While I am certainly not an expert on Jewish sacred days, festivals, and special/holy celebrations, one significant event has always captured my imagination: The Year of Jubilee – referred to by some as The Golden Jubilee. It was such a celebration which led President Warren Harding to write a letter to the Union of American Hebrew Congregations in response to their invitation for him to attend the Golden Jubilee Dinner in 1923. This letter was printed in The New York Times, January 25, 1923. While we often quote the phrase “Peace on earth, good will toward men”, few are aware of its roots (Luke 2:14) or its significance and/or relationship to the Year of Jubilee. While President Harding (a non-Jew) was certainly not a popular president, this is one instance where his “good will toward men” was well-received. His letter is as follows:
The best headlines need no commentary. Such is the case with the HERALD EXAMINER–EXTRA, Los Angeles, California, December 15, 1966: “WALT DISNEY DIES“…
Today I traveled to New York City by the way of the New York Tribune (December 7, 1865). The headlines: “The Constitutional Amendment”, “It Is Adopted”, “The Twenty-Seventh State”, “Freemen To Be Protected” were all reporting: “The Constitutional Amendment has passed each branch of the Legislature. The House passed a resolution instructing the Judiciary Committee to report a bill to protect persons of African descent in their persons and property, and also to allow them to testify in cases in which they may be interested.”
This abolished slavery in the United States.
Just because the odds are stacked against us doesn’t mean we shouldn’t move forward. There are times when sticking to our guns is the right choice – regardless of our chances of success. This point was driven home in 1777 when Lord George Germaine presented his reasons why the American colonists had no chance of succeeding with their revolutionary effort before Parliament. If the American rebels had weighed the odds against them as itemized by Lord Germaine, they may have raised the white flag of defeat – and world history would have been forever altered. The full list of his reasons why the Americans would fail were printed in The London Chronicle of May 17, 1777. Thanks to our forefathers, they were driven by principle and not by the odds-makers of the day. Perhaps we should take a page from history and be driven likewise.
Many are quite familiar with President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of October, 1863. However, few have read or heard of his similar proclamation from a few month’s prior which helped build the foundation for his famous October proclamation. The Star of the West, July 25, 1863 contains the text (see images below) of this earlier declaration calling for a day of thanksgiving and prayer – words which are apropos as we prepare (in the U.S.) to celebrate Thanksgiving. Note: We’ve included the text of this famous proclamation below.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State
While reports of the events surrounding the skirmish at Lexington & Concord (1775) are few and far between, due to their undisputed importance, authentic newspapers with first-hand accounts are highly prized. A current archaeological effort in and around the area are sure to only increase public interest. The following article brings to light some of the recent finds:
Authentic newspapers reporting Hawaii Statehood, especially those from Hawaii, have been sought by collectors for decades. The fascination for “all things Hawaii” appears to have no end in sight. It is with this in mind we bring to you the following guest-post from Francisco Meza:
Why Hawaii Became the 50th State
Hawaii, one of the tiniest states and the only one made up entirely of islands, formally became the 50th state in 1959 (August 21, 1959). But Hawaii’s story starts long before 1959. Polynesians, the earliest inhabitants of these islands, settled here over 1,000 years ago. British explorer Captain James Cook, in 1778, named them the Sandwich Islands. Fortunately, this name didn’t stick. Shortly thereafter, American traders made a beeline for Hawaii’s sandalwood. From July 7, 1898, Hawaiian Islands were an organized incorporated territory of the US.
Why did it Take So Long?
The genuinely interesting question about the Hawaiian Islands becoming a state is the reason it took so long. Over sixty years elapsed from the time Hawaii had become a US possession before it became the 50th state. There were several Hawaiian petitions for statehood in the early part of the 20th century. These petitions were either denied or ignored altogether. Some in the US had felt that the Hawaiian Islands had no natural connection with the remainder of the mainland US. Most obviously, Hawaii wasn’t a contiguous territory. It lay 2,000 miles from the US coast.
American Plantation Owners Resented Paying Import Taxes
The clout of the American plantation owners in Hawaii resulted in its annexation in 1898. The protection of the plantations owners’ financial interests played a huge part too. They were keen on gaining exemption from paying import taxes for the sugar that they shipped to the mainland US. The plantation owners also wanted to safeguard their large land holdings from possible confiscation or annexation under a renewed Hawaiian monarchy.
The US Administration and Citizens Didn’t Favor Annexation of Hawaii
The sentiment in the US about the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands was always strong. The people felt it’d be an imperialistic, unjust, and hence, a most un-American move. Hawaii wasn’t only about sugar. It was an important coaling station for naval vessels, as well as, a potential major harbor. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Great Britain, Russia, and Japan had pressured Hawaii for trade concessions.
The Reasons for the Delay
At the time of annexation (1898), the monarchy had been in existence for just about a century. Originally, the monarchy had leveraged the firepower of the European sailors to consolidate power. An element of brutality was involved too. A high percentage of Hawaii’s Caucasian residents had been there for so long that they considered themselves native. Additionally, numerous Chinese, Portuguese, and Japanese immigrants had come to Hawaii as agricultural laborers and settled down permanently.
Polynesian Hawaiians Wanted to Maintain the Status Quo Because They Considered the Sizable Japanese Populace in Hawaii a Threat to Polynesian Prosperity
The six-decade reluctance to alter Hawaii’s status from a US territory to state lay both within the Hawaiian Islands and the US mainland. In the mainland, it concerned the uncertainty and fear about permitting electoral authority to any one ethnic group. It wasn’t merely ethnically Polynesian versus Caucasian.
In the Hawaiian Islands, some ethnically Polynesian Hawaiians didn’t favor the change to a US state from the existing US territory. This is mainly because, although they were comfortable feeling almost “American” as long as Hawaii was a US territory, they were apprehensive that’d change in case Hawaii became a state. After WWII had ended, the occupation of Japan by the Allies fuelled their fears even more. The Polynesian Hawaiians’ fears originated from a belief that the Japanese populace on the Hawaiian Islands (almost as high as 30 percent) would, in the event of universal franchise that statehood authorized, organize and vote itself into leadership. And Polynesian Hawaiians considered that the Japanese ascent to Hawaii leadership would result in an overall Polynesian descent in Hawaii.
Factors that Favored Hawaii Becoming the 50th State
At the instant of the vote to statehood, almost 90 percent of Hawaii’s populace comprised US citizens. The importance of Hawaii in WWII had secured its identity as 100 percent American both in the minds of the mainlanders as well as the Hawaiians. Additionally, persistent and successful lobbying of Congressional representatives in the initial phase of the contemporary Civil Rights Movement swayed enough members of Congress into accepting the Hawaiian statehood. They were prepared to overlook the islands’ racial makeup.
Why Didn’t Guam or America Samoa Become a State Too?
Almost 18 years after the Pearl Harbor attack, Hawaii, considered a distant frontier of American settlement, was declared a US state in 1959. Since the 1820s, European Americans had settled down in Hawaii and established English as a language. Additionally, an American-style legal system had been introduced early on, and the US dollar was the main currency.
In the case of American Samoa, indigenous Samoans make up almost 90 percent of the population. Hence, it’s unlikely that American Samoa will ever become a US state. In the case of Guam, the indigenous Chamorros make up almost 37 percent of the population. The remainder includes Filipinos, Chinese, Whites, Japanese, Micronesians, Vietnamese, Koreans, and Indians. It’s highly unlikely that Guam will become a US state in the near future.
After WWII had ended, Hawaiians themselves desired US statehood. Even during the 14-year intervening period before Hawaii was formally conferred statehood, the “49th State” Record Label was immensely popular in the Hawaiian Islands. Eventually, Alaska became the 49th state at the beginning of 1959. Several months later, Hawaii became the 50th.
If you are ever in Hawaii and want to learn about Hawaiian culture, take a few Hawaii Tours that encompass Oahu and the other islands. You’ll learn see where the Hawaiian battles happened, see the beautiful nature, and stop by Pearl Harbor.
© Francisco Meza
“Newsbooks” from Europe, those small pamphlet-looking periodicals which were the predecessors of today’s newspapers, have always been difficult to find. But rarely have we had a more intriguing issue than one recently added to our inventory, and its the back story which makes it interesting.
Rather than one, we have secured two issues of the “Mecurius Aulicus“newsbook, both of the same date, “The five and thirtieth Weeke” of 1643, one the “regular” Oxford edition, the other the secretly-printed and exceedingly rare London edition.
This newsbook was created because of the English Civil War during the early 1640’s, as a means for the Royalist faction supporting King Charles I to promote their views in Parliament-held London. It was published in Oxford, the stronghold of Charles I at the time. Any person or any publication promoting the cause of Charles I would not have been welcomed in London. It was a short-lived publication which began to lose support from 1644 onward as the Royalist losses on the battlefield continued. This Oxford newsbook found it more & more difficult to obtain current news and issues became badly delayed. It finally ceased publication in 1645.
But an intriguing article in Wikipedia adds an interesting tidbit to the history of this publication: “…The Mercurius Aulicus was printed in Oxford, which was at this time the Royalist capital…then smuggled into London where it was sold by local women, often at heavily inflated prices. It was also reprinted on occasion–albeit not necessarily accurately–by local sympathizers in London…”.
So as we see, there was also a secretly-printed edition done in London, with print runs which had to be exceedingly low. On the rare occasion we have had the opportunity to offer an issue of the Mercurius Aulicus it has always been the Oxford edition. Never have we seen a London edition. Until now.
The photos show the complete text of not only the “regular” Oxford edition but the very rare London edition as well. Comparing the two gives evidence to some subtle differences between them (embellishment at top of front page is different; heading type sizes are different; embellished first letter of ftpg. is different; dated headings on inside pages are different, etc.) Although I am struck but the considerable similarity between the two issues given they were printed on different presses in different cities, put side-by-side several differences are very evident.
Not only is this London edition very rare, but we were fortunate enough to secure the Oxford edition of the same date as well. If ever a pair of same-date newsbooks deserve to be kept together, here it is. A fascinating pair from an intriguing period in British history—and in newspaper history as well.
Collecting World War II era newspapers covering significant events continues to be popular among collectors, even though the number of WWII veterans continues to decline. Authentic issues of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporting the Pearl Harbor tragedy certainly stand above them all. It is with this in mind we are pleased to post the following article compliments of Francisco Mesa.
The Last Surviving Veterans Who Served at Pearl Harbor
As the years roll by, the list of surviving US veterans of WWII who served at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese Navy attacked the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet inevitably becomes shorter. And with the Pearl Harbor survivors well past their late 80s and some passing even the ripe-old century mark, their numbers are dwindling rapidly all over the US. Last year, just about 2,000 survivors were thought to be around, still.
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
On December 7, 2014, the US President Barrack Obama designated December 7 as the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Four veterans of the remaining 9 USS Arizona survivors gathered at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center on December 7, 2014, for a meeting of USS Arizona survivors. The veterans were greeted by music and military salutes from the US Navy Band. Later, they viewed a live feed of an underwater dive beside USS Arizona’s sunken hull that still holds over 900 bodies. For the veterans, each return to Pearl Harbor brings back intense and, sometimes, painful memories.
USS Arizona Reunion Association’s Last Gathering at Hawaii
Although it was the last formal survivor gathering of the erstwhile USS Arizona Reunion Association at Hawaii, the veterans said they still intend to get together—if not in Hawaii, somewhere in the US. Louis Conter, 93, felt he still had some time, and he’d come back to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center regardless of who else makes it.
Donald Stratton, USS Arizona Survivor
Donald Stratton, 92, of Colorado is another USS Arizona survivor. Don Stratton had been manning the Anti-Aircraft gun batteries. He remained at his battle station on the ship’s port side until the last possible moment. He endured 65 percent burns and a one-year hospitalization. Stratton was medically discharged from the US Navy but re-enlisted a year later. He said that the good Lord saved a precious few from the USS Arizona.
John Anderson, USS Arizona Survivor
John Anderson, 97, was ordered off the USS Arizona, but he wasn’t willing to leave behind his twin brother, Delbert. Although Anderson was forced into a boat and packed off to the safer Ford Island, he returned in an empty boat and rescued three shipmates. Sadly, he didn’t find his brother. Anderson recalled that he had just attended church services that day and had been heading to breakfast when someone warned that the Japanese planes were coming.
Anderson Recalls the Harrowing Experience
Anderson remembers lying in a bomb-blast crater on Ford Island after the surprise attack. He had picked up a rifle and two bandoliers of ammunition and started firing at Japanese aircraft. Anderson had hunkered there through that night with another sailor. In the morning, a passing Marine patrol informed him that survivors of the USS Arizona had to gather at the dock nearby to facilitate a head count. Anderson remembers everyone he saw having rags around their heads. He clearly recalls bandages covered their arms and their skin had been scorched, and their hair had been burned off.
Lauren Bruner, USS Arizona Survivor
Lauren Bruner, 94, had been alongside Don Stratton manning his battle station. There were four others as well. Bruner had escaped from the fiery, sinking battleship by shimmying across a rope that dangled 60 feet above Pearl Harbor’s waters. Bruner had been standing just 70 feet from the spot the torpedo bomb had exploded at the USS Arizona’s forward magazine. He suffered almost 75 percent burns. But that didn’t deter him. Bruner and his comrades were intent on fighting back. There was only one thing that hampered them … they just had to survive the next few moments. So, after catching the attention of one sailor aboard the warship moored alongside their own, a rope stretching almost 100 feet was thrown across.
The Sailors’ Great Escape from the Burning USS Arizona
All the 6 men made the painful—all of them had suffered serious burns—hand-over-hand escape. They had dangled 60 feet in the air as huge flames rising from the oily harbor had burned their skin even more. Bruner had been the second last to leave USS Arizona. Alvin Dvorak, the last one to escape over the rope, had been the one that caught the attention of the sailor on the USS Vestal. Unfortunately, Dvorak succumbed after spending 17 days in the hospital. He had suffered 84 percent burns. Lauren Bruner considers Alvin Dvorak to be the true hero of their great escape. Bruner spent the next seven months in the hospital and returned to the Pacific theater.
Although the survivors of Pearl Harbor are in their early or mid 90s, they can recall the Japanese sneak attack vividly. Many of the survivors fondly hope to live long enough to attend the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor strike in Hawaii on December 7, 2016.
If you are ever visit Hawaii, there are several Pearl Harbor tours that range from just a couple hours to a full day. There are still droplets of oil coming out of the sunken battleship USS Arizona. Also, there are hundreds of people still entombed within the sunken battleship. It is said that the droplets of oil represent the crying of the fallen men and women. And when the droplets of oil stop, the crying will stop.
© Francisco Meza
At Rare Newspapers, the most difficult to answer yet common question our staff is frequently challenged to answer is, “Do you having anything new to offer that’s interesting?” While some newspapers would certainly rise to the top of the heap and make the answer a no-brainer (Lincoln assassination, Declaration of Independence, an Oxford Gazette, a great Stock Market crash report, etc.), these issues are few and far between – and do not come along very often. What about the periods when no “best of the best” has come our way? Selecting great issues is often quite subjective – and ends up being heavily influenced by one’s own interests and knowledge base. This truth makes answering this question nearly impossible. However, just for fun, from time to time we’ll ask the Rare & Early Newspapers’ staff to take turns looking at the issues listed month-to-date to select their choice for the most interesting new item.
I’ll get things started by taking a look at September (to-date), 2015. In my opinion, there are several good issues to choose from: The New York Yankees acquire Joe DiMaggio, the very 1st King Kong advertisement, the announcing of the creation of a Jewish homeland, the execution of the Rosenbergs, and the death of William Randolph Hurst – to name a few. However, as a graduate of Penn State University, my selection of the month is an issue announcing Joe Paterno becoming a starter at Brown University. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I’m confident my selection may not be the same as yours. You can weigh in on your own thoughts by looking at the first page of our Recent Listings. Enjoy.
Next stop: October, 2015.