America and Protests

Martin Luther King, Jr. would not recognize so-called “social justice warriors” of today.

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals…”

Nonviolence is the weapon

“The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.”

Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.”

Memorial Day Tribute

Thomas Jefferson Truitt enlisted in… Company D of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers on July 24, 1861.  He was a carpenter working near Kellersburg in Armstrong County PA.  His father, Anderson, died suddenly in October of 1860, leaving the family deep in debt and without a steady income.  To make ends meet, the widowed Sarah Caldwell Truitt was forced to sell pieces of the family farm and work odd jobs.  The outbreak of the war in 1861 rallied the young men of Armstrong County to the Finlay Cadets.  It also provided Jefferson and his younger brother David the opportunity to assist their family financially.

truitt

1837-1864

Truitt served with distinction… as the company’s color sergeant.  On July 1, 1862 at the battle of Malvern Hill, he rescued the 62nd PA’s flag from capture by securing it inside his uniform coat.  For his valor, Truitt received a promotion to 2nd Lieutenant.  Marching with the 62nd from  Antietam Creek to Fredericksburg, Manassas to Gettysburg, Truitt survived the fiercest fighting of the war.  With its three-year enlistment set to expire, the 62nd soldiered on through the unprecedented carnage of the Overland campaign in the Summer of 1864.  Jefferson Truitt was killed June 3, 1864 at the Battle of Bethesda Church, Virginia, just one month before he was due to be mustered out of service.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Last Full Measure

Heroism is more than just… exploits on the battlefield.  Ordinary citizens, like Jefferson Truitt, display heroism by putting their lives on hold to serve their country.  The causes, justifications, and implications are immaterial to the sacrifices made by citizen soldiers.  Calling these people heroes does not make a political statement, nor is it a rallying cry for more conflict.  Wars can be pondered and debated without applying undue scrutiny to the brave men and women who fought them.  Publicly doubting the heroism of fallen soldiers on Memorial Day is not reasonable discourse.  His patriot grave is proof that Jefferson Truitt was a hero.

Facts in Five- Memorial Day

Memorial Day by the numbers:

  • The roots of Memorial Day can be traced to Athens and the Funeral Oration of Pericles–  honor those who have fallen, follow their example of citizenship
  • The commemoration was originally made by the Grand Army of the Republic as Decoration Day-  flags were to be placed on all the graves of fallen Union soldiers
  • The first Decoration Day was celebrated by 27 states in 1868
  • By 1890, every state in the Union observed the holiday in some way… it was not a Federal holiday until 1971
  • The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1922. 

Events at Arlington National Cemetery

Confederacy and Freedom

For too long defenders of Confederate heritage… have associated it with freedom and individual rights for all whites. The specter of the conquering Yankee invading the homeland to oppress the yeoman and steal his acre was the rallying cry.  Policy makers in the Confederacy used this propaganda to dupe poor whites  to defend the landed gentry- a social order built on the aristocracy of chattel slavery.  Jefferson Davis and ilk had no interest in expanding opportunity for the thousands of men who volunteered for this abhorrent cause- they were cannon fodder.

Talk of opportunity and liberty were contrary to the Confederate cause… the slave owning power structure needed poor whites to stay right where they were.  The egalitarian dreams of Thomas Jefferson had no place in the CSA- and the leadership expressed it openly- The Declaration of Independence was a threat to the south.  Far from a “second American Revolution,” the American Civil War was an authoritarian power grab by an entrenched group of oligarchs.

 

Confederate propaganda from Georgia said it best…

“Thanks to Mr. Jefferson we have made a mistake … and pushed the love of democracy too far … vulgar democracy and licentious freedom is rapidly supplanting all the principles of constitutional ‘liberty’! When shall the American people perceive that all our difficulties arise from the absurdities of deciding that the ‘pauper’ and the ‘landholder’ are alike competent to manage the affairs of a Country, or alike entitled to vote for those who shall?”  Athens Southern Watchman 1857

thomas-jefferson

Jefferson’s feelings on slavery and liberty also alienated our apostle of liberty… from these slave owning aristocrats…

“The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it …The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and moral undepraved by such circumstances [under slavery]. And with what desecration should the statement be loaded, who permitting one half of the citizens to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots and these into enemies, destroys the morals of one part and the amor patriae of the other.”  Notes on the State of Virginia  1782

Finest Two Minutes

Lincoln_O-60_by_Brady,_1862

Lincoln thought he failed November 19, 1863…  obligatory applause from a damp crowd in Gettysburg offered him little consolation.  Lincoln had just followed a masterful two-hour speech from America’s greatest orator, Edward Everett.  The President sat down in his seat and commented to his friend, Ward Lamon, that the speech wouldn’t “scour” (would fail to clear away.)  He left Gettysburg concerned with the bad press and his message resonating.

The Chicago Times recorded, “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.”

Edward_Everett

Edward Everett put the ceremony in the proper perspective:

“Permit me also to express my great admiration of the thoughts expressed by you, with such eloquent simplicity & appropriateness, at the consecration of the Cemetery. I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

 

To honor Lincoln and his message at Gettysburg- James Madison Preparatory School presents Mr. Gordon Sheaffer-   “Lincoln at Gettysburg: Creating a New Nation”

Tuesday, February 12, 2019   7pm in the school cafeteria

Refreshments provided.

 

 

Antietam- Crisis in Command

During the battle of Antietam… George McClellan was concerned with prudence.  He was managing his resources carefully that day, he would not allow his army to fail.  His insistence on preventing the Army of the Potomac from being defeated cost it the chance at decisive victory.   McClellan claimed in his report of the battle that his army was outnumbered and overcame great odds to achieve a minor tactical victory. A closer examination of the facts reveals McClellan was presented with three separate chances to strike a decisive blow against Lee between 6am- 1pm on September 17.

Gen._George_B._McClellan_-_NARA_-_528517

  • A tactical reserve?  McClellan kept the V & VI Corps of the army on the East side of the Antietam all day.  The addition of one division from either Corps could have had a devastating impact on Lee’s army, especially his weakened center and southern wing.
  • Foolish odds- Most historians now agree that McClellan withheld such a  significant portion of his army because of fear.  He feared being outnumbered (Lee was actually outnumbered 2-1).  He feared a massive Confederate counterattack routing his forces.  He feared defeat….
  • Fighting blindly- Also massed in the Union rear was nearly all of McClellan’s cavalry force.  The mounted wing was vital to Civil War armies for gathering intelligence.  The troops sent against Lee were moving blindly through the country side with nearly no tactical guidance.  Cavalry could have located fords on the Antietam easily.
  • A guiding hand?  McClellan never crossed the Antietam that day and had little trust in any of the commanders he sent into combat.  The Union assaults lacked a firm hand to direct the many massed assaults.  This allowed Lee (never far from the fighting) to coordinate his reinforcements.  Union headquarters was nearly three miles from the fighting.  McClellan’s lack of timely information and failure to grasp key tactical situations cost the Union a decisive victory.
  • Hooker was badly wounded, Mansfield wounded mortally, and Sumner was incapacitated- yet the Army of the Potomac, led by junior grade officers, still pushed Lee to the brink.  The victory could have been decisive.

Forever Tricky

The Nixon renaissance is over before it could really take hold…recent renovations at the Nixon library were designed to renew interest in the 37th President’s foreign policy achievements – and to potentially redeem his reputation.  The new scrutiny has allowed researchers to bring forward evidence that Nixon’s 1968 Presidential campaign actively disrupted Lyndon Johnson’s attempts at peace talks to end the Vietnam War.

800px-Lyndon_Johnson_Richard_Nixon_1968

 

HR Haldeman’s hand-written notes detailing instructions from Nixon… to utilize powerful Republican donors with ties to China and Taiwan– ties that would thwart attempts by Johnson to bring North Vietnam to the negotiating table.  News of the potential for peace allowed Hubert Humphrey to close the gap with Nixon as the Summer of 1968 drew to a close.  Preventing the talks became essential campaign strategy for Nixon- his intermediaries worked tirelessly through October to build suspicion in China and in the South Vietnamese government.  The talks failed to materialize…. Nixon edged Humphrey by .07%  of the popular vote.

nixon haldeman_custom-15d62616e7476dc870eab138d4eca93696cd066a-s300-c85
AP/anonymous

Nixon publicly denied his involvement until his dying day… and his defenders are responding to the Haldeman notes by portraying the chances for peace as “slim.”  The impact of Nixon’s interference is for historians to now decide.  The consistent deceit is evidence itself of the historical magnitude of Nixon’s actions.