Got Electricity? – How About an EBook?

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.

  • Teacher of Civil War Generals – Major General Charles Ferguson Smith, Soldier and West Point Commandant – Kindle Format
  • Charles A. Marvin – “One Year, Six Months, and Eleven Days” Kindle Format
  • Preparing for Disunion – West Point Commandants and the Training of Civil War Leaders Kindle Format
  • Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy Kindle Format

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.

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The Professor and the Madman

The Professor and the Madman
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

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.

 Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

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 Professor and the Madman
(Courtesy of

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 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

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Amanda Gorman


That’s all I can say about Ms. Amanda Gorman.

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.

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What Do You Chose?

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.

I Chose …

I chose love, not hate.

Truth, not lies.

Country, not political party.

Science, not quackery.

Peace, not war.

Equality, not supremacy.

Care, not indifference.

Nonviolence, not violence.

Discussion, not accusations.

Respect, not insults.

Acceptance, not exclusion.

Honor, not cowardice.

Service, not power.

To live in the real world, not a fantasy world.

Health, not sickness.

Help, not harm.

Build, not destroy.

Education, not ignorance.

Cooperation, not disagreement.

Angels, not devils.

Clean air and water, not pollution.

What do you choose?

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Let Us Be Strong Spiritual Anvils

“So in the days ahead, let us not sink into the quicksands of violence; rather let us stand on the high ground of love and noninjury. Let us continue to be strong spiritual anvils that will wear out many a physical hammer.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Union Troops Protect Washington

The images of U. S. troops resting in the capitol remined me of another time when Union soldiers were garrisoned in government buildings in Washington. These excerpts from Teacher of Civil War Generals – Major General Charles Ferguson Smith, Soldier and West Point Commandant describe some of the events of April 1861.

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.”

Union Troops in Washington, DC

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 the book at Amazon.

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Former NFL Players Write Children’s’ Books

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.

Malcolm Mitchell’s Books – Read with Michael

The Magician’s Hat

My Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World

Martellus Bennett’s Books – Martellus’s Facebook PageImagination Agency

Hey A.J., It’s Bedtime!

Hey A.J., It’s Saturday!

Dear Black Boy

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YouTube Interview by Samantha O’Daniel

Please see my YouTube interview about writing.

Order the print copy of Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy

Order the E-book copy of Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy

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Quotes from Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy

“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

Purchase Book on Amazon

Paper Back Book

Kindle E-Book

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Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy

I am pleased to announce that Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy is now available on Amazon.

Paperback Edition – check out the preview

Kindle Edition – check out the preview using an e-reader

Ebenezer Allen – : Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy by [Allen H.  Mesch]

Over the next few months, I will be conducting web based (via Zoom) lectures on Ebenezer Allen’s life. I will also be offering a signed edition of the paperback at a reduced price.

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