A Student of History

February 14, 2008

Give Credit Where it is Due

Filed under: Early America,Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 9:35 am

A restoration effort at the historic African Meeting House in Boston is getting a big boost courtesy of Wal-Mart.

The retail giant is donating $250,000 to the effort to restore the meeting house to its original 19th century glory.

African Meeting House

The African Meeting House and Abiel Smith School on Beacon Hill, both built in the early 1800’s, are two of the Museum of African American History’s most valuable assets. Located in what once was the heart of Boston’s 19th-century African American community, these buildings remain a showcase of black community organization and enduring testimony to black craftsmanship.

The first phase of historic restoration work was completed on the African Meeting House in 1987. Once a church, a school, a vital community meeting place, the African Meeting House is open to the public.

Renovations on the Abiel Smith School transformed the building into a first-class exhibit space with a gallery, classroom and museum store.

This historic space commemorates the history of African-Americans from slavery to the abolitionist movement, with a focus on the quest for educational equality.

Where did the simple life go?

Filed under: Simple Living — John Maass @ 9:28 am

I remember living without a car.
I remember weekly trips to the library.
I remember Sunday visits: You did not have to call or await an invitation.
I remember life without Little League and without a Recreation Office.
I remember real neighborhoods.
I remember stay-at-home mothers.
I remember the innocence of movies.

More of this article at the New Oxford Review site is here.

February 13, 2008

A year from now at the North Carolina Museum of History

Filed under: NC History — John Maass @ 10:31 am

February 12, 2009 — at the North Carolina Museum of History.  A program to commemorate the 200th birthday of the sixteenth President and contrast leadership styles of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. Speakers slated are Dr. Paul Escott of Wake Forest University, Dr. Jospeh T. Glatthaar of UNC-Chapel Hill, Dr. Loren Schweninger of UNC-Greensboro, Dr. John David Smith of UNC-Charlotte, Dr. William Harris of N.C. State University, and Dr. Heather Williams of UNC-Chapel Hill. This program will be offered in cooperation with the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Dr Jeffrey J. Crow, Deputy Secretary, Archives and History, is North Carolina’s state liason to this commission.

Double Standard

Filed under: PC — John Maass @ 10:30 am

Saudi Arabia has asked florists and gift shops to remove all red items until after Valentine’s Day, calling the celebration of such a holiday a sin, local media reported Monday.  “As Muslims we shouldn’t celebrate a non-Muslim celebration, especially this one that encourages immoral relations between unmarried men and women, ” Sheikh Khaled Al-Dossari, a scholar in Islamic studies.

Well, well.  When Muslims come to live here in the USA or in the UK, the western governments are expected by the PC crowd and Muslims themselves to bend over backwards to accomodate Muslim practices, observances, etc., and to give up traditional celebrations in schools (Christmas, etc.) and the public sphere, but apparently many Muslims (as witnessed by Al-Dossari) don’t expect to be held to the same standards. 

See an example here of how the Archbishop of Canterbury has made controversial comments on Islamic law, and its applicability to the UK.  Dr. Rowan Williams last week argued that aspects of sharia could be incorporated in the English legal system.  The Queen is livid.

February 12, 2008

Early American Military History at the SMH 2008

Filed under: Early America,The Academy,Wars — John Maass @ 10:28 am


I was pleased to see the program of the 2008 meeting of the Society of Military History (in Ogden, Utah) will have several papers (mine too) on early military history, primarily in the 18th century.  Kinda breaks up all the “air war” and COIN papers!

Here are the titles and presenters: 

“The Critical Shift: Washington’s Fabian Strategy.” Donald Stoker, US Naval War College, Monterey Program

“Nathanael Greene’s Southern Strategy.” Michael W. Jones, US Naval War College, Monterey Program

“The Rise and Decline of the Theory and Practice of Partisan Warfare in Early Modern Europe,” George Satterfield, Hawaii Pacific University

“Using the Natives against the Natives: Indigenes as “Counterinsurgents” in the British Atlantic, 1500-1800,” Wayne E. Lee, UNC-Chapel Hill

“Exerting Limited Control with Limited Resources: Spanish Policy on the North American Frontier,” Irving Levinson, University of Texas, Pan-American

“The Politics and Philosophy in the Army of Eighteenth Century France,” Christy Pichichero, Stanford University

“For Cause and Family in the American Revolution,” Jason Palmer, United States Military Academy

“Morality and Captivity in Revolutionary South Carolina,” Paul Springer, United States Military Academy

“Troublesome Allies:  The Wabanaki in King William’s War,” Jenny Hale Pulsipher, Brigham Young University

“The Protestant Assault on New France: War, Religion, and the Origins of Empire in the Colonial North East,” Owen Stanwood, Catholic University

“Cultural Exchange on the Warpath: English-Indian Cooperation and Communication in the Pequot War,1636-1638,” William Stone, University of Kentucky

“Frontier Health:  British soldiers at Forts Niagara, Detroit and Michilimackinac during the American Revolution,” Tabitha Marshall, Memorial University of Newfoundland“Queen 

“Against Their Will? The Recruitment of the King’s German Subsidy Troops for North America, 1776-1783,” Daniel Krebs, University of Louisville

“Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice to Recruit,” James R. McIntyre, Moraine Valley Community College

“’An Extreme Violent Spirit:’ War, Peace, and the Politics of Enmity in Revolutionary North Carolina,” John R. Maass, U.S. Army Center of Military History

“’The Virtue of Humanity was Totally Forgot’: How Britain Failed to Subdue the Southern Colonies,” Greg Brooking, Gordon College

The Loyalist Exodus of 1778: The Mass Escape of Southern Loyalists
To Florida and Its Consequences,” Jim Piecuch, Kennesaw State University

Culloden, 1746


Walking with Washington

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 9:30 am

“Walking with Washington”

Description: Walking tours of Alexandria sites associated with George Washington. Tours last over two hours and require walking about fifteen blocks.

Dates: Every February Sunday in 2008: February 3, 10, 17, and 24.

Time: 1:30 p.m.

Location: Meet at the Fountain at Market Square (on King Street between Royal and Fairfax Streets), Alexandria, VA.

Ticket Price: Free. No reservation is required.

Happy Birthday Mr. President

Filed under: Early America — John Maass @ 7:55 am

Tarleton’s Charlottesville HQ in 1781

Filed under: Historic Places,Wars — John Maass @ 7:43 am

At this website there is an excellent article and wonderful photos of the structure Banastre Tarleton used as his HQ for one night in June 1781 during his stay in Charlottesville.  This place (part of what is called The Farm) is still standing and can be seen close up from the street.  It is in private hands now.

This will be one of the stops during the 2008 Tarleton Tour, leaving from Richmond, VA, and stopping at several key spots associated with BT’s raid on Charlottesville, many of which are not accessible to the public… 

See link to the right for more info @ this tour.

February 8, 2008

Road to Revolution State Heritage Trail Consortium

Filed under: Early America,Historic Places,Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 9:37 am

From the “Mechanicsville Local,” a Virginia paper, on Janury 9, 2008:

The Road to Revolution State Heritage Trail Consortium, organized upon passage of House Bill 1722 last General Assembly session, announces the receipt of a $5,000 marketing leverage grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation. This funding will provide information on the Trail through brochures and a website that promotes tourism
across Virginia to the Road to Revolution Heritage Trail sites.

“Our marketing efforts will increase awareness of the Road to Revolution Heritage Trail and promote visitation to the historic sites and educational institutions on the trail,” Delegate Christopher K. Peace, Hanover County and chairman of the consortium.
He continued, “This increased visitation will promote activity at local restaurants, area accommodations, attractions and shops which are in the localities served by the trail. The consortium is also planning a kickoff event in the spring that will showcase the trail
and Virginia for regional travel writers.” The Road to Revolution Consortium is a cooperative alliance of historical associations, non-profit foundations, and other
organizations that own and operate historic sites associated with the life and times of Patrick Henry, orator of the American Revolution and first governor of the independent Commonwealth of Virginia. The Consortium is responsible for establishing and promoting The Road to Revolution as an educational and heritage tourism trail linking historic sites that highlight and commemorate the American Revolution and Patrick Henry’s leading role in liberating Virginia from Colonial rule, creating an independent nation, and shaping American ideals and institutions.

“The Virginia Tourism Corporation is pleased to support the efforts of the Road to Revolution Heritage Trail through the Marketing Leverage Fund award,” stated Alisa Bailey, President and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. “The Road to Revolution Heritage Trail links these significant historical sites together in a common theme,
which is an increasingly important way to promote heritage sites.”

Eight organizations formed in January 2007 and have met monthly since then. With the help of the Greater Richmond Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the consortium has also filed an application for a Transportation Enhancement Grant on November 1st. The members of the consortium are: Hampden-Sydney College, Hanover County, Virginia,
Hanover Tavern Foundation, Historic Polegreen Church Foundation, Red Hill – The Patrick Henry National Memorial, Richmond Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, Scotchtown, and St. John’s Church Foundation. In addition to these consortium members, affiliate members include Studley, Rural Plains, Pine Slash, Hanover Courthouse, Virginia
Department of Historic Resources, National Park Service, Delegate Chris Peace (97th District), Lythos Studios, Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, APVA Preservation Virginia and Virginia Tourism Corporation. A panel of scholars from area institutions such as the Virginia Historical
Society, Library of Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University, along with two independent scholars, provides insight and interpretation of the historic events that occurred in Virginia leading up to and during the American Revolution.


Offered January 10, 2007
Prefiled December 19, 2006
A BILL to establish The Road to Revolution Heritage trail.
Patrons– Peace, Hargrove and McClellan
Committee Referral Pending
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. §1. There is hereby established The Road to Revolution, a
heritage trail of sites significant to Patrick Henry, orator of the
American Revolution and independent Virginia’s first governor, to
highlight and celebrate Henry’s leading role in liberating Virginia
from Colonial rule to independence. The Trail shall consist of the
following sites: St. John’s Church at Richmond, Virginia; Scotchtown
at Beaverdam, Virginia; Hanover Tavern at Hanover, Virginia; the
Hanover County Courthouse at Hanover, Virginia; Historic Polegreen
Church at Mechanicsville, Virginia; and Red Hill Plantation at
Brookneal, Virginia. The Virginia Department of Transportation shall
erect one identifying sign in the Department’s right-of-way at each
site only by request of a local government, historical organization,
or foundation with custodial responsibilities for that site.
Directional signs for travelers to these sites may be erected and
maintained by similar request. Directional signage shall be placed at
the nearest intersection to each site in the Department’s right-of-
way if there is no conflict with other Department signage. All signs
shall consist of a common sign design developed by a committee
consisting of one representative of each historical organization,
foundation, or local governing body and the Director of the
Department of Historic Resources. Sign panels and posts shall meet
Department of Transportation specifications. All costs associated
with manufacturing, erection, and maintenance of signs under this
section shall be borne by the requesting party. Signs erected by the
Virginia Department of Transportation under this section shall be
placed in accordance with all applicable Departmental regulations.

February 7, 2008

Who are the greatest Virginians?

Filed under: Early America,The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 7:19 am
John Marshall, Virginian
This past summer The Richmond Times Dispatch sent a questionnaire across the nation to the scholars who study Virginia and its people, and augmented the list with prominent citizens of the commonwealth — some established, some up and coming — who have an understanding of those who have worn the designation “Virginian” into the history books. 

They asked this jury to nominate (1) a greatest Virginian and (2) a most influential Virginian (who had to be a different person) for each of the commonwealth’s four centuries. The difference between the two? For someone to be termed “greatest,” the paper told the panel a person’s legacy must be almost exclusively of positive benefit. Calling him or her merely “influential” would not capture just how important this person was to society. These folks are a step above. It’s hard to quantify “greatestness,” but as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said, we all know it when we see it.

The results:

Oliver White Hill Sr.
Hill lived one-fourth of the entire English-language portion of Virginia’s history, and for more than half of that time in the oppressive Jim Crow regime that denied the basic human rights of American citizenship to a huge portion of the South’s citizens.  

John Marshall
John Marshall received more nominations in the survey than any other person for greatest or most influential 19th-century Virginian. He deserved the attention.  

George Washington
George Washington had little serious competition for greatest Virginian of the 18th century.  

John Smith and William Berkeley
Our jury argued to a virtual tie when trying to identify the single greatest citizen of 17th-century Virginia. The two nominees most often identified as the greatest were Captain John Smith and Sir William Berkeley, a governor of the colony.  

Paramount Chief Powhatan
Wahunsonacock – who took the name Powhatan sometime in the 1580s when he formed a loose confederation of Algonkian-speaking tribes in the tidewater region of Virginia – received a number of votes as the greatest or most influential person in 17th-century Virginia.  

Harry Flood Byrd Sr.
Byrd served for 10 years in the Virginia Senate, for four years as governor, and for 32 years he represented the commonwealth in the U.S. Senate.  

Edgar Allan Poe
“Edgar Allan Poe,” began historian Kevin J. Hayes, without even pausing to admit that anybody else could be considered for the honor, “is the most influential Virginian of the 19th century.”  

James Madison
Participants in the survey produced a virtual tie for most influential Virginian of the 18th century, nominating James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in the greatest or most influential categories in almost equal numbers.  

John Rolfe
John Rolfe topped the list of people whom participants identified as the most influential person in 17th century Virginia.  

Interestingly, on the website, readers can vote for the greatest Virginian too, and the result was an overwhelming victory for George Washington.  One of the more interesting things to note about the survey of scholars is that 2 prominent men are missing from the list:  Thomas Jefferson and R. E. Lee, although in 2 separate articles on-line, the paper fails to state why not.

There’s even an essay on “the worst” Virginians, although sadly, Katie Couric is not mentioned!

Conspicuous Consumption in the Dining Room

Filed under: Simple Living — John Maass @ 6:43 am

(From Time, back in Nov.)

It’s not just that rich people have more money and no problem spending the equivalent of 400 items off McDonald’s dollar-item menu on a dinner for two. Over the past few years, they’ve also turned paying more into a moral cause no right-thinking chef could argue against: free-range, local, sustainable, organic, hormone-free, heirloom, slow food. As a result, top chefs have had to increase their budgets to find the obscure variety of beet grown only by Shakers or the cow that has been massaged, seen Radiohead live and enjoyed Tantric sex before being slaughtered with love.

Lincoln 200th Celebration Begins Feb. 11 In Kentucky

Filed under: Early America — John Maass @ 6:43 am

  Lincoln 200th Celebration Begins Feb. 11 In Kentucky

(January 2008) LOUISVILLE, Ky. – President Bush is expected to formally launch the two-year celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s Bicentennial, capping two days of festivities and tributes in Kentucky on Feb. 11 and 12. A ticket package for the events is on sale through the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

Feb. 11 events begin with a “Lincoln on Leadership” afternoon symposium featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin at the Frazier International History Museum in Louisville.

The University of Louisville’s McConnell Center is co-sponsoring the symposium, which will include Goodwin’s husband, Richard Goodwin, an advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and to U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

A Champagne Reception for invited guests and Premier Lincoln Package holders will be held at Louisville’s Kentucky Center for the Arts followed by a Kentucky Tribute to Abraham Lincoln with radio journalist Bob Edwards as master of ceremonies.

The program will include a musical tribute by the Louisville Orchestra and soprano Angela Brown and the premiere of a new Lincoln work composed by Peter Schickele. Brown will also perform Marian Anderson’s 1939 rendition of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

Actor Sam Waterston and Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer will perform “Lincoln Seen and Heard,” a narrated and dramatic presentation of Lincoln speeches and photographs.

On Feb. 12 President George Bush will give the keynote address at the formal bicentennial opening ceremony at the Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site near Hodgenville. It is free and open to the public.

The program for Bush’s address will include the American Spiritual Ensemble and Saxton’s Cornet Band. Sam Waterston will deliver a dramatic presentation of Lincoln’s words.

The Premier Lincoln Package includes admission to the Lincoln Symposium and reception, preferred seating for A Kentucky Salute to Abraham Lincoln and seating at the opening ceremony. It is available for $200 at http://www.abrahamlincoln200.org under “Latest News.” For more information, visit the site or call (202) 707-6998

The national Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission was established by Congress to plan educational, public and legacy events to mark the 16th president’s 200th birthday in 2009. For more information, go to http://www.lincoln200.gov.

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