Tag: History

Who Shot First at Jamestown?


My family descended en masse on Virginia this fall. You see, my cousin had had her first child, and while we missed out on the baby stage (there was this disease; you may have heard of it), the collected aunts were determined to get at this boy while he was still cute. So we converged on Williamsburg, Virginia. While we were there, we stopped to see the sights.

At the Jamestown settlement museum, the group stopped to watch an introductory video history. “You’re a history buff,” they said to me. “You know all this already, but the rest of us would like a chance to catch up.” Despite my prodigious memory for trivia, it had been mumblety years since my high school AP history class, and so I was glad to catch up with the rest of them. One scene in particular described the start of conflict between the Native Americans[1] and the English settlers. The movie was vague as to the question of who started it, blaming cultural misunderstandings. It showed an Indian grabbing the hilt of an unsuspecting Englishman’s sheathed sword. This led to a fight, and the movie went on to describe the war between the settlers and the locals.

Victor Davis Hanson joins Brian Anderson to discuss the ancient and modern history of citizenship, the hollowing out of civic duty in today’s U.S., and the irresponsibility of American elites. His new book, The Dying Citizen, is out now.

Find the transcript of this conversation and more at City Journal.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with David Reynolds, a Distinguished Professor of English and History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times, selected as one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Professor Reynolds shares what teachers and students alike should know about the culture of Civil War America, primary education in that era, and the wide variety of influences on Lincoln’s thinking and leadership. They delve into the most bitterly contentious political topics of Lincoln’s time, including slavery, states’ rights, trade tariffs, and women’s rights, and how the 16th president addressed the nation’s many political divisions. They also explore how Lincoln used his rustic image to shape his public persona and appeal to voters; and how he marshaled his rhetorical talent, invoking biblical language and the ideals of the American founding, to win the war, preserve the Union, and ultimately abolish slavery. Professor Reynolds concludes with a reading from his biography.

Stories of the WeekWashington Post columnist Jay Mathews recognizes the work of Will Fitzhugh, founder of The Concord Review, to encourage students’ interest in historical fiction and reward long-form research and writing. A new project of the Teagle Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities promises to restore the humanities in undergraduate education.

Quote of the Day: The Tragedy of Liberty


There are those who assert that revolution has swept the United States. That is not true. But there are some who are trying to bring it about. At least they are following the vocal technique which has led elsewhere to the tragedy of Liberty. Their slogans; their promise of Utopia; their denunciation of individual wickednesses as if these were the wards of Liberty; their misrepresentation  of deep-seated causes; their will to destruction of confidence and consequent disorganization in order to justify action; their stirring of class feeling and hatred; their will to clip and atrophy the legislative arm; their resentment of critic; their chatter of boycott, of threat and of force—all are typical enough of the methods of more violent action.

— Herbert Hoover, “The Challenge to Liberty”

Book Review: Roger Scruton’s ‘Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition’


Published in 2017, a little over two years before his death, this I think was Roger Scruton’s last published work devoted to conservatism proper.  He has written other books on music and art, albeit as seen through a conservative lens, but their primary focus was aesthetic and not civic. Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition summarizes a great career of a man who has lived his life in the public square with a particular philosophy that runs against the current of contemporary ethos.  Roger Scruton (1944-2020) was a conservative in the paleo-conservative sense, not some neoconservative rebranding of once Liberal thought. He is British, though has had a voice in European and American conservative circles, a professor of philosophy, has published over 50 books on a wide range of subjects, and for almost twenty years was chief editor at the conservative quarterly, The Salisbury Review.  Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Scruton helped establish underground academic networks in communist-controlled countries.

This is an excellent and concise book on the history of modern conservatism by an author who lived through most of the debates of the last fifty years.  When Scruton identifies modern conservatism, he says it is “a product of the Enlightenment,” although acknowledging that conservatism dates back in every era of history.  Conservatism for Scruton is a set of customs, values, and institutions built by a community over time that have proven to sustain, preserve and “ensure [the] community’s long-term survival” and that give it a sense of identity and unity.  Conservatism in the modern sense is a counter to the Liberal emphasis of reshaping society as radical individualism that rose out of the Enlightenment.  “Tradition,” as Scruton observes from Edmund Burke, “is a form of knowledge.”

Scruton walks us through the philosophical ideas that have shaped conservatism going back to Edmund Burke, who argued against a notion of society as a “social contract” (from Jean-Jacques Rousseau) but as a “shared inheritance for the sake of which we learn to circumscribe our demands, to see our own place in things as part of a continuous chain of giving and receiving, and to recognize that the good things we inherit are not ours to spoil but ours to safeguard for our dependents” (p. 45).  Indeed I never signed a social contract but I was certainly born into a shared inheritance.

Howard Husock joins Brian Anderson to discuss the problems with urban renewal, exclusionary zoning, and public housing. Husock’s forthcoming book, The Poor Side of Town: And Why We Need It, is a history of housing policy in America.

Find the transcript of this conversation and more at City Journal.

‘You Can’t Land Here!’


Douglas C-54 Skymaster.

Captain John “Jack” Rayca couldn’t believe his ears. The war in Europe was nearly over. He’d been flying various multi-engine planes throughout the war including the twin-engine C-46 Commando, the twin C-47 Skytrain, and now later in the war, the big C-54 Douglas Skymaster with its four Pratt & Whitney R-2000-9 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder radial engines that put out 1,100 hp each. The Skymasters were long haulers and heavy lifters for their day, able to go 4,000 miles with 28,000 lbs. of payload. Their maximum takeoff weight was an impressive 36.5 tons.

Captain Rayca and his crew flew new replacement bombers and cargo to Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and even India. On their return trips to the states they often carried wounded servicemen. Today was one of those flights. He and his crew had a load of wounded and war weary pilots and yet the Army Major in charge of the airport’s military operations had just said “…you can’t land here”.

The Oklahoma Panhandle: Creating and Settling No Man’s Land


I grew up in the small town of Optima, OK, which had 92 people, in the heart of No Man’s Land, the Oklahoma Panhandle. I’ve become curious how my home region became No Man’s Land, so I did some research. It turned out to be a story of how a series of unrelated decisions by the federal government, foreign governments, and American politicians affected a largely unsettled portion of North America and accidentally formed the land in which I grew up. Here is the story of each of the four borders of the rectangular Oklahoma Panhandle.

Source: http://www.emersonkent.com/images/us_expansion_1820_adams_onis.jpg

Quote of the Day: Why is History Important?


It is beneficial that the next generation learns about the past for the same reasons that it is important that you remember your childhood.  The quintessential question of “what next!”  How will we as a society go into the future without knowledge of the past? If we don’t know what we, as Americans, are, how will we know what we will become?–Miss Peachy

The above was my 13-year-old granddaughter’s spontaneous written response to a question on a pop quiz given by her teacher on the first day of eighth-grade classes.  It was the first in-person instruction she’d attended in about 18 months.

She can’t have been entirely gruntled by the experience, as at some point during that first day, she sent her mother the following text:

An Unlikely Vindication


I finished my first book in the first few days of 1984.  The experience had been a nightmare.  Not really knowing the process or the pace, I had spent months of near-all-nighters writing a book on the history of Silicon Valley that was 300,000 words long — three times the contracted amount.  I had slept on the office floor many nights, and once I got drunk after having accidentally/ erased 10,000 words.

I sent the manuscript to Doubleday in one of the first attempts to do so over the Internet — on a 3K modem (it took about 12 hours)  I had $12 in the world. So my soon-to-be-wife and I celebrated with a half-dozen sliders and a bottle of Bushmill’s my parents had brought back for me from Europe.  The next day, I collapsed and got violently sick. . . completely missed my 30th birthday.

Lee’s Ferry


Lee’s Ferry

It’s not much more than a small dot on a map; but, despite that Lee’s Ferry has had an outsized import over the years. And, where and what is Lee’s Ferry you may ask? The where is on the Colorado River about 9 miles south of the Utah- Arizona border and, as later would be determined, also as good a boundary as any between the river’s upper and lower basins.  The what is the only location along the river between the small hamlet of Hite, Utah (now submerged under Lake Powell) and Black Canyon (the site of Hoover Dam), a distance of over 450 miles at which it is possible to access and cross the Colorado River with relative ease. Otherwise, the rest of the river between these two points had steep canyon walls making access to and crossing of the river difficult if not impossible, while the Lee’s Ferry area had gentle slopes that could easily be traversed.

What Do You Mean We Have To Sink The Bismarck Again?


My Mom and Dad met when they were reporters for the El Paso Times.  After they married, my father became a correspondent* for the Associated Press in New Mexico.  My mother worked as a police reporter, stringer, and photographer until my father became AP bureau chief.

She still reads two physical newspapers every day.  During a visit last week, she handed me this clipping, asking “How did that happen?”

Quote of the Day: John S. Mosby


“Historic truth ought to be no less sacred than religion.”

I live in Loudoun County, which, as you may know, is becoming ground zero in the Critical Race Theory battle in the schools. It is also a hotbed of name-changing to whitewash (can I still say that?) history.

Where Have You Gone, Samuil? A Journey Through Identity and Exile with Vladislav Khodasevich (Borscht Report #9/Group Writing)


When it comes to pre-WWII Russian literary critics and poets, Vladislav Khodasevich is not well known, particularly in the West. Compared to someone like, say, Bunin or Tsvetaeva, he’s been largely ignored. But Khodasevich deserves attention, both as a skilled memoirist and poet, and as one of the few who chronicled the whole journey of his generation through the realities of WWI and the White exile, grappling with issues of right, honor, and Russian identity, especially for those who carried non-Russian blood in the vast multiethnic empire. 

Born in Moscow in May of 1886, Khodasevich was the son of a Polish nobleman and a Jewish woman. Unlike the union of Vera and Vladimir Nabokov, though, theirs was not an unusual act of mutual tolerance. Jacob Brafman, Khodasevich’s maternal grandfather, was a famous convert from Judaism to Orthodoxy, who wrote The Book of Kahal, a forerunner to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He entered the law faculty of Moscow University in 1904, then switched to history and philology the next year, staying on until 1910. It was during his time at the university that Vladislav met Samuil Kissin, a law student and aspiring poet from Orsha who was a year older than he. Twenty years later, he said Kissin, whom he affectionately nicknamed Muni, was “как бы вторым «я»” (like my second self) and reflected on how “we lived in such a faithful brotherhood, in such close love, which now seems wonderful to me.”

Despite his training, Khodasevich did not want to be a historian or a philologist, but, like Kissin, a poet, and dropped out in the final year of his course. He frequented Moscow’s literary salons and cafes, and published articles and poems for famous literary magazines, like Golden Fleece and Libra. Although he was the descendant of a noble family, his father had come to Russia impoverished, and Kissin, who hailed from an observant Jewish merchant family (he was trained in Hebrew and the Talmud at home during his childhood) actually had a much more secure financial position, though he was always willing and happy to support his friend along with himself. 

Diplomacy Won the Cold War


General Donn StarryStrategic clarity plus skillful diplomacy won a Beltway battle, setting conditions for Cold War victory. This is a story of a star among senior military leaders, U. S. Army General Donn Starry. He was not alone, but was a key change agent when the armed services were floundering post-Vietnam. General Starry, an Army officer, had no power over his Air Force counterparts. Yet, over the course of several years, Starry both kept the scale of the Warsaw Pact threat clear and persuaded senior Air Force staff, with their congressional backers, that there was a win-win solution between the two services. He was one of the leaders at the heart of the AirLand Battle doctrinal shift. General Starry’s story offers lessons for successful leadership and organizational change beyond those rare occasions when orders command action. In addition to leadership lessons, we will have a brief cautionary tale about the dangerous power of a tale well told.

Post-Vietnam Conditions

Not just equipment

Member Post


I used to subscribe to Harper’s Magazine back in the day when it was closer to classical liberalism than Leftist ideology. I still have a handful of those magazines from the 1980s. Walter Karp, historian and contributing editor, was what we would call today a “good liberal.” And he understood the problem with public (read […]

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Training Young Heroes in the Present Crisis


I just finished teaching military history in a homeschool co-op. The last day was devoted to the topic of masculinity: what it is and how it relates to war. At the last minute, I tore up my notes and rewrote my class plan in response to some reading I found.

The students were 11 boys, ages 13-17.

The old plan started with a discussion of courage based on a reading from Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, which gives a fictional account of the Battle of Thermopylae. We had previously covered Christian just war theory and I thought a bit of pagan philosophy would be an interesting contrast.

How Not to Win Friends and Influence People: Noa Tishby


red green capitalI wanted to like Noa Tishby. I was prepared to hear her out as a courageous voice in Hollywood and a potential cobelligerent against the new Red-Green alliance.* I value Scott Johnson’s opinions in the main, having followed PowerLine Blog since they eviscerated Dan Rather’s attempt to steal the 2004 election with a blatantly fraudulent story about George W. Bush’s Texas Air Guard service record. Scott recommended readers to “meet Noa Tishby.” So, I read Robert Sarner’s Times of Israel profile “Israeli actress Noa Tishby’s ‘Simple Guide’ to Israel shakes up US progressives.” So far so good. Then, I followed the link to Matt Lewis’s long-form web video interview of Noa Tisby on the new book she reportedly wrote entirely on her own, Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth. Sad.

I embed, you go watch and decide, then come back to check my opinion. Or read on and then go check my assessment against the tape. By way of warning, this was not safe for younger children’s ears. This is so for all too many web-exclusive videos. She asks the profanity question, common these days as a “mind if I smoke” question used to be. Once the cursing/smoking light is on, the filter comes off, especially late in the interview when she talks about being a woman in Hollywood with “Weinstein” being the daily norm for decades.

May Day Down by Law


ConstitutionMay 1st, May Day, is formally recognized in the United States as Law Day, not Workers Day, and certainly not International Workers Day. We successfully rejected the left’s class warfare agenda for a century because of the reality of American law, grounded in our foundational law, the Constitution of the United States of America. Because of our reasonable reliance on a system of laws, not men, we observed that economic status was not fixed from birth, so the weeds of envy could not take deep root on American soil. That is why the left both set about subverting our system of law and creating a different basis for division, hate, and envy.

The effort to make May Day a class-based workers holiday was driven by the early socialist movement:

In 1889 an international federation of socialist groups and trade unions designated May 1 as a day in support of workers, in commemoration of the Haymarket Riot in Chicago (1886). Five years later, U.S. Pres. Grover Cleveland, uneasy with the socialist origins of Workers’ Day, signed legislation to make Labor Day—already held in some states on the first Monday of September—the official U.S. holiday in honour of workers. Canada followed suit not long afterward.