Louis A. Bedford IV writes “Book bans are un-American” in an editorial in the March 5, 2023 edition of The Dallas Morning News. As in all things in Texas, book banning is the biggest in the Lone Star state. Texas leads the nation with 800 books. Dan Solomon’s article in the September issue of Texas Monthly reports that Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee accounted for more than 85% of the total book bans.
Mr. Bedford cites two Supreme Court cases that ruled against book banning as a violation of students’ right to books.
Bedford writes that book banning restricts “the free access of the most powerful tool at our disposal: information.” He adds that banning books because the “views they include … goes against the ideals of Americanism.”
“The banning of books and information paves a dangerous road toward tyranny.”
“By standing up for intellectual freedom and opposing book banning and other limits to information, we can help ensure that our society remains one that values knowledge, critical thinking, and individual autonomy – the true values of America.”
Why Are Books Banned?
Banned books are books or other printed works such as essays or plays which are prohibited by law or to which free access is not permitted by other means. The practice of banning books is a form of censorship, for political, legal, religious, moral, or (less often) commercial motives. The Freedom to Read Website lists notable banned books and works with a brief explanation of why the books were prohibited. Banned books include fictional works such as novels, poems, and plays and non-fiction works such as biographies and dictionaries.
Historically, banning books or censoring texts are often seen when authoritarian regimes try to suppress certain messages it does not want to spread. Pre-World War II Germany saw mass book burnings and bans that tried to remove any statements which positively portrayed Jewish people. Banning and censoring texts is often portrayed as a restriction of First Amendment rights.
The Freedom to Read Website provides “a selective timeline of book bannings, burnings, and other censorship activities.”
First Ammendment Protection
The First Amendment protects individuals against the government’s “abridging the freedom of speech.” However, government actions that are sometimes labeled as censorship may not be violations of these constitutional rights. Banning books by schools and libraries is not always classified as constitutional or unconstitutional, because “censorship” is a colloquial term, not a legal term.
Colloquialism which is also called colloquial language, everyday language, or general parlance, is the language style used for casual or informal communication. It is the most common functional style of speech. It is the language that is normally used in conversation and other informal contexts.
Some principles can illuminate whether and when book banning is unconstitutional.
Censorship does not violate the Constitution unless the government does it.
For example, if the government tries to forbid certain types of protests solely because of the viewpoint of the protesters, that is an unconstitutional restriction on speech. The government cannot create laws or allow lawsuits that keep you from having particular books on your bookshelf unless the substance of those books fits into a narrowly defined unprotected category of speech such as obscenity or libel. Even these unprotected categories are defined in precise ways that are still very protective of speech.
However, the government may enact reasonable regulations that restrict the “time, place or manner” of your speech. It must do so in ways that are content- and viewpoint-neutral. The government cannot restrict an individual’s ability to produce or listen to speech based on the topic of the speech or the ultimate opinions expressed.
If the government does try to restrict speech in these ways, it is probably unconstitutional censorship.
What is Not Unconstitutional
In contrast, when private individuals, companies, and organizations create policies or engage in activities that suppress people’s ability to speak, these private actions don’t violate the Constitution.
Private actions can have a major impact on a person’s ability to speak freely and the creation and distribution of ideas. Book burning or the actions of private universities in punishing faculty for sharing unpopular ideas prohibits free discussion and unrestrained development of ideas and knowledge.
When Schools Can Ban Books
It’s hard to definitively say whether the current incidents of book banning in schools are constitutional. This is because decisions made in public schools are analyzed by the courts differently from censorship in nongovernment contexts.
According to the Supreme Court, control over public education is for “the most part” given to “state and local authorities.” The government has the power to determine what is appropriate for students and thus the curriculum at their school.
However, students retain some First Amendment rights. Public schools may not censor students’ speech, either on or off campus, unless it is causing a “substantial disruption.”
Government and school officials may exert control over the school curriculum without violating students’ or educators’ free-speech rights.
There are exceptions to the government’s power over the school curriculum. The Supreme Court ruled that a state law banning a teacher from covering the topic of evolution was unconstitutional because it violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the state from endorsing a particular religion.
School boards and state legislators usually have the final decision over what schools teach. State regulation of curriculum is generally constitutionally permissible unless they violate some other provision(s) of the Constitution.
Schools with limited resources have the discretion to determine which books to add to their libraries. However, several members of the Supreme Court have written that removal is constitutionally permitted only if it is done based on the educational appropriateness of the book, not because it was intended to deny students access to books with which school officials disagree.
The Next Step
Even though the government has the option to control what’s taught in school, the First Amendment ensures the right of free speech to those who want to protest what’s happening in schools.
Parents have the right to prohibit their children from reading specific books or discussing certain topics. This authority has been in effect for many years. I object when a parent or group of parents enforces their wishes on all students. Parents have the right to complain about this because it denies their student(s) access to books. Students also have the right to read and discuss books outside of school.
I am also alarmed at the book-banning techniques used by groups to attack, slander, and threaten teachers, librarians, school board members, and other individuals who oppose their actions. These heavy-handed measures have no place in public discourse.
Unite Against Book Bans is a national initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship.
PEN America tracks all book bans in libraries and classrooms across the U.S. in our Index of School Book Bans, updated for the 2021-2022 school year.
Texans for the Right to Read is agrassroots coalition of concerned Texas residents organized by the Texas Library Association. The coalition opposes the current movement to ban books from Texas libraries based on content subjectively deemed inappropriate.
Right to Read is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the literacy achievement of at-risk minorities in kindergarten through 3rd grade by providing literacy support to promote observable reading growth, confidence, and success.
 Louis A. Bedford IV, “Book bans are un-American,” The Dallas Morning News, March 5, 2023.
In an editorial in The Dallas Morning News on February 26, 2023, Dan Vallone writes “there is significant common ground in how Americans feel our history should be taught.”
Dan Vallone’s report by his organization, More in Common, concludes “most Americans agree on the basic principles of how we learn about our nation’s past, including how to teach issues surrounding America’s history of racism.” Defusing the History Wars: Finding Common Ground in Teaching America’s National Story study also revealed: “Americans, irrespective of their demographic or ideological backgrounds, mistakenly believe the country is split into two hostile camps with irreconcilable beliefs on how to teach American history.”
Vallone says that there are perception gaps between what other Americans believe compared to what we think they believe. He believes: “Such perception gaps — the difference between what other Americans believe vs. what we think they believe — turn potential allies into enemies.”
The report provides the following examples:
Democrats believe that only 30% of Republicans feel we should teach both our shared national history as well as the history of specific groups of Americans such as Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans. An overwhelming majority of Republicans, 72%, hold this view. Similarly, Republicans believe that only 42% of Democrats think that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln should be admired for their roles in American history when in fact, close to 90% of Democrats feel this way.
There are important areas where Americans diverge on the topic of history.
72% of Republicans believe the history of minority groups is prioritized over history that elevates a common identity while 72% of Democrats say this is not the case.
However, I wonder what is more critical in going forward: perceptions or reality? Political discussions seem to be void of facts or reality. The merits of elected officials are distorted to create the desired political perception. Was Donald Trump a good president? Is Joe Biden a bad president? The achievements and failures of both chief executives are riddled with lies. Another example is the 2020 Presidential Election. There are some who believe Donald Trump was reelected and his defeat was caused by election fraud. They are convinced, despite the evidence to the contrary, that Donald Trump was robbed. Clearly, for these believers, perception is more important than reality.
Mr. Vallone’s desire that “Civil society organizations, faith institutions, businesses, and veterans’ groups along with parents, students, and educators should collaborate to bring Americans of different backgrounds and views together to talk about how to teach history, reduce perception gaps and build solutions that have durable support across communities.” I am skeptical that this will happen because discussion and compromise appear to be absent in today’s society.
I hope that Mr. Vallone’s ideas may move forward to achieve a national dialogue on teaching history.
Dan Vallone, Sunday, February 26, 2023, p. 4P, The Dallas Morning News.
Jonah Winter’s editorial, “My books are banned by the right and the left – State politicians aren’t the only ones silencing voices,” on page 5P of the February 19, 2023 issue of The Dallas Morning News is an alarming report on the state of book banning and publishing.
In my February 2, 2023 post, School District Bans Books, I asked how publishers will respond to these restrictions. Will they print your book if it has an unsuitable passage? Jonah Winter’s editorial sheds new light on my question.
Mr. Winter is the author of more than 40 nonfiction children’s books. He wrote that before this year he had never experienced the “sort of media attention this latest right-wing book ban” has received. Winter’s children’s books on baseball legend Roberto Clemente were banned from public schools in Duval County, Florida. The largest city in Duval County is Jacksonville which until recently was the home of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School.
Nathan Bedford Forrest was the founder of the Ku Klux Klan. His name stayed there, on a public high school, until 2014. So I wasn’t surprised to hear that Duval County was banning books about successful people of color. Nor would I be surprised that any book of mine had been banned in Florida generally. In 2016, my book Hillary, about former presidential candidate, first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was banned in two Miami schools.
Jonah Winter, “My books are banned by the right and the left – State politicians aren’t the only ones silencing voices,” The Dallas Morning News, February 19, 2023, p. 5P
My Book is Banned
In my book about Clemente, a tiny part of the story involves the racism he encountered. This came mainly from sports journalists who made references to his being a hothead and lazy, both of which were inaccurate characterizations of him, derived from racist stereotypes about Latinos. The fact I included this in my book is probably why it got banned by the Duval County school district, which banned 175 other books as well. No specific reasons were given, leaving us to guess. And those books weren’t just banned. It is a felony for any teacher to show those books to students.
Jonah Winter, “My books are banned by the right and the left – State politicians aren’t the only ones silencing voices,” The Dallas Morning News, February 19, 2023, p. 5P
Winter’s book on Clemente has sold consistently since it was published in 2005. This recent book ban has only increased the book’s visibility and the book “was selling better than ever” according to its Amazon sales rank. “When my book on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was banned in York County, Pa., last year, the news had a similar impact on sales. Book-banning, the “cancel culture” of the right, doesn’t hurt a book or an author.”
My Book is Not Publishable
I’ve had two book contracts canceled because of my identity in relation to the subject matter. I am a white man. The irony of the big to-do being made over the banning of my Clemente book by conservative activists is that, were I to try and publish that exact same book today, I would not be able to get it published because of progressive activists.
In today’s world of children’s books, governed by the ideological mantra of “own voices,” I am not allowed to tell the story of anyone who’s not white or male.
Jonah Winter, “My books are banned by the right and the left – State politicians aren’t the only ones silencing voices,” The Dallas Morning News, February 19, 2023, p. 5P
According to Winter,
It matters not to the publishers that my books on Clemente, Sotomayor and Frida Kahlo are still selling well, years after their publication dates. Those books, were I to submit them today, would not be published. Nor would my award-winning book from 2015, Lillian’s Right to Vote, about the history of racism in America through the lens of voting rights and the eyes of a 100-year-old Black woman. The editor of that book told me, when I asked her, that she would absolutely not publish that book were I to submit it to her now — nor any other books on people of color or women, which account for most of the books I have written.
The publishing community wants books to be written by the appropriate or own voices. An Own Voices book means being confident that the worlds created or described in a book are represented as authentically as possible. “Own Voices authors and illustrators create not with an observer’s gaze, but with the cultural nuance from being an active member of that culture.” According to the website Little Feminist, “Writing characters of color with white gaze, as well as writing books about a disabled character by an able-bodied person, and so forth, can be demeaning and sorely inaccurate if you are not immersed in that culture.” Own voices means that books about Blacks can only be written by Blacks, Hispanics by Hispanics, and women by women.
Jonah Winter, “My books are banned by the right and the left – State politicians aren’t the only ones silencing voices,” The Dallas Morning News, February 19, 2023, p. 5P
I have expressed my concern about my ability to write a book on Blacks or racism because I don’t know what it is to be Black and have never experienced racism.
Mr. Winter concludes his editorial by asking which kind of censorship is worse for authors,
Mr. Winter concludes his editorial by asking which kind of censorship is worse for authors,
The kind that increases the visibility of a book and sells more copies, or the kind that silences an author quietly, behind the scenes. The kind that restricts an author from writing about the subject matter he’s always written about, or the kind that robs a book’s right to exist. There’s no question mark, because there’s no question.
Jonah Winter, “My books are banned by the right and the left – State politicians aren’t the only ones silencing voices,” The Dallas Morning News, February 19, 2023, p. 5P
This blog is the most controversial of my posts. I discuss how The 1619 Project and Critical Race Theory are being used to attack the study of Black History. Critics of these two programs focus on historical errors and white guilt to dismiss discussion of race in America and threaten to remove Black History Month from schools. — Allen Mesch
The 1619 Project
The 1619 Project is a journalistic program developed by Nikole Hannah-Jones and writers from The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine. The 1619 Project “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative.”
The project’s first publication was in The New York Times Magazine in August 2019 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colony of Virginia. The project prepared an educational curriculum accompanied by a broadsheet article, live events, and a podcast.
Historians, journalists, and commentators have described The1619 Project as a reinterpretation of accepted history that takes a negative view of traditionally recognized events and people in American history. The project criticizes the patriots in the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers, and Abraham Lincoln and the Union during the Civil War.
Among the more controversial elements of the 1619 Project are the claims that “1619 is the true founding of America” and “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.”
The 1619 Project was criticized by several historians who question its historical accuracy. In a letter published in The New York Times in December 2019, five important historians expressed “strong reservations” about the project and requested factual corrections, accusing the project’s creators of “putting ideology before historical understanding.” The scholars disputed the project’s claim that slavery was essential to the beginning of the American Revolution because colonists wanted to protect their right to own slaves. The scholars and political scientists specializing in the American Civil War wrote to the Times saying that “The 1619 Project offers a historically-limited view of slavery.” While agreeing to the importance of examining American slavery, they objected to what they described as the portrayal of slavery as a uniquely American phenomenon, to construing slavery as a capitalist venture, and to presenting out-of-context quotes from a conversation between Abraham Lincoln and “five esteemed free black men.”
Some articles written in conjunction with the project discuss important events in Black history including Crispus Attucks the first American killed in the revolutionary war, Phillis Wheatley Peters the first African-American author of a published book of poetry, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 guaranteed a right for a slaveholder to recover an escaped slave, the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807 provided that no new slaves were permitted to be imported into the United States, and The New Orleans Massacre of 1866 when a peaceful demonstration of mostly Black Freedmen was set massacred by a mob of white rioters.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a cross-disciplinary examination by social and civil-rights scholars and activists of how laws, social and political movements, and media shape and are shaped by social conceptions of race and ethnicity. The goals of CRT include challenging all mainstream and “alternative” views of racism and racial justice, including conservative, liberal, and progressive. The word critical in the name is an academic reference to critical thinking, critical theory, and scholarly criticism, and NOT criticizing or blaming people.
CRT is also used in sociology to explain social, political, and legal structures and power distribution through a “lens” focusing on the concept of race, and experiences of racism. For example, the CRT conceptual framework examines racial bias in laws and legal institutions, such as highly disparate rates of incarceration among racial groups in the United States. A key CRT concept is intersectionality or how different forms of inequality and identity are affected by interconnections of race, class, gender, and disability. Scholars of CRT view race as a social construct with no biological basis. One principle of CRT is that racism and disparate racial outcomes are the results of complex, changing, and often subtle social and institutional dynamics, rather than explicit and intentional prejudices of individuals. CRT scholars argue that the social and legal construction of race advances the interests of white people at the expense of people of color, and that the liberal notion of U.S. law as “neutral” plays a significant role in maintaining a racially unjust social order, where formally color-blind laws continue to have racially discriminatory outcomes.
Critical race theory has stirred controversy in the United States for promoting the use of narrative in legal studies, advocating “legal instrumentalism” as opposed to ideal-driven uses of the law, and encouraging legal scholars to promote racial equity.
In the 2020 U.S. presidential election, opposition to critical race theory was adopted as a campaign theme by Donald Trump and various conservative commentators on Fox News and right-wing talk radio shows. Trump issued an executive order directing agencies of the United States federal government to cancel funding for programs that mention “white privilege” or “critical race theory”, on the basis that it constituted “divisive, un-American propaganda” and that it was “racist”.
Opposition to what was alleged to be critical race theory was subsequently adopted as a major theme by several conservative think tanks and pressure groups. According to The Washington Post, conservative lawmakers and activists have used the term as “a catchall phrase for nearly any examination of systemic racism.”
Bans on Critical Race Theory and Associated Topics
In April 2021, the Idaho legislature passed a law that effectively banned any educational entity from teaching or advocating sectarianism, including critical race theory or other programs involving social justice.
In June 2021, the Florida State Board of Education unanimously voted to ban public schools from teaching critical race theory at the urging of Governor Ron DeSantis. The Florida Stop W.O.K.E. Act, standing for “Wrong to Our Kids and Employees”, also known as the Individual Freedom Act, prohibits instruction and teaching that “espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels” certain topics of race and gender.
In May 2021, the Tennessee state legislature passed a law that prohibits the teaching of 14 concepts surrounding race and gender discrimination, including the concept of systemic racism. The law “bar(s) any lesson that causes an individual “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress” because of their race or sex. As of July 2021, 10 US states had introduced bills or taken other steps that would restrict how teachers discuss racism, sexism, and other “divisive issues”, and 26 other states were in the process of doing so. As of November 9, 2021, 28 US states had introduced such bills–all by Republican lawmakers. As of December 2021, 66 educational gag orders had been filed for the year in 26 state legislatures (12 bills had already been passed into law) that would inhibit teaching any race theory in schools, universities, or state agencies, by teachers, employers, or contractors. Penalties vary but predominantly include loss of funding for schools and institutions. However, in some cases, the bills mandate the firing of employees.
In January 2022, the governor of Virginia signed an executive order banning critical race theory in Virginia schools.
Other state government officials and State Boards of Education (SBOE) also adopted similar measures in 2021. Montana attorney general prohibited teachers from asking students to “reflect on privilege.” Utah’s SBOE restricted the teaching of racism and sexism. Alabama’s SBOE banned the “teaching of concepts that impute fault, blame, a tendency to oppress others, or the need to feel guilt or anguish to persons solely because of their race or sex.” Georgia’s SBOE banned teaching that “indoctrinates” students. Florida’s SBOE prohibited teaching about critical race theory or the 1619 Project.
I reached several conclusions after reviewing the programs and their criticism:
Any study of Black history should be based on facts approved by historians. This includes misrepresentations of history in educational material. This information should be modified/corrected/updated based on new data and facts.
Attacks on presentations and the discussion of Black history actually promote racism. The bans on minority history perpetuate a false narrative that some use in order to suppress minorities.
We must understand our history with all its horrors to not repeat mankind’s past sins.
Allowing suppression of historical facts will lead to more attacks on other minorities. We have witnessed increased assaults on Asians, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ+s, Blacks, and Hispanics. What minority will be the target of future hate crimes?
I believe that we have an unrecognized epidemic in the United States. The disease is composed of the “Three Is” of Intolerance, Ignorance, and Indifference. This epidemic threatens our country as much as any virus.
On August 21, 1831, enslaved Virginian Nat Turner led a bloody revolt, which changed the course of American history. The uprising in Southampton County led to the murder of an estimated 55 white people, the execution of about 55 Black people, and the beating of hundreds of Blacks by white mobs.
Rebellion Produces Backlash
Although the rebellion only lasted about 24 hours, it triggered a renewed wave of oppressive legislation prohibiting enslaved people’s movement, assembly, and education.
At the same time, abolitionists saw an opening for the argument that the system of slavery was untenable. Lawmakers in Virginia argued over which path to take. A vote to free slaves through gradual emancipation gained support from the state’s leaders.
Ultimately Virginia and other southern states decided to keep slavery in place and tighten control of Blacks’ lives, including their literacy. In the antebellum South only about 10 % of enslaved people were literate. For many slave owners, even this rate was too high. Many Southerners believed that an educated slave was a dangerous person.
Biblical Justification Promoted
The 1831 revolt confirmed this view. Turner was a passionate preacher guided by spiritual visions. His ability to read the Bible allowed him to find stories of divine support for fights against injustice. Slave owners and their clergy controlled the Biblical account justifying slavery given to illiterate slaves. However, educated Blacks, like Turner, refuted this “sanitized” version which tried to legitimize slavery. Abolitionists Agitate Through Written Word.
African American literacy wasn’t just problematic to slave owners because of the potential for enlightening Biblical readings. “Anti-literacy laws were written in response to the rise of abolitionism in the north,” One of the most threatening abolitionists of the time was Black New Englander, David Walker. From 1829-1830, he distributed the Appeal, a pamphlet calling for uprisings to end slavery. Black sailors secretly brought Walker’s text to the South.
Adding to such fears was William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist paper, The Liberator, which began publishing on January 1, 1831. Although it was edited by Garrison, who was described as a “radical” white abolitionist, it was primarily seen as a “Black newspaper,” because most of its readers were Blacks. Other readers were a “few radical whites who believed in antislavery and antiracism.” Southern enslavers saw this paper as another example of outsiders’ spreading agitation through the written word.
Literacy Threatens Justification of Slavery
Black Americans’ literacy also threatened a major justification of slavery that Black people were “less than human, permanently illiterate and dumb.” Educated Blacks would disprove that characterization would undermine the logic of the system.
States fighting to hold on to slavery began tightening literacy laws in the early 1830s. In April 1831, Virginia declared that any meetings to teach free Blacks to read or write were illegal. New codes also outlawed teaching enslaved people.
Other southern states passed similarly strict anti-literacy laws around this time. In 1833, an Alabama law declared that “any person or persons who shall attempt to teach any free person of color, or slave, to spell, read, or write, shall upon conviction thereof of indictment be fined in a sum not less than two hundred and fifty dollars.”
Despite the consequences, many enslaved people continued to learn to read. Numerous enslavers may have supported teaching Blacks to read. Many slaves performed “sophisticated work, including management of operations,” which required literacy. Barring Blacks from reading and writing was not a practical strategy for the slave owners.
Patrick Breen, author of The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood: A New History of the Nat Turner Revolt. Clarence Lusane, a professor of political science at Howard University. Sarah Roth, professor of history at Meredith College and creator of The Nat Turner Project.
As Federal forces occupied significant portions of the South, enslaved people escaped from farms and plantations and fled to safety behind Union lines. The number of freedom seekers increased considerably in Union-occupied Corinth after President Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was issued in September 1862.
The Corinth Contraband Camp was established by Union General Grenville M. Dodge to help these refugees. The camp included homes, a church, a school, and a hospital. The freedmen cultivated and sold cotton and vegetables in a progressive cooperative farm program. By May 1863, the camp was making a profit of $4,000 to $5,000 from its operations. By August, over 1,000 Black children and adults learned to read through the efforts of various benevolent organizations. Although the camp had a modest beginning, it became a model camp and permitted approximately 6,000 former slaves to establish their own identities.
Once the Emancipation Proclamation was implemented, nearly 2,000 newly freed men at the Corinth Contraband Camp had their first opportunity to protect their way of life and they formed a new regiment in the Union army. Since most of the men came from Alabama, the unit was named the 1st Alabama Infantry Regiment of African Descent, which was later re-designated to the 55th United States Colored Troops.
In December 1863, the camp was moved to Memphis and the freedmen lived in a more traditional refugee facility for the remainder of the war. The Corinth Contraband Camp was the first step on the road to freedom and the struggle for equality for thousands of former slaves.
Today a portion of the historic Corinth Contraband Camp is preserved to commemorate those who began their journey to freedom there in 1862-1863. This land now hosts a quarter-mile walkway that exhibits six life-size bronze sculptures depicting the men, women, and children who inhabited the camp.
The following images from the site illustrate the interest and desire that the emancipated Blacks had to learn to read and write.
Authors beware! Your book may be banned by school districts.
Will Your Book be Banned?
A letter to the editor in the January 30, 2023 Dallas Morning News caught my eye this morning. According to the writer, McKinney ISD changed its review process to remove books based on a review of “specific passages.” The new McKinney ISD library review process allows for the “review and removal of books based on only an individual paragraph or passage.” The first book removed under the new policy is The Bluest Eye which won the Nobel Prize for literature.
This form of censorship indicates that a simple Grammarly check will need to be augmented by a “suitability” check.
For authors, this means that the audience for your book may be significantly reduced. This ban may have started with a school district, but it may soon spread to local public libraries, book stores, and online retailers. Your audience is now about twenty-five readers. How will publishers respond to these restrictions? Will they print your book if it has an unsuitable passage? They are in business to make money and loss of market may make it tough or impossible to get your manuscript published.
While parents want and should be able to exercise control of what their children read, these blanket rules place an academic institution or government in charge of their child’s education.
After spending two years researching and writing my book, I was anxious to find a publisher willing to print and distribute my manuscript. Of course, I hoped to find a “match made in heaven,” but instead I ended up “shaking hands with the devil.” No information on sales! Low to negligible royalties! I learned my lesson and I want to share some information I have discovered to help you avoid my experience.
Some publishers fail to pay authors on time or in full or are non-responsive to authors’ requests. There is a growing number of publishers that have been not paying authors their royalties. There are many lawsuits currently in the works that seek to get compensation, but it’s a long and dark road.
The Netflix movie The Pale Blue Eye is a murder mystery that takes place at the United States Military at West Point.
The Pale Blue Eye is a gothic mystery thriller film written and directed by Scott Cooper, adapted from the 2003 novel of the same name by Louis Bayard. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Christian Bale, Harry Melling, Gillian Anderson, Lucy Boynton, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, Harry Lawtey, Simon McBurney, Timothy Spall, and Robert Duvall. Its plot follows veteran detective Augustus Landor in 1830 West Point, New York, as he investigates a series of murders at the United States Military Academy with the aid of Edgar Allan Poe, a young military cadet.
In 1830, alcoholic retired detective Augustus Landor is asked by the military to investigate the hanging of Cadet Leroy Fry at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Landor is a widower who lives alone since his daughter Mathilde ran off a few years previously.
After Fry was hanged, his heart was removed from his body. In the morgue, examining the corpse, Landor finds a small fragment of a note clutched tightly in Fry’s hand. Also, marks on Fry’s neck and fingers suggest that he did not hang himself, but was murdered.
With the officers’ permission, Landor enlists the help of Edgar Allan Poe, another cadet at the academy who has expressed an interest in the case. Poe and Landor deduce from the writing on the note fragment that it was summoning Fry to a secret meeting. After a cow and a sheep are found in the area, butchered and with their hearts removed, it is deduced that the murder could be linked to black magic rituals.
Another cadet, Ballinger, goes missing and is later found hanged, with both his heart and his genitals removed. A third cadet, Stoddard, who was a colleague of the two victims, then disappears, and it is presumed by Landor that this man had reason to believe he was next in line to be killed.
Landor and Poe begin to suspect the family of Dr. Daniel Marquis, who was first brought into the investigation to perform the autopsy on Fry. Particular suspicion is placed on his son Artemus and his daughter Lea (who suffers from random seizures).
While visiting Dr. Marquis’s house, Landor finds an old officer’s uniform; a man impersonating an officer had been involved in the mutilation of Fry’s body. Landor confronts Dr. Marquis, who admits that he had resorted to black magic to cure Lea of her seizures, and initially she appeared to improve.
Poe is enchanted by Lea and volunteers to do whatever she wants. However, he is drugged and wakes to find that Artemus and Lea are about to cut out his heart, in accordance with the ritual to cure Lea. Landor manages to arrive in time to rescue Poe, but the building catches fire and Lea and Artemus die.
Thinking that the case is now solved, the military thanks Landor for his service. However, Poe, recovering from his near-death experience, notices that the handwriting on the note fragment found in Fry’s hand matches that of Landor. Threading together all the information that he has gathered, it becomes apparent that Landor was in fact the killer of the cadets. Poe confronts Landor with his conclusion.
It transpires that two years previously, Landor’s daughter Mathilde was raped by Fry, Ballinger, and Stoddard after attending her first ball. Traumatized by the experience, she later killed herself by jumping off a cliff. Landor did not disclose this to anyone but pretended that she had run away.
Distraught, Landor set out to avenge his daughter. He left the note for Fry, luring him to a lonely spot before hanging him. However, a patrol happened to walk by, so Landor was forced to leave the body there. Lea and Artemus later stole the heart for their ritual. After killing Ballinger, Landor mutilated his corpse to make it appear that the cadet had been murdered by the same “madman” who had desecrated Fry’s body.
Poe tells Landor he has two notes with handwriting samples that can link Landor directly to the murders, but before leaving, Poe burns them. Landor is later seen standing at the cliff where his daughter leapt to her death. He lets her hair ribbon float away in the wind, saying “Rest, my love”.
West Point References
Although the story is fiction, it does contain accurate references to West Point.
The Superintendent is Sylvanus Thayer
The “second in command” and nominal Commandant of Cadets is William “Haughty Bill” Hitchcock
There are many stories, anecdotes, and fantasies about Poe’s exploits at West Point. He became notorious for cutting mandatory drills, skipping classes, and making “nocturnal visits to Benny Havens.” One night Poe stumbled back to his barracks and sprawled on his back on the steps of his tactical officer’s quarters. “When the tactical officer awoke and inquired as to who might be outside his door, Poe allegedly responded in verse: On Linden when the sun was low/All bloodless lay the untrodden snow/And dark as winter was the flow/Of I SIR, rolling rapidly!” Cadet Poe was eventually court-martialed and dismissed from the Academy. Some attribute his discharge to his frequent trips to Benny Havens or his “uncontrollable urge to hurl baked potatoes across the Academy mess hall.” Another story blamed his dismal on reporting to a parade naked except for his crossed white ammunition belts and hat. One account said that Poe, in a fit of rage, threw his tactical officer off a cliff into the Hudson River and was subsequently charged with murder.[i]
[i] William F. Hecker, editor, Private Perry and Mister Poe, The West Point Poems, 1831, Facsimile Edition (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2005), Introduction xvii-xviii..
The Plano Kiwanis’ “Books and Buddies” program received a $500 grant from Sam’s Club. The grant, along with Plano Kiwanis funds, will be used to purchase bilingual books that will be given to Head Start children at an open house in February. Over the past two years, the Books & Buddies project has supplied bilingual books for school events, after-school programs, and libraries.
The program’s goal is to support efforts to connect parents and children with books.
Some medical offices have also received bilingual books through the program, which presents an opportunity for a parent to spend a few minutes reading a book with their child.
As some of you may know, Charlotte is a mischievous elf. She is employed by Santa Claus in his North Pole workshop. During the Christmas season, Charlotte makes unannounced visits to children around the world. Experts have not determined whether there is one elf with magical powers or many elves to cover the earth. The CIA and MI6 are also investigating how many wonderful Charlottes are out there.
Charlotte has been staying with my great-granddaughter in her home in North Texas. My five-year-old was enjoying her time with the playful elf until this morning.
The little girl could not find her friend. She looked in her room, the kitchen, the living room, and even in the backyard. She could not find Charlotte. She called her mother to help her in the search. The child became upset and started to cry. Her mother suggested that they go to Starbucks for breakfast. The distraught little girl fought back tears and decided to go. On the drive to the coffee shop, she asked her mom to call the police to report the missing elf.
Upon arriving at Starbucks, the child saw a policeman. She said, “I want to report a missing person er elf .”
The policeman opened his notepad and wrote down the particulars … height, weight, color of hair, and clothes the elf was wearing. He asked when the last time the elf had been seen. He assured the child.
“She will probably turn up at home. If she is not there, I will submit my notes and authorize a missing persons er missing elf report.”
The five-year-old was comforted by the officer’s sincerity and promise.
By this time, the breakfast order was ready. The little girl went to the counter to get her hot chocolate. There she found Charlotte with her arms around the cup. She approached the elf cautiously, thinking it might be another child’s elf. Her mother assured her that it was her Charlotte.
Of course, the first my precious great asked was, “How did Charlotte open those heavy doors into the Starbucks. Her quick-thinking mom said a customer must have opened the door for her.
I called her later that morning to see if she was okay. “You know that Charlotte is so mischievous,” I began. Great Grandpa, she is right here and you must be careful not to hurt her feelings.” I apologized and said I loved my sweet little girl. She said goodbye and went off to play hide-and-seek with the playful elf.
A huge thank you to the police officer who treated my great grand baby with such tenderness and to the thoughtful Starbucks employees who helped locate Charlotte. A very big hug to my granddaughter and her mom who welcomed Charlotte to her home.
The Third Rebellion is a novel about political and social unrest in the United States of America. The book is a work of fiction. The Third Rebellion is not a prediction of future events, a political manifesto, a condemnation of American society, a denunciation of a political party, or a call to action. It is a story about an American revolution or rebellion which the author created from personal observations during the past 10 years. As I considered writing a novel about a possible third Civil War, I sought events that could lead to such an uprising.
Headlines like these inspired writing of The Third Rebellion.
“As Trump refuses to concede defeat, far-right groups plan show of support in Washington” November 13, 2020 – Reuters News Service
“George Floyd’s death was ‘murder’ and the accused officer ‘knew what he was doing,’ Minneapolis police chief says” – June 24, 2020 – CNN
“Pride, Black Lives Matter flags burned at Cary church” – August 31, 2022 – WXII News Winston Salem, North Carolina
“Was the Jan. 6 Attack on the Capitol an Act of ‘Terrorism?’” – January 7, 2022 – The New York Times
The Woman King is a must viewing. Viola Davis is her great self. The Woman King is a true story that confirms that the all-female military regiment existed and was called the Agojie or Mino (Our Mothers). The Woman King takes place in 1823, the year that King Ghezo finally freed Dahomey from its tributary status. While the historically based movie describes how the Agojie saved Dahomey, its themes resonate with us today.
It describes how some African kingdoms provided slaves for European traders. However, General Nanisca (Davis) refuses to enslave people for trade and denounces the practice.
The movie portrays a strong female society of brave and gifted fighters that are superior to the male warriors. It also shows the Agojie as a loving and nurturing sisterhood with an unbending commitment to their country and to each other.
The Woman King has lessons for today’s women.
They are just as strong as the men and always have been.
They are brave and fearless.
They control their lives and bodies.
Please see the empowering movie. Enjoy the songs and dances, treasure the warmth and love, and cheer the bravery and skills..
I read Dave Lieber’s online column today where he quotes from World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle.
Mr. Lieber called the piece the “finest non-fiction writing I’ve ever found.” Dave gave me permission to share this information. I think that when you read this passage, you will agree with Dave and me that this is “great writing.” and perhaps find this quote your “favorite piece of writing by anyone, ever.”
One dreary evening in London a friend and I started out to dinner. We had gone about two blocks when we heard hurrying footsteps behind us. We turned and saw that it was a little bellboy from my hotel. The lad’s name was Tom Donovan, and he was the one who had showed [sic] me my room on that first strange night months before when I arrived in London.
“This telegram just came for you, sir,” he said. “I thought maybe I could catch you.” I thanked him and he started on back.
I stepped over to the curb, out of people’s way, while I tore open the telegram and read it.
“What is it?” my friend asked. “More good news from home?”
“Read it,” I said, and went on ahead. When he caught up he said, “I’m sorry,” and we walked toward Leicester Square as though nothing had happened.
It was the cablegram that told me that my mother, far away in Indiana, had come to the end of her life.
That night in London, back in my room, it seemed to me that living is futile, and death the final indignity. I turned off the lights and pulled the blackout curtains and went to bed.
The pictures of my mother raced across the darkness before my eyes. Pictures of nearly a lifetime. Pictures of her at neighborhood square dances long, long ago, when she was young and I was a child. Pictures of her playing the violin. Pictures of her doctoring sick horses; of her carrying newborn lambs into the house on raw spring days. I could see her that far day in the past when she drove our first auto – all decorated and bespangled – in the Fourth of July parade. She was dressed up in frills and won first prize in the parade and was awfully proud….
I could see her as she stood on the front porch, crying bravely, on that morning in 1918 when I, being youthful, said a tearless good-by and climbed into the neighbor’s waiting buggy that was to take me out of her life.
The pictures grew older. Gradually, she became stooped, and toil-worn, and finally white and wracked with age – but always spirited, always sharp.
On the afternoon that I was leaving London I called little Tom Donovan, the bellboy, to my room. One by one the floor servants had come in, and I had given them farewell tips. But because I liked him, and more than anything else, I suppose, because he had shared with me the message of finality, I wanted to do something more for Tom than for the others. And so, in the gentlest way I could, I started to give him a pound note.
But a look of distress came into his face, and he blurted out, “Oh no, Mr. Pyle, I couldn’t.” And then he stood there so straight in his little English uniform and suddenly tears came in his eyes, and they rolled down his cheeks, and then he turned and ran through the door. I never saw him again.
On that first night I had felt in [sic] a sort of detached bitterness that, because my mother’s life was hard, it was also empty. But how wrong I was. For you need only have seen little Tom Donovan in faraway London, wretched at her passing, or the loneliness of Snooks [her little dog] after she had gone, or the great truckloads of flowers they say came from all over the continent, or the scores of Indiana youngsters who journeyed to her both in life and in death because they loved her, to know that she had given a full life. And received one, in return.
Courtesy of Dave Lieber, “Watchdog Nation” The Dallas Morning News
Ebenezer Allen and Salmon Chase were classmates and graduates of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. They renewed their friendship in January 1853 in Washington, DC. Chase was a Senator from Ohio (1849−1855) and later a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was an ardent abolitionist and known as the “fugitive slave lawyer” because he defended so many escaped slaves in court. On the afternoon of January 9, 1853, in Washington, Allen gave Chase an in-depth description of life and politics in Texas. The former Dartmouth classmates talked about the role of slavery in the Texas economy. Although they had different views on the subject, they respected each other’s position.
In September 1844, Texans elected Dr. Anson Jones president. He made no campaign speeches and refused to state his position on annexation. Jones remained silent even after James K. Polk’s election as president of the United States on a platform of “reannexation of Texas,” and President John Tyler’s proposal of annexation by joint resolution.
After Dr. Jones’s election, he consulted with friends and other Texas politicians to select officers for his cabinet. He chose Ashbel Smith as Secretary of State. For the position of Attorney General, Jones selected a lawyer from Red River County – Ebenezer Allen. Jones’ cabinet served from about December 1844 until February 1846.
After Jones organized his cabinet, France and England demanded Texas send a representative to their courts “with full powers to conclude any arrangement that might be necessary for the safety of the country.” The governments asked Jones to send Secretary of State Ashbel Smith, who was “known and highly appreciated.” Ebenezer Allen was selected to fill this position in addition to his duties as Attorney General. Allen was regarded as “a man of excellent sense, high character, and of the best disposition in this matter.” In addition to his position as attorney general, Allen was “charged with the duties of secretary of state ad interim.”
While Jones was non-committal about annexation, Secretary Allen was strongly in favor of independence. Two months before his appointment he wrote to William Kennedy, the British consul at Galveston, about his position:
You are well aware of the fact that I have from the beginning been decidedly opposed to the Annexation of Texas to the United States. It is my first object to defeat, if possible, the consummation of this most obnoxious measure, so decidedly hostile, as I conceive it to be, and fraught with such evil consequences to the ultimate prosperity and high destiny of this Country. If I am successful in the accomplishment of this great result, I shall consider it the proudest period of my life.
Salmon Portland Chasewas a Senator from Ohio (1849−1855) and later a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was an ardent abolitionist and known as the “fugitive slave lawyer” because he defended so many escaped slaves in court. On the afternoon of January 9, 1853, in Washington, Allen gave Chase an in-depth description of life and politics in Texas. The former Dartmouth classmates talked about the role of slavery in the Texas economy. Although they had different views on the subject, they respected each other’s position.
After the Civil War, Chase was appointed a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the 1869 case Texas v. White, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution did not permit states to unilaterally secede from the United States and that the ordinances of secession, and all the acts of the legislatures within seceding states intended to give effect to such ordinances, were “absolutely null.” – United States Supreme Court Ruling
“The Union of the States never was a purely artificial and arbitrary relation. It began among the Colonies and grew out of common origin, mutual sympathies, kindred principles, similar interests, and geographical relations. It was confirmed and strengthened by the necessities of war and received definite form and character and sanction from the Articles of Confederation. By these, the Union was solemnly declared to “be perpetual.” And when these Articles were found to be inadequate to the exigencies of the country, the Constitution was ordained “to form a more perfect Union.” It is difficult to convey the idea of indissoluble unity more clearly than by these words. What can be indissoluble if a perpetual Union, made more perfect, is not?” – Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase.
It is interesting how Ebenezer Allen worked to annex Texas to the United States although he was decidedly against it and Salmon Chase issued a Supreme Court decision to keep Texas from leaving.
Our best wishes to you and your families. I hope this holiday that you take time for an extra hug for your family and friends. I hope this holiday you will…
Love not hate
Leave politics locked in a drawer at home
Find common ground of agreement, don’t focus on things that we disagree on.
Wish everyone you meet with season’s greetings.
Give to a charity(ies) that help the less fortunate.
Don’t have a heart attack while shoveling snow or watching football.
Not feel you have to drink to have a good time.
Call you distant friends and family with greetings.
Put the world’s problems on pause.
Laugh and smile.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday. May this beautiful holiday season fill your heart with love, your home with joy, and your life with laughter. Happy Holidays! Wishing you and your family love, peace, and joy!
On page E1 of the Saturday, November 27, 2021 issue of The Dallas Morning News, Ms. Tyra Damm authored an article entitled “Books expand our world, make life richer.” Ms. Damm is a Briefing columnist for the paper. Her article describes how reading books influenced her and how “books were [her] friends, my anchor, my escape.”
I thought one particular paragraph was very important.
Where fear drives us to limit ideas available to other people, we are narrowing potential for emotional growth and tangible progress, cutting off access to the power of empathy. When we read authors from different backgrounds and with divergent points of view, we ask deeper questions, make connections, solidify our beliefs or even adjust them if so moved.
Ms. Tyra Damm, “Books expand our world, make life richer, ” The Dallas Morning News, November 27, 2021, p. E1.
The first large burning came on 6 May 1933. The German Student Union made an organized attack on Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex Research. Its library and archives of around 20,000 books and journals were publicly hauled out and burned in the street. Its collection included unique works on intersexuality, homosexuality, and transgender topics.
On May 10, 1933, the students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books in the square at the State Opera, Berlin. This action began an era of inflexible state censorship. In many other university towns, nationalist students marched in torch-lit parades against the “un-German” spirit. The scripted rituals of this night called for high Nazi officials, professors, rectors, and student leaders to address the participants and spectators. At the meeting places, students threw the pillaged, banned books into the bonfires with a great joyous ceremony that included live music, singing, “fire oaths,” and incantations. In Berlin, around 40,000 people heard Joseph Goebbels deliver a fiery address: “No to decadence and moral corruption!” Goebbels told the crowd. “Yes [sic] to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Glaeser, Erich Kästner.”
All of the following types of literature, as described by the Nazis, were to be banned:
The works of traitors, emigrants, and authors from foreign countries who believe they can attack and denigrate the new Germany
The literature of Marxism, Communism, and Bolshevism.
Literature with liberal, democratic tendencies and attitudes
All historical writings whose purpose is to denigrate the origin, the spirit, and the culture of the German People, or to dissolve the racial and structural order of the Volk, or that denies the force and importance of leading historical figures in favor of egalitarianism and the masses, and which seeks to drag them through the mud.
Books that advocate “art” which is decadent, bloodless, or purely constructivist
Writings on sexuality and sexual education which serve the egocentric pleasure of the individual and destroy the principles of race and Volk
Literature by Jewish authors, regardless of the field.
Popular entertainment literature that depicts life and life’s goals in a superficial, unrealistic, and sickly-sweet manner, based on a bourgeois or upper-class view of life.
Naiveimitation of patriotic literature.
Pornography and explicit literature
All books that degrade German purity.
Many German students were complicit in the Nazi book burning campaign. They were known as Deutsche Studentenschaft, and when they ran out of books in their libraries they turned to independent bookstores. Libraries were also asked to stock their shelves with material that stood up to Hitler’s standards and destroy anything that did not.
Fast forward to Texas in 2021. In November, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (Republican) told education officials that the Texas Association of School Boards had “attempted to wash its hands clean of the issue by abdicating all responsibility in the matter” to monitor and remove unacceptable books from classrooms and school and public libraries.
Abbott said: “Given this negligence, the State of Texas now calls on you to do what the Texas Association of School Boards refuses to do,” that the standards the entities develop “must ensure transparency about the materials being taught in the classroom and offered in school libraries.”
The heads of the Texas Education Commission (TEA) and State Board of Education (SBOE) said they would work alongside the other to develop those statewide standards as requested by the governor.
The Texas Education Commission “takes seriously” Abbott’s “call for action on this matter of great importance to families of Texas public school students.” The SBOE said Texas public school families “should have the reassurance that their children are not at risk of being confronted with pornographic and obscene material when they are in school.”
Texas State Representative Matt Krause (Fort Worth Republican) launched an inquiry on the question of inappropriate content in public schools and libraries in certain school districts over the types of books students can access. Krause included a roughly 850-book list that included novels about racism and sexuality and asked the districts to identify which of those books were available on school campuses.
Krause asked districts whether they had those books and how much money was spent on them but declined to offer specifics and said he does not want to “compromise” a pending or potential investigation as chair of the House General Investigating Committee.
The following topic list includes some sample titles that discuss:
Abortion – Roe vs. Wade, Coping with Birth Control, A Question of Choice, and Abortion: opposing viewpoints
Sexuality – Everything you need to know about growing up femaleEverything you need to know about growing up male,The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel, LGBT families, and Gender equality
Teen Sex – Teens & sex, Safe sex 101: an overview for teens, S.E.X.: the all-you-need-to-know progressive sexuality guide to get you through high school and college, Do abstinence programs work?Sexually transmitted diseases, and Sexually transmitted infections
Sexual Orientation – The LGBT community, Sexual orientation, Coming out: telling family and friends, A new generation of homosexuality: modern trends in gay and lesbian communities, Identity & gender, and Rainbow revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ people who made history
Racism – What’s racism?The Black power movement and civil unrest, So you want to talk about race, This book is anti-racist : 20 lessons on how to wake up, take action, and do the work, Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, #BlackLivesMatter : protesting racism, and Race and policing in modern America.
These books allow important discussions about teens that teens are dealing with: Sexuality (Internal conflicts about gender identification and hate crimes against LGBTs), Sexuality and Teen Sex (Just when their hormones are in overdrive these conversations are critical in dealing with family, religion, biology, male and female characteristics changes, and teen pregnancy), Racism (How can we expect to reconcile treatment of minorities if this topic is not discussed in the classroom? How can society rid itself of hate when teens are prohibited from understanding their prejudices and unequal treatment?), and Abortion – This is a major issue facing our society and teens need to understand its origin, femininity and masculinity, and physical and mental crises young people often face alone).
Currently, some districts in Texas ban: The Tell-tale Heart (Edgar Allan Poe), I Hate My Bow (Hans Wilhelm), To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), Pugdog (Andrea U’Ren), Drama (Raina Telgemeier), Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) Underpants (Dav Pilkey), and Mirriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary.
A Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler conducted a poll about the Texas government’s role in “identifying which books should be removed.” The results indicated that 35% of respondents have “no confidence” and 31% said “that they had “not too much” confidence. Less than 10% of the respondents said they “trusted state leaders’ judgment on books “a great deal.”
Perhaps by including books and discussing the issues we can prevent suicide, unprepared and unmarried teenage parents, beating an LBGT teen, and harassing a bright classmate who happens to be Asian or Jewish, and stopping a bombing of a church, mosque, or synagogue.
The different and diverse beliefs which are threatening our democracy illustrate the failure to develop solutions that partially satisfy both Democrats and Republicans. This reminded me of the inherent skills of people. Not all of us are rocket scientists or brain surgeons. I have compiled the following “natural laws” to illustrate my point.
… love instead of hate.
… either understand algebra or don’t.
… believe in science while others dismiss it.
… want good lives for everyone but others don’t care for anyone except themselves.
… are professional football receivers and others cannot catch a balloon.
… can speak many languages and for some mastering their native language is difficult.
… have artistic skills in art and music while some folks cannot draw stick figures or play chopsticks.
… believe that God has given us the skills to address life’s challenges and some people stand in the middle of a busy street waiting for God to rescue them.
… select clothes that make them more attractive while others wear two different socks.
… can write books and others think books are something to stand on to reach higher.
… can fix almost everything while others buy tools for the women in their life.
… can cook while others eat fast foods.
… like asparagus while others think that it should be extinct.
… are Republicans and some are Democrats.
… are peacemakers while others are always itching for a fight.
… like the beach and others like the mountains.
… like their steaks rare while others like them burned to a crisp.
… are vegetarians while others are carnivores.
… love Cocoa-Cola and some prefer Pepsi-Cola.
… some choices are politically correct while others could care less.
I could go on, but in the interest of your time and mine, I will end.
It is good to have different beliefs and choices. The problems exist because some people try, often in vain, to persuade people they are correct, and they should embrace their preferences. Others refuse to respect other peoples’ views, understand why they feel this way, and refuse to meet in the middle and compromise.
This is an issue that plagues America, increases our differences, and locks people into unescapable positions. For our civilization to survive, we must listen, respect, and understand each other’s position. This is the first step in seeking common ground to show us that we are not as different as we thought.
I don’t know when or why I stopped. Neither do I know when I began. Since I stopped singing the time spent during my showers has decreased dramatically.
Singing was a type of relaxation for me. However, my college roommates and landlords didn’t share my enthusiasm.
Today my showers are methodical contact between soap, washcloth, and skin. I have gone from pleasure to worry. Now my showers are focused on worries, problem solving, and schedule. Oh, what a loss to me and a joy to music lovers.
It’s a widely acknowledged phenomenon that people’s singing voices significantly improve when they’re in the shower. Have you ever been singing whilst having a scrub and thought to yourself, ‘wow, I actually sound pretty good!’ only to mortify yourself on stage that evening at the karaoke bar, as you discover that you still sound like a drowning rat when you try to hit those high notes in Dancing Queen?
It’s all to do with reverberation and acoustics. Reverberation is the process by which sounds blend together, and the structure of your typical shower provides the ideal environment for this. Essentially, the shower acts as a mixer that modifies your voice, making it sound better. It does this in three ways.
First of all, the volume of your voice is reflected off the hard and smooth surfaces of the bathroom, so it doesn’t fade as quickly as it would in an open space. Secondly, as the sound bounces around the shower, creating reverb – your voice ‘hangs’ in the air longer than usual, giving it an embellished, rich sound. Reverb also evens out pitch as it reverberates off so many surfaces, so even if you’re not hitting those notes, it sounds more like you are when you’re in the shower. Finally, the shower itself acts as a ‘resonant cavity’, naturally amplifying certain frequencies of sounds.
Dear readers, what is your experience with warbling? I have several questions for you.
Do you sing in the shower?
If you do, what songs do you sing?
Do your family, roommates, and friends like, tolerate, or hate your performances?
Is a good singing voice necessary to be a shower songbird?
Do teenagers sing in the shower?
Have electronic devices taken the place of shower vocalists?
Does this blog entry encourage to return to singing or discourage you from returning or beginning shower recitals?
Recently I read a story in the Dallas Morning News about the terrible behavior of people opposed to their school district’s regulations. A young student was beginning to speak about his grandfather’s death when a number of attendees at the school district meeting interrupted the speaker’s two-minute allotment showering the young man with boos, slurs, and signs opposing the speaker’s statement. The simple mention of his grandfather’s death was met with insulting “adult” behavior . My issue with the disruption was not the pros and cons about the issue being discussed but with the violation of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The amendment clearly states that:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Apparently, the angry members recalled the “freedom to peaceably assemble” portion but not the “freedom of speech” part of the amendment. Their behavior violated the freedom of speech part of the amendment.
Maybe the angry attendees felt their outbursts were provided by the First Amendment which gave them the right to speak. However, they refused to allow this Constitutional right to the young man’s speech. Freedom to speak allows/encourages people to speak, it doesn’t say one side should be allowed to speak but not the opposing side.
Perhaps, their behavior was only being impolite, rude, and disruptive. However, their actions brought the unwelcome attention of the media. They embarrassed their school district, town, state, and others who supported their view.
“Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist.” – Frederick Douglas
“The right to free speech is more important than the content of the speech” – Voltaire
Freedom of speech includes the right:
Not to speak.
Of students to wear black armbands to school to protest a war.
To use certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages.
To contribute money (under certain circumstances) to political campaigns.
To advertise commercial products and professional services (with some restrictions).
To engage in symbolic speech, (e.g., burning the flag in protest).
Freedom of speech does not include the right:
To incite actions that would harm others (e.g., “[S]hout[ing] ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”).
To make or distribute obscene materials.
To burn draft cards as an anti-war protest.
To permit students to print articles in a school newspaper over the objections of the school administration.
Of students to make an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event.
Of students to advocate illegal drug use at a school-sponsored event.
I am delighted to announce the publication of my story, “Two-Front War” on pp. 50-53 of the November 2021 edition of America’s Civil War. The story is based on my research in connection with my biography of General C. F. Smith. Teacher of Civil War Generals – Major General Charles Ferguson Smith, Soldier and West Point Commandant published by McFarland Publishing. The article focuses on Smith’s assignment in Paducah, Kentucky under General Ulysses Grant. During his time in Paducah, a citizen waved a Confederate flag from his residence, The Lloyd Tilghman House. Smith followed Grant’s orders not to disturb peaceful citizens, but the 11th Illinois thought the flag should come down. This resulted in a near mutiny in Smith’s command and widespread criticism as a Southern Sympathizer. The story reveals how Civil War officers often had to fight on two fronts: the enemy and culprits in their command.
This story led to an article in the magazine’s Grapeshot column (p. 10) about the role General Smith played in the capture of Fort Donelson. Most discussions focus on Grant’s victory and “contributions” made by other officers. Sometimes, these officers are not mentioned, but Generals Grant and Halleck credited Smith with the victory. Smith’s leadership and bravery at Fort Donelson earned him confirmation as a major general by the Union Senate.
Imagine my surprise when my Editor Chris Howland sent me two copies of the issue addressed to Allen Mesch “Contributing Editor.”
The United States military has demonstrated one of its duties during the evacuation of Americans and Afghans who supported U.S. forces. This task was extremely difficult and resulted in the loss of thirteen soldiers. This is not the first time U.S. forces have evacuated Americans and those citizens that supported us. This happened in the Vietnam War. The same evacuation of soldiers and people who assisted us occurred then. However, there are differences between Vietnam and Afghanistan. The Taliban are ruthless religious zealots, and the North Vietnamese were led by a popular revolutionary. During the Vietnamese War, there were protests on college campuses and soldiers were spit upon and called “baby killers.” I don’t recall any protests about the war in the twenty years U.S. troops were in Afghanistan. The soldiers who died in the attack on the Kabul airport were honored as heroes. Both of these conflicts suffered from political interference and questionable decisions. When we send our military abroad, the government should allow the troops to pursue their mission without interference. Let the warriors fight the war, don’t let them be constrained by ever-changing political rules that corrupt and confuse their mission.
So, what is the mission of the U.S. military? Is it winning wars or something else?
The mission statements of the military and its branches provide insight into their responsibilities.
The military fights under the authority of the United States Department of Defense. The Department of Defense is responsible for providing the military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of our country. The major elements of these forces are the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, consisting of about 1.7 million men and women on active duty. During the Civil War, the department was called the War Department. It obtained its new name the “Department of Defense” on August 10, 1949.
The mission of the United States military is to preserve peace and security and provide for the defense of the United States, the Commonwealths and possessions, and any areas occupied by the United States, support national policies, implement national objectives, and overcome any nations responsible for aggressive acts that imperil the peace and security of the United States
The Marine Corps mission statement describes the corps as “America’s expeditionary force in readiness since 1775. We are forward deployed to respond swiftly and aggressively in times of crisis. We are soldiers of the sea, providing forces and detachments to naval ships and shore operations.”
The United States Army’s mission statement is to preserve peace and security and provide for the defense of the United States, the Commonwealths and possessions, and any areas occupied by the United States. This mission charges the Army with supporting national policies, implementing national objectives, and overcoming any nations responsible for aggressive acts that imperil the peace and security of the United States.
The U.S. Navy recognizes that the United States is a maritime nation. The Navy’s mission is to protect America at sea. Alongside our allies and partners, the Navy defends freedom, preserves economic prosperity, and keeps the seas open and free. Our nation is engaged in long-term competition. To defend American interests around the globe, the U.S. Navy must remain prepared to execute our timeless role, as directed by Congress and the President.
The one unifying task in these mission statements is defense. The military is charged with protecting, preserving peace, providing security, defending freedom, supporting national policies, implementing national objectives, and overcoming nations responsible for aggressive acts that endanger the peace and security of the United States. There is no mention of making war or defeating an enemy of the United States.
I salute your bravery in protecting Americans and our allies in Afghanistan and around the world. Your achievements bestow upon you honor and respect. Thank you for your service.
The Third Rebellion is a novel about political and social unrest in the United States of America. The Third Rebellion is not a prediction of future events, political manifesto, condemnation of American society, denunciation of a political party, or call to action. It is a story about an American revolution or rebellion which the author created from personal observations during the past ten years.
As I considered writing a novel about a possible third Civil War, I sought events that could lead to such an uprising. There are many incidents in the United States including: increased violence, widespread racism, restriction of voting rights, decreased gun control, limitation of women’s rights, anti-immigrant polices, police violence on Blacks, refusal to accept voting results, and unconstitutional measures limiting free speech and voting rights. The combination of these occurrences could lead to rebellion as predicted by leaders and historians.
If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon’s but between patriotism and intelligence on one side, and superstition, ambition and ignorance on the other.
Ulysses S. Grant
… if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.
If a separation of the states ever should take place, it will be on some occasion when one portion of the country undertakes to control, to regulate and to sacrifice the interest of another.
H. W. Brands
If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation”
Please check future posts for more information on The Third Rebellion.
Today April 18 is National Columnists Day. Dallas Morning News columnist Dave Lieber picked the date. On that day in 1945, the “finest columnist of the 20th century” was killed in battle. Lieber celebrated the day and the man in his column in today’s edition of the News.
Ernie Pyle began writing about World War II in England. In 1940, he covered the Battle of Britain. He returned to Europe in 1942 as a war correspondent for Scripps-Howard newspapers. Beginning in North Africa in late 1942, Pyle spent time with the U.S. military during the North African Campaign, the Italian campaign, and the Normandy landings. He was assigned to cover the Asiatic-Pacific Theater in January 1945. Pyle was covering the invasion of Okinawa when he was killed in April 1945.
As a war correspondent, he wrote from the perspective of the common soldier; explaining how the war affected the men instead of reporting on troop movements or the activities of generals. His descriptions of or reactions to an event in simple, informal stories are what set Pyle’s writing apart and made him famous during the war.
Mr. Lieber wrote about Pyle’s personal difficulties with his wife. She suffered with mental problems and was subjected to shock treatments.
In contrast, Lieber described his 26-year marriage partnership. His wife accompanied him on assignments often under cover to obtain the information Lieber used in his columns. She also checked his writing before it was sent to the paper.
When I read about Dave’s marriage, I noted the 54-year partnership with my own wife. She has accompanied me to over 150 American Civil War sites, proof-read my manuscripts and blogs, helped me at book signings, and provided much needed comfort and understanding of my frustration with computers, publishers, politicians.
Thank you Dave, for reminding me of how much my bride has supported me all these years.
And, yes she proofread this document and corrected three of my errors.
I am pleased to announce that the Texas History Blog has published my post on Ebenezer Allen’s role in Texas’ annexation to the United States. The post explains Allen’s work as Secretary of State ad interim in Anson Jones’ cabinet.
Please visit The Texas History Blogto learn more about the Republic’s and State’s history. The blog is managed by James Aalan Bernsen. James is an eighth-generation Texan, He was born in San Antonio, within a mile of the Alamo. He received his B.A. in Journalism and German from Texas A&M University and his M.A. in United States History from Texas State University.
Ebenezer Allen was born on April 8, 1804, in Newport, New Hampshire. He was the first child of David and Hannah Allen. David Allen moved to Newport from Killingworth, Connecticut around 1800. Allen was born on May 13, 1777, in Killingworth. Around 1803, David married Hannah Wilcox who July 12, 1780. The Allens lived on a large farm on the Goshen Road in Newport. Mr. Allen ran an inn and tavern, which were popular stops when the Croydon Turnpike was an important commercial road.
Other children joined the Allen family several years after Ebenezer. David Allen Jr. was born in 1806, Uriah Wilcox Allenin 1807, and Elvira Allen in 1809. The 1810 census lists nine people in the David Allen household. There were three males under ten: Ebenezer (6), David (4), and Uriah Wilcox (3); one white female under 10: Elvira (1); one white male 16-25, one white female 16-25, one white male 26-44: David Allen, one white female 26-44: Hannah; and one white female over 45. The Allen family continued to grow with the births of Nahum Wilcox Allen in 1812, Hannah Cordelia Allen in 1814, Roxanna Allen in 1817, Samuel Johnson Allen in 1819, Harriet Allen in 1821, Albert G Allen in 1823, and William Allen in 1825. By 1830, Ebenezer had four sisters and six brothers.
As the eldest child, Ebenezer had many responsibilities in the Allen farm and businesses. Farm parents expected their children to contribute to the family’s productivity. Small children helped with simple, unskilled tasks. As the children grew and gained skills, their work became more difficult. Farm boys always had work because of the daily need for firewood and water. Boys cared for the livestock and guarded the animals in the pasture. The children assisted their parents in preparing the fields for planting and sowing the seeds in the furrows. At harvest, they helped gather the crops. Boys hunted and fished for recreation and to supply food for the family. Like other oldest sons, Ebenezer was “early made acquainted with labor.”
David and Hannah Allen believed in education and their children attended the “common schools” in Newport. The Allens enrolled their children in the Newport Academy after the school opened on June 24, 1819. The citizens of Newport and neighboring towns organized the school to give their children a “more advanced education than was to be had at our common schools” and “to fit them for college.”. The school had “ample rooms nicely fitted up.”
After school and their chores, the Allen children may have played Copenhagen, button, hunt the slipper, blind man’s bluff, and the grace-hoop.
Most of Ebenezer’s brothers and sisters stayed in New England. David Allen, Jr. became a lawyer. Uriah W. Allen moved to Stonington, Connecticut, where he was a farmer. Uriah was married twice and had one son, Albert. Alvira Allen married Philo Fuller a “manufacturer” from Newport. The Fullers had five children Eugene, Nelson, Allen, Ellen, and Edith. Nahum W. Allen went west as a teacher and became a clergyman. He had a daughter, Harriet.
On April 8, 2021, the City of Allen Texas celebrated the 217th birthday of its namesake Ebenezer Allen.
 The Croydon Turnpike Road was incorporated on June 21, 1804. The road went from Lebanon to, Grantham, Croydon, Newport, and Lempster. The road connected to the Second New Hampshire Turnpike in Washington, 34 miles, at an expense of $35,948. The Second New Hampshire Turnpike was chartered in 1799 and completed in 1801. This was the connecting route between Boston and Vermont. accessed February 6, 2017, New Hampshire’s Turnpike History, http://www.cowhampshireblog.com/2006/08/23/new-hampshires-turnpike-history/.
 Year: 1810; Census Place: Newport, Cheshire, New Hampshire; Roll: 23; Page: 201; Image: 00144; Family History Library Film: 0218684, accessed May 20, 2016.
 Descendants of Gideon Allen, Courtesy of Judith M. Johnson, Johnson-Morrow Family Tree, accessed May 20, 2016, Ancestry.com.
 James M. Volo and Dorothy Denneen Volo, Family Life in 19th-Century America. (Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007), .
 A common school was a public school in the United States during the nineteenth century. Horace Mann (1796−1859) was a strong advocate for public education and the common school. In 1837, the state of Massachusetts appointed Mann as the first secretary of the State Board of Educationwhere he began a revival of common school education, the effects of which extended throughout America during the 19th century. Wikipedia contributors, “Common school,” Wikipedia contributors, “Common school,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Common_school&oldid=871899693 (accessed August 21, 2019).
March 30 is National Pencil Day. On this day in 1858, Hymen Lipman received a patent for attaching an eraser to the end of a pencil. For all of us erring humans, thank you.
I do the daily crossword and sudoku puzzles with a pencil so I can use Lipman’s device to correct my errors. I also use a pencil for craft and carpentry measurements. However, I use my computer for writing complete with Grammarly reviews.
Some writers like the sound and feel of a typewriter. Others like the convenience and spontaneity of a pencil. Notebooks are changing this reason.
Thanks to my efforts the Mayor of Allen, Texas has designated April 8 as Ebenezer Allen Day.
Mayor Ken Fulk read the proclamation at the March 23, 2021 City Council meeting.
Office of the Mayor
City of Allen
WHEREAS, The City of Allen, Texas is named for Ebenezer Allen, who served as the Republic of Texas Attorney General and interim Secretary of State; and
WHEREAS, Ebenezer Allen worked with the Republic of Texas’ President Anson Jones in the annexation of Texas to the United States of America; and
WHEREAS, Ebenezer Allen obtained the charter for the Galveston and Red River Railway Company, later known as the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. The first locomotive of the Company was named after him as was the first station at present-day Allen, Texas; and
WHEREAS, the Allen City Council celebrates its namesake on the 217th birthday of Ebenezer Allen and recognizes the important role he had in establishing our community.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, KENNETH M. FULK, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF ALLEN, COLLIN COUNTY, TEXAS, proclaim April 8, 2021, as:
“EBENEZER ALLEN DAY”
in Allen, Texas, and I urge all citizens to take cognizance of this event and participate in all the events related thereto in this community.
Kenneth M. Fulk, MAYOR
After Mayor Fulk read the proclamation, he invited me to say a few words about Mr. Allen’s life.
After the meeting, I talked to representatives from the Heritage Guide of Allen about helping with any future events commemorating the day. They were interested in the idea and I am hopeful that the City of Allen may stage some activity to celebrate Ebenezer Allen’s birthday on April 8, 1804 in Newport, New Hampshire.
Allen presenting copy of Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy to Mayor Fulk
While writing another post, I was searching for a quote from President Harry S. Truman. I found several quotations that illustrate how he put the country before his prejudices and his political party. Truman, who made civil rights a federal priority for the first time since Reconstruction, was a bigoted man who expressed strong racist sentiments before, during, and after his presidency.
In 1911, Truman wrote to his future wife, Bess: ″I think one man is just as good as another so long as he’s honest and decent and not a n—r or a Chinaman (Chinese). Uncle Will (Truman’s uncle) says that the Lord made a white man from dust, a n—r from mud, then He threw up what was left and it came down a Chinaman (Chinese).″
″(Uncle Will) does hate Chinese and Japs (Japanese),″ Truman continued. ″So do I. It is race prejudice, I guess. But I am strongly of the opinion Negroes ought to be in Africa, yellow men in Asia, and white men in Europe and America.″
In 1937, Senator Truman wrote a letter to his daughter describing waiters at The White House as ″an army of coons.″ In a letter to his wife in 1939, he described an event (possibly a Juneteenth celebration) as ″ n—r picnic day.″
Truman’s attitudes toward race were formed as a boy in Missouri. His grandparents owned slaves and his mother was imprisoned by Union troops during the Civil War and she remained ″violently unreconstructed″ for the rest of her life. Truman formed ″an abiding belief in white supremacy,″ Although Truman decreased his racist expressions after entering the White House, he continued to use racial slurs in private conversation for the rest of his life.
However, instead of governing under these principles, he acted in the “best interests” of the country. ″Whatever my inclinations as a native of Missouri might have been, as president I know this is bad. I shall fight to end evils like this.″
The president appointed a committee to study civil rights abuses and later supported the panel’s call for anti-lynching and anti-poll tax legislation. He also ordered the desegregation of the armed forces and became the first president to campaign in Harlem. As a result, he was denounced by his old Southern Democratic allies.
Some of Truman’s racist attitudes surfaced after he left the White House. He continued to use racial insults and opposed the 1960s sit-ins and said they might be Communist-inspired. He called Northerners who went on Freedom Rides meddlers and The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. a troublemaker.
A 1947 report by the Truman administration titled To Secure These Rights presented a detailed ten-point agenda of civil rights reforms. In February 1948, the president submitted a civil rights program to Congress that proposed creating several federal offices dedicated to issues such as voting rights and fair employment practices. This caused a storm of criticism from southern Democrats in the runup to the national nominating convention, but Truman refused to compromise, saying: “My forebears were Confederates… but my very stomach turned over when I had learned that Negro soldiers, just back from overseas, were being dumped out of Army trucks in Mississippi and beaten.”
Tales of the abuse, violence, and persecution suffered by many African American veterans upon their return from World War II infuriated Truman. These abuses were a major factor in his decision to issue Executive Order 9981 in July 1948 that required equal opportunity in the armed forces.In the early 1950s after several years of planning, recommendations, and revisions between Truman, the Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity, and the various branches of the military, the services became racially integrated.
″Whatever my inclinations as a native of Missouri might have been, as president I know this is bad,″ he said, ″I shall fight to end evils like this.″- President Harry Truman
Executive Order 9980 in 1948, made it illegal to discriminate against persons applying for civil service positions based on race. A third order issued in 1951, established the Committee on Government Contract Compliance (CGCC). This committee guaranteed defense contractors did not discriminate because of race.
When Truman signed Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948, he declared “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” That same day, he also signed an executive order to desegregate the federal workforce.
“The main difficulty with the South is they are living eighty years behind the times and the sooner they come out of it the better it will be for the country and themselves. I am not asking for social equality, because no such thing exists, but I am asking for equality of opportunity for all human beings, and, as long as I stay here, I am going to continue that fight.” – August 18, 1948
“As Americans, we believe that every man should be free to live his life as he wishes. He should be limited only by his responsibility to his fellow countrymen. If this freedom is to be more than a dream, each man must be guaranteed equality of opportunity. The only limit to an American’s achievement should be his ability, his industry, and his character.” In the speech, Truman emphasized: “When I say all Americans, I mean all Americans.”
Truman’s comments on various matters illustrated his understanding of government, politics, and society. They also made great newspaper headlines and quotes.
“When even one American – who has done nothing wrong – is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth – then all Americans are in peril.”
“You know that being an American is more than a matter of where your parents came from. It is a belief that all men are created free and equal and that everyone deserves an even break.”
“I have no desire to crow over anybody or to see anybody eating crow, figuratively or otherwise. We should all get together and make a country in which everybody can eat turkey whenever he pleases.”
“The human-animal cannot be trusted for anything good except en masse. The combined thought and action of the whole people of any race, creed or nationality, will always point in the right direction.”
“Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home—but not for housing. They are strong for labor—but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights. They favor minimum wage—the smaller the minimum wage the better. They endorse educational opportunity for all—but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine—for people who can afford them … They think American standard of living is a fine thing—so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.” – October 13, 1948
“Whenever a fellow tells me he’s bipartisan, I know he’s going to vote against me.”
“Carry the battle to them. Don’t let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive and don’t ever apologize for anything.”
“There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”
“Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”
“Study men, not historians.”
“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.”
“Most of the problems a President has to face have their roots in the past.”
On the Presidency…
“The buck stops here!”
“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
“Those who want the Government to regulate matters of the mind and spirit are like men who are so afraid of being murdered that they commit suicide to avoid assassination.”
“When you get to be President, there are all those things, the honors, the twenty-one-gun salutes, all those things. You have to remember it isn’t for you. It’s for the Presidency.”
“A President needs political understanding to run the government, but he may be elected without it.”
“A president either is constantly on top of events or, if he hesitates, events will soon be on top of him. I never felt that I could let up for a moment.”
“If I hadn’t been President of the United States, I probably would have ended up a piano player in a bawdy house.”
“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”
“It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.”
“It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.”
“I do not believe there is a problem in this country or the world today which could not be settled if approached through the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount.”
I ask the question because for much of the past week (February 14 to February 20) some Texans have been without power, clean water, and natural gas. As we thaw out, we are confronted with broken pipes, water damage, and other problems.
What better time to forget your problems and settle into a comfortable chair with a eBook.
I would be happy to add your eBook to the list with the link you want. There should be a common topic for the book listed. eg don’t include a children’s book on a site devoted to historical non-fiction. Perhaps you might try the same idea on your author webpage. I would be happy to receive your comments etc. on this idea.
The Professor and the Madman is a biographical film based on the book The Surgeon of Crowthorne or The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester.
The movie is about Professor James Murray (Mel Gibson), who became director of an Oxford University Press project in 1879, The New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (now known as the Oxford English Dictionary), and the man who became his friend and colleague, W. C. Minor (Sean Penn), a retired U. S. Army surgeon who submitted more than 10,000 entries while he was confined at Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum at Crowthorne, England.
William Chester Minor, a retired U. S. Army surgeon, suffered from the delusion that he was being pursued by a killer. During an episode in London, Minor killed an innocent stranger, George Merrett. He was tried in 1872, found not guilty because of insanity, and sent to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum.
Doctor Brayne (Stephen Dillane) meets Minor at Broadmoor. Minor saves a guard’s life by amputating the man’s leg. Filled with guilt, Minor asks that most of his army pension be given to Eliza Merrett (Natalie Dormer), his victim’s widow. A prison guard, Muncie (Eddie Marsan), became an intermediary between Minor and Mrs. Merrett. Muncie delivers the offer Mrs. Merrett who refuses the pension. Brayne promises to protect him from his imagined pursuer, gives him room to paint, and allows him access to his library of rare books.
In Oxford, James Murray interviews for a position as editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. Murray was a self-taught scholar who left school at fourteen and had no degree. His application is criticized by some members of the Oxford University Press oversight committee is skeptical of Murray’s credentials, he is selected for the overwhelming task.
An oversight committee board member believes that “all words are valid in the language. Ancient or new, obsolete, or robust on, foreign-born or homegrown. The book must inventory every word, every nuance, every twist of etymology, and every possible illustrated citation from every English author. All of it or nothing at all.”
Murray has a solution to this intimidating assignment. He suggests that the project should enlist volunteers from everywhere English is spoken. He wrote an appeal to English-speaking people around the world and asked them to send their contributions on slips of paper. Booksellers, librarians, and newsagents distributed the request.
Muncie brings Christmas dinner to the Merretts. Finally, Eliza Merrett asks to see Minor and accepts his financial support. Minor says his life belongs to her.
Muncie and the guards give Minor a book that contains Murray’s appeal. Minor tells Brayne that he will be “all right” with this work and more books. Soon a volume of slips fills his room. Minor submits 1,000 slips to Murray and offers to take on the most elusive words, giving his address as “Crowthorne.” The slips are sent to Murray and the two men begin to correspond.
Murray makes an unexpected visit to Broadmoor. He carries a bundle of words for Minor, who Murray believes is a staff member. When Murray sees the manacles, he is not unsettled. “You are not alone—consanguineous”, he says. The word “consanguineous” means having the same lineage or origin or having a common ancestor. In this instance, I believe Murray uses the word to tell Minor that they kindred spirits and that Minor is not alone. Brayne encourages Murray’s visits.
The Professor and the Madman is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the development of the Oxford English Dictionary.
The book was praised by the New York Times Magazine as “masterfully researched and eloquently written” and “the linguistic detective story of the decade.” the movie received poor reviews. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 43%, based 30 reviews, with an average rating of 5.50/10. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 25 out of 100, based on four critics, indicating “generally unfavorable reviews.” Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com gave the film 1½ out of 4 stars, calling it “the latest fiasco in bad movie history… the presence of Gibson and his co-star Sean Penn give the project a stuffy sanctimoniousness.”
See the movie or read the book to learn about the history of the dictionary
Her inauguration speech The Hill We Climb was amazing. I’m not going to bore you with her vita which is available at Amanda Gorman. For those of you who missed her reading of The Hill We Climb you can find the words on NewsNation and other sites.
Ms. Gorman, thank you for you words of hope and inspiration in these difficult times. May you have a wonderful and honored career.
President Biden’s address to the nation and its emphasis on unity and resolution of differences suggested to me that Americans had many choices that will determine the fate of our democracy. For us to work together to solve the many challenges facing our country, we must examine our values and choose the “right” ones.
By April 1861, the United States had gone from the crisis of secession to the calamity of civil war. Colonel Charles F. Smith was en route from Utah to New York City to assume the post of Superintendent of the Eastern Department of the General Services at Fort Columbus, New York. However, before he began his post in New York, he was sent to Washington to command the Department of Washington.
Colonel Smith reached the capital at eleven o’clock on April 6. Later that day, General Winfield Scott issued Special Orders No. 58 assigning Smith “to the command of all troops stationed in this city and at Fort Washington.
From his room at the Willard Hotel, Smith wrote to his wife Fanny: “My command at present consists of six companies are at Fort Washington (some 14 miles below this on the Potomac); 2 field batteries; a troop of the dragoons and 2 companies of Artillery, serving as Infantry which will soon be increased by several companies of horse and foot.”
On April 14, Smith’s friend Major Robert Anderson surrendered the garrison at Fort Sumter. After the surrender of Fort Sumter, many Americans expected the first real battle of the war would be fought over Washington. The union capital was surrounded by the slave states of Maryland and Virginia and lacked troops and fortifications. The city was guarded by 1,500 soldiers, marines, and militia. The only aid the city might receive came from the 75,000 volunteers President Lincoln requested on April 15.
Smith’s status was clarified on April 11 in Special Orders No. 102, which stated, “The 10 companies of militia called out and mustered into service of the United States in obedience to orders from the President, dated War Department, April 9, 1861, will be placed under the command of Bvt. Colonel C. F. Smith, commanding the Department of Washington.
On April 15, Scott told President Abraham Lincoln that “Col. Smith, the commander of the Department of Washington, like myself, thinks our means of defense, with vigilance, are sufficient to hold this till reinforcements arrive.”
The military leaders focused the city’s defense on three key sites: The Capitol; the Old City Hall area, which included the White House, Patent Office, and buildings containing the War, Navy, State, and Treasury departments; and Treasury Building the places were strengthened to withstand a ten-day siege and soldiers were stationed inside the buildings at night.”
Smith quickly put a plan of action to effect. He ordered Captain Kings Company I 1st Infantry to “take post at the Arsenal” and Brevet Major J. A. Haskins First Artillery to “proceed with his company as soon as practicable to Fort Washington.” In General Orders No. 4 on April 16, he designated “Col. Charles P. Stone, Inspector-General of the Militia of the District of Columbia” to command the “companies of volunteers from the District of Columbia now being mustard.”
On April 16, Smith wrote to Fanny, “Every disposition has been made constantly for defense.”
The government has been so tardy in its operations that we are now virtually surrounded by thousands of armed men, whilst I with a small force of volunteers (comparatively) are standing on the defensive. I hate this being cooped up. Oh! If I only had my old Utah force. But regrets are vain. I expect an attack tonight; the first occasion I have thought such a thing might occur although the military precautions I have taken many nights [and] have been of such a character to frighten timid people. I have sat in my office for the last three nights getting about two hours sleep in a chair and this with exercise of brain and body has much worried me – tho’ all say I never looked better.
By April 18th forces in Washington had increased 2 2800 two 3200 men composed of 1000 men from the army and Marines 1200 to 1500 men from the District of Columbia militia and 600 to 700 Pennsylvania volunteers “in poor order.”
To learn more about General Smith and his role in the Civil War, please see buy thebook at Amazon.
Congratulations to Martellus Bennett and Malcolm Mitchell for writing books which encourage children to want to read. Their efforts are very important to all authors because the children to read Bennett and Mitchell’s stories become adult readers and potential customers.
“It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet there are those who love it.” – Daniel Webster about Dartmouth College
“… when I called him to that station I was almost a stranger to him personally, having never seen him but once or twice, and knew nothing of his opinions on this [annexation] or scarcely any other subject. I approved him because he had the character of possessing great ability and honesty.” – President Anson Jones on his prior knowledge of Mr. Allen
“You are well aware of the fact that I have from the beginning been decidedly opposed to the Annexation of Texas to the United States. It is my first object to defeat, if possible, the consummation of this most obnoxious measure, so decidedly hostile, as I conceive it to be, and fraught with such evil consequences to the ultimate prosperity and high destiny of this Country. If I am successful in the accomplishment of this great result, I shall consider it the proudest period of my life.” – Ebenezer Allen on Annexation of Texas to the United States
“The final act in this great drama is now performed: the Republic of Texas is no more.” – Anson Jones on Annexation of Texas to the United States
“The importance of the measure and its incalculable influence on and among the value of our lands, developing the resources; promoting the prosperity and increasing the wealth of our State, if successfully consummated, can not [sic] be questioned.”– Ebenezer Allen’s application for a charter to build the Galveston and Red River Railroad
“On asking ‘who was present’! – the reply by the alphabet was, ‘Lafitte’ He went on to tell us that there was a large treasure buried in the back yard of Dr. McGuire’s house, – that the money was stolen from him by some of the men in his employ and concealed in that place – (probably while he occupied this island). He directed us to search for it and said we could obtain it and he wished us to do so. Said it would take a man two days and (as I understood) part of another to dig it out. Said it was six feet below the surface; also that he would show the spot by causing the table to march to it and stand over it. On Wednesday last (9th inst) the ladies, my wife being present, tried the experiment at Dr. McGuire’s. The table (a small four legged one of the ordinary form) immediately after moving, commenced a regular walk, moving a side at a time and moving forward through the back door and along the walk upon the ground about 15 or 20 feet then turned at right angles, to the right and advanced through the grass and shrubbery to a small figtree [sic], which it went around and stopped on the other side of it some 5 minutes. It then started again very suddenly and advanced about 6 or 8 feet further and remained stationary under a large figtree [sic]. Upon inquiry, it said ‘the table stood directly over the money.’ On the evening of the 10th inst I went to Ms. McGuires [sic] at her request, who shew [sic] me the places where the table stopped, and I struck my walking stick into the ground making a small hole at each place. The statement was confirmed by what purported to by other spirits.” – Ebenezer Allen on Lafitte’ treasure
“The flame ever springs from the dust of the slain Where Milam hath fallen and Travis hath bled! Then haste, lady, haste, for the soft breezes play To waft the swift bark o’er the billows away, Not to climes where the relics of cities are strown [sic], And gray ruin points to the glory that’s gone. No! Not to the time honoured [sic] retreats of the east, Where sighs the dim shade of imperial power, But blithely where freedom anew spreads her feast, And invites to the land of the star and the flower!” – Mrs. Ebenezer (Sylvinia) Allen on Texas
“For, engraven [sic] on tablets more lasting than stone, I read − “Man shall never be happy alone!” How thrilled then my pulses with raptures untold When my Bird flew towards me on pinions of gold, And entranced with her notes, as from bow’rs [bowers] of the blest, I wooed her forever to dwell in my breast.” – Ebenezer Allen “A Retrospect to his Wife“