Monthly Archives: April 2011

On this 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War

…let us pause for a moment to consider the true underlying cause of the conflict, which of course is the nefarious Jesuit Order’s ongoing attempt to control the world.

Conspiracy theorist Eric Jon Phelps (whose distinctive views on the American Revolution we’ve noted here before) tackled this very issue in a recent online missive.  Here’s what he had to say:

In VAIII I cover the Jesuit Order’s control of both the North and the South during the “Civil War,” or rather “the War Between the States,” or better yet, “the War of Northern Aggression.”  The Jesuits controlled Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and Robert E. Lee (with their conscious assent).  The Order also controlled Abraham Lincoln and the “Radical Red/Black” Republican Party (although Lincoln underwent a true conversion to Jesus Christ after Gettysburg and then began to oppose his Jesuit masters).  Both ex-priest Charles Chiniquy and General Thomas Harris (a Baptist-Calvinist) missed the Jesuit connection to the North.

I’d always assumed the Vatican had something to do with it, but even I was surprised to hear that both the North and the South were under Jesuit control. As somebody who’s been probed by aliens on no less than three occasions, I guess I should have known better.

Phelps further explains that the Vatican—and I swear I’m not making any of this up—started the slave trade, instigated slave revolts, inspired the abolitionist movement, brought on the War of 1812, engineered the Missouri Compromise, stopped the black colonization movement, split the Democratic party in 1860, sabotaged the Confederates at Gettysburg, stopped Meade’s pursuit of Lee, implemented the Union’s hard war policy, set off the New York draft riots, and masterminded the Fourteenth Amendment.

Those Jesuits got around, didn’t they?

And did you know that Lee and Longstreet deliberately threw the Battle of Gettysburg?  Or that Lee and A. P. Hill conspired to have Stonewall Jackson knocked off?  That right there is the kind of thing your history books will leave out.

Phelps then switches gears, explaining his belief in “white predominance,” which refers to “predominance in intellectual capacities as reflected in culture, the arts, sciences and nations.” Other races, he maintains, have “obviously lower cultures,” and the important thing is that “White raced-peoples must be preserved.”  Accordingly, he urges, “we must observe racial separation as mandated by the Word of God when the Lord created the races to keep mankind separate.”

But he’s quick to point out that he avoids the phrase “white supremacy,” and with good reason. “Since this term conjures up the ideas of the White KKK and the White Nazis,” he states, “I do not use this term.”  See, if he started using terms like “white supremacy,” people might mistake him for some sort of racist kook, instead of the mild-mannered advocate of white intellectual predominance and racial separation that he actually is.

Is the Internet great, or what?

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Filed under Civil War, History on the Web

Most Pennsylvanians don’t want the Gettysburg casino

…according to a recently released poll.  In fact, the numbers are rather dramatic.  I’m starting to think that the whole “meddling, outsider preservationist” canard doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.  Seems like I’ve read that somewhere.

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Filed under Civil War, Historic Preservation

An African-American politician says we should stop bickering and start commemorating

Read all about it.  Here’s a sample:

Ford said senators should get involved in anniversary commemorations to encourage understanding, to prevent misinformation and the spread of hatred.

“If people died, and we’re going to have this celebration, I want everybody in South Carolina to be united on it, to understand each other, to talk to each other,” said the 62-year-old New Orleans native. “Don’t be just mean-spirited. Be willing to talk to your white colleagues. Be willing to talk to your black colleagues. Be willing to go to the schools and talk to students, say, listen, we’ve got to move forward from what you think happened between 1861 and 1865.”

 An NAACP spokesman is calling him a “Confederate apologist.”  I think that’s quite an overstatement, but maybe that’s just me.  Anyway, check out the news story and see what you think.

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Filed under Civil War, History and Memory

Who benefits from state archives? Not just historians

Try as I might, I still can’t manage to suppress my irritation at some of the thick-headed arguments being espoused in favor of slashing the Tennessee State Library and Archives budget.

Last time I quoted one Concerned Citizen who remarked, in response to Mark Cheathem’s pro-TSLA editorial, that he was being asked to pay taxes to support a service that would benefit someone else.  Since this is basically how taxation works, it’s a rather odd argument.  It’s odd also because the fellow is assuming that academic researchers are TSLA’s main—if not sole—constituency.

Here’s a nugget of wisdom from another commenter: “By the way, this article does fail to point out one group that will be dramatically affected by libraries closing: The Homeless. At least in Nashville, they used the library more than anyone else and form a line on Church Street every morning – I guess Homeless people read more than most of us.”  I guess they do, since they’re informed enough to be able to distinguish between TSLA and the regular public library—a distinction that the commenter is apparently unable to make.

Another reader stated that institutions like libraries “are non-critical even if very desirable. They should all be at the front of items to be cut to balance a budget.”  Let me submit to you that archives are more than “very desirable.”  Indeed, preserving and maintaining records has been a function of governments since the days of the first civilizations.  This isn’t a Republican or Democrat thing; this is an obligation to society thing.

It seems that too many of us are simply ignorant of the scale of contributions that institutions like TSLA provide.  So here, for the enlightenment of those who think the state archives exist only for the benefit of researchers and history buffs, is a sampling of some services we Tennesseans enjoy thanks to these folks:

  • TSLA administers the Tennessee Electronic Library, an online collection of hundreds of thousands of reference resources provided free of charge to the state’s schools, libraries, and colleges.  For all these institutions to pay for this service on their own, the cost would be over $90 million annually, but TEL pays $1.5 million per year to provide this material at no cost to the state’s citizens.  TEL users conduct over 30 million online searches every year.
  • TSLA conducts free workshops for Tennesseans who are trying to trace their family history and provides information on preserving family records and materials.
  • TSLA provides a free library service geared specifically toward the blind and visually impaired, providing braille and large print materials to Tennesseans who would not otherwise have access to this reading material.
  • The Archives Development program makes TSLA’s expertise available to smaller repositories throughout the state, ensuring that local and county records are maintained for the benefit of people who live in these communities.
  • TSLA’s Education Outreach program provides teachers and children with access to primary source material for use in the classroom, which is a tremendous enhancement to Tennessee education provided without cost on the part of county or city schools.

I could go on, but the point should be clear.  State archives and library facilities do more than give us history nuts a place to do research.  Schoolkids, teachers, local officials, and the disabled are just a few of the other groups that benefit from these facilities, even if they never set foot in the facilities themselves.

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Filed under Tennessee History

Screwed in the Volunteer State

If you haven’t already, please read fellow blogger Mark Cheathem’s editorial on the budget cuts faced by the Tennessee State Library and Archives.  TSLA is a fine institution, and it deserves better than having its hours and personnel slashed.

Drop a line to the governor and to state legislators so we can let them know that there are quite a few of us out there who think archives are important.  Click here to get in touch with Gov. Haslam, and here to identify and contact your state legislators.

Then, if you’d like to see the kind of attitude that puts archives in a precarious position, take a look at some of the dazzlingly ignorant comments that irate  readers have left on Mark’s op-ed.  A sample: “Again, the taxpayer is being asked to fund a function to benefit the letter writer. It is exactly this type of expectation that has created the situation we are in as a state and country.”

Yup, that’s how it works.  Citizens pay taxes which help fund government services that benefit you, and then you in turn pay taxes to help fund government services which benefit still other citizens.  It’s called “society,” and we’re glad to have you aboard.

That was actually one of the more intelligent comments.  It’s this sort of thing that helps answer my oft-asked question of why we Tennesseans have such amnesia when it comes to our history.

Look, I’m all for fiscal prudence in government.  But maintaining important records and ensuring access to them is simply too important a task to handle in a cavalier, ill-informed fashion.  You can’t have a responsible government without an informed citizenry, and you can’t have an informed citizenry without the services that archives provide.  If sentiments like those quoted above are typical of how little we Tennesseans regard information about who we were and are, then an unbalanced budget is the least of our problems.

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Filed under Tennessee History

Take the Past in the Present April Fool’s Day Challenge

First of all, I’ve been sick for days with no end in sight.  Prescriptions, confinement to bed, Vitamin C, all to no avail.  Not fun.

Second, in the spirit of the current holiday, here’s a short exercise in discernment.  I’m going to give you three increasingly improbable scenarios, all of them somehow relevant to the sort of thing I usually post here.  Your task is to determine which, if any, of them are April Fool’s Day hoaxes that I just made up out of the recesses of my twisted mind.  I’ll give you the correct answers at the end of the post.

Of course, you could just Google these one at a time, but because I have such trust in my adoring faithful, we’ll do this on the honor system.  Besides, there are no prizes other than the smug satisfaction of a job well done, so it’s not like there’s anything at stake.

Ready?  Here goes!

IMPROBABLE SCENARIO #1: The History Channel will premiere a new series this month devoted to the workings of an Alaskan taxidermy shop.  The promotional copy describes it as a sort of Cake Boss with moose carcasses, in which we can witness “the real process of what it takes to preserve natural history–on a deadline, and always for a demanding client.”

IMPROBABLE SCENARIO #2: Until just a few years ago, a Baltimore museum exhibited what was reportedly Abraham Lincoln’s last bowel movement.  It was recovered from a chamber pot at Ford’s Theater and mounted in a frame, along with an old manuscript attesting to its authenticity.  An analysis of its contents revealed traces of Necco Wafers.

IMPROBABLE SCENARIO #3: Past in the Present—the little history blog that could, which you are now reading with your very eyes—has been picked up by a television station to become an educational/travel series.  A camera will follow your intrepid blogger as he travels to various historic sites and interviews the folks who work there about why these places are significant and what visitors can expect to see.  Filming hopefully starts this summer.

So how many of these astronomically unlikely situations are true, and how many are April Fool’s Day hogwash?  I’ll give you some time to mull this over.

Okay, here are the answers.  Try to contain your excitement.

SCENARIO #1: This one is true, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody who’s been watching The History Channel‘s gradual descent into madness.  The show is called Mounted in Alaska, and it premieres in less than a week.

The first time I heard the title, I thought it was about Anchorage cavalry reenactors.  Come to think of it, that would make a pretty good show, too.

SCENARIO #2: Get ready to pick your lower jaw off the floor.  This one is true, too, although the museum in question apparently closed in 2007.  Even the bit about the Necco Wafers is real.  While the artifact undoubtedly existed, Roadside America claims that it wasn’t really Lincoln’s, since Necco Wafers first hit the shelves in 1912.  The manufacturer, however, states that the wafers have been in production since 1847, when Lincoln was in Congress, so maybe it was the genuine article after all.

It would be fun to try to track the provenance of that thing, and even more fun to present the results at a conference.  Any of you researchers out there who’d like to commit career suicide should tackle this one.  Let us know how it goes.

SCENARIO #3: I didn’t make this one up, either.  Today the blogosphere, tomorrow the world.  Fortunately, I’m not the person to blame for all this.

A good friend of mine is a program manager at a TV station owned by the same university where I’m an adjunct.  They do a number of original shows that broadcast throughout northeastern Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky.  For reasons that he’ll probably come to regret later, he decided to pitch the idea of a show similar to the historic site visit reports that I post here from time to time, and his colleagues thought it was a good idea.  We’re planning to do about six episodes, each one built around some similar historical theme or region, where we’ll take viewers on a virtual tour of historically important places.

What’s nifty about all this is that we’re going to try to combine the informative aspects of any history-oriented show with the informal tone and atmosphere of a travel show.  Heritage tourism is really popular, but when travel shows tackle historic sites, they don’t always provide the kind of content that history enthusiasts are after.  We’re going to try to offer history buffs enough meat and potatoes to keep the shows interesting, while following an on-the-road format that will hopefully engage other viewers and motivate them to visit these places for themselves.

Anyway, I’ll provide more information about the show as it develops.  In the meantime, if any readers of the blog have suggestions for places or topics you’d like to see us tackle once we get rolling, feel free to pass them along.  We’ll probably be staying in the southeast for this set of episodes, but if it takes off and we end up doing more, then we might venture farther.

Of course, if I don’t get over this bug, then you can box me up and ship me to those guys in Alaska.  We’ll still do the show, but it’ll be sort of like Weekend at Bernie’s.

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