Category: U.S. History

History Nugget #9: March 2019

“The omission of such events as the Mexican War from the American consciousness does history injustice.”

“The cost in American lives was staggering. Of the 104,556 men who served in the army, both regulars and volunteers, 13,768 men died, the highest death rate of any war in our history. The period between 1844 and 1848 was a significant time, not something to be regulated to the attic of memory.”

Eisenhower, John S.D. So Far From God: The U.S. War With Mexico 1846- 1848. (New York: Random House, 1989). p. xviii

Mexican- American War: Part 1

Mexican War Books

A Few Print Books Accumulated for This Project

As one of the more formative events in the establishment of the United States as one of the world’s great powers, it is strange that the Mexican- American War has been so willingly forgotten. Sandwiched as it was between America’s two Wars of Independence (the American Revolution and the War of 1812) and the American Civil War, the Mexican war’s significance is little considered on its own. It is little considered at all. A Military History of the United States course I completed spent remarkably little time on the subject. I spent more time reading about the war in one of my Spanish Language classes. Granted, I have lived my life in the East and have only visited the states involved in the war. Had I lived there I may have been exposed to more of the history.

Book Review: The American Spirit

The American Spirit

David McCullough, The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For. (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2017).

Defining “The” American Spirit is a challenging proposition given America’s current division. History has been weaponized in support of political positions. Many in the academy have fostered social division to further a political philosophy. With little remnant of a common history remaining we stand at a critical juncture. Is there a common history in which we can rediscover “the” American spirit? If so, can that history heal our present fracture and nurture a promising future? A definition that brings us together, that drives us to our better nature. Few historians have the necessary cache to take on such a challenge. David McCullough is one of only a few historians with enough courage to take on that challenge. He is also one of a few with enough respect for his definition to garner serious consideration.

Am I a 49er?- The History of My Times: According to Me

Two questions should arise when you read the title of this series. First, “Who am I?” That question is easy to answer. I am History Present. A good place to expand on that answer is this blog’s “About Page.” The second question should be, “When, exactly, are my times?” I was born on the 26th of March 1959. So, my times are from then, until now. If only life were that simple. You see, it is that date which brings me to question my very being. To which era do I belong? More precisely, to which U.S. flag do I belong?

49-star US Flag

49-Star U.S. Flag from USFlag.org

This question did not arise until I began studying history on a serious level. Most people are aware that Alaska and Hawaii became States in 1959. But, when in 1959? Whether you like it or not, dates are important to history and six dates are critical to this story. As was previously mentioned, March 26, 1959 is certainly critical. The second is January 3, 1959. That is the date of Alaska’s admission to the Union.1 OK, cut and dry, there were at least 49 States in Union when I was born. But, what about Hawaii? On August 21, 1959, the third critical date, Hawaii was admitted to the Union.2 Yes! I can claim a certain uniqueness, I am a “49er”! Only those born between January 3 and August 20, 1959 can make this claim. I can always point to a 49-star flag as I claim my tie to history. Or can I?

St. Joseph, MI (History)

Lighthouse

St Joseph, MI North Pier Lighthouse

Back in June, I made a business trip to St. Joseph, MI. Since I had never been to St. Joseph, I checked it out before I left. What a great little town! There are many things to do, both in St. Joseph, and in the immediate area. The town boasts an Art Museum, a Children’s Museum, a lakefront beach, a beach park, and a vibrant food and drink culture. St. Joseph’s beachfront, restaurant, and shopping area is concentrated in a small area. Everything is easily within walking distance.

After I shared what I had learned, Mrs. Present decided to accompany me. We left a few days early so we could experience the town together. Once I began my work schedule, Mrs. Present was forced to sit on the beach, eat real ice cream, and read books. Poor her! St. Joseph is a town that firmly embraces its history. Placed smartly long the narrow park that rests between Lake Boulevard and the bluff that hangs above Lake Michigan’s shore, are Memorials to area citizens that gave their lives in service.

Prince Mongo’s Castle

I am drawn to this blog… fascinated at the things we abandon. What was it like when the last person to use these spaces walked out?

Abandoned Southeast

Prince Mongo’s Castle, also known as Ashlar Hall, is a mock castle in Memphis.  After Robert Brinkley Snowden graduated from Princeton in 1890, he decided to return to his hometown to design and construct his family estate. Snowden, a prominent real estate developer, completed Ashlar Hall in 1896.

Ashlar HallThe 11,000 square foot home has two floors with 8 rooms plus a full basement and a large attic with servants’ quarters. An irregular shaped swimming pool is located outside, southwest of the house. The Snowden property stretched for 3,000 acres, well into Mississippi. The final cost for construction was around $25,000, roughly equivalent to $725,000 today.

Ashlar Hall

Snowden’s great-grandfather, Col. Robert C. Brinkley started the Peabody Hotel several years prior. The Snowden family was considered Memphis royalty by the early 1900s and Brinkley Snowden was considered one of the premier real estate developers. The mansion was named Ashlar Hall due to it being almost entirely constructed of Ashlar Stone which was brought to town on barges. The past few decades have not been…

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Book Review: The Heart of Everything That Is

Red Cloud

Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend. (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2013).

On Christmas night 1866, a man rode into Fort Laramie. Near death from riding 236 miles in four days, through a blizzard, Portugee Phillips completed his mission. Phillips delivered dispatches from Colonel Henry Carrington, the commander of Ft Phil Kearny. The news was shocking. Days earlier, on December 21st, warriors from several Indian tribes staged a coordinated assault that annihilated a unit from the US Army. “Fetterman’s Massacre” marked the first time the United States military lost to a Native force.

In their book, The Heart of Everything That Is, authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin provide an excellent work of history. Red Cloud, the Sioux Chief who orchestrated Captain Fetterman’s stunning defeat, is the book’s subject. Opening a window to humanity in the old west, Red Cloud’s story is told in vivid narrative.

Gettysburg National Military Park

In February I spent two weeks in York, PA on business. While there most of my time was filled with work related activities. Wanting to take a break, I took the advice of several coworkers and visited Gettysburg National Military Park one Saturday. Eight hours after arriving at the park I sat down for dinner at a local restaurant. I could have easily spent another day. There is so much material available about the battle that I will not provide a description here. Rather, I will post pictures and try to describe my impressions of the museum and battlefield.

What it Means to Wear the Green

Very informative.

Emerging Revolutionary War Era

This St. Patrick’s Day millions of people around the world will wear green and celebrate the Irish holiday.  However there was a time when wearing the color green in Ireland could be punishable by death.

In the wake of the American Revolution, revolutions and rebellions began to breakout across Europe.  While much has been written on how the American Revolution helped inspire the epic and violent French Revolution in 1789, the Irish rebellion of 1798 has largely been forgotten.

Arklowflag.svg One of the green banners carried by Irish rebels in 1798.  This one uses a phrase common in the American Revolution.

Ireland watched with wonder as the American colonies united and declared independence from England in 1776.  They read about how the rag tag American Army defeated the British empire.  In France they watched the lower classes overthrow the aristocracy and execute their monarchs while creating a new republic.  In 1794…

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