A Student of History

April 24, 2008

Back to Waterloo!

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 5:55 am

Almost two hundred years after the Allied armies secured the final defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, French soldiers have returned to the scene of the Battle of Waterloo to learn from the mistakes of their 19th-century predecessors.

A total of 38 senior officers were ordered to spend a day analysing the errors which put a final end to Napoleon’s rule as Emperor and drew to a close 23 years of war.

Brigadier-General Vincent Desportes ordered strategists from France’s Armed Forces Employment Doctrine Centre to visit the battleground because “you learn more from your failures than from your successes”.

April 21, 2008

New Va. Historical Markers Dedictated

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

Eleven new highway markers that point out
events, people and places significant to Virginia’s history will
soon join more than 2,000 roadside narratives already in place.
The markers recognize:
– Amaza Lee Meredith, a Lynchburg native who was one of the
nation’s few black female architects. Meredith, who died in 1984,
founded the fine arts department at Virginia State University and
designed many houses.
– Civilian Conservation Corps Company 1371, which was staffed
with black workers. They built more than 20 miles of trails and did
other work at First Landing State Park, under the New Deal’s CCC
program. The marker will be erected in the Virginia Beach park.
– Studley Beacon, which dates to the days when flashing airway
beacons guided pilots on airmail routes. The Studley Beacon,
erected in 1927 in the crossroads community of Studley in Hanover
County, was one of 50 in Virginia on the Atlanta-New York Civil
Airways Corridor. The beacon was dismantled in the mid-20th
– Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a Dinwiddie County native who was
enslaved in Virginia and North Carolina before she bought her
freedom in 1855 and relocated to Washington. There she became the
seamstress, personal maid, and confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln,
President Abraham Lincoln’s wife.
– The Hampton Indian Program, which began at Hampton Institute
in 1878, with U.S. government-recruited American Indian students,
who were admitted to the program in an attempt to “civilize”
them. About 1,388 students participated in the program, which ended
in 1923, according to the state Department of Historic Resources.
– Peace Meeting Poisoning, which recalls the 1623 meeting
between English soldiers from Jamestown and Indian leaders, who
were returning English prisoners taken during fighting in 1622.
“At the meeting, the English called for a toast to seal the
agreement, gave the Indians poisoned wine, and then fired upon
them, felling as many as 150, including the chief of the
Kiskiack,” according to a Department of Historic Resources
– Zenda and Long’s Chapel, a black community in Rockingham
County and a chapel built in 1870 by formerly enslaved people.
Zenda grew to 17 households of 80 people by 1900, providing a place
where “blacks freely exercised new rights to worship, marriage,
education, property, and burial in a marked gravesite.”
– NASA Wallops Flight Facility, one of the oldest launch sites
in the world, built to conduct aeronautical research using
rocket-propelled vehicles. The first rocket, the Tiamat, was
launched there on July 4, 1945. The center is located in Accomack
– St. Joseph Catholic Church, the first known congregation
organized for black Roman Catholics in Virginia. The Richmond
church and a school, were closed in 1969.
– Sappony Baptist Church, an 18th-century church where half of
congregants were enslaved people. The church was also the site of a
Civil War battle in 1864 and served as a hospital during the
skirmish, which left cannonball holes in the front of the church.
It is located in Stony Creek in Sussex County.
– Sir William Berkeley, who was Virginia’s governor when it
changed from a colonial outpost to a center of agriculture and
commerce. Berkeley established the bicameral General Assembly. The
marker will be erected near the location of Berkeley’s Green Spring
estate in James City County.
The Historic Resources Board of the Department of Historic
Resources approved the 11 markers during its quarterly board
meeting in late March.
The Virginia Department of Transportation installs and maintains
most of the 2,000-plus official state markers.

April 15, 2008

Civil War Sites in VA

Filed under: Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 11:10 am

From the WaPo:

Virginia’s governor is proposing to spend $5 million to preserve several sites where armies of the North and South clashed nearly 150 years ago, including such renowned battlefields as Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Cold Harbor.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s proposal would provide funding over the next two years for the endangered Civil War sites.

The Pope and Simplicity

Filed under: Simple Living — John Maass @ 11:00 am

The Pope’s message to stress simplicity.  “Benedict feels that Western, secular societies don’t take profound, supernatural religious faith seriously, a condition that he believes leads to rampant consumerism and nonchalance about such things as poverty.”

That’s good.

April 11, 2008

Vulgar Corporate Pay

Filed under: Simple Living,The world today — John Maass @ 6:12 pm

In the category of “give credit where credit is due,” I give credit to Barrak Obama (who for many reasons I regard as comically unprepared and unqualified to lead this country) for his thoughts on the vulgarity that is part of America today:

From Yahoo!:

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama denounced huge pay packages for U.S. corporate chiefs on Friday in a drive to convert middle-class anger about the U.S. economy into votes.  “Some CEOs make more in one day than their workers make in one year,” Obama said. 

“We’ve seen what happens when CEOs are paid for doing a job no matter how bad a job they’re doing,” Obama said. “We can’t afford to postpone reform any longer.”

The first-term Illinois senator has introduced “say-on-pay” legislation that would give investors more of a voice in setting executive compensation packages.


April 3, 2008

3 Lessons from Disney World

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 7:41 am

From Slate, an engaging and humorous piece on Mauschwitz:

Disney World teaches kids three things:

1) a meaningless, bubble-headed utopianism

2) a grasping, whining consumerism

3) a preference for soulless facsimiles of culture and architecture instead of for the real thing.

April 2, 2008

In support of historic preservation

Filed under: Historic Preservation,Quotes — John Maass @ 8:02 am

From historian D.C. Watt:

“To destroy the relics of the past is, even in small things, a kind of amputation, a self-mutilation not so much of limbs as of the memory and imagination.”

(Quoted in Alan Kramer’s Dynamic of Destruction, Oxford, 2007, p. 2)

Blog at WordPress.com.