Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Book: "Robert Morris" by Charles Rappleye

Robert Morris' signature can be found on the Declaration on Independence if you look carefully just to the right of John Hancock's. Originally however Robert Morris opposed independence and walked out of the final vote allowing the Pennsylvania delegation to vote unanimously for separation from Britain. From there he became a vital cog in the war effort by using his business connection to supply the American forces. The author of a new book Charles Rappleye actually argues that the war could not have been won if it was not for Morris' efforts. As Washington marched his troops to Yorktown to take advantage of the situation against the British, Morris took care of all the behind the scenes details. Morris effectively became the treasury for the new United States during the war. Unfortunately for Morris he went bankrupt in a real estate bubble after the Revolution and spent three years toward the end of his life in prison. This should be a great read on a fairly unknown player in our fight for independence.

http://www.npr.org/2010/12/20/132051519/-robert-morris-america-s-founding-capitalist

New Book: "First Family" By Joseph Ellis

Anyone that knows me knows my favorite President is John Adams. Despite his many flaws one the endearing aspects of his life and character was his relationship with his wife, Abagail. She was his partner in life and politics as well as his one true love. Their passion for each ran deep, not just emotionally but also physically and professionally. Over their life apart they wrote over 1,300 letters back and forth to each other. Joseph Ellis looks into these letters and their life together and sees that the people of their time saw them as a politically team not simply as John and his wife Abagail. Ellis is an excellent narrator and I can only imagine the wonderful story he weaves in these pages. Because of my passion for learning the life of John and Abagail Adams I will definitely be buying this book in the near future.

 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/books/review/21book.html

Monday, December 20, 2010

Our Nation Divided: South Carolina Secedes

"We, the people of the State of South Carolina in convention assembled, do declare and ordain... that the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of 'the United States of America,' is hereby dissolved."

This ordinance written by a delegation in South Carolina officially broke ties with the United States of America on this date, 150 years ago. A monumentally significant moment in American History which many, including newly elected President Lincoln, did not believe would happen. The differences between to North and South had been an issue since the very founding of the United States. The signers and debaters of the Constitution in 1787 were very carefully to keep in tact the fragile divide between the North and South, namely the issue of slavery. The issue of slavery itself was placed on the back burner in order to allow the passage of the Constitution by all the states. The divide however only grew larger. With slavery at the center the differences economically, politically, and even religiously became too overwhelming for the government to control. Compromises and negotiations only accomplished in putting off the problem rather than solving it. Finally with the election of the first Republican President whose party was proactively against slavery, many of the Southern states believed the time for debate and legislation had come to an end and separation was the only answer. Still many around the country did not believe it would happen. The feeling that the Union was still strong and the brotherly ties to its founding were still close. Then, on January 5, 1861, the citizenry of theUnited States and the world learned of not just the secession of South Carolina but much more.

"On the 26th, a resolution was passed declaring citizens of South Carolina all citizens of the United States within her limits on the 20th inst., the date of her secession. Another provides for a Convention of slaveholding States at Montgomery, Alabama, for the purpose of forming a Southern Confederacy, under the Constitution of the United States.  The Convention, in secret session, adopted an ordinance continuing the present Federal revenue officers in their places, and also continuing the United States revenue and navigation laws in force, subject to certain regulations.""Governor Pickens has, agreeably to the ordinance of session, issued a proclamation, proclaiming to the world sovereign, free and independent State, and as such has a right to levy war, conclude peace, negotiate treaties, leagues, or covenants, and do all acts whatever that rightly appertain to a free and independent State."
--Harper's Weekly Jan 5, 1861
Not only did everyone learn that South Carolina hadclaimed independence from the United States of America but they were commissioning for a convention to rally all Southern states in creating a confederacy of their own accord. Now following the news of South Carolina's secession six other states: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas all seceded from the Union in January 1861. Lincoln at this time wasn't even officially President. His election was in November however his inauguration was still nearly two months away. President Buchanan was not surprisingly absent from this whole affair so many officially from the South and North sought out Lincoln to make some kind of public statement to reassure the South and avoid permanent separation. Lincoln however refused. In a letter which was written just before South Carolina's official secession but in the midst of heavy talk by Southern states to break away, Lincoln responded privately to a North Carolina congressman by stating,
"Is it desired that I shall shift the ground upon which I have been elected? I can not do it. You need only to acquaint yourself with that ground, and press it on the attention of the South. It is all in print and easy of access. May I be pardoned if I ask whether you have ever attempted to procure the reading of the Republican platform, or my speeches by the Southern people? If not, what reason have I to expect that any additional production of mine would meet a better fate? It would make me appear as if I repented for the crime of having been elected, and was anxious to apologize and beg forgiveness."
Lincoln clearly was not going to put himself in a position of weakness where the Southern states would feel like if they flexed their muscle enough or made threats, such as secession, they would get their way. The Union must be preserved in Lincoln's eyes but not at the expense of his principles on slavery and not by giving in to demands. Lincoln's first real public statement does not actually come until March 4, 1861 which is his inaugural address to the nation as President of the United States. This will be the subject of a future "Our Nation Divided" post in March.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Worst Snowstorms in U.S. History

After driving this morning in extremely snowy conditions it got me thinking what have been the worst snowstorms in our nation's history. There are many more storms that I found and could have listed here such as blizzards that occured in 1899, 1913, 1950, 1967, 1996, 2006. These just happen to be the six most extreme and unique that our country has seen.

1) The Great Snow of 1717 - Native Americans could not recall a story in their oral tradition which rivaled the magnitude of this winter storm that hit the colonies in New England. The storm started at the end of February with major bouts of snow hitting on the 1st of March, the 4th and another on the 7th. All together, four storms in about a ten day period totaled over five feet of snow in some areas along with reports of drifting to the point that people could only leave their homes from their second story windows. With poor record keeping at the time and a scarce population outside the New England region it is unclear to what extent the storm reached. The Reverend Cotton Mather, remembered for his role in the Salem Witch Trials, wrote a detailed account of the snowstorm, which was also the first publication of the Massachusettes Historical Society, "As mighty a snow, as perhaps has been known in the memory of man, is at this time lying on the ground." Reports of the damage this storm caused were fairly scattered. Post roads were reported to have had drifts as high as 25 feet in the Boston region and areas north. Various reports talked about how nearly 95% of the deer population in the region was wiped out with "deer-reserves" being established in the aftermath to preserve the species. Wolves and other predators even moved into populated areas seeking food, killing livestock and threatening humans. John Winthrop reported that a herd of sheep was buried under snow for 28 days and was dug out alive and well. How those sheep survived is unclear.

2) The Great White Hurricane of 1888 - If one needs to look for a benchmark on which all other blizzards are measured it is the one which occured in March 1888. Ironically this was actually the second major winter storm to hit the United States that year. In January the middle of the country was hit with extremely frigid temperatures dropping as low as -52 degrees. Some areas saw a swing in temperature from 70 degrees to -40 degrees in a matter of days. Nearly 240 people lost their lives which was a large number considering the sparce population between Minnesota and Texas. Livestock also took a major toll due to the low temperatures with cattle getting hardest hit. Many historians have attributed this event to the downfall of the free-range cattle industry. The more famous blizzard however that year was the one that occurred in March. In a 48 hour period anywhere from 40-55 inches of snow fell on areas of New York, Massachusetts, Conneticut, and New Jersey with winds hitting 45 miles per hour. Many people were stuck in their homes for over a week. Telegraph lines were disabled resulting in some cities like Montreal, Washington D.C. and Boston being isolated for days. In the aftermath numerous states, such as New York, buried their telegraph and telephone lines to prevent storms like this in the future from disabling major means of communication. Road and rail lines were also effected making them impassable for days with drifts in some areas taking over a week to clear. The shutdown of transportation for so long in these major cities resulted in underground subways being constructed with the first one opening only nine years later in Boston. Fire departments were immoblized and fires raged in certain areas resulting in millions of dollars in damage. Even shipyards and ships at sea were effected. Over 200 ships were grounded or wrecked with nearly 100 seamen losing their lives. Being March the average temperatures are typically above freezing so when the snow started to melt flooding occured especially in Brooklyn. With so much snow piled up many areas, New York foremost on the list, attempted to push as much snow as possible into the Atlantic.

3) The "Knickerbocker Storm" of 1922 - Very few storms are named after the damage it caused however this was a tragic event. In January 1922 a low formed over Georgia and slowly began moving northward. By the time it hit the Carolinas the snow began to fall and reached all the way to Philadelphia. The storm stalled and snowed over two days resulting in over 20 inches of snow throughout the area. It was some of the most snowfall ever recorded in a 24 hour period and some of the most snowfall seen in the Mid-Atlantic states until the blizzard in February of 2010. The biggest story of the snow storm was located in Washington D.C. at the Kinckerbocker Theatre. Despite two-days of blizzard conditions around 500 people decided to attend the theater the evening of January 28th to watch a movie. At around 9:00pm the weight of over 20 inches of snow on top of the Knickerbocker's flat roof gave way. Witnesses stated that there was no indication that the roof was coming down it simply just gave way. Mass confusion insued in the aftermath. One man recorded his account of being trapped in the rubble.
“I grabbed for my hat and coat, and the next minute found myself flat on my face with something weighty on top. I lay still for about five minutes when I noticed at the side of me a girl with an arch or pillar resting upon her. I tried to pull it off but couldn’t move it. Then I started work­ing my way slowly in some direction – I think the middle – and with four other fellows we saw a hole with a light shining through. The next thing I know I was on the street, but I don’t know how I got there. I stayed around for a while and helped several others, who were apparently uninjured, out of the place. It was a frightful sight within, nothing but moans, cries and darkness.” (Retrieved December 17, 2010, http://www.weatherbook.com/knickerbocker.htm)
Family members and pedstrians tried to rush in to help with no real organized rescue efforts in place. People took lanterns and moved throughout the rubble looking for loved ones and survivors. One reporter compared the scene to something out of World War 1. Once police and fire crews arrived the rescue effort saw better results. By 2:30am over 600 rescue workers were on the scene including the military. Residents in the area brought out hot food and coffee to the rescuers due to the frigid temperatures. A small boy was even sent in to distribute medicine to those still alive, under the wreckage, and in pain. A makeshift hospital was established in a nearby candy store and every hospital in the city was overloaded with patients as a result of the collapse. The rescue was not fully completed until the following afternoon and after all was said and done the final toll was 98 people dead and 133 people injured. It still goes down as one of the worst disasters and one of the largest single snow falls in Washington D.C.'s history.

4) Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940 - This snow storm is known more for how it started and the result of that than anything else. As the morning of November 11, 1940, Armistice Day, broke it was unseasonable warm. All the way up in Minnesota temperatures in the early afternoon reached 60 degrees. In fact due to the fantastic weather conditions hundreds of hunters went out to the Mississippi River looking to take advantage of the great duck hunting conditions. The weather deterioriated quite quickly however, and temperatures dropped rapidly, winds picked up, rain changed to sleet and then eventually snow. Snow fell throughout the rest of the day and night. Overall snowfalls reached over 25 inches with winds reaching 50-80 miles per hour. The only forecasting station in the region was located in Chicago. Therefore forecasts had not predicted the extreme drop in temperature and major snow fall and wind. As a result many of the hunters along the Mississippi River were stranded. When the storm first broke many hunters took shelter on small islands in the middle of the river. With 50 mile per hour winds and waves hitting over five feet high the encampments were overrun. Some tried to swim across the river and drowned while others that tried to stay on the island actually froze to death as a result of single-digit temperatures and a lack of proper winter clothing. Casualities were actually lessened by the herorics of pilot Max Conrad and one of his students, John Bean. After the storm passed Conrad and his student flew up and down the river in the Minnesota/Wisconsin region dropping supplies to survivors. In addition the storm caused five ships to sink on Lake Michigan with a total of 66 sailors losing their lives. The following is a great article written in the Herald Journal in 2004 detailing out another account from someone who lived through the blizzard (http://www.herald-journal.com/archives/2004/stories/snow.html). The complete surprise of the storm was due to a lack of local forecasting. As a result of the lives lost in this snow storm covereage of weather events was expanded to 24 hours a day and local forecasting station were built to give more accurate information outside of just major cities like Chicago.

5) The Blizzard of '78 - Thanks to the blizazrd of 1978 my parents and grandparents will always use it as the benchmark in which they compare all future snow storms. When the barometric pressure records the lowest non-tropical level ever recorded in the United States then you know something bad is about to happen. The hardest hit states for the storm were Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, and worst of all Ohio where 51 people died as a result. Snowfall totals reached 40-50 inches, wind gusts neared 100 miles per hour, and wind chills dropped to -60 degrees. Despite hearing stories from my family for years about that blizzard I asked my mom the other night about what her experience was like during the blizzard. One part of the story I found most interesting was the family listening to the radio stations of two local cities located north and south of them. The station was relaying information about how the only people able to get around were snowmobiliers. A group of them were actually worked to bring vital medical supplies from one of the city's hospitals to the other. The radio broadcaster would excitedly talk about how the group made it to a certain point and were safe. Then another report would come in that they had made it to another point, slowly they moved along the snow covered route that was once a fast moving two lane state highway. She even talked about how the snow was so deep and the drifting was so bad that one of their cars was buried in snow until May, nearly five months later. The following is another account I found written during the 30th anniversary year of the blizzard of 1978. What a story this is, I would love the opportunity to interview her.
"I well remember the blizzard of 1978!  I was snowbound for three days with my husband, daughter and step-son near Kansas, Ohio.  My husband was ill and needed a blood transfusion.   We hadn't lived there very long and had no close neighbors, so I called the local volunteer fire department.  Those wonderful people who didn't know us from Adam fought their way through several drifts on our small side road to rescue us. Then they stood in the field across the road holding flares and landed a national guard helicopter that took my husband into Fostoria Hospital for blood. One of the firemen, Don Conley, insisted the kids and I go home with him.  In the coming two days the Conley family and us became fast friends. Their son and friends took snow mobiles and went to a local farmer who had milk and no way to transport it.  The kids said it was the best milk they ever tasted.  Tom, Carol and Don have all passed on, but those of us left behind will never forget that winter.  God Bless the Kansas Volunteer Fire Department, which many years later my son-in-law became a member of.  My daughter ended up working with a nurse who is married to one of the guys who was on that helicopter. It truly is a small world full of wonderful people. Thank you for allowing me to share." - Jodee (Retrieved December 17, 2010, http://www.wtol.com/Global/story.asp?S=7780807)
If you talk with anyone that lived through that event you will quickly be able to dig up a fasicinating and sometimes adventerous story. For the Baby Boomer generation this will always be the blizzard to end all blizzards and from the sound of it, they might be right.

6) The 1993 "Storm of the Century" - The uniqueness of this storm lies not so much in the amounts of snow fall and drifting we find in other blizzards but in the massive size of the storm itself. At the height of storm it reached from Canada to Central America with the brunt of it hitting the Eastern United States. The storm actually marked the first time the National Weather Service was able to accurately predict the severity of storm five days in advance. States of emergency were issued in Northeastern states two days before the storm hit. Despite Southern states being told of the coming freeze, mild temperatures that lead up to the storm caused many to believe the predictions of cold temperatures and snow was not going to happen. Many local TV news stations were hesitant to report the numbers being given rom the NWS because they seemed ridiculous but they turned out to be right. Midday, March 12th the temperatures began to drop rapidly from Maine to Florida and Texas. Thundersnow, which is more like a thunderstorm than a blizzard but with snow rather than rain, fell from Texas to Pennsylvania and recorded over 60,000 lightning strikes. Snowfalls as high as 69 inches were found in parts of Tennessee, 12-16 inches in Alabama, and nearly four inches on the Florida panhandle along with hurricane force winds. In addition to the snow, 11 tornadoes were reported in parts of Florida and Louisiana. Ships in the Gulf of Mexico and all the way up the East Coast of the United States had trouble, with some actually sinking including the "Fantastico" which lost seven crew members off the coast of Florida. Nearly one hundred pleasure crafts and charter boats sank as a result of the storm. For me this is the first storm I am actually able to have a vivid memory about. As a Midwestern living in rural Indiana the biggest element of the storm I remembered was the ice. Anywhere from one-fourth to an inch of ice covered everything. Everywhere you looked from the tops of trees which hung extremely low to the ground below was covered. Being in the country it did not take long for us to lose our electricity and because of that we had to find shelter for the night. My dad loaded up the family and we slowly drove into town, staying the night at a motel, which at the time I thought was so cool. Despite the dangerous conditions and lack of electricity which forced us out of our home it was a beautiful picture. My mom took some great shots of our property and all the ice made for a picturesque scene. Throughout the United States the storm caused extensive damage totaling over six billion dollars. Although other storms have had higher snow falls and drifting the magnitude of this storm's size and how much of the United States was affected made it one of the largest one-piece storms in recorded history and therefore made it the "storm of the century."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From Privilege to Heroes

Here is a link from the BBC News website about group of young millionaries who flew for the RAF during World War 2. In the mid 1920s the Chief of the Air Staff developed the idea of small auxiliary squadrons that could be called up quickly during times of war. One of the first such squadrons created was the 601. According to stories the squadron was formed in an exclusive gentlemen's club from the young men there who could fly. Despite their wealth and privilege these men were called up into service just after Great Britain declared war on Germany in 1939. The men saw heavy action and sadly some of them died. It is an interesting story and I highly suggest reading it.  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11951642

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Great Tax Debate

Over the last month or so Congress and the White House have been debating over maintaining current tax cuts first enacted by President George W. Bush in 2001. The debate over are the tax breaks, right or wrong and to what capacity, can be left to another blog. It got me thinking however about where these taxes on our personal income started. More importantly why were they first enacted.


It happened to be during the Civil War where the first income tax in the United States was implemented. It was known as the Revenue Act of 1861 and it taxed a lot more than simply just people's take home pay. Up until this time the federal government collected the majority of their revenue from excise taxes especially from tobacco and liquor. However with the war starting to cost millions and a loss of revenue from the taxes once collected in the South, the Union had to figure out some means to sustain and pay for the war efforts. The Revenue Act of 1861 just that. With only about 5% of the Act actually addressing income taxes the majority focused on excise and property taxes. The income tax implemented was actually a flat amount of 3% on all income above $800. Near the end of 1861 and into 1862 it became very apparent that the civil conflict was not going to be over quick and more funds needed to be raised. In 1862, a new revenue act was established which superseded the previous one and gave our country a few features we are quite familiar with today. The first being a progressive rate income tax. Instead of a flat amount of 3% for people making over $800 it was changed to those making over $600 were to pay 3% and those making over $10,000 were to pay 5%. Although not nearly as complicated as it is today, it still increased the revenue of the government dramatically with top earners funding the largest majority of the revenue brought in to the government. The other familiar element we were given was a Commission of Internal Revenue, today we know them as the Internal Revenue Service or IRS. Both elements familiar to us today can directly be attributed to the need for revenue during the Civil War.


One feature of the Revenue Act of 1862 I find very interesting and rarely discussed is the temporary nature of it. The Revenue Act actually called for the entire measure to be terminated in 1866. Although it actually took until 1872 for the income tax to be repealed; the reality is that government officials believed at that time all revenue for the United States, during peace time, could be attained from excise taxes alone. The income tax actually remained dormant for nearly 20 years until the late nineteenth century when it was reintroduced.  


So how do we look at the revenue acts of the Civil War and place them into the context of today's government? Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying: 
 "...a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
However is Jefferson's comment even relevant today or not? Do we look to the founders of our country for answers on handling this or do we forge our own future? Is our system of government working with the construct that they were in the 1790s or the 1860s? The governments of that time worked within the notion that federal government had responsibilities to make treaties, carry out diplomacy which involved trade agreements, make war and sustain defense, as well as build and/or maintain the infrastructure at home. Although exceptions can be found with presidents such as Jefferson, Jackson, and Polk who towed the line of Constitutionality, they rarely moved outside this construct. It has really only been over the last 75 years that our government has chosen to take "promote the general welfare" to a different level. Is this right or wrong? Well this debate is what truly differentiates the conservative view point from the liberal one that we see in politics today. It is from this perspective that one would view tax-cuts as a must or not necessary. This debate can be argued and discussed at length with truly no right or wrong answer in my opinion it comes down to ones principles. Truly knowing what you believe is the right path and knowing why you believe it. However whether you lean on the left side or right of the debate knowing where it all came from and why is important.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vandals Destroy 2000-year-old Tree

I am completely amazed sometimes at people's complete disregard for sacred relics of history. No matter if you subscribed to ones religion or not one must seek respect for the history behind it. Tragically the Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury in England was maliciously cut down by vandals the other night. The tree is visited by thousands of people every year who pray before it and seek to be close to something that legend has it was forged from a staff used by Christ himself. Joseph of Arimathea, the great uncle of Jesus Christ of Nazareth is said to have visited England after Christ's crucifixion. While there and grasping the Holy Grail he thrust the staff into the ground and planted the seed which eventually became this tree. The tree itself even survived the English Civil War when Roundheads cut the tree down however locals were able to salvage it from the roots that remained. Keeping its location secret the tree was replanted in 1951 on the Glastonbury hill. Experts have recently verified that the tree is of Middle Eastern origin, giving rise to the truth behind the legend. The uniqueness of the tree also extends to the only two times of year it blooms which is Easter and Christmas time. In fact, a sprig from the tree is cut and sent to the Queen of England every year and sits atop the dining table for the holiday season. One can only hope that the locals will be able to salvage the tree once again and bring it back to life.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1337159/Glastonburys-2000-year-old-Holy-Thorn-Tree-hacked-vandals.html

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What is the History Behind... Christmas Tree Lights

The first recorded lit Christmas Tree dates as far back as 1660. Which would make us believe that Christians sprang the tradition of an evergreen and lights from the notion of lighting a candle to send ones prayers to heaven or a rememberance of Christ's birth through fire. The irony is that the tradition of evergreens and lights during the winter season comes from a pagan tradition attempting to celebrate life during nature's dead period in winter. I absolutely love mentalfloss.com and believe they do a great job at informing you of the information you never thought to learn. Connect yourself through the link below to learn more about the history of Christmas Lights. Yule find it absolutely fascinating and have a Merry Christmas!

http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/42897

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remembering Pearl Harbor

If anyone knows my Uncle you know that he loves World War II. Watching World War II movies with him is fun because we will talk history, strategy, and also the weaponry. He has always had a keen ability to name the type of tank, plane, or machine gun from the war and even point out that the tank they are using isn't accurate for that country, time, or place. Aside from just talking about World War II and enjoying our discussions on it he has privileged me with a few Christmas gifts that I cherish closely. One is an authentic World War 2 helmet, completely redone to its original quality with a spade placed on the side (Can anyone name what unit this represents?). I will never forget his oldest son walking up to me after I opened it and admired it for a while and he stated, "You better like that it cost my dad a lot of money." Then last Christmas he gave me a CD which contains 24 straight hours of radio coverage following the breaking news of the invasion of Normandy. It is absolutely fascinating to listen to the coverage of the events as they are happening, listening to the false and misleading information coming in from Germany radio and the news broadcaster thinking quickly on his feet as new information pores in. Consider for a moment what that time period must have been like to live through. Not just as a soldier but also as a citizen back home. Trying your best to live a normal life and go to work and do what you can for the war effort. December 7th always reminds me of this sacrifice. It reminds me of what so many men and women went through during World War II. Not just the sacrifice of the soldier on the battlefield but also those at home. I'm also reminded of my Uncle and how we have the honor or learning about those brave men and women who fought, bled, and died for our country. December 7, 1941 is a day that needs to continue to live in infamy. We need to spend a moment reminding ourselves of what this country has gone through in order for us to enjoy the freedoms we have today. So many lives lost however their memory must never be forgotten and always honored.

If you want to learn more about the Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, visit the website below. It is very interactive and well put together site. Spend a few minutes today learning about what this day means to our nation's history.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Our Nation Divided: Georgia Acknowledges Succession was Because of Slavery

We are continuing our series which will last over the next four years on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. In that entire time span it was been difficult to get a southern state to admit that slavery was a central component to their succession from the Union. Although everyone acknowledges that there were many factors involved in the break from the North it is obvious that slavery was that major element. On January 19, 2011 Georgia will commemorate the 150th anniversary of their vote for succession from the United States of America and the Georgia Historical Society will dedicate a historical marker in Milledgeville which was the site of the Georgia statehouse in 1861. The marker makes a free admission that the succession from the Union was a direct result of the election of an anti-slavery Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln. Many Southern intellectuals have always held onto the public persona that the South succeed to defend states-rights and aggression from the North on their way of life. While this is true, the South was trying to maintain their economic, religious, and political position because it was so different from the North. The reality was that if slavery was not a component in all three of those phases then the differences would not be as drastic. This really is quite possibly the first admission by a Southern state entity admitting that slavery was a real factor in the cause of the Civil War.

Look for the next major post of "A Nation was Divided" when we look back at the first state to secede from the Union, South Carolina on December 20th.

http://www.examiner.com/history-in-madison/georgia-acknowledges-it-seceded-for-slavery-and-not-states-rights

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Today in History: Rosa Parks Refused to Move

A special thanks to Google for commemorating and reminding us of one of the greatest acts of civil disobedience in our Nation's history. It was on December 1, 1955 when Rosa Parks, a seamstress, was heading home from work and sat in front of the "black" section on the bus. When refusing to move so a white person could sit in her spot she was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Now Parks was not the first or the last individual to be arrested for such an act but it was her defiance and arrest that sparked a 381-day boycott of the busing system headed by a little known minister at the time named Martin Luther King Jr. That boycott helped eventually desegregate the buses however it was not until 1964 and the Civil Rights Act that all desegregation took effect. What an amazing story she has and a special thanks should go out to Rosa Parks today for her courage and determination to stand up to injustice. Her courage helped change our country for the better.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Visiting Savannah

For any of you who have followed my tweets over the last week you would have discovered quickly that the "Traveling Historian", namely me, had been in Savannah, Georgia. There is such a rich history throughout that city I could not help but enjoy every single moment I was there. I could write for hours on every element of history, architecture, and people that enrich the beautiful three square-mile area. My wife and I stayed in the heart of the historic downtown district which I would recommend as a must to anyone visiting. We decided that walking everywhere would be the name of the game and it was well worth the pains I current have in my feet. Twenty-four majestic squares truly define what Savannah is like which is a leisurely, inviting atmosphere. Each square is its own miniature park, memorialized to an individual who played an important role in Savannah and/or our nation's history. My favorite square to visit was Johnson Square. In the center was a memorial to the great general of the American Revolution, Nathanael Greene. Originally buried in Colonial Park Cemetery his remains were moved to there current location in the center of Johnson Square. Only one block over is Reynolds Square which I also enjoyed. It pays tribute to John Wesley who unsuccessful started a ministry there in the 1730s, before returning to England.

The architecture of these homes, which do not just line a single street or two like most cities, are gorgeous and permeate the city giving it an old charm that immediately takes you back to the nineteenth century when Savannah enjoyed the height of its prosperity. There were so many beautiful homes on so many streets that it is difficult to identify a single one. However the Olde Pink House stands out the most to me not so much for its design but the history behind it and now the food that is served in it. It is one of the oldest homes in the city and at one time housed the headquarters for General Sherman and the Union Army when they captured Savannah during the Civil War. Today it is the home of one of the best restaurants in the country. After our meal at the Olde Pink House, my wife and I could not stop talking about the magnificent food that we ate there along with the lovely atmosphere. I would be remiss if I were not to give a shout out to our other two favorite eateries we visited which was Mrs Wilkes Boarding House and Wiley's BBQ (just outside Savannah's downtown historic district, make sure to say hi to Janet for me). Both of these places were excellent and must be visited. A couple tips, when visiting Mrs. Wilkes, it is lunch only, eat a light breakfast and get in line at 10:30am, no exceptions. As for Wiley's, be prepared to eat, and then eat, and then leave with even more and by the way it's hard to find so keep looking.  

Overall our experience was wonderful and there was so much more we saw and even more that we missed out on. For anyone that is looking for a quaint getaway, enjoy a bit of history, and eat really good food then I highly recommend visiting Savannah.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our Nation Divided: Hopefully This Celebration Will Go Better

One Hundred and Fifty Years and a fortnight ago Abraham Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States of America and sparked the biggest conflict in our history. Celebrations will be seen throughout our country over the next four years, memorializing the lives and stories of that great war between the states. This won't however be the first time that the country has attempted to celebrate the Civil War. We can only hope that it goes much better than the last time in the 1960s. This blog will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War over the next four years however I first suggest reading about the government's attempt at commemorating the 100th anniversary and how badly it failed.


http://hnn.us/articles/41285.html


In addition to reading this blog you should check out the The New York Times. They have created a Civil War blog that will talk about what was happening each day during the Civil War. They started it on November 8, 2010 celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Lincoln's election. It's been pretty interesting reading. For those Civil War lovers out there you should check it out.


http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/category/disunion/

Thursday, November 11, 2010

From My Library: "No Ordinary Joes" by Larry Colton

I was in bed a couple nights ago and as I started to continue my reading of this book my wife was astounded at how quickly I was moving through it. Overall I have never been a fast reader, usually taking weeks to read through a book. It was only within 5 days that I was nearing the end of this magnificent story. Every free moment I had over this last week I spent reading this book, No Ordinary Joes.

Based on the true story of four submariners during World War II and the bond as well as experiences they shared together. It starts by briefly telling of their childhood, the tragedies that most of them went through, and each ones experiences during the Great Depression. Each one takes about where they were during the attack on Pearl Harbor and where they started off in the Navy. It then leads all of them into how they ended up together on the USS Grenadier. A United States submarine fighting in the Pacific theatre. During one of her runs after all four men were on board together the sub was hit and permanently damaged by a Japanese plane. They ended up being forced to surrender and taken into Japanese territory where their imprisonment and torture began. The book focuses in here on how each of the four men coped with their situation. How they handled the beatings, their attitude toward a lack of food and hatred toward the Japanese people, and most importantly what was it that they focused on for two and half years that kept them going and refusing to give up. Then the final pages of the book take us to their life after the war. How each of the man's expectations for when they would get home turned into a disaster. And finally where they ended up in their old age. Who these men actually married, compared to who they thought they would marry while in prison, and what they did with their lives. Most importantly is how they learned to cope with the horrifying memories of their imprisonment in Japan during World War II.

I can not say enough about how this book was written and how well the story comes together. I was concerned at first about trying to follow the lives of four men but Colton does a masterful job at connecting their experiences to how they handled life in the Navy, life in prison camp, and life after the war. Based on the amount of physical, emotional, and mental abuse these men went through while in prison, it is a miracle that any of them survived the entire ordeal. One of the men, Chuck Vervalin reflected upon "what allowed some men to keep going, whereas others gave up? No simple answer emerged. Some men said it was religion that kept them going. Some said it was focusing on home and loved ones, while others contended that it was easier for single guys because they didn't have a wife or children to worry about. Some thought it was easier for married because they had somebody waiting for them at home, and they could escape to thoughts of being together again. Chuck concluded that whatever it was, he had to believe that life was still worth living and that he needed something to focus on, even if it was hatred of his captors (244)."

I highly recommend this book and not just for the World War II buff. It should be read by everyone who enjoys reading a good story. I even commented to a few people how I think this would make an excellent film someday. The book opened my eyes to elements of the Pacific Theatre of World War II that I never realized. Elements of the war I never would have considered as important. And most interestingly for me was learning about the culture of the soldiers that were fighting the war. What they did day to day and how they went about doing it. This book is without question a must read.

Colton, No Ordinary Joes: The Extraordinary True Story of Four Submariners in War and Love and Life, 2010.
This book was provided to me for review by Inkwell Management. There was no expectation by Inkwell on how and what I wrote. I just simply loved this book.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Celebrating Veterans Day... 11/11

"I have today signed a proclamation calling upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 as Veterans Day. It is my earnest hope that all veterans, their organizations, and the entire citizenry will join hands to insure proper and widespread observance of this day. With the thought that it will be most helpful to coordinate the planning, I am suggesting the formation of a Veterans Day National Committee. In view of your great personal interest as well as your official responsibilities, I have designated you to serve as Chairman. You may include in the Committee membership such other persons as you desire to select and I am requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch to assist the Committee in its work in every way possible.


I have every confidence that our Nation will respond wholeheartedly in the appropriate observance of Veterans Day, 1954."


Sincerely,


DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
The White House
October 8, 1954


These are the words of President Eisenhower commemorating a special day in our nation's history where we honor our veterans. The men and women of this country you choose of their own free will to serve in the military and defend this country's liberty and freedom from all who may fight against it. First and foremost I want to say thank you to anyone of you who are reading this who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States.


I would love for everyone to take the opportunity to check out the wealth of information found at Military.Com in reference to celebrating veterans day. If you do not have a direct opportunity to take part then there are many ways in which you can get involved through the website. It gives you ways to celebrate in your area, opportunities to donate your money or time to veterans, ability to hire a veteran for your workplace and much much more. I hope you all have the opportunity to check it out and celebrate this day in some way.

Monday, November 8, 2010

In the Mind of Those at the Constitutional Convention

Little is actually known about what happened in the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia, PA as men from around the country gathered to decide the new direction for our federal government. Due to the secrecy of the meeting only a few letters and the notes of James Madison remain as our window into the proceedings that took place at the Constitution Convention. This meeting sprung to life from the complete failures of the first system government for the United States, the Articles of Confederation. Something had to be done to right these wrongs so the United States could have a bright and prosperous future. One small glimpse into this monumental event comes from a letter written by George Mason to his son around the time the convention was supposed to have started in mid-May 1787.

Travelling to anywhere in the United States was not only time consuming but borderline dangerous. It can also be very expensive to do so in a safe manner and Mason’s travel was no exception. Once he and his Virginian brethren arrived they stayed at the Indian Queen located on Fourth Street where, according to Mason, they were “very well accommodated, have a good room to ourselves.” In addition their servants and horses were well taken care of but their overall fees excluded “club liquors.”

By the time George Mason had arrived in Philadelphia he stated that he could only identify that Virginia and Pennsylvania were “fully represented.” There were a couple delegates from New York and the Carolinas however the rest were still absent. Everyone, except Rhode Island had agreed to come to the conference but with busy schedules and long trips it was taking time. According to Mason that did not stop the Virginia delegates from getting things started. The group would meet two to three hours a day. Occasionally they would converse with delegates from other states but the overall goal of the Virginians was to gain a full understanding and possible consensus on the new form of government. After speaking with various individuals Mason concluded that,  
“the most prevalent idea in the principal States seems to be a total alteration of the present federal system, and substituting a great national council or parliament, consisting of two branches of the legislature… with full legislative powers upon all subjects of the Union; and an executive: and to make the several States legislatures subordinate to the national.”  - George Mason to George Mason Jr, May 20, 1787.

It is interesting to see how the consensus among some of the delegates at the start involved throwing out the Articles of Confederation. Mason also identified major elements of the federal government’s structure that will eventually be included in the Constitution such as a strong legislature, bi-cameral, and an executive branch. He knew that it would not be the final say or even go unopposed because smaller states or industrial locations might not see it the same. Mason understood the importance of this convention and that the “expectations and hopes of all the Union centre in this Convention. God grant that we may be able to concert effectual means of preserving our country from the evils which threaten us.”    

            

Saturday, November 6, 2010

History Links: The Online Library of Liberty

I stumbled across this website a short time back while trying to search for primary sources in the eighteenth century. It is the Online Library of Liberty sponsored by the Liberty Fund. The focus of the Liberty Fund organization and its library is based on individual liberty and preserving it in our day and age. Their entire library can be viewed by using PDF (which is how I recommend), HTML, or many other options that work best for you. This is an excellent source for the individual attempting research on early America or simply the casual historian who wants to understand more about the Enlightenment and its writings. I highly recommend making the Library of Liberty your first destination in seeking quality primary sources for free. Below is just a small example of the offerings which the online library provides.
  • The Federalist Papers
  • Plato's Republic
  • Gibbon's Decline and Fall
  • John Locke's Two Treaties
  • The Divine Comedy
  • The Writing of Karl Marx
  • The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay
  • The Complete Works of John Adams
  • ... and so much more
http://oll.libertyfund.org/

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Idioms from the Eighteenth Century

This article from Colonial Williamsburg is an eye opening looking at sayings and phrases that came about during this time period. The article explains the origins of such words as:

* Egad
* Blockhead
* Sleep Tight
* Powder Room
* Kicking the Bucket

I highly recommend reading this... http://history.org/Foundation/journal/Summer02/puttin_on_the_dog.cfm

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Conceding Defeat...

Few that lived through the event can forget the drama that entailed during the 2000 election for President between then Governor George W Bush and Vice President Al Gore. At midnight, on November 8th Vice President Gore placed a phone call to Governor Bush stating, “We gave them a cliffhanger” and thereby conceding the race for President. However as election results in Florida continued to change so did the possible outcome. At 2:30am, Gore placed another call to Bush stating that his margin for victory in Florida was “too close to call” and that he wanted to wait it out. Bush, shocked to say the least at this point stated “You mean to tell me, Mr. Vice President, you’re retracting your concession?” In which Gore responded, “You don’t have to be snippy about it.” Although rarely involving so much drama the concession call to the winner has been apart of the pantheon of election races for quite some time.

It’s a ceremonial moment more than anything in which the losing candidate has an opportunity to show the quality of their character in a moment which would be devastating. As far back as the election of 1860, Stephen A. Douglas conceded the election Abraham Lincoln stating “Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.” The call, or in this case letter, gives the public an opportunity to see our great democracy at work and make some attempt at uniting the people who voted against the winner to rally behind them. Some candidates even try to give words of encouragement hoping to portray a sense of unity and hope in the candidate that is now representing them. “The people have made their choice and I congratulate you. That you may be a servant and guardian of peace and make the vale of trouble a door of hope is my earnest prayer. Best Wishes, Adlai Stevenson,” which was sent to Dwight D Eisenhower after his victory in the 1952 Presidential election.

This call would have to be one of the toughest things a candidate does during the election. After months and months of spending money, time, and personal exhaustion to win the race, you have to admit defeat directly to your opponent. The majority of the time it is to the person, from your perspective, which has been running your name through the mud, telling near lies about your record, and misleading the public about how you want to do your job once elected. As Election Day is here it is more than likely that these calls will be made everywhere whether the candidate wants to or not but in the grander scheme of things it shows our civility and how our democratic system is still running strong.   



Sunday, October 31, 2010

The "Cartoon" History of Halloween

A fun explanation of the history of Halloween, in cartoon form...






thanks to discovery streaming...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Pie... A Staple Of Americana

Ever since I was a kid I can always remember enjoying a pumpkin pie during the fall season. Maybe even getting a hot cup of apple cider to go along with it. The idea of cooking pumpkins, mixing in sugar, spices, and cream all wrapped into a pastry has its origins as far back as the Middle Ages. Recipe books found from that time period show them creating these types of pies. However the pumpkin's roots are based in North America. Therefore it begs the question what were they using in the Middle Ages if they had not even discovered the New World at that point. In reality they were using gourds and squashes which are in the same family as the pumpkin but with a much different taste. Also known as winter squash, the pumpkin, once discovered, was quickly used by the European world and adapted into their recipes where originally they would have used those gourds or squashes. The reason for the change was that pumpkin simply tasted better. The earliest forms of the pie recipe which incorporate pumpkin are dated around 1653 from France. The word pumpkin itself is thought to have derived from the French word pompion which comes from the Latin word pepon which means melon. Being the fact that the first known recipe comes from France adds to the belief that the origin of the name comes from there.

With pumpkin itself having its original roots in North America it is no wonder that this delectable vegetable has become a staple of the American diet, especially in the fall due to its typical harvest time. Its also no surprise that the American Indian use of pumpkin was widespread.


"Among vegetables, the Northeastern Indians made particularly lavish use of squash, even more than other American Indians, and especially of pumpkin. Both squash and pumpkin were baked, usually by being placed whole in the ashes or embers of a dying fire (in the case of squash, the acorn and butternut varieties were preferred) and they were moistened afterwards with some form of animal fat, or maple syrup, or honey; and both were also made into soup." --- Root & Rochemont, Eating in American: A History (1976), 41.

Learning from the Indians, the American colonists used the pumpkin as much as possible for the fall season. Even our founding fathers enjoyed the great pumpkin pie based from this recipe by Abagail Adams, wife to John Adams our 2nd President of the United States. I hope you all have the opportunity at some point this fall season to enjoy this delicious dessert with friends and family if you have not already.

--- Abagail Adams Pumpkin Pie Recipe ---
* 1 1/2 cups pumpkin
* 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
* 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger root, grated
* 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 3/4 cup milk
* 1/4 cup dark rum, or brandy
* 3 eggs, lightly beaten
* Pecans
* Whipped cream
* 10-inch pie shell, unbaked
Mix all ingredients together and our into the prepared pastry shell. Bake at 425 degrees F. For 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. And bake for 40 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Garnish with pecans and whipped cream flavoured with rum or brandy. --- www.foodtimeline.org

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Poetry of Thomas Jefferson

One could easily argue that Thomas Jefferson would fit into the category of a renaissance man along with men such as Leonardo da Vinci and his counterpart Benjamin Franklin. Philosopher, politician, architect, botanist, writer are all areas in which Jefferson studied and worked. Poet never seemed to be one of those arenas in which Jefferson dabbled into however Jonathan Gross, now a professor at DePaul University and was a fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies, came across some old scrapbooks. Originally believed to have been created by Jefferson’s granddaughters through careful study it has now been revealed that they were actually put together by the 3rd President of the United States himself. These scrapbooks are filled with poems on various topics from love and family to war and patriotism. It seems he would cut them out of papers, books and magazines or write them down in a scrapbook and give them away as gifts to his family. This revelation gives us an opportunity to look into these poems and writings which Jefferson cherished and get a glimpse into his personality, philosophy, and desires of his heart. I will continue to write about these poems which I come across in the book which I believe opens our eyes to who Thomas Jefferson was and what we may be able to learn from him.

          The Farmer’s Creed by Sir John Sinclair
 Let this be held the Farmer’s Creed ---
Of Stock seek out the choicest breed,
In peace and plenty let them feed.
Your land sow with the best of seed,
Let it not dung nor dressing need,
Enclose and drain it with all speed ---
And you will soon be rich indeed.

To learn only a little about Jefferson one discovers quickly his great passion for the agricultural sector of this country. Jefferson said he thought “our government will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural.” He firmly believed that the backbone of America was and should always remain farming. This idea went far beyond just its economic value and importance for the country. Farming benefited all aspects of an individual’s life. “From breakfast, or noon at the latest, to dinner, I am mostly on horseback, Attending to My Farm or other concerns, which I find healthful to my body, mind, and affairs.” For Jefferson farming was everything. It is no wonder that this poem is found under the heading “very useful lessons.”  


Gross, Thomas Jefferson’s Scrapbook, 246.

Monday, October 18, 2010

History in Film: Master and Command (2003)

Set in nineteenth-century Europe, during the Napoleonic Wars, Master and Command almost entirely takes place on board the ship, HMS Surprise. The story focuses in on two friends, Captain Jack Aubrey and the ships surgeon Stephen Maturin, whose opposing viewpoints on war and life allow for a fascinating juxtaposition. The driving force of the plot is the pursuit of a French privateer Acheron.

The director Peter Weir does a masterful job at paying strict attention to the details of what life was like at sea in the nineteenth-century. A vast majority of the production actually took place at sea on a replica nineteenth century ship which they later named the HMS Surprise in honor of the filming of this movie. I was very big fan of this movie. The story was well put together and truly captivates your attention from beginning to end. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone you enjoys a solid action film and especially for those that like a period piece. I felt that the portrayal of a life at sea during the Napoleonic Wars was spot on. They stayed true to language and form from beginning to end and allowed for the story itself to guide the movie and your imagination and not any special effects or dramatic licensure.

I was speaking with a friend of mine recently who mentioned reading the first few books of this series written by Patrick O'Brian. He stated that by far the books are better and dive deeper into a telling story about the two main characters and their involvement during the Napoleonic Wars fighting for the British Navy. My goal will be after reading the couple books I am currently involved with to pick up the first book in the series and find out what I am truly missing.


Entertainment Rating: 4 out of 5
Historical Value: 3 out of 5 (being historical fiction I'm basing this solely on their portrayal of the time period)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Update on the Ground Zero Shipwreck

If you read the blog back in July or followed various news websites you would have already heard about the eighteenth century wooden ship found below the rubble and under the foundation of what was once The World Trade Centers. Archaeologists were on the scene quickly to preserve the historical piece and learn about why it was there and maybe give us a small glimpse into what life was like in early America. For months the team of scientists, historians, and archaeologists have been examining the wreckage and revealed to the public some of there finding the other day.

They believe the ship was a two-masted trading vessel. It is still unclear if the boat sank on its own or was purposely sunk in that spot in order to fill more land for the ever expanding Manhattan Island. From what researchers can tell the ship was in the stages of deteriorating from what one marine biologist believes is a tiny burrowing clam found mainly in warm waters. Along with finding seeds, pits, and nuts it has some speculating that the ship was used to make trade runs between the Caribbean and New York harbor. Currently the ship is submerged in purified water to prevent additional decay until the money and okay is given to pursue better, more permanent means of preserving the ship, which will allow researchers the opportunity to study it further. One of the other interesting finds they made, which allowed them to better date the ship, was a coin inside one of the ships joints. Apparently, this is a custom which is still used today. The coin which they found was analyzed by an expert from the Smithsonian and determined to be a British coin issued during the reign of King George II, who ruled from 1727 to 1760. Aside from the shipwreck numerous other artifacts such as ceramic dishes, stemmed glasses, dozens of shoes, and much more have been found around the same area the ship was buried. It all makes one wonder what other revelations will be unraveled and interesting discoveries will be revealed about the people and life of eighteenth century America. 

http://www.ouramazingplanet.com/details-of-18th-century-ship-buried-beneath-world-trade-center-revealed-0592/

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Hidden Symbol from our Nation's Past

I have seen the state flags of New York and New Jersey before. I have seen various state and army seals on numerous occasions as I have studied history and politics throughout the years. Every time I have seen this symbol I am more than likely dismiss it without even considering what it is or its significance. What am I talking about you may ask? Well examine the picture to the left. It is the Seal of the United States Army. Many of the images connect very well with us. We have the flag of the United States and of the army. We also see cannons and munition for them along with a Roman style breastplate, which for the most part all make a great deal of sense. However near the top you see what appears to be a red hat. Somewhat randomly in the top middle and very obvious for everyone to see. There is nothing military or threatening about a flimsy red hat. One must ask the question like I did, what is this hat doing there and what does it mean? This hat is known as the Phyrgian Cap or sometimes as the Liberty Cap.

The history behind the symbolism of the Phyrgian Cap dates back to the Greek and Roman time period when freed slaves were given the cap to symbolize their freedom. Although somewhat difficult to prove the belief is that this practice originated in Phyrgia when they would free their slaves there and the practice simply spread. As the Enlightenment era came around the use of the Phyrgian Cap as a symbol of liberty and freedom was used more and more. As the dawn of American independence was in full swing it was natural for patriots to use the cap as a symbol of a desire for their own personal liberty. One of the main uses of the cap was at the liberty pole which the New York 'Sons of Liberty' had erected as a symbol or defiance and a gathering place for their rallies. When the Sons of Liberty wanted their members to rally to the Liberty pole they would sometimes place a red Phyrgian Cap on top of the pole indicating that there was a meeting taking place and everyone should gather.


As I read about this cap and its history I immediately searched for images of the cap in our flag and insignias. I was surprised to find it numerous times normally hidden or obscure but it was there. Signifying in some way that we as Americans stand for liberty and freedom for all its individuals. Below are some images with the Phyrgian Cap in them. See if these are images you've seen before however never noticed the red cap so plainly in view.





Friday, October 1, 2010

What is the History Behind... Oktoberfest!!!

When we think of Oktoberfest we consider it to be this grand celebration of all that is German beer and brewing. This year they celebrate its 200th Anniversary but you'd be interested to know that the event did not start at involving beer at all. 

The original event took place October 12, 1810 and was a public commemoration of the wedding between Crown Prince Ludwig (eventually becoming King Ludwig I) and his bride Princess Therese (today the grounds which hold Oktoberfest are named Theresienwiese which means field or meadow of Therese). The royal family organized a horse race to celebrate their wedding and bring the people of the Bavaria together. The people enjoyed the festivities so much they made the decision to renew the event the following year. That year the people decided to add an agricultural show to help boost the Bavarian agriculture. The agricultural aspect is still apart of the event however only done every third year. In addition the horse show remained a staple element of Oktoberfest all the up until 1960. The evolution of the event continues even to this day with different traditions coming and going throughout the last 200 years. One of the key traditions is the parade which came about first in 1835 and had been done every year since 1850. The parade is meant to honor the marriage of King Ludwig I and Therese of Bavaria. Nearly 8,000 Bavarians take part in the parade, dressing in traditional costume and walk through the streets of Munich to the Oktoberfest celebration. Near the end of the nineteenth century a complete change occurred giving us more of what we see as Oktoberfest today. Originally there were booths everywhere involving games, dance floors, drinking, and much more. In order to allow more room for people to move around they built the beer halls that can be seen today. 

Various years Oktoberfest was cancelled, either because of war or pandemic. However despite various small set backs, Oktoberfest has lived on and become much more then just a Munich event. Similar to how on Saint Patrick's Day everyone drinks and celebrates everything that is Irish, people from around the world celebrate Oktoberfest and everything that is German. One of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Munich is found in Cincinnati, Ohio called Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati. So large the event is that the mayor of Munich annually decrees the celebrations as the largest outside their own.  


http://www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com/
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