A cool little blurb in today’s NYT about Uncle Sam’s origins. First referenced in a newspaper on this date in 1813, his image first appeared in political cartoons in the 1860s, and the indelible US Army image appeared in World War 1.
On Father’s Day, so many people post tributes to their dad on Father’s Day. How awful it would be to have to do that for Donald Trump. It might look something like this:
I am very proud of my dad. He was born to a wealthy father, then took that money and nearly lost it all, but was able to declare bankruptcy and screw a lot of small business owners to salvage the family fortune. He was able to join a fledgling and exciting football league known as the USFL, and basically ran it into the ground by insisting it compete directly with the NFL – his fellow owners still resent him over the league disintegration. He is mocked relentlessly for his hairstyle, frumpy suits and small hands. Recently, he ran a successful presidential campaign where he called some women ugly, talked about grabbing women’s vaginas, made fun of the press that is so important in democracy that it is the very first amendment, then when was elected people were so distraught they protested in the streets. He is an inspiration to white supremists and extremists, has historically low approval ratings just a few months into office, and will all likelihood go down as one of the 4 worst presidents in US history, provided the US is still around in 2020 given China, North Korea and Russia’s ambitions. Needless to say, I am very proud of my dad, a very honorable and successful man. Sincerely: Donnie.
Ugh. How awful that would be :(. And this is not even remotely meant to be a humorous post…
- At one point, 1 in 7 Americans (14%) was a slave.
- 4 slaves out of 100 survived until age 60.
With the world in general and the US in particular going somewhat crazy (something that started gradually decades ago and is accelerating now), I was curious about Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was written during troubled and racist times like these…
The seeds for the novel were planted during the 1830s and 1840s when she heard tales about slavery, then blossomed after the fugitive slave acts were passed in 1850. She based the novel on tales and a few writings by runaway slaves, and sold it as a serialized novel for $600 (not a tiny sum in 1850). It was a success, and published as a novel that was also a phenomenal and immediate success – in the North, the average person could picture slavery beyond the speeches, and in the South Stowe was called slanderous and a liar, but both northerners and southerners read her book, and it was published in virtually every language across the world. Like Common Sense in 1776, Uncle Tom’s Cabin’s influence in the right time and right place is hard to overstate. Stowe became a celebrity, and moved after The Civil War to Florida, where in her old age she likely suffered from Alzheimer’s before dying in 1895(?).
I’m very interested in reading this book! I’ve reserved the audiobook from the library. There are several people who’ve reserved the book before me (i.e. there is a wait list), which is wonderful!
I’ve seen references lately that Rome suffered through a leader like Trump (Caligula), survived him and had several more centuries of power. Some thoughts about that:
- The world moved slower then. Empires lasted longer because the world moved at a slower pace before powered engines, flight and instant communication. So a few centuries then is a much shorter time frame than now.
- Rome did not “survive” Caligula — they assassinated him. Not saying we should assassinate anyone, but the Romans took matters into their own hands (i.e. Acted rather than waited).
- Rome was facing challenges, but not the same as today I dont’ think. They did not have a powerful China, an antagonist in Russia and small states with nuclear missiles to contend with. I feel like these are much more dangerous/lethal times for the US, than Rome was facing with Caligula. Stakes are higher — and more instantaneous — for us at this moment than Rome faced in 1st Century AD/CE.
It’s scary to think where the world might be today with Trump in office at the times that Abe Lincoln, FDR, Ike and JFK had to navigate scary times.
Anyway, my two cents.
Before the increased use of slaves (beginning in 1617 and increasing after decreased slave rights in the 1640s), indentured servants provided cheap labor for land owner in the American colonies. The first recorded Indentured servant was in 1609 in Jamestown. Despite harsh treatment during their term (sometimes over 7 years), people enrolled to escape the poverty caused by The Thirty Years war.
In the first closely contested and bitter election, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied for the presidency. This led to changes in our future election process and almost resulted in an Aaron Burr presidency.
I tolerated history in junior high school and high school, with the exception of my fall 9th grade year where I had a very prepared teacher who I thrived under. But otherwise, I was generally a B and C history student. This is unfortunate, because now that I am an adult I realize that I find history fascinating and spend a lot of time reading about it. I am starting to document what I know about history (not much :)) so I don’t forget it and can review it. Plus, I just like to “write” (i.e. type) stuff down.
The Canadian is in my garden again…
I woke up in the morning, went downstairs to grab my cup of coffee, and saw him once again shoveling in my garden.
I forgot about my coffee, immediately stormed out into my porch and was starting to shout when something caught my eye, and I stopped.
It wasn’t just Joseph this morning.
There were tents all across the neighborhood. Cars were parked on my neighbors’ lawns, and there were so many campfires that a smoky haze had settled over the street. “What the heck…” I said to no one in particular. I could feel that my mouth was hanging open. I didn’t care. I was too stunned.
There were men — Canadians, presumably — all over the place.
Several were digging holes, one was hoeing, and one was hacking at the Johnsons’ tree. One was even building a small house in the (appropriately) Woodsen’s backyard. I looked at Joseph, my utter surprise surely written across my face. He had a satisfied — smug — expression on his face. “I told you,” he said. “This is my land. And this (he waved out at the entire neighborhood– is all of our (he motioned to all the men and tents) land.” After a moment, he added, “And we are from Canada.”
“Holy heck,” I said under my breath, looking all around me. I didn’t know how to respond. What was happening? It seemed like another hallucination. But it wasn’t. What does one do when something so outrageous as this happens in a civilized city? I’ll just call the police, I thought.
Already my neighbors were appearing on their porches. The Crosbys stood in stunned disbelief. Mr. Johnson raced to protect his tree. Suddenly, Woodsen, an older gentleman — a Vietnam vet and a notorious hothead — emerged with a gun. “Get off my property!” he hollered, and when no one moved he leveled the gun and shot the Canadian building the house.
Before the echo of the gun had died away, all chaos broke loose.
The wounded Canadian screaming in pain, neighbors chasing after the Canadians, some Canadians racing to the aid of their friend while others ran for safety. One of the Canadians hurled a shovel, which narrowly missed both the Crosbys.
It was mayhem.
But soon the Canadians were climbing in their cars. The sound of many cars roared to life, the cars all pulled into gear at once as though on queue, and soon after there was a louder roar as the Canadians raced to safety.
As the last of the cars turned onto the street and drove away, we all whooped for joy at once. We’d chased off the Canadians! But then the joy settled into bemusement and even perhaps a little fear.
Wait a minute, we all seemed to think at once. What was happening? Why were Canadians treating our neighborhood like a campground? Would they come back?
Clearly my incident with Joseph had not been an isolated event by a wigged out Canadian. Something more was at work here. But what?
Copyright 2017, all rights reserved.
Any man who is born a slave, learns to read (“illegally”), fights against his owners and will not let even the whip dampen his spirit, who flees then becomes a major voice in Abolition, is someone I admire very much. On this Martin Luther King Day, I am also thinking of Frederick Douglas, one of my great heroes of all time. Hopefully MLK does not mind my thinking of Douglas this day 🙂