Tag Archives | American History

The Naming Of America

Happy Fourth of July! Native American Netroots provides some perspective on the meaning of ‘America':

America was named on April 25, 1507 after the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Vespucci made at least two voyages across the Atlantic… [the] first voyage was in 1499 when he sailed with Alonso de Hojeda.

While Columbus might be characterized as a religious fanatic who could hardly speak or write without invoking the Christian God and dwelling fervently on his personal relationship with this God, Vespucci almost never referred to God. Religion was never very high on the scale of values to which Vespucci had been exposed. While he undoubtedly learned a little about the Christian God as a child, he seems to have forgotten all of this by the time he was an adult.

Unlike Columbus, Vespucci never waged war on the natives, nor did he found any colonies. He never commanded a fleet or even led an expedition.

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The Plan To Reanimate George Washington’s Corpse

death-george-washingtonLauren Davis on io9 discusses U.S. Capitol designer William Thornton’s half-baked plan to bring George Washington back from the dead. Thornton’s idea was not enacted, but who knows what the future holds — in the decades to come, George Washington’s cadaver and Hitler’s brain may yet sit in a cafe somewhere sharing a conversation:

George Washington may have been America’s first president, but was he nearly America’s first zombie-in-chief? If William Thornton, physician and designer of the US Capitol, had had his way, Washington’s body would have been subjected a scientific experiment designed to bring the deceased former president back to life.

Washington’s body was not buried immediately after his death. The president may not have feared death, but he did fear being buried alive. Before he died, he commanded his secretary, Tobias Lear, to make sure that he would not be entombed less than three days after he died. In accordance with Washington’s wishes, his body was put on ice until it could be moved to the family vault.

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The Leak That Made America

Well, no surprises in the Iowa caucus. Gingrich, Bachman and Perry beat themselves into irrelevance and the voters remain undecided whether their priority is to be impoverished by Wall Street wh*res like Mitt Romney or burned at the stake by puritanical simpletons like Rich Santorum. If the Democratic Party's Achilles heel is a lack of conviction and willingness to fight for its stated beliefs, the Republican Party's fatal flaw is its love of stupidity. But that's just us, the electorate. Supposedly the great education and ethical commitment of professional functionaries should mitigate against the creeping culture of mediocrity that's overtaken American culture in the last 50 years. Does it really, though? For example, do the judges deciding the fate of Bradley Manning have clue # 1 that their nation's very founding legal principle owes its existence to a state department leak in 1773? Do any of them remember the Hutchinson Letters Affair?
Benjamin Franklin
Bradley Manning
Complacency
On the face of it, the late 18th century should, by all rights, have represented a gratifying period of peace and contentment within the British Empire.  The vicious civil wars that marked the 17th century had finally been resolved with the decisive defeat of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745.  A remarkably stable political settlement had been achieved which conclusively destroyed the arbitrary power of absolute monarchy...
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Was Cuban Mafia Boss Nixon’s Gay Lover?

Richard NixonDid Nixon make history as our second gay president (following Abraham Lincoln)? In other more minor news, he maybe was drunk during most of his presidency. Via the voice of authority on secret gay affairs, the Daily Mail:

Given everything that Richard Nixon has been accused of, it’s difficult to believe there could be any more skeletons left in his cupboard. Yet the most extraordinary claim is that the homophobic Nixon may have been gay himself.

A new biography by Don Fulsom, a veteran Washington reporter who covered the Nixon years, suggests the 37th president had a serious drinking problem, beat his wife and — by the time he was inaugurated in 1969 — had links going back two decades to the Mafia, including with New Orleans godfather Carlos Marcello, then America’s most powerful mobster.

Fulsom argues that Nixon may have had an affair with his best friend and confidant, a Mafia‑connected Florida wheeler-dealer named Charles ‘Bebe’ Rebozo who was even more crooked than Nixon.

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U.S. Government Poisoned Booze to Enforce Prohibition

Police & ProhibitionDuring Prohibition, crime syndicates were re-distilling industrial alcohol to supply their speakeasies. In an effort to “poison the well,” the federal government responded by requiring manufacturers to add new, deadly compounds to the industrial alcohol mix, leading to the deaths of thousands nationwide. In an article at Slate.com, Deborah Blum writes:

It was Christmas Eve 1926, the streets aglitter with snow and lights, when the man afraid of Santa Claus stumbled into the emergency room at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital. He was flushed, gasping with fear: Santa Claus, he kept telling the nurses, was just behind him, wielding a baseball bat.

Before hospital staff realized how sick he was — the alcohol-induced hallucination was just a symptom — the man died. So did another holiday party-goer. And another. As dusk fell on Christmas, the hospital staff tallied up more than 60 people made desperately ill by alcohol and eight dead from it.… Read the rest

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What Tony Bennett Said About 9/11 Martin Luther King Jr. Would Have Also

TonyBennettJazz singer Tony Bennett, a WWII veteran and pacifist, speaking about 9/11 and American militarism on the Howard Stern Show comments, “But who are the terrorists? Are we the terrorists or are they the terrorists? Two wrongs don’t make a right. They flew the plane in, but we caused it … Because we were bombing them and they told us to stop.”

Martin Luther King Jr. would have agreed with Tony exposing US history leading to 9/11.

As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his world shaking sermon, “Beyond Vietnam — a Time to Break Silence”, recounted to us the history of the lies, from 1945 onward, used to trick Americans into supporting the Vietnam war, today he would be exposing the lies that have concealed secret arrangements for CIA covert crimes against humanity in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere in the world since 1953 — arrangements that always originate within a dominant financial element that rules our society through ownership and manipulation of 98% of all electronic and print media sources of information.… Read the rest

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Washington Vs. Jefferson — Winner: Franklin By TKO

Washington / Jefferson / FranklinIn the buildup to the 2012 elections, we can anticipate candidates attempting to appropriate inaccurate depictions of the legacies of the Founding Fathers. But when it comes to real history, pound for pound, and in any fight between Jefferson and Washington, I’d put my money on Ben Franklin.

In one recent article posted to disinfo.com, and the attendant readers’ comments particularly grabbed my imagination:  “Dancing at the Memorial of a Slave Owner“, an examination of the events following the arrest of five persons for dancing near the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Of course the real importance of the article bears upon the current state of civil rights and free speech in the United States, not on Mr. Jefferson’s personal stance on slavery. The impression the piece left with me was a reinforced sense of America as a declining cultural as well as economic and military power, clinging desperately onto past imagined glories in a viciously ironic way that presents a tragi-comic contrast with the soaring notions of liberty articulated by Jefferson himself.… Read the rest

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