December 7, 1941: A Date That Lives in Infamy

 

What a different world existed seventy-five years ago when the Empire of Japan launched the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.  This is underlined by the fact that there was only one live report of the attack.  Note that this live report over a long distance phone call from Honolulu to New York by an NBC radio affiliate.  is terminated by a telephone operator trying to place an emergency call.  Anxious Americans would have to wait for the newspapers about the event that had catapulted their nation into the largest War in human history.

Published in: on December 7, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Billy Mitchell Predicts Pearl Harbor Attack in 1924

“This officer is an exceptionally able one, enthusiastic, energetic and full of initiative (but) he is fond of publicity, more or less indiscreet as to speech, and rather difficult to control as a subordinate.”

From General John J. Pershing’s 1923 efficiency report on General William Mitchell

 

 

 

Brigadier General William “Billy” Mitchell did not suffer fools gladly.  Dismayed that his demands for the development of air power were ignored in the post World War I era, he became increasingly caustic in his comments against his superiors.  After the deaths of several airmen in 1925 flying obsolete equipment, he castigated the heads of the Army and Navy for an almost treasonable administration of the national defense.  Court-martialed, he was found guilty and suspended from the Army without pay for five years.  President Calvin Coolidge amended the judgment so that Mitchell would receive half pay.  Mitchell left the Army, his military career at an end.

 

In 1924 General Pershing, perhaps to keep Mitchell out of harm’s way, sent him out on an inspection tour of the Pacific.  In his notes of that tour, later reduced to a 323 page report, Mitchell took a look at the weakness of the US in the Pacific and the rising power of Japan.  He predicted war between Japan and the US, and a Japanese strike on Pearl Harbor and Clark Field in the Philippines: (more…)

Published in: on December 6, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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December 5, 1916: Wilson State of the Union Address

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It is instructive to read the state of the union message of President Wilson to Congress a hundred years ago.  The main thing that most people remember about the second term of the Wilson administration  is US entry into World War I.  Yet there is nothing about the War in the state of the union address, no mention of the need for military preparedness, no hint that anything other than profound peace existed in the globe.  Of course Wilson had been re-elected on the slogan, “He kept us out of war.”  Mentioning the War now would fly in the face of what had been shouted up and down the country by Democrat speakers just a month ago.  Of course this also illustrates just how different History is when being lived through, rather than when being studied generations later.  Most Americans, like Wilson, hoped that the US could avoid becoming involved in the Great War.  The last thing they wished was to hear gloom about their prospects of staying out long term.  Thus a hundred years ago the nation concentrated on domestic matters and forgot about the War for a very little while.

 

GENTLEMEN OF THE CONGRESS:
In fulfilling at this time the duty laid upon me by the Constitution of communicating to you from time to time information of the state of the Union and recommending to your consideration such legislative measures as may be judged necessary and expedient, I shall continue the practice, which I hope has been acceptable to you, of leaving to the reports of the several heads of the executive departments the elaboration of the detailed needs of the public service and confine myself to those matters of more general public policy with which it seems necessary and feasible to deal at the present session of the Congress.

 
I realize the limitations of time under which you will necessarily act at this session and shall make my suggestions as few as possible; but there were some things left undone at the last session which there will now be time to complete and which it seems necessary in the interest of the public to do at once.

 
In the first place, it seems to me imperatively necessary that the earliest possible consideration and action should be accorded the remaining measures of the program of settlement and regulation which I had occasion to recommend to you at the close of your last session in view of the public dangers disclosed by the unaccommodated difficulties which then existed, and which still unhappily continue to exist, between the railroads of the country and their locomotive engineers, conductors and trainmen. (more…)

Published in: on December 5, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Francis Pharcellus Church, the Little Girl and Santa Claus

 

 

(I publish this each year before Christmas.  It evokes sweet memories of Christmases past when my children were young.)

 

 

Francis Pharcellus Church was a newspaper man to his marrow.  As a young man he had covered the Civil War for the New York Times and with his brother William he founded the Army and Navy Journal which dedicated itself to reporting news about the military forces of the United States, along with historical pieces on US military history, and opinion pieces about innovations or reforms in the military.  It is still being published today.

After the War he served as lead editorial writer on his brother’s newspapers the New York Sun.  He died in 1906 at 67, leaving behind no children.  Although he lived a full life, he would be all but forgotten today except for one incident.

In 1897 Virginia O’Hanlon was upset.  She was eight years old and some of her friends had been telling her that there was no Santa Claus.  Her father, Dr. Philip O’Hanlon, suggested that she write to the Sun and see what that newspaper had to say.  Virginia followed her advice and duly wrote the letter.  Mr. Church wrote the reply to the letter which appeared on September 21, 1897 in the New York Sun.

DEAR EDITOR:

I am 8 years old.   Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.   Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’   Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.

115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

 

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

 

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

 

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

 

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood. (more…)

Published in: on December 4, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Something for the weekend.  One of the earliest Christian hymns still popularly sung, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence is based upon the Prayer of the Cherubic Hymn in the Liturgy of Saint James of the Church in Jerusalem.  During the Oxford Movement in the Church of England in the nineteenth century, an Anglican minister Gerard Moultrie made an English translation of the Greek text.  The tune to which it is set, Picardy, is a French folk tune that dates back to at least the seventeenth century.  The hymn was set to the tune by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1906, and has proven immensely popular.

Published in: on December 3, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Grant’s War on the Klan

President Grant has a rather deserved reputation for being a poor president.  However there were bright spots to his term in office, and one of the brightest was the war he waged against the Klan.

Basically a domestic terrorist group that used violence and the threat of violence against blacks and Republicans in the South, the activities by the Klan had aroused a fury in the North by 1870.    With Grant taking the lead Congress passed the Ku Klux Klan act on April 30, 1871.  The text of the Act is here.  The Act gave broad powers to the Executive Branch to combat the Klan, including use of the military and suspension of the writ of habeus corpus.  (more…)

Published in: on December 2, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Quotes Suitable for Framing: Abraham Lincoln

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The very next day, somebody was discussing with him the difference between character and reputation, when he said,—with a look at me, as if to remind of what he had been talking about the day before,—perhaps a man’s character was like a tree, and his reputation like its shadow; the shadow is what we think of; the tree is the real thing.

Noah Brooks, newspaper correspondent and friend of Abraham Lincoln, recalling a statement by Lincoln

Published in: on December 1, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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November 30, 1782: Preliminary Articles of Peace

treaty1783

 

Complete victory for the US is the only way to interpret the preliminary articles of peace signed on November 30, 1782 that would be embodied in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.  American independence was recognized, American granted a huge territory between the Appalachians and the Mississippi, Americans obtained the right to fish on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, the Americans undertook no obligation to compensate Loyalists for damage or seizure of to their property during the War and the Brits and Americans agreed they would each have free access to the Mississippi.  Here are the preliminary articles:

 

 

Articles agreed upon, by and between Richard Oswald Esquire, the Commissioner of his Britannic Majesty, for treating of Peace with the Commissioners of the United States of America, in behalf of his said Majesty, on the one part; and John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens, four of the Commissioners of the said States, for treating of Peace with the Commissioner of his said Majesty, on their Behalf, on the other part. To be inserted in, and to constitute the Treaty of Peace proposed to be concluded, between the Crown of Great Britain, and the said United States; but which Treaty is not to be concluded, untill Terms of a Peace shall be agreed upon, between Great Britain and France; and his Britannic Majesty shall be ready to conclude such Treaty accordingly.

Whereas reciprocal Advantages, and mutual Convenience are found by Experience, to form the only permanent foundation of Peace and Friendship between States; It is agreed to form the Articles of the proposed Treaty, on such Principles of liberal Equity, and Reciprocity, as that partial Advantages, (those Seeds of Discord!) being excluded, such a beneficial and satisfactory Intercourse between the two Countries, may be establish’d, as to promise and secure to both perpetual

ARTICLE 1

His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, Viz New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free Sovereign and independent States; That he treats with them as such; And for himself, his Heirs and Successors, relinquishes all Claims to the Government, Propriety, and territorial Rights of the same, and every part thereof; and that all Disputes which might arise in future, on the Subject of the Boundaries of the said United States, may be prevented, It is hereby agreed and declared that the following are, and shall be their Boundaries Viz

ARTICLE 2

From the north west Angle of Nova Scotia, Viz that Angle which is form’d by a Line drawn due north, from the Source of St. Croix River to the Highlands, along the said Highlands which divide those Rivers that empty themselves into the River St Laurence, from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean, to the northwesternmost Head of Connecticut River; thence down along the middle of that River to the 45th Degree of North Latitude; from thence by a Line due West on said Latitude, untill it strikes the River Iroquois, or Cataraquy; thence along the middle of said River into Lake Ontario; through the middle of said Lake, untill it strikes the Communication by Water between that Lake and Lake Erie; thence along the middle of said Communication into Lake Erie, through the middle of said Lake, until it arrives at the Water Communication between that Lake and Lake Huron; thence along the middle of said water communication into the Lake Huron; thence through the middle of said Lake to the Water Communication between that Lake and Lake Superior; thence through Lake Superior northward of the Isles Royal & Phelipeaux, to the Long Lake; thence through the middle of said Long Lake, and the water Communication between it and the Lake of the Woods, to the said Lake of the Woods, thence through the said Lake to the most Northwestern point thereof, and from thence on a due west Course to the River Missisippi; thence by a Line to be drawn along the middle of the said River Missisippi, untill it shall intersect the northernmost part of the 31st Degree of North Latitude. South, by a Line to be drawn due East, from the Determination of the Line last mentioned, in the Latitude of 31 Degrees North of the Equator, to the middle of the River Apalachicola or Catahouche; thence along the middle thereof, to its junction with the Flint River; thence strait to the Head of St. Mary’s River, and thence down along the middle of St. Mary’s River to the Atlantic Ocean. East, by a Line to be drawn along the middle of the River St Croix, from its Mouth in the Bay of Fundy to its Source; and from its Source directly North, to the aforesaid Highlands which divide the Rivers that fall into the Atlantic Ocean, from those which fall into the River Se Laurence; comprehending all Islands within twenty Leagues of any part of the Shores of the united States, and lying between Lines to be drawn due East from the points where the aforesaid Boundaries between Nova Scotia on the one part and East Florida on the other shall respectively touch the Bay of Fundy, and the Atlantic Ocean; excepting such Islands as now are, or heretofore have been within the Limits of the said Province of Nova Scotia.

ARTICLE 3d

It is agreed, that the People of the United States shall continue to enjoy unmolested the Right to take Fish of every kind on the Grand Bank, and on all the other Banks of Newfoundland; Also in the Gulph of St Laurence, and at all other Places in the Sea where the Inhabitants of both Countries used at any time heretofore to fish. And also that the Inhabitants of the united States shall have Liberty to take Fish of every kind on such part of the Coast of Newfoundland, as British Fishermen shall use, (but not to dry or cure the same on that Island,) and also on the Coasts, Bays, and Creeks of all other of his Britannic Majesty’s Dominions in America, and that the American Fishermen shall have Liberty to dry and cure Fish in any of the unsettled Bays Harbours and Creeks of Nova Scotia, Magdalen Islands, and Labrador, so long as the same shall remain unsettled; but so soon as the same or either of them shall be settled, it shall not be lawful for the said Fishermen to dry or cure Fish at such Settlement, without a previous Agreement for that purpose with the Inhabitants Proprietors or Possessors of the Ground.

ARTICLE 4th

It is agreed that Creditors on either side, shall meet with no lawful Impediment to the Recovery of the full value in Sterling Money of all bond fide Debts heretofore contracted.

ARTICLE 5th

It is agreed that the Congress shall earnestly recommend it to the Legislatures of the respective States, to provide for the Restitution of all Estates, Rights, and Properties which have been confiscated, belonging to real British Subjects; and also of the Estates Rights and Properties of Persons resident in Districts in the Possession of his Majesty’s Arms; and who have not borne Arms against the said United States: And that Persons of any other Description shall have free Liberty to go to any part or parts of any of the thirteen United States, and therein to remain twelve months unmolested in their Endeavours to obtain the Restitution of such of their Estates, Rights and Properties as may have been confiscated; And that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several States a Reconsideration and Revision of all Acts or I~aws regarding the premises, so as to render the said Laws or Acts perfectly consistent not only with Justice and Equity, but with that spirit of Conciliation which on the Return of the Blessings of Peace should universaly prevail. And that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several States, that the Estates Rights and Properties of such last mention’d Persons shall be restored to them; they refunding to any Persons who may be now in Possession the bond fide Price, (where any has been given,) which such Persons may have paid on purchasing any of the said Lands, Rights, or Properties since the Confiscation.

And it is agreed that all Persons who have any Interest in confiscated Lands, either by Debts, Marriage Settlements or otherwise, shall meet with no lawful Impediment in the prosecution of their just Rights.

ARTICLE 6th

That there shall be no future Confiscations made, nor any prosecutions commenced against any Person or Persons, for or by reason of the Part which he or they may have taken in the present War, and that no person shall on that account suffer any future Loss or Damage either in his Person, Liberty or Property; and that those who may be in confinement on such charges, at the time of the Ratification of the Treaty in America, shall be immediately set at Liberty, and the Prosecutions so commenced be discontinued.

ARTICLE 7th

There shall be a firm and perpetual Peace, between his Britannic Majesty and the said States, and between the Subjects of the one and the Citizens of the other, Wherefore all Hostilities both by Sea and Land shall then immediately cease: All Prisoners on both sides shall be set at Liberty, & his Britannic Majesty shall, with all convenient speed, & without causing any Destruction or carrying away any Negroes, or other Property of the American Inhabitants withdraw all his Armies Garrisons and Fleets from the said United States, and from every Port, Place, and Harbour within the same; leaving in all Fortifications the American Artillery that may be therein: And shall also order and cause all Archives, Records, Deeds and Papers belonging to any of the said States, or their Citizens, which in the Course of the War may have fallen into the hands of his Officers to be forthwith restored and delivered to the proper states and persons to whom they belong.

ARTICLE 8th

The Navigation of the River Mississippi from its Source to the Ocean, shall for ever remain free and open to the Subjects of Great Britain and the Citizens of the United States.

ARTICLE 9th

In case it should so happen that any Place or Territory belonging to Great Britain, or to the United States, should be conquered by the Arms of either, from the other, before the Arrival of these Articles in America, It is agreed that the same shall be restored, without Difficulty, and without requiring any Compensation.

Done at Paris, the thirtieth day of November, in the year One thousand Seven hundred Eighty Two

RICHARD OSWALD [Seal]
JOHN ADAMS. [Seal]
B FRANKLIN [Seal]
JOHN JAY [Seal]
HENRY LAURENS. [Seal]

[On the page of the original next after the above signatures, is the following, the brackets being in the original.]

Witness

The Words [and Henry Laurens] between the fifth and sixth Lines of the first Page; and the Words [or carrying away any Negroes, or other Property of the American Inhabitants] between the seventh and eighth Lines of the eighth Page, being first interlined CALEB WHITEFOORD

Secretary to the British Commission.
W. T. FRANKLIN
Sec. to the American Commission

Published in: on November 30, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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November 29, 1864: Sand Creek Massacre

John Chivington

 

 

On Novmber 29, 1864, in a stain on American honor, 700 men of the 1st Colorado Cavalry, 3rd Colorado Cavalry and a company of the 1st New Mexico Volunteer Cavalry, under the command of Colonel John M. Chivington, a Methodist minister turned soldier, attacked and slaughtered an encampment of peaceful Indians.  I cannot improve on the report of this massacre issued by the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War on January 10, 1865:

 

The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War submit the following report:

In the summer of 1864 Governor Evans, of Colorado Territory, as acting superintendent of Indian affairs, sent notice to the various bands and tribes of Indians within his jurisdiction that such as desired to be considered friendly to the whites should at once repair to the nearest military post in order to be protected from the soldiers who were to take the field against the hostile Indians.


About the close of the summer, some Cheyenne Indians, in the neighborhood of the Smoke Hills, sent word to Major Wynkoop, the commandant of the post of Fort Lyon, that they had in their possession, and were willing to deliver up, some white captives they had purchased of other Indians. Major Wynkoop, with a force of over 100 men, visited those Indians and received the white captives. On his return he was accompanied by a number of the chiefs and leading men of the Indians, whom he had invited to visit Denver for the purpose of conferring with the authorities there in regard to keeping peace. Among them were Black Kettle and White Antelope of the Cheyennes, and some chiefs of the Arapahoes. The council was held, and these chiefs stated that they were friendly to the whites, and always had been, and that they desired peace. Governor Evans and Colonel Chivington, the commander of that military district, advised them to repair to Fort Lyon and submit to whatever terms the military commander there should impose. This was done by the Indians, who were treated somewhat as prisoners of war, receiving rations, and being obliged to remain within certain bounds.

 

All the testimony goes to show that the Indians, under the immediate control of Black Kettle and White Antelope of the Cheyennes, and Left Hand of the Arapahoes, were and had been friendly to the whites, and had not been guilty of any acts of hostility or depredation. The Indian agents, the Indian interpreter and others examined by your committee, all testify to the good character of those Indians. Even Governor Evans and Major Anthony, though evidently willing to convey to your committee a false impression of the character of those Indians, were forced, in spite of their prevarication, to admit that they knew of nothing they had done which rendered them deserving of punishment. (more…)

Published in: on November 29, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Fidel Castro Dies

 

 

(I posted this at The American Catholic and thought the Cuba mavens of Almost Chosen People might find it interesting.)

 

Fidel Castro, who turned his island homeland into a vast prison of which he was the Warden, died on Friday at age 90.  My usual rule after someone dies is De mortuis nil nisi bonum, but I can think of nothing good about the life of Castro other than it now has ended.  Under his regime millions of his countrymen risked death at sea rather than submit to his rule, and I can think of no more damning indictment for any ruler.  A squalid dictator of the worst sort, Castro always received good press in some of the media in the West from leftists who were willing to forgive any sin if the proper Communist platitudes were spoken.  Castro leaves behind him a broken nation of slaves.  May they soon rise up and bring a new day to a free Cuba.

Published in: on November 28, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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