and in defeat, from the war’s outset until their departure from America.

Sunday, April 13, 2008 3:00 PM

Major Jason Palmer, Assistant Professor of History, United States Military Academy (West Point), “George Washington’s Disillusionment: Learning to Command ‘Such Men,’ 1775-1776” — When he took command of the Continental Army, George Washington imagined that he could shape and lead his army much as a British general would do. But he quickly discovered that the Yankee farmers and artisans under his command, both officers and common soldiers, would not be led in traditional ways, and in a difficult first year he devised a new system of command, which he carried through the next five years to victory over a quite different British army.

Thursday, May 15, 2008 7:30 PM

Holly Mayer, Ph. D., Professor of History, Duquesne University, “Congress’s Own: French Canadian Continentals and Camp Followers” — In 1775 Congress hoped to bring French Canada into the war on the American side. This largely failed as Britain’s Quebec Act, the determined resistance of the British army, and a smallpox epidemic in America’s invading forces kept most of Canada loyal to the Crown. But by late 1776, Congress had acquired a regiment of soldiers that were uniquely its own: not raised by any rebelling state, but formed entirely of rebellious French Canadian men, accompanied by their families and other civilians, who were willing to march south to fight in America’s war.

Sunday, June 8, 2008 3:00 PM

John Rees, Independent Historian, “The Pleasure of Their Number, 1778: Crisis, Conscription, and Revolutionary Soldiers’ Recollections” — Most Revolutionary War soldiers were volunteers or members of local militias, but not all. In 1778 several states, including New Jersey, instituted a draft, (the first, and last, draft in America before the Civil War). This drastic measure underlines a basic truth about the War for Independence: in both the proportion of the population under arms and the number of casualties, it was, along with the Civil War and World War II, one of the three largest wars in American history.

Lectures are held at the David Library of the American Revolution (1201 River Washington Crossing, PA) in the Feinstone Conference Center adjacent to the Library building. Lectures are free of admission, but seating is limited and reservations are recommended by calling (215)493-6776 ext. 100.

January 22, 2008

Home of Calhoun Beautifully Restored

Filed under: Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 3:00 pm

This article is about the South Carolina home of John C. Calhoun, on the campus of Clemson University, and the restoration of the house completed in 2003.  It is known as Ft. Hill.

Calhoun estate banner pic

Please note: although this article is neutral in content and tone, it comes from the Southern Partisan, a wildly unbalanced pro-Confederate website.  I do not subscribe to it or endorse it; in fact much of what is on the site is patently absurd and ridiculous.

Too many Ph.D.’s?

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 10:59 am

An AP Story says:

College students are getting a raw deal, a recent New York report asserted. The problem is they’re taking too many classes from part-time, or adjunct, professors.  But that same report unwittingly revealed something about how higher education is more culpable than it likes to admit when it comes to creating the problem.

The issue is a huge one in higher education far beyond New York, with about half of the nation’s college faculty now on part-time contracts. Adjuncts are cheaper for colleges, but they often lack the time and resources for focused teaching, and research shows students’ performance suffers if they are taught by part-timers too often.

In its report last month, a 30-member commission called for New York’s state (SUNY) and city (CUNY) systems to alleviate the over reliance on adjuncts by hiring 2,000 more full-time faculty for their 87 campuses.

But just one page away, the report also called for adding at least 4,000 new doctoral students.  There’s a connection between those numbers that deserves more attention.

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