A Student of History

February 8, 2013

The War that Made Canada

Filed under: The past that is still with us,Wars — John Maass @ 10:51 am

This is an interesting column in Canada’s “National Post,” on “The war that made Canada.”

“Will the Canadian government celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war that really made Canada?

Except for a brief, small exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, it’s not likely.”


The Death of General Wolfe

The Death of General Wolfe



May 29, 2012

Richard the Lionheart

Filed under: The past that is still with us,Wars — John Maass @ 7:37 am

Here’s a Telegraph story about a French scientist trying to figure out what killed Richard the Lionheart in 1199. 

A renowned French forensic scientist has launched an investigation into the death of Richard the Lionheart, examining a tiny sample of the 12th century monarch’s heart to try to understand what germ killed him.

Richard died April 6, 1199, from a wound received in a skirmish at the castle of Chalus in the Limousin. While directing an assault, he was wounded in the shoulder by a crossbow bolt, and, the wound mortifying from unskilful treatment or his own want of care, he died. He was buried at his father’s feet in the church of Fontevrault.


April 25, 2012

New War of 1812 Marker to be Dedicated at Va. Church

Filed under: Historic Places,The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 7:03 am
Yeocomico Church

Yeocomico Church

At the old colonial Yeocomico Church (1706) in Westmoreland Co., Va., there’s a new historical marker going up related to the War of 1812. The incident was called “the Yeocomico Poisoning” and the marker will be erected on the church grounds near the roadway. Dedication and unveiling on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at Yeocomico Church. A short program will be held in the church at 9:00 a.m. with the unveiling of the marker at 9:15 a.m.

Yeocomico Church is located on Rt. 606 between Kinsale and Tucker Hill. Yeocomico Church is the oldest church in Westmoreland County. Originally built in 1655 of oak timbers sheathed with clapboards, the church was rebuilt in 1706 with bricks fired in a nearby kiln. 

From the church’s website:   The church, built in 1706, or almost precisely a hundred years after the first settlement at Jamestown, takes its name from Yeocomico River, flowing into the Potomac and dividing Westmoreland from Northumberland. It stands near the Potomac shaded by trees and protected by a brick wall, the restoration of an old one, which even in 1857, according to Bishop Meade’s testimony, was “mouldering away.” The church also has been considerably restored, but it remains notable among Virginia Colonial churches for the curious roof lines created by a gentler slope and then a steeper slope in the gable, and for the porch on the T-side of the cross which has the same broken roof lines. The placing of the windows is likewise unusual, and though the general pattern of the brickwork is the regulation Flemish bond and glazed header combination, there is a quaint variation of that pattern in the gable of the porch and, over the door of the porch, an unusual combination of three arches, the top one based on the two lower—suggesting the top of a mullioned window.

Date in church wall, 1706

Date in church wall, 1706

February 7, 2012

The soldiers’ skeletons of Fort William Henry

Filed under: Early America,Historic Places,The past that is still with us,Wars — John Maass @ 7:09 am

Skeletons at Ft. William Henry, NY

A number of websites over the past few days have covered the story about skeletons of the dead from the battle of Ft. William Henry, in NY, during the French and Indian War.

Many of the articles go with the “Last of the Mohegans” angle of the story.

Here’s a typical link.  The Daily Mail in the UK has some better photos. And an extract from the piece:

Demands have been made for the return of soldiers’ skeletons to Fort William Henry in New York after it emerged today they were never laid to rest during a burial ceremony at the site nearly 20 years ago.

The remains of unidentified soldiers who fought during the 1755 Indian and French War near the American fort – which was the historical setting for The Last of the Mohicans – were discovered in the 1950s during an excavation of the site.


February 2, 2012

White Plains National Battlefield?

Filed under: Early America,The past that is still with us,Wars — John Maass @ 4:37 pm

Did you know that the Whites Plains, NY battlefield was once part of the NPS?  It is no longer, which is too bad.  It was a big battle in the early part of the Revolutionary War.

According to National Parks Traveler blog:

The Revolutionary War Battle of White Plains receives scant attention, not least because the Continental Army did not win the battle and the battlefield is not a National Park System property. Although the National Park Service administered the White Plains National Battlefield Site for 23 years, no national park materialized there and the property was eventually delisted. 

The National Park Service didn’t buy or acquire any battlefield land and didn’t build any facilities. No development at all occurred, unless you count the placement of three descriptive markers. In 1956, the National Park Service quietly dropped the White Plains National Battlefield Site from its list of National Park System properties.



April 21, 2010

Robin Hood

Filed under: The past that is still with us,Uncategorized — John Maass @ 5:49 am

Who was the real Robin Hood?

September 26, 2008


Filed under: The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 5:42 am

What would Jefferson do?

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine’s administration forced the resignation of five Virginia State Police Chaplains because they prayed publicly “in Jesus’ name.” The State Police Superintendent created, then enforced, a strict “non-sectarian” prayer policy at all public gatherings, which excluding Christian prayers.  Five chaplains refused to deny Jesus or violate their conscience by watering down their prayers, and had to resign.

My question is:  if the state police has chaplains, what else are they supposed to do but pray in Jesus’ name?  If they are not allowed to do so, why have them at all?

Jefferson argued in favor of religious freedom.  I doubt he would have approved of these firings, but perhaps he would have advocated not having the chaplains at all.

June 17, 2008

Facing an Identity Crisis

Filed under: The past that is still with us,What is History? — John Maass @ 7:11 am


NEWS RELEASE   June 3, 2008

Contact:xSteven Hofman
301-520-1306 or 970-871-4551

The Bradley Project
Releases its Report, “E Pluribus Unum.”
Calls for National Dialogue on America’s National Identity.

Report Finds that America is Facing an Identity Crisis and is in Danger of
Becoming not “From Many, One” – E Pluribus Unum – But its Opposite,
“From One, Many.”

Sixty-Three Percent of Americans Believe our National Identity
is Weakening, and One in Four Believe the Nation is So Divided That a
Common National Identity is Not Possible.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Washington, D.C.    The Bradley Project on America’s National Identity today released its Report, “E Pluribus Unum,”the product of a two-year study involving a number of our nation’s leading academics, public figures, journalists, educators and policy experts.  The report examines four aspects of American life crucial to American identity: historical memory, civic education, assimilation, and national security.

The report finds that America is facing an identity crisis and calls for a national dialogue on America’s national identity.  According to James Ceaser, professor of politics at the University of Virginia and a participant in the project, America’s understanding and appreciation of diversity is important but must be balanced by an emphasis on what we share.  “In selecting the title E Pluribus Unum, the Project embraces the conviction that plurality and unity are not necessarily in tension with one another, but are supporting ideas of the same national experiment,” Ceaser said.  “Plurality is only made safe when it when it is grounded in a deeper commitment to national unity.  Unity is the precondition for healthy diversity.”

To inform its work, the Bradley Project asked HarrisInteractive to conduct a study on Americans’ views on national identity.  The good news is that most U.S. citizens believe there is a unique national identity that defines what it means to be an American.  The troubling news is that over six in ten believe our national identity is getting weaker.  And “even more troubling is that younger Americans – on whom our continued national identity depends – are less likely than older Americans to believe in a unique national identity or in a unique American culture.” Indeed only 45 percent of 18-34 year old Americans believe that the U.S. Constitution
should trump international law in instances where there is a conflict.

According to Professor Ceaser, “The weight of all this evidence suggests mounting confusion about the meaning of American national identity and a loss of commitment to its promotion.”

“The findings from the report are sobering and significant.  They raise subjects that are vital to our future, transcend partisanship, and clearly resonate with the American people,” said Rick O’Donnell, Executive Director of the Bradley Project.  O’Donnell continued: “Our intention is that the report be the starting point for a national conversation on these important issues.  Silent Spring in 1962 started a conversation that brought about significant changes in our environment.  A Nation at Risk in 1983 launched an ongoing national conversation that continues to reshape American education.  It is in that tradition that we release E Pluribus Unum.

A number of notable scholars have already joined this conversation and commented on the Bradley Project report.

Walter A. McDougall, Pulitzer-prize winning historian and professor at the University of Pennsylvania calls the report: “An eloquent defense of America’s intellectual, civic, and moral identity that deserves wide circulation, especially among American youth.”

Harry Lewis, former Dean at Harvard College, says of the report: “A stirring reminder that America is more than the union of our differences, and a rational program for preserving the nation by passing American ideals on to the next generation of citizens.”

Amy A. Kass, of the University of Chicago, writes: “The Bradley Project’s report addresses the urgent problem of American identity in our global and multicultural age, and its wise recommendations for promoting civic consciousness and civic understanding couldn’t be more timely or more fitting.”

James C. Rees, Executive Director of Mount Vernon, said: “This report confirms what we experience at Mount Vernon every day – that most Americans know precious little about their own history.  George Washington’s face is still familiar to most Americans, because we see it each day on the dollar bill.  But when asked about Washington’s character and leadership, which made all the difference in the world to the founding of our nation, the average citizen is rendered speechless.”

The report makes clear that we didn’t get to this point overnight, and that addressing our challenges is a long-term imperative.  In addition to its call for an immediate and comprehensive national dialogue on America’s national identity, it recommends:

  a renewed focus on the teaching of American history,
  embracing America’s heroes and historic landmarks,
  affirming the benefits of diversity, but not adopting policies that perpetuate divisions or compromise our national identity,
  inaugurating an initiative to ensure immigrants learn English, understand democratic institutions, and participate fully in the American way of life,
  and creating an annual Presidential Award for American Citizenship for students and new citizens who demonstrate exemplary understanding of and commitment to American ideals and institutions.

Professor Ceaser concludes: “The report speaks of a nation ‘founded not on a common ethnicity,’ but ‘on an idea.’  And it argues that ‘a nation founded on an idea starts anew with each generation and with each new group of immigrants.’”  “Knowing what America stands for is not a genetic inheritance,” said Ceaser.   “It must be learned, both by the next generation and by those who come to this country.  From this premise follow many of the recommendations to strengthen the serious study of American principles and the American founding at all levels of education, including college.”

March 21, 2008

Forget 1066 & all that

Filed under: The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 5:44 am

The Bayeux Tapestry

Children should not be taught to remember key historical dates such as the Battle of Hastings but should instead learn “life skills”, teachers have claimed.  This from the UK’s Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Mary Bousted, general secretary, also said:

“Is the world going to collapse if they don’t know ‘To Be, or Not to Be?’ Our national curriculum should be far more focused on the development of life skills and ways of working than whether or not we teach the Battle of Hastings.”

March 13, 2008

Dems go back to their roots with race

Filed under: The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 6:14 am

Race seems to be quite factor in this year’s election, but only for Democrats.  But wait, I thought it was the GOP that was full of racists!  What gives with the party of segregation and Jim Crow??

See stories about Obama’s “interesting pastor,”  and the Geraldine Ferraro resignation.  The Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. said:

“Barack knows what it means living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people,” Wright said. “Hillary would never know that.  Hillary ain’t never been called a nigger.”

January 10, 2008

Name trivia

Filed under: The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 2:44 pm

These are the top 10 names for boys and girls in the 1880s:

Boy’s Names

Girl’s Names

1.  John

1.  Mary

2.  William

2.  Anna

3.  Charles

3.  Elizabeth

4.  George

4.  Margaret

5.  James

5.  Minnie

6.  Joseph

6.  Emma

7.  Frank

7.  Martha

8.  Henry

8.  Alice

9.  Thomas

9.  Marie

10.  Harry

10.  Sarah

These are the top names in 2006:

Boy’s Names

Girl’s Names

1.  Jacob

1.  Emily

2.  Michael

2.  Emma

3.  Joshua

3.  Madison

4.  Ethan

4.  Isabella

5.  Matthew

5.  Ava

6.  Daniel

6.  Abigail

7.  Christopher

7.  Olivia

8.  Andrew

8.  Hannah

9.  Anthony

9.  Sophia

10.  William

10.  Samantha

Here are the top 10 boys names in Ireland for 2005:

1. Jack

2. Sean
3. Adam
4. Conor
5. James
6. Daniel
7. Cian
8. Luke
9. Aaron
10. Michael

Not as many overtly Gaelic names as I would have suspected….

January 8, 2008

Enlistment–not fair?

Filed under: The past that is still with us,Wars — John Maass @ 12:58 pm

It is always interesting to me to read news reports of current events, and to see reporters failing to bring in historical perspective that might go a long way to contextualizing modern concerns and further explaining them.  This makes for many news stories that are skin deep.  One example from the Telegraph is a good story to use to demonstrate this.

According to the report, a study conducted in the UK regarding the British Army’s recruiting methods concluding that said methods were unfair and misleading.  Many soldiers agreed to enlist “without fully understanding their legal obligations” and “recruiting literature failed to mention that unless they left within six months of enlisting, they had no legal right to leave for four years,” says the article.  Here’s the real whopper:

The report – Informed Choice? Armed Forces and Recruitment Practice in the UK – accuses Army recruiters of failing to inform youngsters about the risks of a Forces career. It says the military “curtailed recruits’ rights” to resign and recruiters targeted “the socially and economically vulnerable to enlist for negative reasons”.

This would have been a perfect time to explain to the reader that targeting the socially & economically vulnerable has LONG been a method of filling up the battalions, in many countries.  In the 18th century, for instance, British regiments were typically completed by luring displaced farm workers and landless tenants into the ranks, men who were forced off their rented lands by the enclosure movement, and by the industrial revolution.  This is to say nothing of the convicts placed on the rolls – real social misfits vulnerable to the recruiting sergeants. 

This should come as no surprise to military historians or those of the 18th and 19th century.  Readers would have been well-served to have known this as well.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.