Henry V, Shakespeare and Just War

(Off topic.  I originally posted this on The American Catholic, and I thought our Almost Chosen People readers would enjoy it.)

In the comments to  my post last week, Henry V Times Four, which may be viewed here, and which had four versions of the immortal “band of brothers” speech, commenter Centinel posed a very interesting question to me:

Mr. McClarey,

I’ve come to respect your knowledge of history and your insights. I just wanted to get your honest opinion on oneissue. As I understand it, Catholic doctrine would say that wars of aggression are not justified (most of the time). Though I enjoy Shakespeare’s plays, it bothers me that Henry V was fighting a war of aggression – hence, an unjust war.

From Henry V’s point of view, the war was about his (legitimate?) claim to the French throne. But from the point of view of the French peasantry, whichever dynasty sat on the French thronedid not really make any difference in their lives. They were merely caught in the middle; the longer the war lasted, the greater the collateral damage to French civilians. Besides, Henry V already had the Kingdom of England. Hence, it was just pure greed driving Henry V to claim the French throne.

I would appreciate your opinion on this.

My response:

Centinel thank you for very kind words and for inspiring a forthcoming post! The more I thought about your question the more complicated my answer became and only a post length reply, which I will attempt to do in the next week, will do it justice. The short answer is that Henry V, by the just war analysis of his day, had a defensible claim to be fighting a just war, while under the just war analysis of our day his war would be unjust. However, there is much more to say than that, and I will attempt to do this intriguing question justice in my forthcoming post.

In answering the question we must first examine how the formulation of the Just War doctrine has changed from the time of Henry V to our time. (more…)

Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Aztec Club of 1847

If it were better known, conspiracy theorists would have a field day with the Aztec Club of 1847.  At the conclusion of hostilities in the Mexican War, bored US officers in Mexico City founded on October 13, 1847 the Aztec Club, a military society open to membership by regular and volunteer officers who served in the Mexican War.  Among its members were Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. (more…)

Published in: on March 30, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Aztec Club of 1847  
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Carl Sandburg and Frank Lloyd Wright on What’s My Line

A follow up to my post here.  Carl Sandburg appears in the video above on What’s My Line and Frank Lloyd Wright appears on the same show in the video below.  Note how Carl Sandburg disguised his very distinctive voice.  One can only look at these episodes and weep for the decline in the quality of television, and our society, in the past half century. (more…)

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Carl Sandburg and Frank Lloyd Wright on What’s My Line  
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Frank Lloyd Wright, Carl Sandburg and Thomas Jefferson

Oh the gems that can be found on Youtube!  From 1957, two legends discussing a third.  Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the greatest American architects of the 19th and 20th centuries, and Carl Sandburg, poet and Lincoln biographer, talking about Thomas Jefferson! (more…)

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (3)  
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1st Minnesota at Gettysburg

At Gettysburg there is a monument to the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry and the charge that it made on the second day of  Gettysburg.  On the monument there is the following inscription:

On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 Sickles’ Third Corps, having advanced from this line to the Emmitsburg Road, eight companies of the First Minnesota Regiment, numbering 262 men were sent to this place to support a battery upon Sickles repulse.

As his men were passing here in confused retreat, two Confederate brigades in pursuit were crossing the swale. To gain time to bring up the reserves & save this position, Gen Hancock in person ordered the eight companies to charge the rapidly advancing enemy.

The order was instantly repeated by Col Wm Colvill. And the charge as instantly made down the slope at full speed through the concentrated fire of the two brigades breaking with the bayonet the enemy’s front line as it was crossing the small brook in the low ground there the remnant of the eight companies, nearly surrounded by the enemy held its entire force at bay for a considerable time & till it retired on the approach of the reserve the charge successfully accomplished its object. It saved this position & probably the battlefield. The loss of the eight companies in the charge was 215 killed & wounded. More than 83% percent. 47 men were still in line & no man missing. In self sacrificing desperate valor this charge has no parallel in any war. Among the severely wounded were Col Wm Colvill, Lt Col Chas P Adams & Maj Mark W. Downie. Among the killed Capt Joseph Periam, Capt Louis Muller & Lt Waldo Farrar. The next day the regiment participated in repelling Pickett’s charge losing 17 more men killed & wounded. (more…)

Published in: on March 27, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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A Call to Arms

Something for the weekend.  The song A Call to Arms, from the film Glory (1989), a magnicent and long overdue tribute to the black troops who fought for the Union in the Civil War. (more…)

Published in: on March 26, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Theodore Roosevelt: They Don’t Come Any Tougher

A recording of a speech by that force of nature otherwise known as Theodore, he hated being called Teddy, Roosevelt during his “Bull Moose” campaign for president in 1912.  Note the clear delivery and diction.  Note also his references to French history:   politicians did not assume that they had to talk down to the average voter in those days.  By splitting the Republican vote, Roosevelt getting the larger share, Roosevelt’s third party campaign ensured the election of Woodrow Wilson.  Although he failed to win, during the campaign Roosevelt established beyond doubt that he was one of the toughest men ever to be president. (more…)

Published in: on March 25, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Dipping a Toe in the Dark Side

(Off topic.  I originally posted this on The American Catholic.  I thought our Almost Chosen People readers might find it interesting.)

As faithful readers of this blog know, I am a devotee of the true faith.  I am not  referring here to Catholicism.  I am referring to the true computer faith, PCs.  I have been worshiping in the House of Gates since my bride and I purchased our first PC in 1988.  CGA graphics, no hard drive, one floppy disk drive: 1200 bucks, on sale.  You could heat a room with it after it was on for a few hours and it was only a little less loud than a vacumn cleaner.  Love at first sight.  Then of course there was the joy of learning the cryptic MS-DOS and all the arcane symbols to make the computer function, which would have made a medieval alchemist scream in frustration at the complexity.  A true man’s operating system, although my bride somehow mastered it first and imparted the secret knowledge of the PC Craft to me.

Over the years at my home and office I have owned so many PCs I long ago lost count, and we have followed them through all of their transmutations:  Windows 1.0, Windows 2.0, Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows XP, Vista (Don spits) and Windows 7.

I will turn this over now to my bride of 29 years this coming December, who will explain why we have brought a Mac product into this PC home: (more…)

Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Dipping a Toe in the Dark Side  
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Chester A. Arthur and Elizabeth Jennings

 

Chester A. Arthur is one of our more obscure presidents, and that is unfortunate.  He ran an honest administration that won the praise of such a jaundiced observer of the political scene as Mark Twain, and in many ways he led an interesting life.  One of the aspects of his career worthy of note is a legal victory that he gained at the age of 24.

On July 16, 1854, Elizabeth Jennings, a schoolteacher and a Church organist was running late for Church.  She boarded a streetcar owned by the Third Avenue Railroad Company at the corner of Pearl and Chatham streets in New York city.  So far, so humdrum.  However, Miss Graham was black and the Third Avenue Railroad Company banned blacks from riding on their streetcars.  The conductor told her to get off and she refused.  He then attempted to physically remove her, and she resisted.  Finally, a policeman was summoned and he removed her from the train. (more…)

Published in: on March 22, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Chester A. Arthur and Elizabeth Jennings  
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Cross of Gold

Perhaps the greatest American orator of his time, William Jennings Bryan was three times the nominee of the Democratic party, 1896, 1900 and 1908, losing each time.  It is a tribute to his hold on his party that he was put forward three times, as American parties are usually unforgiving to candidates who lose a Presidential race, with very few exceptions.  Bryan was an interesting mix of economic radicalism, pacificism and traditional religious fervor.  If he is remembered at all today, it is because of his role in the Scopes Monkey Trial, one of the most misinterpreted and misunderstood legal battles in American history.  This does not do justice to the man.

Bryan began the process by which the Democratic party, long the conservative party in this country on most issues, began a drift to the Left.  He also ensured that his party retained a strong presence in rural American, a presence that did not come to an end, at least for the time being, until Reagan.  In many ways Bryan, more than any other man, helped shape the Democratic party between the Civil War and the New Deal, and should be regarded as a precursor to FDR.  Bryan’s Cross of Gold speech gained him the Democratic nomination in 1896 and is one of the finest examples of American oratory, whatever one may think, and I do not think much of it, in regard to substance: (more…)

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
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