Quotes Suitable for Framing: John Ireland

170px-Bishop_John_Ireland_of_Minnesota_as_a_young_man

 

Be ambitious, seek to elevate yourselves, to better your lot;  too often we are too easily satisfied.  When a man is poor, let him live in a hovel.  I esteem him;  at any moment I tend him the right hand of fellowship;  but if by labor, by energy, he can secure to his family comfort and respectability, and does not, then I despise him.

Father, later Archbishop, John Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day sermon, St. Paul, Minnesota 1865

Published in: on September 29, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Quotes Suitable for Framing: John Ireland  
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Franklin on Chess

Benjamin_Franklin_playing_chess

 

Benjamin Franklin had ceaseless energy to match his brilliant mind.  In 1779 while our ambassador to France, and involved in ceaseless negotiations to make sure that the new found alliance did not founder, he found time to write a brief monograph on chess, perhaps his favorite game:

 

The game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement. Several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired or strengthened by it, so as to become habits, ready on all occasions.

1. Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, and considers the consequences that may attend an action; for it is continually occuring to the player, ‘If I move this piece, what will be the advantages or disadvantages of my new situation? What use can my adversary make of it to annoy me? What other moves can I make to support it, and to defend myself from his attacks?

2. Circumspection, which surveys the whole chessboard, or scene of action; the relations of the several pieces and situations, the dangers they are respectively exposed to, the several possibilities of their aiding each other, the probabilities that the adversary may make this or that move, and attack this or the other piece, and what different means can be used to avoid his stroke, or turn its consequences against him.

3. Caution, not to make our moves too hastily. This habit is best acquired, by observing strictly the laws of the game; such as, If you touch a piece, you must move it somewhere; if you set it down, you must let it stand. And it is therefore best that these rules should be observed, as the game becomes thereby more the image of human life, and particularly of war . . .

And lastly, we learn by Chess the habit of not being discouraged by present appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favourable change, and that of persevering in the search of resources. The game is so full of events, there is such a variety of turns in it, the fortune of it is so subject to sudden vicissitudes, and one so frequently, after long contemplation, discovers the means of extricating one’s self from a supposed insurmountable difficulty, that one is encouraged to continue the contest to the last, in hopes of victory from our own skill, or at least of getting a stalemate from the negligence of our adversary . . .

If your adversary is long in playing, you ought not to hurry him, or express any uneasiness at his delay. You should not sing, nor whistle, nor look at your watch, not take up a book to read, nor make a tapping with your feet on the floor, or with your fingers on the table, nor do anything that may disturb his attention. For all these things displease; and they do not show your skill in playing, but your craftiness or your rudeness.

You ought not to endeavour to amuse and deceive your adversary, by pretending to have made bad moves, and saying that you have now lost the game, in order to make him secure and careless, and inattentive to your schemes: for this is fraud and deceit, not skill in the game. (more…)

Published in: on September 28, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Franklin on Chess  
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Old Soldiers Never Die

I am closing my fifty-two years of military service. When I joined the army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all my boyish hopes and dreams.

The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barracks ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Good-by.

General Douglas MacArthur, Conclusion to speech to Congress-April 19, 1951

 

Something for the weekend.  A parody of the hymn Kind Words Never Die, the Army ballad Old Soldiers Never Die enjoyed new popularity when General MacArthur mentioned it in his farewell address.  The version at the beginning of this post was the seventh most popular song based on sales in 1951.

Published in: on September 26, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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No Irish Need Apply

no-irish-need-apply-daily-republican-il-7-may-1873

(I originally posted this at The American Catholic, and I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People would enjoy it.)

It is always a matter of rejoicing when bad history bites the dust:

The Internet has been buzzing about how discrimination against the Irish was a myth. All it took was a high schooler to prove them wrong.
Rebecca Fried had no intention of preserving the record of a persecuted people whose strife was ready to be permanently written off in the eyes of history as exaggerated, imagined, or even invented.

That’s because Rebecca was too busy trying to get through the 8th grade.

In 2002, University of Illinois-Chicago history professor Richard J. Jensen printed “No Irish Need Apply: A Myth of Victimization.” His abstract begins:

“Irish Catholics in America have a vibrant memory of humiliating job discrimination, which featured omnipresent signs proclaiming ‘Help Wanted—No Irish Need Apply!’ No one has ever seen one of these NINA signs because they were extremely rare or nonexistent.”

In short, those famous “No Irish Need Apply” signs—ones that proved Irish Americans faced explicit job discrimination in the 19th and 20th centuries? Professor Jensen came to the blockbuster conclusion that they never existed.

The theory picked up traction over the last decade, but seemed to reach an unexpected fever pitch in the last few months. Explainer websites this year used it to highlight popular myths of persecution complexes that are, as Vox put it, “stand-ins for an entire narrative about how immigrants are treated in America.” That’s from the lede of an article printed in March called “‘No Irish Need Apply’: the fake sign at the heart of a real movement.”

Here, of course, is the problem: After only couple of hours Googling it, Rebecca, a 14-year-old, had found out these signs had, in fact, existed all along. Not only in newspaper listings—in which they appeared in droves—but, after further research, in shop windows, too.

The Irish were persecuted in the American job market—and precisely in the overt, literally written-down way that was always believed.

All of this would have been written off as a myth if it weren’t for Rebecca Fried, a rising high school freshman—who one of the preeminent scholars on the Irish diaspora in the United States now calls a “hero” and “quite extraordinary”—and who simply couldn’t believe it, either.

Rebecca never set out to prove the thesis wrong. She was just interested in an article her dad brought home from work one day.

“Now and then I bring home stuff for the kids to read if I think they will find it interesting or will convey some lesson,” says Michael Fried, Rebecca’s father. “Half the time they don’t read them at all. Sometimes they’ll read something if I suggest it. Nothing has ever come of any of these things other than this one.”

Rebecca wasn’t even trying to disprove her dad—let alone an academic at the University of Illiniois-Chicago. She just figured she’d Google the words and see what came up over 100 years ago. (more…)

Published in: on September 25, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on No Irish Need Apply  
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Quotes Suitable for Framing: Calvin Coolidge

 

The immigrant who comes to us from a life of oppression must be made to realize that he assumes an obligation; otherwise, he is not wanted. Either he must live with us in the light of the highest citizenship, or else society will impose upon him the very restrictions he has sought to escape by coming here. It is the wolf in sheep’s clothing who has cast a slur on immigration. There are many who land here who really never get to America. They become Americanized in everything but in heart. To teach the foreigner English is a necessary step; but it is not an end in itself; it is merely one of the implements of Americanization. This may hold divers peoples together for a while, just as economic opportunity and financial reward may cover their isolation. But unless, in their living—rather than in then livelihood—they daily exercise the principles on which the Republic rests, we have among us a shell of citizenship liable to explode at the least upsetting of economic balance, rather than the vital spirit which is at the basis of American life.

Calvin Coolidge

Published in: on September 24, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Quotes Suitable for Framing: Calvin Coolidge  
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Japan Remains One Country

01General Derevyanko1

 

One of the more decisive decisions of the Occupation of Japan, that Japan would remain one state, was made early in the process by General MacArthur.  The Soviets planned to occupy the northern island of Hokkaido and establish a puppet Soviet regime, identical to what was occurring in East Germany.  If this had succeeded, Japan could have been divided into a Communist North Japan and a Democratic South Japan for the length of the Cold War.  Appeasement of the Soviets was still very much in favor at the State Department, and it is possible that if the Soviets had simply begun landing in Hokkaido, that Washington may have capitulated on that point.  After all, the Soviets were full members, with Great Britain, in the Allied commission to supervise and monitor the Supreme Commander in Tokyo.  The Soviets also insisted upon a tri-partite division of Tokyo, similar to what was being done in Berlin.  MacArthur would have none of it. (more…)

Published in: on September 21, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Japan Remains One Country  
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September 19: International Speak Like A Pirate Day-Pirate Lincoln

 

 

Ar, it be about four score and seven years ago since our fathers made ye new nation, a liberty port for all hands from end to end, and dedicated t’ t’ truth that all swabs be created equal.

Now we be fightin’ a great ruckus, testin’ whether ye nation, or any nation so minted like it, can last through the long watch. We be met on a great boardin’ fight o’ that war. We have come t’ dedicate a spot o’ that field, as a final restin’ place for those who here swallowed the anchor forever that that nation might live. It be altogether fittin’ and proper that we be doin’ this.

But, truth be told, we can not set aside, we can not pray over, we can not hallow this ground. T’ brave swabs, livin’ and went t’ Davy Jones’ locker, who fit here, have blessed it, far over our poor power t’ add or swipe back. T’ world won’t writ what we say here, but it can never forget what those swabs did here. It be for us t’ livin’, rather, t’ be dedicated here t’  finishin’ t’ work which they who fit here have begun.   It be rather for us t’ be here dedicated t’ t’ great chore remainin’ before us—that from these honored swabs we take increased love t’ what they died for—that we here Bible swear that these shipmates shall not have went t’ Davy Jones’ locker for nothin’—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth o’ freedom—and that government o’ t’ crew, by t’ crew, for t’ crew, shall not perish from t’ earth.

Pirate-Lincoln

 

 

On t’ occasion like this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed t’ an impendin’ civil war. All were scared of it, all sought t’ stop it.”

While t’ startin’ talk was bein’ delivered from this place, devoted altogether t’ savin’ t’ port without war, swabs were in t’ city seekin’ t’ destroy it without war–seekin’ t’ dissolve t’ port and divide t’ port by parley. Both parties deprecated war, but one o’ them would make a ruckus rather than let t’ nation survive, and t’ other would accept a ruckus rather than let it perish, and t’ war came. ”

One-eighth o’ all the swabs were black slaves, not livin’ all over t’ port, but localized in t’ southern part o’ it. These slaves made a peculiar and powerful interest for the swabs who owned ’em. All knew that this interest was somehow t’ cause o’ t’ ruckus. T’ strengthen, keep through the long watch, and spread slavery was t’ object for which t’ insurgents would rend t’ Union even by war, while t’ Government claimed no starboard t’ do more than t’ restrict t’ spread o’ it.

Neither party expected for t’ ruckus t’ size or t’ time of it. Neither reckoned that t’ cause o’ t’ fight might cease with or even before t’ conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier win, less great and astoundin’. Both read t’ same Bible and pray t’ t’ same Good Lord, and each invokes His help against t’ other.”

It may seem passin’ odd that any swabs should dare t’ ask a the Good  Lord’s assistance in wrin’in’ their bread from t’ sweat o’ other swab’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. T’ prayers o’ both could not be answered. That o’ neither has been answered fully. T’ Almighty has His own chart. “Woe unto t’ world because o’ sins; for it must needs be that sins come, but woe t’ that man by whom t’ offense cometh.”

If we shall guess that American slavery be one o’ those sins which, in t’ will o’ the Good Lord, must needs come, but which, havin’ lasted through His appointed time, He now wills t’ remove, and that He gives t’ both North and South this terrible war as t’ woe due t’ those by whom t’ evil came, shall we ahoy tharin any difference from those divine likenesses which t’ believers in a livin’ God always ascribe t’ Him?

Sweetly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty plague o’ war may speedily pass away. Yet, if the Good Lord wills that it continue until all t’ wealth piled by t’ slave’s two hundred and fifty years o’ pressed toil shall be sunk, and until every drop o’ blood drawn with t’ lash shall be paid by another drawn with t’ cutlas, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “t’ judgments o’ t’ Lord be true and starboardeous altogether.” ”

With evil toward none, with helpin’ for all, with firmness in t’ starboard as the Good Lord gives us t’ see t’ starboard, let us strive on t’ finish t’ chore we be in, t’ bind up t’ nation’s wounds, t’ care for him who shall have borne t’ fight and for his widow and his orphan, t’ do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lastin’ peace among ourselves and with all other crews. “

Published in: on September 19, 2015 at 8:44 pm  Comments Off on September 19: International Speak Like A Pirate Day-Pirate Lincoln  
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Jefferson and Liberty Too

Something for the weekend:  Jefferson and Liberty Too.  The hotly contested election of 1800 brought to the nation many of the trappings of subsequent campaigns including campaign songs.   The most popular was the tune Jefferson and Liberty Too, sung to the tune of Irish jig The Gobby O, which was quite popular in America during the colonial period and thereafter, familiar as a fiddle tune at virtually every ball: (more…)

Published in: on September 19, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Jefferson and Liberty Too  
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Our Job in Japan

 

A film produced by the Army Signal Corps for troops who would serve on occupation duty in Japan.  Written by Theodore Geisel, who would later achieve immortality as Dr. Seuss, the film explains why it was necessary to occupy Japan and convert the nation to the ways of peace and Democracy.

Published in: on September 17, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Our Job in Japan  
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Civil War Day by Day

 

The Civil War was fought in 10,000 places, from Valverde, New Mexico, and Tullahoma, Tennessee, to St. Albans, Vermont, and Fernandina on the Florida coast. More than 3 million Americans fought in it, and over 600,000 men, 2 percent of the population, died in it.

American homes became headquarters, American churches and schoolhouses sheltered the dying, and huge foraging armies swept across American farms and burned American towns. Americans slaughtered one another wholesale, right here in America in their own cornfields and peach orchards, along familiar roads and by waters with old American names.

In two days at Shiloh, on the banks of the Tennessee River, more American men fell than in all the previous American wars combined. At Cold Harbor, some 7,000 Americans fell in twenty minutes. Men who had never strayed twenty miles from their own front doors now found themselves soldiers in great armies, fighting epic battles hundreds of miles from home. They knew they were making history, and it was the greatest adventure of their lives.

The Civil War has been given many names: the War Between the States, the War Against Northern Aggression, the Second American Revolution, the Lost Cause, the War of the Rebellion, the Brothers’ War, the Late Unpleasantness. Walt Whitman called it the War of Attempted Secession. Confederate General Joseph Johnston called it the War Against the States. By whatever name, it was unquestionably the most important event in the life of the nation. It saw the end of slavery and the downfall of a southern planter aristocracy. It was the watershed of a new political and economic order, and the beginning of big industry, big business, big government. It was the first modern war and, for Americans, the costliest, yielding the most American fatalities and the greatest domestic suffering, spiritually and physically. It was the most horrible, necessary, intimate, acrimonious, mean-spirited, and heroic conflict the nation has ever known.

Inevitably, we grasp the war through such hyperbole. In so doing, we tend to blur the fact that real people lived through it and were changed by the event. One hundred eighty-five thousand black Americans fought to free their people. Fishermen and storekeepers from Deer Isle, Maine, served bravely and died miserably in strange places like Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Fredericksburg, Virginia. There was scarcely a family in the South that did not lose a son or brother or father.

As with any civil strife, the war was marked by excruciating ironies. Robert E. Lee became a legend in the Confederate army only after turning down an offer to command the entire Union force. Four of Lincoln’s own brothers-in-law fought on the Confederate side, and one was killed. The little town of Winchester, Virginia, changed hands seventy-two times during the war, and the state of Missouri sent thirty-nine regiments to fight in the siege of Vicksburg: seventeen to the Confederacy and twenty-two to the Union.

Between 1861 and 1865, Americans made war on each other and killed each other in great numbers — if only to become the kind of country that could no longer conceive of how that was possible. What began as a bitter dispute over Union and States’ Rights, ended as a struggle over the meaning of freedom in America. At Gettysburg in 1863, Abraham Lincoln said perhaps more than he knew. The war was about a “new birth of freedom.”

 

 
Intro to The Civil War mini-series (1990)
 
 
 
Published in: on September 16, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Civil War Day by Day  
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