The Army Air Corps Song (Wild Blue Yonder)

Something for the weekend.  Bing Crosby singing the Army Air Corp Song. (more…)

Published in: on April 30, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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Lincoln and the Mexican War

Like many anti-slavery Northerners, Abraham Lincoln opposed the Mexican War which he view as unnecessary and a scheme to gain land for the introduction of new slave states into the Union.  He served his one and only term in Congress during the Mexican War, and his opposition to the Mexican War was probably the most salient feature of his tenure.  It should be noted that while objecting to the justice of the Mexican War, Lincoln voted for funds to carry out the war, and for land grants for veterans of that conflict.  The opposition of Lincoln to the war was signalized by his “Spot Resolutions” where he attempted to show that the war began on territory between Mexico and Texas that was occupied almost exclusively by Mexicans.  The “Spot Resolutions” were ignored in Congress and never debated.  The war was wildly popular in Illinois and Democrats attempted to make political hay out of Lincoln’s opposition, and referred to him as “Spotty Lincoln”.  Lincoln suffered no lasting political harm due to his opposition to the Mexican War, although opponents of the Civil War would often ironically cite Lincoln’s opposition to the Mexican War.  Here is a speech Lincoln gave in Congress on January 14, 1848 against the Mexican War: (more…)

Published in: on April 29, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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Will Success Spoil Jeff Davis?

 

I was four years old when the Civil War centennial began and eight years old when I ended, but even I recall what a big hoopla it all was.  In the midst of it all, Thomas Lawrence Connolley, who would become the foremost historian of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, brought out a book in 1963 entitled Will Success Spoil Jeff Davis?, a satirical look at the often over the top aspects of the centennial observations.  The book is a howlingly funny look at Civil War mania and still is relevant today.  Here is a tiny sample:

The easiest way to publish something on the War is to submit an article to a historical journal. Better still, start your own journal. There are some two thousand in print and, judging by the tone of the articles, many of them are in need of material. Journal writing has its advantages. If he cannot write good prose, the writer can bury himself in footnotes. The footnote is a clever device, designed to confuse the general reader and absolve the author of any lawsuits. For example, consider a typical footnote to the statement “General Crumbley was a bastard.” 34

34. Ibid, see also, Cornstalk, Bastards in Gray, loc. sic.* op. sit., loc. site, sob. Many maintain that General Crumbley was not a bastard. See Thirty Years  View by Mrs. Crumbley, op. sit., sic. hoc. Major Kumpley maintained that the General may have been a bastard but that he was indeed
a “magnificent old bastard at that/* See diary of Isaac Bumpley, Moose University Archives, XXCI, pt, 2, Sept. 21, 1863. In addition to being a bastard, the General was also a Mason. See diary of Cornelius Kraut, 1st Wisconsin Infantry, SWMVHR (XXI, Je. 45).

(more…)

Published in: on April 28, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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April 27, 1861: Proclamation of Blockade

At the outset of the war, on April 19, 1861 President Lincoln proclaimed a blockage of the Confederate coast.  On April 27 the states of North Carolina and Virginia were added to the list of states subject to a Union blockade.  Widely derided at the time as a “paper blockade” by the end of the War the blockade would become a decisive weapon of the Union, denying the Confederates much needed munitions and supplies.  The text of the blockade proclamations: (more…)

Published in: on April 27, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  

Abe Lincoln in Illinois: Lincoln-Douglas Debate

The film Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940) has perhaps the best recreation of the Lincoln-Douglas debates ever put on film.  The debate portrayed has remarks culled from all the debates,  is an excellent recreation of the main arguments made by each of the men, and is evocative of their speaking styles.

Ironically neither of the actors portraying Lincoln and Douglas were Americans.  The actor portraying Douglas was Gene Lockhart, a Canadian.  If his voice sounds vaguely familiar to you, it is probably because you recall him as the judge in Miracle on 34th Street.  His daughter June Lockhart, of Lassie and Lost in Space fame, carried on the thespian tradition of the family.

Lincoln was portrayed by Raymond Massey, also a Canadian.  Massey was one of the great actors of his day and bore a strong physical resemblance to Lincoln.  Massey served in the Canadian Army in both World War I and World War II, becoming a naturalized American citizen after World War II.  Like Lincoln he was a Republican and made a TV ad for Goldwater in the 1964 campaign.

  Here is a transcript from the film script of the debate: (more…)

Published in: on April 26, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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April 25, 1861: Stephen A. Douglas: “Protect the Flag”

Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, the great antagonist of Abraham Lincoln, gave many eloquent speeches in his career, but the finest one he delivered was at the end of that career on April 25, 1861 to a joint session of the General Assembly of the State of Illinois.  In broken health, his coming death on June 3, 1861 already foreshadowed, he summoned the energy to help save his country.  Always first and foremost a patriot, Douglas was intent on rallying members of his party to the cause of the Union.  After one of the most vitriolic presidential contents in the history of the nation, it was an open question as to whether most members of the Party of Jackson would stand in support of the efforts of the Lincoln Administration to fight to preserve the Union.  Douglas, putting country above party, helped ensure that they would.

Immediately after the election of Lincoln he made it clear that he would make every effort in his power to fight against secession.  At the inaugural speech of Lincoln, he held the new President’s hat, giving a strong symbol of his support.  Illinois was a key state for the Union in the upcoming conflict.  Pro-Southern sentiment was strong among Illinois Democrats in the southern portion of the State, with even some talk that “Little Egypt”, as the extreme southern tip of Illinois is called, should secede from the rest of the state and join the Confederacy.  To rally his supporters for the Union, and at the request of President Lincoln, Douglas returned to Illinois and on April 25, 1861 had his finest hour. 

The speech he delivered that day has gone down in Illinois history as the “Protect the Flag” speech.  It was received by both Republicans and Democrats with thunderous applause and cheers throughout.  Although there would be much dissension in Illinois during the War, Douglas helped ensure that Illinois would be in the forefront of the war effort, with its quarter of a million troops,  among whom was Ulysses S. Grant, who would ultimately fight under the Stars and Stripes being absolutely crucial to Union victory.

Here is the speech, interspersed with comments by me: (more…)

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Christus Victor

Thou art holy, Lord God, who alone workest wonders. Thou art strong. Thou art great. Thou art most high. Thou art the Almighty King, Thou, holy Father, King of heaven and earth. Thou art the Lord God Triune and One; all good. Thou art good, all good, highest good, Lord God living and true. Thou art charity, love. Thou art wisdom. Thou art humility. Thou art patience. Thou art security. Thou art quietude. Thou art joy and gladness. Thou art justice and temperance. Thou art all riches to sufficiency. Thou art beauty. Thou art meekness. Thou art protector. Thou art guardian and defender. Thou art strength. Thou art refreshment. Thou art our hope. Thou art our faith. Thou art our great sweetness. Thou art our eternal life, great and admirable Lord, God Almighty, merciful Saviour.

                                                              Saint Francis of Assisi

Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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O Sacred Head Now Wounded

Something for the weekend.  O Sacred Head Now Wounded.  The hymn derives from a poem written by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in the twelfth century.  Lutheran hymnist Paul Gerhardt wrote a hymn on it in the seventeenth century.  In the 19th century the hymn was translated by American presbyterian minister James Waddel Alexander and has remained a favorite hymn in America ever since.

Published in: on April 23, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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Report to the Emperor-First Draft

 

 (I post this each year on Good Friday at The American Catholic and I thought that our Almost Chosen People readers might find it of interest.)

I thank you Marcus for taking on the onerous task of acting as my secretary, in addition to your regular duties as my aide, in regard to this portion of the report.  The Greek, Aristides, is competent, and like most Greek secretaries his Latin is quite graceful, but also like most Greek secretaries he does not know when to keep his mouth shut.  I want him kept away from this work, and I want you to observe the strictest security.  Caiaphas was playing a nefarious game, and I do not think we are out of the woods yet.  I do not want his spies finding out what I am telling the Imperator and Caiaphas altering the tales his agents are now, no doubt, spreading in Rome.  Let us take the Jew by surprise for once! (more…)

Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Screen Pilates: Rod Steiger

(I originally posted this at The American Catholic blog, and I thought that during Holy Week our readers at Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)

The figure of Pontius Pilate has always intrigued me. The fifth Prefect of Judaea, Pilate looms large in the Gospels. His name Pilate indicates that his family was of Samnite orgin. Pilate is mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus as having condemned Jesus. In 1961 a block of limestone was discoved at the site of Caesarea Maritima, the Roman capitol of Judaea, bearing an inscription of Pilate dedicating a Roman theater there. That is almost all we know about Pilate outside of the Gospels, Josephus and Philo. Pilate today would be forgotten, instead of being the best known Roman who ever lived, but for his role in sentencing Jesus.

This is the start of a series examining how Pilate has been presented in films. First up is Rod Steiger, the method actor to end all method actors, and a character actor who achieved stardom with intense, some would say frequently over the top, performances. Steiger gives an interesting portrayal of Pilate in the superb Jesus of Nazareth (1977). Overworked and tired, with a bad temper on edge, he is forced to judge Jesus, and clearly finds the dispute between Him and the Sanhedrin to be completely incomprehensible. His queries to Jesus, “Who are you? What are you?”, sum up how mysterious this business is to him, and echoes the query of Jesus to his Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?”

Ultimately Pilate condemns Jesus and this sequence may be viewed here. To forestall a riot, Pilate sentences Jesus to be crucified. Pilate still obviously finds Jesus to be utterly mysterious. His wondering who is the real threat to Rome, Barabbas or Jesus, before he passes sentence on Jesus as the mob howls for him to free Barabbas, indicates that he understands at some level that this is all very important, but he simply cannot fathom why. Steiger portrays Pilate as world weary and baffled by his encounter with this strange Galilean. (more…)

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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