A Hero Lost. . . Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr…

January 20, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

At times, even with original documents in hand, history can be a bit perplexing or a bit cloudy. Hindsight is often not as 20/20 as one might think.  However, some are heroes in nearly everyone’s book. Celebrated by the historical record itself, their earthly departure leaves a hole which will likely never be filled. The April 5, 1968 ARIZONA REPUBLIC heralded such a loss. May our honoring of his life keep his dream alive.

Under the Radar (June, 1921 Edition) – “Abe, The Newsboy”…

January 10, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Who in the world is “Abe, New Newsboy”?

While reading an original issue of The Day, New London, CT, for June 4, 1921, I came across an interesting article about someone I did not recognize: Abraham Hollandersky, who had just received a letter from Teddy Roosevelt – the text of which was included in the issue. Rather than spoil the fun, you can read more about this interesting individual here. Enjoy.

Fascinating Conspiracies (Episode 3)… Coup d’état

January 3, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

The following may feel a bit 3rd-Worldish, however, we have had our own attempted coup d’état right here in the USA … and not so long ago – as reported in the Omaha Bee, November 21, 1934.

“The Business Plot (also called the Wall Street Putsch and The White House Putsch) was a political conspiracy in 1933 in the United States to overthrow the government of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and install a dictator. Retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler asserted that wealthy businessmen were plotting to create a fascist veterans’ organization with Butler as its leader and use it in a coup d’état to overthrow Roosevelt. In 1934, Butler testified under oath before the United States House of Representatives Special Committee on Un-American Activities (the “McCormack–Dickstein Committee”) on these revelations. Although no one was prosecuted, the Congressional committee final report said, “there is no question that these attempts were discussed, were planned, and might have been placed in execution when and if the financial backers deemed it expedient.”

Early in the committee’s gathering of testimony most major news media dismissed the plot, with a New York Times editorial falsely characterizing it as a “gigantic hoax”. Reporting changed when the final report was issued.

While historians have questioned whether or not a coup was actually close to execution, most agree that some sort of “wild scheme” was contemplated and discussed” (Wiki)

Best Christmas gifts ever – 1776 edition…

December 24, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

I’m sure we have all received Christmas gifts we will never forget.  For Mary and Joseph, many can guess what theirs would have been.  I know, Christ didn’t really come on Christmas (that is, on December 25th), however, for many of us, since that sacred night, we do think of Him as the best Christmas gift of all. Ironically my only son was born on Christmas day, and coincidently (or perhaps not), although his name (Joshua) was chosen months before his birth, his name is the Hebrew version of Jesus. What an amazing Christmas gift he was (and continues to be) for those who know him.

Today, as I was scanning through Christmas-themed newspapers, an event caught my eye which I would also classify as one of the top 5 Christmas gifts of all time – at least for those residing in America.  On March 27, 1777, THE LONDON CHRONICLE printed a report of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware on Christmas Day, 1776, and the ensuing surprise attack upon the British & Hessian garrison on the banks of Trenton, New Jersey. Washington took almost 1000 prisoners while suffering only 6 casualties. This victory was a major morale booster for the revolutionary cause and began a string of American successes against the British which would culminate with the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown and the signing of a treaty of peace shortly thereafter.  Truth, Justice and the American Way…  Merry Christmas to all!!!

 

 

Where History Comes Alive (Part 2)… Gettysburg…

December 13, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

The Battle of Gettysburg, occurring roughly at the midpoint of America’s Civil War, was both the deadliest battle and the turning point of the war.  An interested historian can traverse this soil where American struggled against American to uphold their way of life and protect their convictions and experience the humbling and somber journey which befalls those who explore first-hand the sacred ground which helped define the America we experience today.  In the past, when I have personally been blessed to walk upon the sacred soil where so many gave their lives, I could almost hear Abraham Lincoln’s clear and determined voice echo over the valleys: “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...“.

As moving as this trek is, coupling the venture with actual accounts of the day gives a deeper insight of this nation-shaping event.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit Gettysburg, it will be more than worth your while. However, before you set out on this adventure, you may want to peruse some of the contemporaneous reporting found within the authentic newspapers of the day. After all, it has been said: “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.

The Village Voice, U2, Hitler – The sky is falling!

December 10, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Many children of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s grew up with the threat of nuclear war hanging over their heads. From “Dr. Strangelove” to “The Day After” – the annual death-march of dystopian movies capsulized the vague dread that everything could end at any moment; or worse still, that the end could begin at any moment — with all of the indeterminate, lingering fallout and devastation. Discussions took place about whether it would be better to live close to a big city that was bound to be a target and promised immediate annihilation, or further out where radiation sickness might destroy. It was a gruesome topic made more appalling by resigned acceptance.

The pop culture of that era seemed to feed one of two perspectives:  distraction or depth. Such publications as The Village Voice articulated both positions. The May 24, 1983 review of U2’s album “Peace with Honor”, contains an editorial observation that has very little to do with the music.

“Though I was born one week after the atomic bomb was dropped on people, I have always expected to live out my appointed days.  But recently it’s been evident that large numbers of teenagers, adolescents, even children now fully expect that their appointments will be cancelled by person or persons unknown, so a vast, anti-militarist ground swell isn’t much of a surprise.”

Note: To add to the uneasiness of the era, a few pages earlier The Voice included an article highlighting the life of Adolf Hitler.

Whether or not you agree with the distinct bias of The Voice, it certainly holds an important value as being an accurate representation of the angst of the generation — and it did so for a few generations.

Nostalgia inspired by a Great Storyteller…

December 6, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

The other day I read a quote by someone who asked, “Is it wrong to be nostalgic for a time before you were born?” I may have actually whispered “Hmmm” to myself as I pondered the question. The truth is, when you are surrounded daily by newspapers which tell of events from years long before you were born, one finds oneself bouncing back and forth between a sense of nostalgia and relief – pining after a day when life was a bit slower and less complicated, and moments later being thankful for not having lived through some of the greatest horrors humanity has endured.

Today the scale tipped to nostalgia as I was scanning an issue of The Christian Science Monitor for March 29, 1909 and came across an article featuring an author who’s children’s stories brought me as much delight as a child as they did children of his day. Joel Chandler Harris had the gift of story telling and teaching important lessons to his readers of all ages. Sometimes a sense of nostalgia can reach back decades or even centuries.

The 1st Amendment – from 1789 to 1961 to…?

November 29, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

On January 8, 1789, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to Richard Price, a Welsh moral philosopher, Nonconformist minister and mathematician. In his letter he expressed the following, “Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.” This belief that the American people, when well informed, were capable of identifying right and choosing it, sits as the core of the 1st Amendment foundation of free speech and freedom of the press.

Flash forward  to a spring day in April 1961 when the current American president, John F Kennedy, spoke to The American Newspaper Publishers Association. Hear, in his closing words as printed in The New York Times for April 28, 1961, the same reverence for the right of the American people to know the facts as was voiced by his predecessor over a century and a half before:

“It is the unprecedented nature of this challenge that also gives rise to your second obligation–an obligation which I share. And that is our obligation to inform and alert the American people–to make certain that they possess all the facts that they need, and understand them as well–the perils, the prospects, the purposes of our program and the choices that we face.

No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.”

As a lover of history, especially as it is chronicled within the pages of newspapers, I am always thankful our founders understood how necessary freedom of speech and a free press are to maintaining a free republic. It is encouraging to see our government voice a passion in support of this pillar of Democracy for nearly 200 years.  Hopefully We The People will not be silenced and will not permit this inalienable right to be gutted.

Louisa May Alcott – a sad, but poetic death…

November 22, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Today I found a gem as I was sorting through some volumes from the late 19th century.  While this one might not have broad appeal, it was the highlight of my archive adventures.  Within The Woman’s Journal dated March 10, 1888  is following editorial note by Lucy Stone:

To the editors of the WOMAN’s JOURNAL the death of Miss Alcott comes with a sense of personal bereavement.  From the beginning she was a steadfast friend of the suffrage cause.  She was always ready to serve it.  Her cordial endorsement of it in many letters sent to be read at suffrage conventions, her repeated reaffirmation of her increasing conviction of the need of woman suffrage has been again and again like a tower of strength, or like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.  Millions of people on both sides of the ocean, whose lives her pen has enriched and made better, will hear with pain and sorrow of her untimely death.

From her home state newspaper, to which she was a regular subscriber, the details of her life and sudden departure from it are particularly poignant: “It is difficult, within the limits of an obituary notice, to do justice to a genius so rare and a character so lovely,”  writes one contributor.  However, the anecdotes and details that fill the paper  attempt to do just that as they chronicle her life, her career, and the many efforts to enrich the lives of those around her.  The author of Little Women, Little Men, Eight Cousins and so many other popular titles, became sick while visiting her father, Amos Bronson Alcott — the Transcendentalist teacher, writer, woman’s suffrage advocate and philosopher.  To him, while a mere breath removed from her last, Louisa wrote,  “Surely dear father some good angel or elf dropped a talisman in your cradle that gave you force to walk thro life in quiet sunshine while others groped in the dark…”.

Sadly, it was on the morning of his funeral that she passed away.  Following the obituary for her father, the three-column tribute to the beloved author begins with a statement that is heart wrenching in its simplicity.

“Louisa May Alcott is no more.”

Fascinating Conspiracies (Episode 2) – Secret Societies in the 18th century…

November 15, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

I have a dear friend who, while attending Penn State in the late 70’s, became intrigued with The Illuminati and spent countless hours in the library pouring over microfiche of old newspapers for insight into this Secret Society which made it’s way from Europe to the Colonies during America’s founding years.  Fast forward 40 years…

Now I spend my days surrounded by old newspapers… probably some of the very same titles and dates my friend was digging through (albeit electronically), so it should come as no surprise the following snippet in an issue of THE GENTLEMAN’S MAGAZINE for February, 1798 caught my attention (see below).  A quick mention to my friend is certainly in order and perhaps a bit more perusing of other issues on Secret Societies.

Next Page »