Hope for Animals and Their World

Lord Howe Island Stick Insect (Australian Museum)

Lord Howe Island Stick Insect (Australian Museum)

The September 2009 Discover magazine reprints a delightful short excerpt from Jane Goodall’s Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink in “Jane Goodall on the Lazarus Effect.” Included is a quick review of the revival of the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect (“they sleep at night, in pairs, the male with three of his legs protectively over the female beside him”), and the amazing story of the preservation of the diminutive Caspian horse.

Hope for Animals and Their World

Published in: on October 15, 2009 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Napoleon Aboard Bellerophon

Napoleon as Emperor

Napoleon as Emperor

(From The War of All the Oceans by Roy and Lesley Adkins)

With Napoleon a captive aboard the Bellerophon at Brixham on Torbay after his final defeat at Waterloo, The Times of London published the following letter on July 26, 1815:

“What is to be done with him? Is he after all his crimes to be suffered to go unpunished; or in what way is he to be brought to justice? . . . What punishment can be just, if the condemning him to death be cruel? He has, for a long succession of years, deluged Europe in blood, to gratify his own mad vanity, his insatiable and furious ambition. It is calculated, that every minute he has reigned, has cost the life of a human being. He has desolated the earth in its fairest portions. He has not only darkened the palace and the crowded mart with terror and dismay, but he has carried unutterable distress into cottage, and the mountain solitude.”

Published in: on August 1, 2009 at 12:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Star Spangled Banner

The Star Spangled Banner -- A flag of 15 stars and 15 stripes adopted in 1794

The Star Spangled Banner -- A flag of 15 stars and 15 stripes adopted in 1794

A brief excerpt from Roy & Lesley Adkins’ superb The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo, concluding their discussion of the British attack upon Washington and Baltimore in the War of 1812:

“Francis Scott Key became famous for having observed the bombardment [of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry]. He was a lawyer who worked in Georgetown, a small settlement adjacent to Washington. At the time of the attack on the capital he was a volunteer in the light artillery, and he found out that his friend Dr. William Beane had been taken prisoner by the British. Beane was a physician at Upper Marlborough and had himself been involved in capturing marauding British stragglers from the army. Because it was feared that Beane might be hanged, President Madison gave his approval for Key to go to Baltimore on board a vessel (the Minden) that was used as a flag of truce. He was accompanied by John Skinner, the American agent for prisoner exchanges, and the pair had caught up with the British fleet at the mouth of the Potomac, preparing for the expedition against Baltimore.

“Because of the kindness shown to the wounded British prisoners, it was agreed that Beane could be released, but for the time being they all had to stay on board a frigate in case they leaked news of the plan of attack. Once the fleet neared Baltimore they were allowed to return to the Minden, with a guard of marines, from where they witnessed the bombardment. The previous year two new flags had been commissioned for Fort McHenry, including one that measured 30 by 40 feet with fifteen stars and eight red and seven white stripes (the official United states flag authorised in the Flag Act of 1794). As the three Americans watched they had no idea whether or not the town had surrendered, but in the morning the smaller flag was still flying over the fort, and as the British left, it was replaced by the huge one that so impressed Barrett. It survives today in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington.

“During the assault Key began to jot down a poem, which he finished when back at Baltimore. The red glare of the rockets and the bombs bursting in the air of the first verse refer to the bombardment. Copies were printed in the Baltimore Patriot newspaper on 20 September, with an editorial comment that the song ‘is destined long to outlast the occasion and outlive the impulse which produced it.’ It was sung to the tune of ‘To Anachreon in Heaven’, a British drinking song, and was adopted as the national anthem in 1931.”

(For more information on the flag itself, see “The Star Spangled Banner, the 15 Star Flag” at USFlag.org.)

Published in: on July 31, 2009 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Dodo . . . and Moa

The Dodo of Mauritius (Raphus cucullatus), believed extinct since 1681 (Vanished Species)

The Dodo of Mauritius (Raphus cucullatus), extinct since c. 1681 (Vanished Species)

A new discovery reported in today’s Science Daily suggests that the Araliaceae tree of New Zealand has developed an elaborate camouflage defense that varies depending upon the age of the tree. Most intriguing is the credible hypothesis that this camouflage protection evolved specifically to discourage predation by the Moa, the large flightless bird driven to extinction by Maori hunting 750 years ago.

The discovery brings to mind the marvelous tale of the dodo and the tambalacoque tree related by Stephen Jay Gould in his exquisite book of natural history essays, The Panda’s Thumb, nearly thirty years ago:

“. . . the dodo stands alone, the first recorded extinction of our era. The dodo, a giant flightless pigeon (twenty-five pounds or more in weight), lived in fair abundance on the island of Mauritius. Within 200 years of its discovery in the fifteenth century, it had been wiped out – by men who prized its tasty eggs and by the hogs that early sailors had transported to Mauritius. No living dodos have been seen since 1681.

“In August, 1977, Stanley A. Temple, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Wisconsin, reported the following remarkable story (but see postscript for a subsequent challenge). He, and others before him, had noted that a large tree, Calvaria major, seemed to be near the verge of extinction on Mauritius. In 1973, he could find only thirteen ‘old, overmature, and dying trees’ in the remnant native forests. Experienced Mauritian foresters estimated the trees’ ages at more than 300 years. These trees produce well-formed, apparently fertile seeds each year, but none germinate and no young plants are known. Attempts to induce germination in the controlled and favorable climate of a nursery have failed. Yet Calvaria was once common on Mauritius: old forestry records indicate that it had been lumbered extensively.

Calvaria’s large fruits, about two inches in diameter, consist of a seed enclosed in a hard pit nearly half an inch thick. This pit is surrounded by a layer of pulpy, succulent material covered by a thin outer skin. Temple concluded that Calvaria seeds fail to germinate because the thick pit ‘mechanically resists the expansion of the embryo within.’ How, then, did it germinate in previous centuries?

“Temple put two facts together. Early explorers reported that the dodo fed on fruits and seeds of large forest trees; in fact, fossil Calvaria pits have been found among skeletal remains of the dodo. The dodo had a strong gizzard filled with large stones that could crush tough bits of food. Secondly, the age of surviving Calvaria trees matches the demise of the dodo. None has sprouted since the dodo disappeared almost 300 years ago.

“Temple therefore argues that Calvaria evolved its unusually thick pit as an adaptation to resist destruction by crushing in a dodo’s gizzard. But, in doing so, they became dependent upon dodos for their own reproduction. Tit for tat. A pit thick enough to survive in a dodo’s gizzard is a pit too thick for an embryo to burst by its own resources. Thus, the gizzard that once threatened the seed had become its necessary accomplice. The thick pit must be abraded and scratched before it can germinate.

“Several small animals eat the fruit of Calvaria today, but they merely nibble away the succulent middle and leave the internal pit untouched. The dodo was big enough to swallow the fruit whole. After consuming the middle, dodos would have abraded the pit in their gizzards before regurgitating it or passing it in their feces. Temple cites many analogous cases of greatly increased germination rates for seeds after passage through the digestive tracts of various animals.

“Temple then tried to estimate the crushing force of a dodo’s gizzard by making a plot of body weight versus force generated by the gizzard in several modern birds. Extrapolating the curve up to a dodo’s size, he estimates that Calvaria pits were thick enough to resist crushing; in fact, the thickest pits could not be crushed until they had been reduced nearly 30 percent by abrasion. Dodos might well have regurgitated the pits or passed them along before subjecting them to such an extended treatment. Temple took turkeys – the closest modern analogue to dodos – and force-fed them Calvaria pits, one at a time. Seven of the seventeen pits were crushed by the turkey’s gizzard, but the other ten were regurgitated or passed in feces after considerable abrasion. Temple planted these seeds and three of them germinated. He writes: ‘These may well have been the first Calvaria seeds to germinate in more than 300 years.’ Calvaria can probably be saved from the brink of extinction by the propagation of artificially abraded seeds. For once, an astute observation, combined with imaginative thought and experiment, may lead to preservation rather than destruction.”

It’s a truly wonderful story. But note that Gould adds a postscript which elaborates upon the ensuing controversy – see The Panda’s Thumb for more details – and then concludes: “The debate between Owadally and Temple is too close to call at the moment. I’m rooting for Temple, but if Owadally’s fourth point is correct, then the dodo hypothesis will become, in Thomas Henry huxley’s inimitable words, ‘a beautiful theory, killed by a nasty, ugly little fact.’”

Published in: on July 23, 2009 at 2:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Remember the Maine!

The Battleship USS Maine, 1898

The Battleship USS Maine, 1898

Craig L. Symonds’ Decision At Sea: Five Naval Battles That Shaped American History is a superb little volume of considerable substance, which we will briefly review in the very near future. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt that will give you some notion of the work, Symonds’ description of the events leading up to the Spanish-American War and the Battle of Manila Bay:

“The sequence of events that brought Dewey’s squadron to Manila Bay at midnight on April 30, 1898, had begun a quarter of a century earlier and half a world away. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the enormous Spanish Empire in the Western Hemisphere, an expanse of territory that dwarfed the Roman Empire at its height, had all but disappeared. One by one, pieces of that empire had been stripped away as they secured their independence, cheered on by the Americans who saw in these revolutions Latin versions of their own struggle to break free of a colonial power. For the Spanish it was a cruel and painful process. It was a Spanish tradition that their American empire had been a gift from God for the Reconquista, the military campaign that in 1492 had driven the force of Islam from their toehold in Europe. Was it mere coincidence that in the very year of that victory Christopher Columbus had sailed under Spanish colors to ‘discover’ the New World? Yet four hundred years later the gift was all but gone. Of all that vast territory, only Cuba and nearby Puerto Rico were left. Though Cuba was a profitable colony, it was more for pride than greed that the Spanish clung to it, dubbing it ‘the Ever-Faithful Isle’ and resisting sporadic revolutionary outbreaks.

“American interest in Cuba was more than a century old. Up to the time of the Civil War, one element of that concern had been the ambition of southerners to acquire Cuba as a new slave state to balance the growing power of the free states in the North. In 1848, at the end of the war with Mexico, President Polk had tried to buy the island from Spain for $100 million, but Spain was not interested. Another element of the American concern was strategic; the location of Cuba, corking as it did the bottle of the Gulf of Mexico, mad it of great interest to American strategic planners. In 1854 these twin interests combined when, in Ostend, Belgium, a trio of American diplomats announced what amounted to an ultimatum. They declared that Cuba was a natural part of the United States and that if Spain did not agree to sell it, the United States would be justified in seizing it. ‘The Union can never enjoy repose,’ these Americans declared, ‘nor possess reliable security, as long as Cuba is not embraced within its boundaries.’ The United States subsequently disavowed the Ostend Manifesto, however, and southern hopes for a slave state in Cuba died with the Civil War.

“While the United States struggled through the Reconstruction years after the Civil War, Spain survived a long and wasting revolution in Cuba that was subsequently named the Ten Years’ War (1868-78). When not distracted by their own internal problems, Americans watched with interest, and often with open sympathy, for the rebel cause. A few American citizens did more than sympathize. Motivated by ideology, by profit, or simply by the romance of it all, these sympathizers, known as filibusters, smuggled weapons to the insurrectos and even volunteered their own services. In the middle of the Ten Years’ War, in 1873, the Spanish navy stopped and searched a chartered steamer named Virginius that was headed for Cuba under the American flag. Its captain was a former US naval officer named Joseph Fry, the crew was a mixed group of Americans and Cubans, and the cargo consisted of arms that were certainly intended for the Cuban rebels. Though the men were unquestionably filibusters, it would have been hard to make an ironclad case against them, for their vessel was still on the high seas when it was intercepted. Nevertheless, the Spanish conducted a quick trial, condemned the officers and crew of the Virginius to death, and shot fifty-three of them before the protests of a British official halted the executions.

“It might have led to war. President Grant sought to make a statement of sorts by ordering a concentration of the US fleet at Key West, though there is no indication he intended any more than that. Instead, the US State Department obtained an apology from the Spanish, who also agreed to pay an indemnity. The fact that the United States was then wallowing in the worst financial crisis of the postwar years – the so-called Panic of ’73 – may have muted American outrage. Still, it was sobering to some when the attempted mobilization of the fleet betrayed the weakness of the US Navy in the 1870s. The monitors, called out of mothballs, were so crank and unseaworthy that they were a greater threat to their own crews than to any potential enemy. In short, the Virginius episode demonstrated that in 1873 the United States lacked the capability to express its outrage, even against a tired and fading empire such as Spain.

“That was no longer true in 1895, when a second round of revolutionary activity broke out in Cuba. By then, [Stephen B.] Luce had founded the [Naval] War College, [Alfred Thayer] Mahan had published his book [The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783], and the United States had begun building the steam-and-steel ships of the ‘New Navy.’ That very year, in fact, the United States launched the USS Olympia, the newest vessel of its expanding fleet. It was not that the United States had any particular opponent in mind when it constructed this ‘New Navy,’ just a vague sense that the time had come for the United States to possess a fleet worthy of a great nation. After all, the possession of modern weapons would give America options that were otherwise not available in a diplomatic crisis. A few skeptics noted that great-power status brought dangers as well as options, but they were largely ignored.

“The renewed insurrection in Cuba was led by the poet Jose Marti, who quickly became its first martyr, and by two gifted field generals, Antonio Maceo and Maximo Gomez, who focused their campaign on the sources of Spanish wealth in Cuba, especially the sugar mills and tobacco fields. By 1896, the scorched-earth policy of these rebel generals had caused so much damage to the Cuban economy that Spanish authorities turned to the ruthless Lieutenant General Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau to bring order to the island. Weyler had served as a Spanish observer during the American Civil War and was a great admirer of William T. Sherman. He responded to the destructive tactics of the rebels by adopting a hard-line policy of his own designed to deprive the rebel armies of the wherewithal to continue the fight. In order to protect loyal Cubans from the rebels, Weyler relocated (or concentrated) them into armed camps, a policy remarkably similar to the ‘strategic hamlet’ program adopted by Americans during the Vietnam War seventy years later. Overcrowded and often unsanitary, these camps spawned both hunger and disease, and the term ‘concentration camp’ took on a very negative connotation. Outside the camps, the rebels took or destroyed whatever of value they could find that was unprotected. The Spanish controlled the cities and the harbors, the rebels controlled the countryside, and the people of Cuba suffered.

“Americans professed to be shocked by the brutality of the conflict. The major urban newspapers, especially the big New York dailies controlled by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, vied with one another to present horror stories of destruction and brutality. In almost every case, the Spanish were portrayed as the principal instigators of violence and the rebels as victimized patriots. A representative example is the report filed by a New York World correspondent in May 1896:

“‘The horrors of a barbarous struggle for the extermination of the native population are witnessed in all parts of the country. Blood on the roadsides, blood on the fields, blood on the doorsteps, blood, blood, blood! The old, the young, the weak, the crippled, all are butchered without mercy. There is scarcely a hamlet that has not witnessed the dreadful work. Is there no nation wise enough, brave enough to aid this smitten land?’

“Recognizing that Weyler’s tactics not only failed to suppress the rebellion but also produced bad publicity, Spain’s rulers dropped the reconcentrado policy and replaced Weyler with the moderate Ramon Blanco. It was too late. The momentum of outrage combined with Spain’s tendency to brush off US complaints, all of it fueled by the nearly hysterical popular press, had created a climate in which war became almost irresistible. Under these circumstances, another incident like the Virginius episode would very likely have far different consequences.

“Though the Spanish-American War is commonly associated with the presidency of William McKinley, who was elected in 1896 over the populist William Jennings Bryan, the new American president dreaded the prospect of war and found the mounting martial drumbeat a distraction from his primary goal of ensuring the continued prosperity of the nation’s business interests. Though his predecessor in the White House had suspended courtesy visits by US Navy warships to Cuban ports for fear of inciting a negative reaction, McKinley decided to renew them. In January he responded to a request from the US consul general in Havana, Fitzhugh Lee (Robert E. Lee’s nephew) to send the second-class battleship USS Maine to Havana Harbor.

“The Maine was America’s first ‘modern’ battleship, and as evidence of its transitional status, it incorporated a hodgepodge of design features. Like Perry’s Lawrence, it boasted a full set of masts and spars, though the sails for those spars were never delivered and throughout its short history it operated as a steam vessel. Like Buchanan’s Virginia (Merrimack), it was equipped with a forward ram, and like Worden’s Monitor, its main battery was housed in revolving armored gun turrets. But the Maine had a curiously unbalanced appearance. Its two main turrets were offset from the centerline: the forward turret overhung the starboard side, and the after turret was cantilevered over the port side. The idea was to allow the ten-inch guns of its main battery to fire both forward and aft, but the result was disharmonious, and only an especially proud captain ever would have called it a beautiful ship.

“Captain Charles Sigsbee was the Maine’s captain, and whether or not he thought his ship beautiful, he was very much aware of the sensitivity of his assignment. Even after bringing the Maine safely to anchor in Havana harbor at midmorning on January 25, 1898, he kept the ship on alert, with one-quarter of the crew on duty around the clock and two of the ship’s four boilers on line. Publicly, however, he carried on as if his presence in Havana Harbor were nothing more than a routine port visit. He greeted dignitaries on board and gave them tours of the ship; he allowed officers (though not the men) shore liberty; and Sigsbee himself attended a bullfight in Havana as the guest of Blanco’s deputy, Major General Julian Gonzalez Parrado. He later wrote that he ‘had but one wish’ and that was ‘to be friendly to the Spanish authorities as required by my orders.’

“Meanwhile, McKinley became the center of a new crisis when the Spanish minister in the United States, Enrique Dupuy de Lome, wrote an indiscreet private letter to a friend who happened to be the editor of a Havana newspaper. A worker in the editor’s office who was sympathetic to the rebels stole the letter and passed it on to others who made sure that it landed eventually on the desk of William Randolph Hearst. It was published on the front page of the New York Journal on February 9. In that missive de Lome referred to the new American president as ‘weak and a bidder for the admiration of the crowd.’ He was, de Lome concluded, a ‘common politician.’ It was a pretty astute analysis, but diplomats of foreign governments are not supposed to say such things. De Lome resigned and Spain apologized, but the damage had been done.

“Six days later the Maine blew up in Havana Harbor.”

Commodore Dewey's Flagship at the Battle of Manila, USS Olympia

Commodore Dewey's Flagship at the Battle of Manila, USS Olympia

Published in: on July 22, 2009 at 6:17 pm  Comments (1)  

The Civil War: A Narrative

Lincoln Meets With McClellan

Lincoln Meets With McClellan

It’s just over half a century since the first volume of Shelby Foote’s trilogy The Civil War: A Narrative was published. This monumental work – the first of which alone traverses the events from the fall of Fort Sumter through the battle Perryville in 816 pages – continues to serve as a measure of excellence in historical exegesis for the period. While not devoid of blemish, it remains a classic of the genre, a deeply rewarding book for the attentive reader.

Foote closes the first volume of his trilogy with a discussion of Lincoln’s December 1862 message to Congress, illuminating, disconcerting and inspiring us to this very day:

“By now, the assembled politicians were nearly as restless as the red men on the frontier. Presently, however, approaching its mid-point, the message changed its tone.

“‘A nation may be said to consist of its territory, its people, and its laws. The territory is the only part which is of certain durability. “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever.” It is of the first importance to duly consider and estimate this ever-enduring part. The portion of the earth’s surface which is owned and inhabited by the people of the United States is well adapted to be the home of one national family, and is not well adapted for two or more. . . . There is no line, straight or crooked, suitable for a national boundary upon which to divide. Trace through, from east to west, upon the line between the free and slave country, and we shall find a little more than one-third of its length are rivers, easy to be crossed, and populated, or soon to be populated, thickly upon both sides; while nearly all its remaining length are merely surveyors’ lines over which people may walk back and forth without any consciousness of their presence.’

“Such an argument might have been advanced in support of the unification of Europe or the annexation of Canada, but presently the listeners saw what Lincoln was getting at. He was talking to the inhabitants of the region to which he himself was native, ‘the great interior region, bounded east by the Alleghenies, north by the British dominions, west by the Rocky Mountains, and south by the line along which the culture of corn and cotton meets. . . . Ascertain from the statistics the small proportion of the region which has as yet been brought into cultivation, and also the large and rapidly increasing amount of its products, and we shall be overwhelmed with the magnitude of the prospect presented. And yet this region has no seacoast, touches no ocean anywhere. As part of the nation, its people now find, and may forever find, their way to Europe by New York, to south America and Africa by New Orleans, and to Asia by San Francisco. . . . these outlets, east, west, and south, are indispensable to the well-being of the people inhabiting, and to inhabit, this vast interior region. Which of the three may be the best is no proper question. All are better than either, and all of right belong to that people and to their successors forever. True to themselves, they will not ask where a line of separation shall be, but will vow rather that there shall be no such line.’ After a pause, he added: ‘Our national strife springs no from our permanent part, not from the land we inhabit, not from our national homestead. . . . Our strife pertains to ourselves – to the passing generations of men; and it can without convulsion be hushed forever with the passing of one generation.’

“This brought him at last to what he considered the nub of the issue. ‘Without slavery the rebellion could never have existed; without slavery it could not continue.’ So far, he had not mentioned the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation except to note that it had been issued; nor did he return to it now. What he returned to, instead, was his old plan for compensated emancipation, the one way he saw for bringing the war to an end ‘without convulsion.’ His plan, as expanded here, would leave to each state the choice of when to act on the matter, ‘now, or at the end of the century, or at any intermediary time.’ The federal government was to have no voice in the action, but it would bear the total expense by issuing long-term bonds as payment to loyal masters. To those critics who would complain that the expense was too heavy, Lincoln replied beforehand that it was cheaper to pay in bonds than in blood, as the country was doing now. Besides, even in dollars and cents the cost would be less. ‘Certainly it is not so easy to pay something as it is to pay nothing; but it is easier to pay a large sum than it is to pay a larger one. And it is easier to pay any sum when we are able, than it is to pay it before we are able. The war requires large sums, and requires them at once. The aggregate sum necessary for compensated emancipation of course would be large. But it would require no ready cash, nor the bonds even, any faster than the emancipation progresses. This might not, and probably would not, come before the end of the thirty-seven years.’

“At this point, apparently – at any rate, somewhere along the line – the President had done some ciphering. By 1900, he predicted, ‘we shall have 100,000,000 of people to share the burden, instead of 31,000,000 as now.’ This was no wild guess on Lincoln’s part; or as he put it, ‘I do not state this inconsiderately. At the same ratio of increase which we have maintained, on an average, from our first national census of 1790 until that of 1860, we should in 1900 have a population of 103,208,415. And why may we not continue that ratio far beyond that period? Our abundant room – our broad national homestead – is our ample resource.’ The past seventy years had shown an average decennial increase of 34.6 percent. Applying this to the coming seventy years, he calculated the 1930 population at 251,680,914. ‘And we will reach this, too,’ he added, ‘if we do not ourselves relinquish the chance by the folly and evils of disunion, or by long and exhausting war springing from the only great element of national discord among us.’

“Descending from these rather giddy mathematical heights, Lincoln continued his plea for gradual emancipation, not only for the sake of the people here represented, but also for the sake of the Negroes, whom it would spare ‘the vagrant destitution which must largely attend immediate emancipation in localities where their numbers are very great.’ Whatever objections might be raised, he wanted one thing kept in mind: ‘If there ever could be a proper time for mere catch arguments, that time surely is not now. In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and in eternity.’ And having thus admonished the assembly, after forcing it to accompany him on an excursion into the field of applied mathematics, he thought perhaps some note of apology – if not of retraction – was in order. ‘I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper addressed to the Congress of the nation by the Chief Magistrate of the nation. Nor do I forget that some of you are my seniors, nor that many of you have more experience than I in the conduct of public affairs. Yet I trust that in view of the great responsibility resting upon me, you will perceive no want of respect to yourselves in any undue earnestness I may seem to display.’ Apparently, however, this was intended not only to make amends for what had gone before, but also to brace them for what was to come. Nor was it long in coming. Hard on the heels of this apology for ‘undue earnestness,’ he threw a cluster of knotty, rhetorical questions full in their faces:

“’Is it doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted, would shorten the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of money and of blood? Is it doubted that it would restore the national authority and national prosperity, and perpetuate both indefinitely? Is it doubted that we here – congress and executive – can secure its adoption? Will not the good people respond to a united and earnest appeal from us? Can we, can they, by any other means so certainly or so speedily assure these vital objects? We can succeed only by concert. It is not “Can any of us imagine better?” but “Can we do better?” Object whatsoever is possible, still the question recurs, “Can we do better?”’

“As the long message approached its end, Lincoln asked that question: ‘Can we do better?’ Oratory was not enough. ‘The North responds . . . sufficiently in breath,’ he had said of the reaction to the September proclamation; ‘but breath alone kills no rebels.’ He knew as well as Sherman the need for the nation to be ‘born again,’ and he would also have agreed with the New England major who this month wrote home that he sometimes felt like changing the old soldier’s prayer into ‘O God, if there be a God, save my country, if my country is worth saving.’ A majority of 100,000 voters in Lincoln’s own state, fearing the backwash of liberated slaves that would result from Grant’s advance, had approved in November the adoption of a new article into the Illinois constitution, prohibiting the immigration of Negroes into the state. He knew, too, the reaction of most of the lawmakers to the proposal he was now advancing – including that of Senator Orville Browning, his fellow Illinoisan and confidant, who would write in his diary of his friend’s plea when he went home tonight: ‘It surprised me by its singular reticence in regard to the war, and some other subjects which I expected discussed, and by the hallucination the President seems to be laboring under that Congress can suppress the rebellion by adopting his plan of compensated emancipation.’ Yet according to Lincoln it was not he, but they, who were hallucinated and enthralled, and he told them so as the long message wore on toward a close: ‘The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

“Then came the end, the turn of a page that opened a new chapter. And now, through the droning voice of the clerk, the Lincoln music sounded in what would someday be known as its full glory: ‘Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We – even we here – hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free – honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last, best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just – a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.’”

Published in: on July 21, 2009 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

FDR and the Holocaust

FDR with Henry Morgenthau

FDR with Henry Morgenthau

A final excerpt from H.W. Brands’ Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt [for a terse review and earlier excerpts, see FDR: Traitor to His Class and FDR: Traitor to His Class (2)]:

“In January 1944 Henry Morgenthau scheduled an unusual Sunday meeting with Roosevelt. Morgenthau came not only as Treasury secretary but as Roosevelt’s oldest friend in the administration and as a pleader of a special cause. Morgenthau’s ancestors were German Jews who had assimilated into mainstream American society. Morgenthau himself had rarely attended synagogue and, by all evidence, never observed Passover. ‘We Jews of America have found America to be our Zion,’ Morgenthau’s father once said. ‘I am an American.’ But during the war the son discovered his Jewish roots when Jewish leaders came to him with evidence that Hitler was systematically trying to exterminate Europe’s Jews.

“Morgenthau initially hesitated to raise the matter with Roosevelt. He didn’t want to presume on their personal friendship, and the plight of Europe’s Jews was hardly the responsibility of the American Treasury Department. If any office in the administration was to deal with the issue, it ought to be the State Department. But Cordell Hull wasn’t interested, and Breckinridge Long, the assistant secretary to whom Hull referred refugee and related issues, was downright hostile. The State Department had a long history of anti-Semitism that reflected the old-stock Protestant values of the nineteenth-century founders of the American foreign service. Morgenthau concluded that if the fate of the Jews was left to the professional diplomats, there was little hope.

“He began to look for an excuse to bring the Jewish question into the Treasury’s bailiwick. At the end of 1943 he found one, when the administration received a request to expedite money transfers to refugees from Hitler’s war machine. The State Department balked, but Morgenthau, reasoning that anything touching money involved the Treasury, determined to take the matter to Roosevelt. He scheduled a White House meeting.

“Roosevelt may have guessed the purpose of the meeting, for others had raised the Jewish question with him. During the summer of 1942 Rabbi Stephen Wise, the head of the American Jewish Congress, wrote saying that Hitler was trying to annihilate the Jews, as he had threatened to do for years. Wise asked Roosevelt to issue a statement bringing the matter to American and world attention. He said he wanted to read the statement to a Madison Square Garden rally on behalf of the Jews, and he offered language for the president to use. Roosevelt wrote his own words. ‘Citizens, regardless of religious allegiance, will share in the sorrow of our Jewish fellow-citizens over the savagery of the Nazis against their helpless victims,’ the president declared. ‘The Nazis will not succeed in exterminating their victims any more than they will succeed in enslaving mankind. The American people not only sympathize with all victims of Nazi crimes but will hold the perpetrators of these crimes to strict accountability in a day of reckoning which will surely come.’

“Roosevelt issued similar statements on subsequent occasions, sometimes singling out the Jews as victims of Nazi violence, sometimes not. A month after the Madison Square Garden rally he asserted that new intelligence from Europe revealed that the Nazi occupation of various countries had ‘taken proportions and forms giving rise to the fear that as the defeat of the enemy countries approaches, the barbaric and unrelenting character of the occupational regime will become more marked and may even lead to the extermination of certain populations.’ Those persons involved in such crimes would not escape. ‘The time will come when they shall have to stand in courts of law in the very countries which they are now oppressing and answer for their acts.’

“In December 1942 Roosevelt brought Stephen Wise back to the White House. The rabbi and several other Jewish leaders delivered a detailed memorandum describing the Nazi Extermination program. ‘Unless action is taken immediately,’ Wise said, ‘the Jews of Hitler Europe are doomed.’ Wise and the others asked for a new statement on behalf of the victims. Roosevelt replied, ‘Gentlemen, you can prepare the statement. I am sure that you will put the words into it that express my thoughts.’ He added, ‘We shall do all in our power to be of service to your people in this tragic moment.’

“Wise acted at once on the president’s offer. The rabbi emerged from the White House meeting to tell reporters that ‘the President said that he was profoundly shocked to learn that two million Jews had in one way or another perished as a result of Nazi rule and crimes.’

“Roosevelt followed up with a message of his own – and of America’s allies. The president approved a statement by the United Nations condemning the Nazi campaign against the Jews. ‘From all the occupied countries Jews are being transported in conditions of appalling horror and brutality to Eastern Europe,’ the statement declared. ‘The able-bodied are slowly worked to death in labor camps. The infirm are left to die of exposure and starvation or are deliberately massacred in mass executions. The number of victims of these bloody cruelties is reckoned in many hundreds of thousands of entirely innocent men, women and children.’ The statement went on to vow that ‘those responsible for these crimes shall not escape retribution.’

“Roosevelt kept his door open to the representatives of the Jewish cause. In the summer of 1943 a member of the Polish underground, Jan Karski, who at great personal risk had observed the extermination program in action, carried his eyewitness account to the West. Roosevelt invited him to the White House. Just what Karski told the president is unclear. Karski relayed a message from the Jews of Poland that if the Allies didn’t do something to stop the killing, the Jewish community there would ‘cease to exist.’ But, according to his later recollection of the meeting, he kept to himself what he had seen with his own eyes. Whatever Karski’s words to Roosevelt, the president’s reply was succinct: ‘Tell your nation we shall win the war.’

“These words didn’t satisfy Henry Morgenthau, and when he entered Roosevelt’s second-floor study on January 16, 1944, he came armed with a new report detailing the massacres. ‘One of the greatest crimes in history, the slaughter of the Jewish people in Europe, is continuing unabated,’ the report began. Roosevelt listened to Morgenthau’s summary and scanned the report. He waved aside Morgenthau’s assertion that anti-Semitism at the State Department accounted for the lack of interest there in the Jewish troubles, but he accepted Morgenthau’s suggestion that responsibility for refugee affairs be moved from State to a special board answerable to the president. The War Refugee Board was assigned to take ‘all measures within its power to rescue the victims of enemy oppression who are in imminent danger of death and otherwise to afford such victims all possible relief and assistance consistent with the successful prosecution of the war.’

“Following an order by Hitler to round up the Jews of Hungary, Roosevelt issued his most detailed and scathing condemnation of the Nazi policies:

“‘In one of the blackest crimes of all history – begun by the Nazis in the day of peace and multiplied by them a hundred times in time of war – the wholesale systematic murder of the Jews of Europe goes on unabated every hour. As a result of the events of the last few days, hundreds of thousands of Jews, who while living under persecution have at least found a haven from death in Hungary and the Balkans, are now threatened with annihilation as Hitler’s forces descend more heavily upon these lands. That these innocent people, who have already survived a decade of Hitler’s fury, should perish on the very eve of triumph over the barbarism which their persecution symbolizes, would be a major tragedy.’

“Roosevelt had already declared that Hitler and his henchmen would be made to answer for their crimes. Now he promised that the reach of Allied justice would extend to those who collaborated with the Nazis. ‘All who share the guilt shall share the punishment.’ Roosevelt urged Germans and others to sabotage Hitler’s plan. ‘I ask every German and every man everywhere under Nazi domination to show the world by his action that in his heart he does not share these insane criminal desires. Let him hide these pursued victims, help them to get over their borders, and do what he can to save them from the Nazi hangman. I ask him also to keep watch, and to record the evidence that will one day be used to convict the guilty.’ Roosevelt pledged that the United states would employ ‘all means at its command’ to assist the escape of Hitler’s intended victims, ‘insofar as the necessity of military operations permits.’

“This last clause was crucial. Roosevelt remained convinced that the surest way to save the Jews was to win the war as quickly as possible. As it became apparent that a concentration camp at Auschwitz was a centerpiece of the German death machine, some Jewish spokesmen advocated bombing the camp or the rail lines feeding it. The bombing, the advocates argued, would slow the destruction of the Jews and thereby save lives. It would also make a political and moral statement that the Allies knew what was happening at Auschwitz and were trying to stop it.

“But there were arguments against the bombing. In the first place, it would certainly kill some of the very people the allies sought to save. Little imagination was required to predict that Hitler’s propagandists would display the bodies of those killed by the bombing and blame the Allies for many more Jewish deaths. Roosevelt was serious about bringing the war criminals to justice, and he didn’t want to spoil the evidence of their guilt. In the second place, bombing the camps or the rail lines would require the diversion of scarce resources. American and British bombers were fully employed during 1944 striking targets that contributed to the German war effort. To send planes over Auschwitz might well cost the lives of allied soldiers. Finally, there was no guarantee bombing the camp would do any good. The rail lines could quickly be rebuilt, and the killing of Jews might be accomplished by other means.

“How much of the argument Roosevelt heard, and how fully he participated in it is unclear. John McCloy, the assistant secretary of war, told a journalist decades later that Harry Hopkins informed him during the summer of 1944 that Roosevelt had been urged by some Jewish leaders to order the bombing but that, in Hopkins’s words, ‘the Boss was not disposed to.’ Hopkins asked McCloy to staff the request out. McCloy said he had already done so. The air force had rejected the bombing request on cost-benefit grounds. McCloy gave the negative report to Sam Rosenman, and, in McCloy’s words, ‘that was the end of that.’ McCloy added, in his retrospective interview, that he ‘never talked’ to Roosevelt about the subject.

“But McCloy subsequently changed his story. He told Morgethau’s son that he had indeed spoken to Roosevelt about bombing Auschwitz. The president, according to this later version, himself refused the request. He said the bombing would be ineffecrtive and would appear to make the United States complicit in the killings. ‘We’ll be accused of participating in this horrible business,’ Roosevelt told McCloy.

“Which version, if either, is true is impossible to tell. The contemporary record is silent on the subject. What is clear is that the bombing did not take place and that it did not take place because Roosevelt did not want it to. He knew bombing was an option, and he could have overridden objections from the War Department, as he had overridden the department regarding the timing of the second front. But he thought bombing would be a mistake. Whether he spoke through Hopkins of McCloy, directly or indirectly, the decision – like every other important decision of the war – was his.”

Published in: on July 13, 2009 at 9:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Kansas Troops in the Civil War

Battle of Baxter Springs (Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum)

Battle of Baxter Springs (Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum)

As a postscript to our review of Albert Castel’s Civil War Kansas, here’s another brief excerpt from the book on . . .

Kansas Troops in the Civil War

“What part Kansas troops would play in Northern military operations was for some time indeterminate. Kansans were inclined to feel that they should be employed in or near their own state, yet some of the Kansas regiments saw most of their service in Tennessee and Georgia. During the winter and spring of 1861-1862, Kansas troops, principally Lane’s Brigade, were in such poor condition that Halleck contemptuously dismissed them all with the word ‘humbug.’ Plans to use them to reinforce the Union army in Arkansas failed to materialize, and a proposed expedition from Fort Riley to New Mexico was abandoned when Halleck, early in May, requested that the regiments intended for it be sent to bolster Grant’s army in Mississippi.

“Not until June, 1862, did an operation of any consequence involving Kansas units get under way. This was an expedition under Colonel Weer into the Indian Territory. Weer’s force consisted of the Second, Sixth, and Ninth Kansas cavalry regiments, the Tenth Kansas Infantry, the Ninth Wisconsin Infantry, the Second Ohio Cavalry, the First and Second Indiana batteries, and two Indian regiments, numbering in all 6,000 effectives. The purpose of the campaign was to reassert Federal authority over the Indian Territory, to protect the southern borders of Kansas and Missouri from Confederate Indian troops in the area, and to restore Unionist Indian refugees to their homes. By the summer of 1862 thousands of these refugees had congregated in the southern part of the state, where they presented a serious problem both to the settlers and to the Government, which had to feed and take care of them. What little money Congress appropriated for their relief had been quickly squandered, and many had died of exposure, hunger and disease. The Indians were desperately anxious to return to their homes and joined with alacrity the two regiments into which they were formed.

“Confederate troops in the Indian Territory were unable to offer any resistance to Weer’s column, which had little difficulty in occupying Tahlequah, capital of the Cherokee Nation. Weer planned next to Capture Fort Gibson on the Arkansas River, but before he could undertake this operation, his army mutinied and Colonel Frederick Salomon of the Ninth Wisconsin usurped command. Saloman and the other officers accused Weer of gross incompetency, drunkenness, insanity, and of exposing the army to destruction. Although there was no danger from the Confederates, Salomon promptly marched back towards Fort Scott with all the white units, leaving behind only the Indian regiments. Blunt first learned of the mutiny in a letter of explanation from Salomon. Flabbergasted, but relieved that the Indian Territory had not been totally evacuated, he ordered Salomon to halt and send back two of the Kansas regiments in order to reinforce the Indian units. When Blunt arrived at Fort Scott on the way to take personal command of the expedition, he found Salomon and all the white troops there already, even though his order had reached them at Baxter Springs. He thereupon sent back the reinforcements himself and convened a general court-martial to investigate the mutiny. Nothing came of the court-martial, however, for too many officers were involved and there were insufficient time and means to deal with them. Yet, in spite of Salomon’s mutiny and retreat, Weer’s expedition resulted in the permanent occupation of the upper portion of the Indian Territory by Federal forces.

“On September 24 Kansas again became part of the Department of the Missouri under the command of Major General Samuel R. Curtis, victor of the Battle of Pea Ridge. Blunt remained in charge of the now District of Kansas, but instead of staying at Fort Leavenworth he took the field at the head of the ‘Army of the Frontier,’ as the troops of his district were designated. On October 1 his army joined the forces of Schofield in southwestern Missouri in a campaign to forestall a Confederate invasion from Arkansas. Marching in advance of the rest of Schofield’s army, Blunt pushed into northwestern Arkansas and the adjoining Indian country. On October 22, he fought a successful engagement at Old Fort Wayne, and on November 28 he once more forced the small Confederate army facing him to fall back in a battle at Cane Hill.

“Blunt was unable to follow up this victory, however, for a superior Confederate army under Major General T. C. Hindman was now advancing toward him. Hindman had hastily formed this army in a desperate effort to save Arkansas from being overrun by the Union forces and was hoping to deliver a quick, crushing blow at either Blunt or Brigadier General Francis J. Herron, commander of the other wing of Schofield’s army. Instead of withdrawing northward to gain Herron’s support, as he should have, Blunt remained at Cane Hill and awaited Herron to join him there, in expectation that Hindman would attack him first. But Hindman forced his way through a mountain pass which Blunt had failed to protect adequately and moved around Blunt’s left flank to strike Herron. Blunt, who had been completely fooled by Hindman’s maneuver, was ‘sound asleep or sitting up with some female hangers-on,’ when he first heard the sound of firing off to the northeast. ‘What was that?’ he cried, and then blurted out, ‘My God, they’re in my rear!’ Yet Blunt did not lose control of himself or of the situation, but set his army in a pell-mell rush toward ‘the sound of the guns’ to aid the embattled Herron, he himself bounding along on horseback far ahead of his army. Herron, with a superiority of artillery fire power that compensated for his inferiority in numbers, was holding Hindman at Prairie Grove when Blunt’s men streamed on the field. The Kansas troops aided materially in beating back Hindman’s frantic thrusts, but it is debatable whether they ‘saved the day’ as Blunt later claimed. Frenzied and bloody fighting continued until after dark, with neither side gaining a clear-cut advantage. In the morning, under the cover of a truce, Hindman retreated with his badly battered army, much to the relief of Herron and Blunt.

“Nearly three weeks elapsed before Blunt and Herron pursued Hindman, who had retired to Van Buren. They made a rapid march to that town and drove a rear guard of Texas cavalry to the other side of the Arkansas River, where Hindman’s main force stood. The two armies waged an artillery duel across the river, but Blunt and Herron did not attempt to follow the Confederates when they resumed their retreat. The next day, after a night of drunken plundering and burning, the Union army marched back to Cane Hill, from where it dispersed into winter quarters. For the time being Confederate power north of the Arkansas was destroyed.

The Kansas press, at least the pro-Lane portion thereof, hailed Blunt as a great general and hero. He, too, thought very highly of his performance and began to plume himself as a military leader, especially of cavalry. In truth he had displayed many of the attributes of a successful commander – courage, aggressiveness, promptness, confidence, and, above all, luck. Nevertheless he probably owed his victories more to the weakness of the Confederates than to his own strength. Most of the commanders he opposed were either drunk or incompetent or both, and the troops they led were miserably equipped and poor in morale – at Prairie Grove entire regiments of Arkansas conscripts surrendered en masse. Furthermore, there is some reason to doubt whether he deserved full credit even for what he apparently did well. Many years after the war his chief of staff, Thomas Moonlight, a former soldier in the regular army, asserted that had it not been for his advice ‘Blunt would not stand in history with the same military victories attached to him,’ in particular Old Fort Wayne, Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, and Van Buren. Yet at the time Blunt was well regarded by his soldiers, the general public and Congress, which in May promoted him to major general.”

Published in: on April 26, 2009 at 5:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Buchanan & Bloody Kansas, Part Two


A Preview of Jean H. Baker’s James Buchanan

[James Buchanan appears on nearly every listing of presidential performance as the most incompetent and indeed disastrous of all presidents. On Thursday, April 23rd, we will observe the 218th anniversary of his birth. For the first part of this selection from Jean Baker’s James Buchanan, see yesterday’s excerpt.]

“In December 1857 Senator Stephen Douglas, who would face a reelection campaign against Abraham Lincoln in eleven months, met with Buchanan in the White House. Douglas was chairman of the powerful Committee on Territories, which would oversee the passage of any legislation moving Kansas from territory to state. The president had ignored the senator throughout the year. Now, in an interview that Douglas sought, Buchanan handed down his final judgment: he would support the Lecompton constitution. In fact, as he informed Douglas, he had already telegraphed his decision to the acting governor. Advocacy of the Lecompton constitution had become an administration measure, the kind of legislative litmus test that defined party loyalty and must be supported by all Democratic senators, congressmen, local officials, and patronage holders. Douglas bristled, alert to the growing sentiment against slavery in the territories in his home state of Illinois and throughout the Northwest as well as to the palpable violation of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which he had authored. Buchanan reminded Douglas of the fate of disloyal senators who, after disobeying President Jackson, had found themselves in political purgatory. Since Jackson’s day, as Buchanan recalled, no senator had voted against an administration measure and survived. An angry Douglas responded in a retort that in different forms and with different subjects has resonated throughout American history, ‘Mr. President, Andrew Jackson is dead.’

“On February 2, 1858, Buchanan transmitted the Lecompton constitution to Congress with an accompanying message. His argument was an attack on Topeka residents, whom he compared to those in rebellion in Utah. Like the Mormons, ‘with treasonable pertinacity,’ free Kansans had defied the legitimate institutions of authority, and these ‘mercenaries of abolitionism’ had created a ‘revolutionary government’ that would spread anarchy throughout the territory. In fact the controversy in Kansas had little to do with freeing slaves and much more to do with making slavery national, but Buchanan had long ago conflated free-soilers, antislavery supporters, and abolitionists into the enemy. And to those who complained about the farcical Lecompton process, Buchanan insisted, incorrectly, that he had never promised to submit the entire constitution, only that portion dealing with the future of slavery. Besides, once peacefully accepted into the Union, Kansans could simply change any provisions about slavery that the majority disapproved. Here again he deceived, for the Lecompton constitution could not be changed for seven years and then only by a laborious amendment process that was easy enough for the Lecompton minority to impede.

“To delighted southerners, who had watched an unlikely slave state transformed into a probable one, Buchanan offered his splendid gift in a special message to Congress in February 1858: ‘Kansas is therefore at this moment as much a slave state as Georgia and South Carolina. Without this the equality of the sovereign states composing the Union would be violated, and the use and enjoyment of a territory acquired by the common treasure of all the States would be closed against the people and property of nearly one-half the members of the confederacy.’ This last was another of Buchanan’s convenient delusions. In fact the white South represented less than 20 percent of the population of the United States.

“By 1858 Buchanan had already done a great deal for the South, and now he prepared to do even more by using the full powers of the executive to push the Lecompton constitution through Congress, ‘naked,’ in the terminology of the day, without changes, modifications, and criticism. By his calculations the Senate presented no difficulty, with its Democratic majority, two-thirds of whom were from slaveholding states. He was proved right when the Senate voted by a comfortable margin to approve the Lecompton constitution in March.

“But the House of Representatives, based on population and therefore always a threat to the South, remained uncertain. There the combined opposition of 106 Know-Nothings and Republicans did not outnumber the 128 Democrats, but there were only 75 Democratic congressmen from slaveholding states. The rest were northerners who lived among constituencies alarmed by aggressive slave supporters in the South and increasingly attracted to the Republicans.

“Buchanan promptly went to work. Throughout the spring of 1858, using tactics often assumed to be the creation of twentieth-century chief executives, the president sent cabinet members to lobby congressmen. Contracts for shipbuilding and mail routes were dangled before wavering representatives; commissions, patronage jobs (either removals or extensions), funds for newspapers that favored Lecompton, and even cash were offered. Two years later a House committee investigating whether the president had ‘by money, patronage or other improper means sought to influence the action of Congress’ on its Lecompton votes darkly suggested that even prostitutes were offered to recalcitrant legislators. There was no paper trail to the president himself, but by the spring of 1858 most of official Washington agreed that the power of the executive had bought congressmen ‘like hogs.’ Meanwhile the administration’s newspaper, the Washington Union, turned itself into an advertisement for the merits of the Lecompton constitution. Some of its editorials, probably written by Attorney General Black and possibly by the president himself, suggested that slavery was moving north. Kansas was only the beginning.

“Despite the pressure of the administration, Buchanan lost the vote in the House, in part because his own Democrats – those from the North led by Stephen Douglas – saw Lecompton as a swindle and voted against it. Earlier, Douglas, referring to his support of the president in the 1856 convention, had sworn that as he had ‘made’ Buchanan president, so he would now unmake him. The president, refusing to compromise, shortly provided Douglas with an opportunity.

“Here was another turning point in the Buchanan presidency. Buchanan could have sent the constitution back to Kansas and encouraged the writing of a new charter with both groups represented in a new convention. Instead, under his direction new legislation, called the English bill, offered Kansans a bribe. The bribe was not of land, as has been frequently charged, but rather of timing. Kansans had only to vote for the Lecompton constitution and receive the traditional land grant of four million acres for the state to enter the Union immediately. But if Kansans rejected Lecompton, they would be penalized and would have to wait until their population reached ninety-three thousand – the number of residents on which representation in the House was based during the 1850s. Barely, with the ranks of the northern Democrats breached, the English bill passed. But Kansans had the last word.

“That August when they voted on the Lecompton constitution, 11,300 Kansans voted against the slave document that the president had tried to foist upon them. Fewer than 1,800 residents voted in favor of Lecompton in a fair election; not one of the territory’s twenty-eight counties gave Lecompton a majority. The people, so long stifled by the Buchanan administration and an aggressive minority of proslavery Kansans, had spoken. Now there was a new vote for delegates to a constitutional convention, and after the antislavery ‘Wyandotte’ constitution was adopted, ratified by the people of Kansas, and sent to Congress, where it was bitterly opposed by southern congressmen and senators, Kansas entered the Union in January 1861.

“In his annual message to Congress in December 1858, Buchanan took credit for resolving the Kansas conflict . . . . He was too optimistic. Slavery was the central issue of his times and had been for over a generation. By taking the side of the South, Buchanan had split the Democrats, and in the process he had ensured his nightmare: the election of a Republican in 1860. Moreover he turned the Democratic party into a southern organization. In effect his politics were as sectional as those of the Republicans, about whom he complained so endlessly. Buchanan’s aggressive prosouthernism angered northerners, who feared a slaveholding oligarchy would soon control their government as had almost happened in Kansas. In his famous debates with Stephen Douglas in the fall of 1858, Lincoln held ‘James’ (Buchanan) to be a coconspirator along with ‘Roger’ (Taney), ‘Franklin’ (Pierce), and of course his senatorial opponent, ‘Stephen’ (Douglas), in their efforts to protect slavery everywhere in the United States.

“The destructive effects of the president’s policy were immediately apparent in the 1858 fall congressional elections when a disproportionate number of northern Democrats lost, especially the doughfaces loyal to the administration. Nowhere was the reaction against Buchanan more obvious than in his home state of Pennsylvania, where the Democratic vote fell by 20 percent. Even the president’s friend Glancy Jones was defeated for Congress by what Buchanan denigrated as ‘conspirators and hounds’ . . . But with two years left in his presidential term, a still confident James Buchanan showed no signs of moderating his aggressive southern stands.”

Published in: on April 22, 2009 at 12:10 pm  Comments (1)  

Buchanan & Bloody Kansas

Kansas Territory 1857 (Wichita State University)

Kansas Territory 1857 (Wichita State University)

A Preview of Jean H. Baker’s James Buchanan

[James Buchanan appears on nearly every listing of presidential performance as the most incompetent and indeed disastrous of all presidents. On Thursday, April 23rd, we will observe the 218th anniversary of his birth.]

“Buchanan inherited the third and most crucial of his early presidential crises – that of Kansas. For Americans intent on settling the West, the territory with its fifty million acres was a prize. For southern Americans, its location between North and South made it essential for the dispersion of slavery throughout the West. Yet for the president, slavery remained an obstacle to the prompt admission of Kansas as a Democratic, possibly slave, but probably free, state. Politically, a Democratic state government in Kansas would offset the preparations for statehood of potentially Republican Minnesota and Oregon. The future control of Congress rested in a battle Americans had been fighting over slavery since the 1820s, with territories the battleground. Buchanan hoped to create a coalition of free-soil and proslave Democrats, with partisan politics trumping in significance any division of opinion over slavery, the latter now constitutionally protected by the Dred Scott decision as private property.

“Instead, by 1859 Buchanan had heightened the dangers to the Union with his policies in Kansas. More than any other of his decisions, including those in late 1860, his management of the territory demonstrated not just his commitment to the South, and not just his determination to be a forceful president, but fusing the two, his hardheaded resolve to use the executive power for southern interests. Buchanan turned out to be as stubborn for the South as Andrew Jackson was for the Union, only without Jackson’s commanding leadership and loyal supporters.

“By the time Buchanan assumed the presidency, there were already two competing territorial governments in an area to be organized under the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Although the act mandated that the people of the territory determine the fate of slavery, the implementation of popular sovereignty had not been easy. Pierce had already fired two governors, and the third resigned the day Buchanan took office. One territorial government with a proslavery legislature and judiciary was located first in Shawnee and later in a small town along the Kaw River called Lecompton. The other was the free state government located in Topeka, fifteen miles to the west.

“In the first stages of organizing the territory, prosouthern forces had moved so aggressively and unfairly to take possession of the territory for slavery that a backlash had developed. Many settlers, indifferent to slavery, cared more about their prospects of settling on fertile land; others wanted to ensure that the labor of free white men did not compete with that of slaves on that land. In 1855 proslavery residents had forcefully prevented free-state residents from voting; they had adopted a drastic slave code that limited officeholding to proslavery men; they had made any criticism of slavery punishable as a felony; and they had established capital punishment for anyone aiding a fugitive slave. Judicial decisions from Lecompton starkly revealed proslave bias as free-state Kansans rarely received any measure of justice.

“To ensure their control, the proslavery community encouraged citizens of Missouri living along the western border of that state to travel across the border into Kansas and vote illegally in elections that hardly represented the will of the majority. The proslave US Senator from Missouri, David Atchison, led armed invaders into Kansas, some of whom carried banners heralding ‘Southern Rights’ and ‘Kansas for the South.’ Meanwhile election officials turned away free-soil residents who refused to take oaths supporting slavery in Kansas.

“Under conditions in which less than a quarter of the electorate voted and sometimes only 10 percent did so, the Lecompton government had nevertheless established an election calendar that would lead to the writing of a state constitution – first the election of convention delegates, then the convening of a constitutional convention that would write the state’s first charter, which had to be voted on by citizens and accepted by the US Congress. It was a laborious process, but one that had been followed mostly without incident by every territory on its way to statehood.

“Outraged free-soilers had responded by establishing their own government in Topeka. In turn the Topeka government drew up its own code of laws, barring slavery from the territory, along with the settlement of free blacks. Free-soilers encouraged northerners to come to what they intended would be land reserved for white families. Advertisements in northern papers featuring news about organized migrations brought some settlers to the territory and infuriated southerners, who were engaged in their own promotions. The growing majority of settlers opposed slavery in Kansas and were insulted by the aggressive slaveocracy intent on trampling the rights of free white men. They boycotted the Lecompton elections for those of their own Topeka government.

“Nothing better illustrates the volatile situation in Kansas than the violence, which was marked by the burning of the free state stronghold of Lawrence by a proslavery militia, the abolitionist John Brown’s brutal murder of proslavery settlers along Pottawatomie Creek in the spring of 1856, and the reprisal assassination of Brown’s son by proslavery forces. Territorial Kansas supported so much organized violence that a series of incidents was dubbed, with only a little exaggeration, ‘the Wakarusa War.’ Although some killing involved frontier arguments over land claims, slavery became the true flash point for hostility. By the time Buchanan took office, a contingent of fifteen hundred US Army troops was trying to keep the peace.

“Presidents shared constitutional authority with Congress over the territories, but their power to appoint and instruct governors often determined the course of events. Clearly Buchanan needed to restart the process. Instead the president continued to support the Lecompton government, arguing that it was the officially recognized territorial structure. A more evenhanded approach might have begun with a new census, a new registration, and the relocation of the capital in another town. Yet Lecompton, entirely controlled by proslavery Kansans, remained the capital recognized by Washington throughout Buchanan’s administration. Hardly conducive to the expression of democracy, the town boasted a large wooden shack as its only public facility, one muddy street, and too many taverns where corrupt federal office holders drank and gambled with the proslavery militia.

“Buchanan did appoint a promising new territorial governor. Robert Walker had been born in Pennsylvania and had moved to Mississippi as a young man. Buchanan had known and respected Walker from their shred time in the Senate in the 1830s and in Polk’s cabinet during the 1840s where Walker served as secretary of the Treasury. But Kansas was the graveyard of governors, and an irritated president had to make a personal plea to Walker’s wife, who thought the position not only dangerous but underpaid and certainly unworthy of her husband’s talents. Buchanan promised Walker – and it was a crucial commitment – that any Kansas constitution must be submitted to the people to approve. Again this was customary procedure, although a few southern states had not done so. Just as the formative document of the United States, the Constitution, had been approved by the people, so nineteenth-century Americans expected that state constitutions would be ratified by a majority of the citizens. Buchanan had promised as much.

“As Walker left for Kansas in the spring of 1857, Buchanan instructed him that all ‘bona fide citizens’ must vote in such a ratification process. Buchanan repeated his instructions in his annual message to Congress in December 1857: ‘A constitution shall be submitted to the people of the Territory, [and] they must be protected in their right of voting for or against that instrument and the fair expression of the popular will must not be interrupted by fraud and violence . . . it [is] far from my intention to interfere with the decision of the people of Kansas, either for or against slavery.’ Yet by 1857 the Topeka government represented three times as many Kansans as did that in Lecompton. Only by fraud could the protection of slavery in th constitution survive the political process.

“In the summer of 1857 – his first as president – Buchanan paid close attention to political conventions in Georgia and Mississippi, which were threatening secession if Kansas was not accepted as a slave state. As one Georgian wrote Senator Alexander Stephens, the future vice president of the Confederacy, ‘If Kansas comes in as a freestate, Buchanan will richly deserve death and I hope some patriotic man will inflict it.’ Meanwhile, Walker, like two previous governors, had decided that Kansas was destined to become a free state, and the governor had described an ‘isothermal’ line above which, for reasons of climate, slavery was impractical and uneconomic. That line ran through southern Kansas. Secretly, for this was a doctrine offensive to southerners, Buchanan had always believed that slavery would simply expire in environmentally hostile areas in the West. A problem that would solve itself, it did not merit the disturbance of the Union. ‘Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.’ But in the face of southern pressure, the president now supported the best chance slave supporters had, and that was the Lecompton constitution.

“In response to the complaints in August 1857 that federal troops in Kansas had been used against free state residents in Topeka and Lawrence ‘to force the people of Kansas to obey laws not their own,’ Buchanan produced a message intended for the South as well as the North. The Dred Scott decision, he said, was now the controlling fact of territorial life. Isothermal lines were irrelevant. Territorial slavery existed in Kansas and in every territory, wherever slaveholders wanted to take their property; ‘the highest tribunal known to our laws has so decided.’ An exasperated president wondered how anyone could doubt that slavery could exist in territorial Kansas. Just as the slavery crisis was caused, in Buchanan’s view, by abolitionists, so in Kansas the offense lay with supporters of the free Topeka government, who refused to vote in Lecompton-organized elections.

“Using a flawed historical comparison, the president professed to be following the ‘wise example’ of Madison, who had not attacked the antiwar Hartford convention during the War of 1812. He would not send the army against Topeka, Buchanan said, ‘unless they shall attempt to perform some act which will bring them into actual collision with the Constitution and the laws.’ One Georgian hailed Buchanan’s widely reprinted letter as ‘the greatest State Paper for the South that has ever emanated from the executive chair since the days of Washington.’ But as it turned out, it was overreaching by the Lecompton government that lost the state to slavery – with Buchanan’s help.

“In the October 1857 elections organized by the Lecompton government for the territorial legislature and a delegate to the US Congress, voting fraud was so extensive and so obvious that Governor Walker threw out the returns from several counties. Most illegal votes came from along the Missouri border south of Kansas City, Missouri, near Westport and Platte City. Precincts with a dozen homes voted twelve hundred ballots for proslavery candidates; names copied from the Cincinnati directory comprised many of the registration lists. In negating these votes, Walker inflamed southern sentiment and embarrassed Buchanan, who withdrew his support from the governor.

“Later in October, the previously elected Lecompton delegates met to frame a constitution. An uninspiring lot, they guaranteed that the right of private property, including slaves, overrode any constitutional or legislative sanctions. Articles in the charter of government also legalized the future of the two hundred slaves already in the state and established a slave code, for the treatment of slaves, based on that of Missouri. Defiant to the end, the sixty, often inebriated delegates decided that their only chance to protect slavery was not to permit a referendum. As authors of the constitution, they would simply approve the document necessary for Kansas statehood and send it to Buchanan, who would send it to Congress.

“But such a process was too blatant, even for Buchanan, who had promised submission of the constitution to Kansans for approval. Federal agents from the Interior Department were dispatched to discuss a compromise. Under pressure from Washington, the convention reluctantly agreed that Kansans would simply vote on slavery, leaving the body of the constitution in place. But existing articles legalized the status of those two hundred slaves already in the state. Such a vote would offer no choice. Kansans, if they could even cast ballots in a fair election, could vote for or against slavery, but not for or against the constitution. This arrangement reminded one free-soil Kansan of tests for guilt in which the accused was thrown into water: if he floated, he was taken out and hanged; if he drowned, he was considered not guilty.

“Buchanan had influenced this supposed compromise, thereby violating his pledge to Walker that he would ‘stand of fall on submission.’ No one could make the case that the choice given Kansans was legitimate, although Buchanan tried. Walker proclaimed it a fraud and a travesty, and as a result became the third failed Kansas governor. Buchanan insisted in his annual message to Congress that under the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the doctrine of popular sovereignty, voters could only vote on the future of slavery. Accordingly, on December 21, 1857, Lecompton Kansans cast ballots for the constitution with slavery or for the constitution without slavery, there being no vote for or against the constitution as a whole. In all 6,143 votes were tallied for the option ‘with’ (over 2,000 of these were fraudulent) and 569 ‘without.’ But the vote begged the point, because the much larger disenfranchised free state Topeka community, worried about violence and fraud, boycotted the election. When they did vote under an election organized by their political community three weeks later, in January 1858, 10,266 votes were registered against the Lecompton constitution; only 162 for.

“The critical moment of Buchanan’s presidency had arrived. Would he accept the Lecompton constitution with its articles protecting current slavery and its establishment of a slave code? Would he lobby for congressional approval of the enabling act that would make Kansas a state and supposedly bring peace and quiet, even if it blatantly violated the popular will? Or would he restart the process as Walker and two former governors of Kansas were urging?”

[continued tomorrow]

Published in: on April 21, 2009 at 4:59 pm  Comments (2)  

Your Inner Fish — A Postscript

One last look back at Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body:

On the Rocks

“Every rock sitting on the ground has a story to tell: the story of what the world looked like as that particular rock formed. Inside the rock is evidence of past climates and surroundings often vastly different from those of today. Sometimes, the disconnect between present and past could not be sharper. Take the extreme examples of Mount Everest, near whose top, at an altitude of over five miles, lie rocks from an ancient sea floor. Go to the North Face almost within sight of the famous Hillary Step, and you can find fossilized seashells. Similarly, where we work in the Arctic, temperatures reach minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. Yet inside some of the region’s rocks are remnants of an ancient tropical delta, almost like the Amazon: fossilized plants and fish that could have thrived only in warm, humid locales. The presence of warm-adapted species at what today are extreme altitudes and latitudes attests to how much our planet can change: mountains rise and fall, climates warm and cool, and continents move about. Once we come to grips with the vastness of time and the extraordinary ways our planet has changed, we will be in a position to put this information to use in designing new fossil-hunting expeditions.

“If we are interested in understanding the origin of limbed animals, we can now restrict our search to rocks that are roughly 375 million to 380 million years old and that were formed in oceans, lakes, or streams. Rule out volcanic rocks and metamorphic rocks, and our search image for promising sites comes into better focus.

“We are only partly on the way to designing a new expedition, however. It does us no good if our promising sedimentary rocks of the right age are buried deep inside the earth, or if they are covered with grass, or shopping malls, or cities. We’d be digging blindly. As you can imagine, drilling a well hole to find a fossil offers a low probability of success, rather like throwing darts at a dart board hidden behind a closet door.

“The best places to look are those where we can walk for miles over the rock to discover areas where bones are ‘weathering out.’ Fossil bones are often harder than the surrounding rock and so erode at a slightly slower rate and present a raised profile on the rock surface. Consequently, we like to walk over bare bedrock, find a smattering of bones on the surface, then dig in.

“So here is the trick to designing a new fossil expedition: find rocks that are of the right age, of the right type (sedimentary), and well exposed, and we are in business. Ideal fossil-hunting sites have little soil cover and little vegetation, and have been subject to few human disturbances. Is it any surprise that a significant fraction of discoveries happen in desert areas? In the Gobi Desert. In the Sahara. In Utah. In Arctic deserts, such as Greenland.

“This all sounds very logical, but let’s not forget serendipity. In fact, it was serendipity that put our team onto the trail of our inner fish. Our first important discoveries didn’t happen in a desert, but along a roadside in central Pennsylvania where the exposures could hardly have been worse. To top it off, we were looking there only because we did not have much money . . . .”

Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 11:42 am  Leave a Comment  

The Sword of Lincoln, Preview 3

President Lincoln meets with General McClellan at the time of Antietam

President Lincoln meets with General McClellan at the time of Antietam

Jeffrey D. Wert, in his history of the Army of the Potomac, The Sword of Lincoln, examines the intricate relationship between Lincoln and his most difficult wartime commander, George Brinton McClellan:

“The enemy’s proximity to Washington and its defiance formed the background of a dispute, which mounted in intensity and in consequences, between McClellan and the administration. At its most basic level, it was an argument over preparations and timing. At its most significant level, it defined the relationship between a popularly elected government in a struggle for its existence and the role of its premier army in that struggle. Its two central figures were the army commander and the president of the United States.

“When McClellan assumed command in the aftermath of Bull Run, he had to strengthen the capital’s defenses and forge a weapon that could undertake field operations. He argued correctly that it would require time to accomplish both. On August 2, in a memorandum prepared at the request of Lincoln, he stated his strategic ideas and the requirements for victory. At the heart of the document was his assertion that the enemy had made Virginia ‘their battle-field – and it seems proper to make the first great struggle there.’ The Federal war aim should be a limited one – the restoration of the Union, while adopting ‘a rigidly protective policy as to private property and unarmed persons, and a lenient course as to common soldiers.’

“He had no doubt that victory would result only from the application of ‘overwhelming physical force.’ Such a force, ‘the main Army of Operations’ or his army, would need 273,000 men in 283 regiments of infantry, cavalry, and engineers and 100 field batteries. ‘It is perhaps unnecessary to state,’ he concluded, ‘that in addition to the forces named in this memorandum strong reserves should be formed, ready to supply any losses that may occur.’

“How deeply McClellan believed that he needed an army of such size is difficult to assess. He surely knew that the administration would need months, if not longer, to recruit, arm, and equip this ‘main Army of Operations,’ while also meeting the requests of commanders in other theaters. In turn, he would refuse to undertake a major offensive until he had an army of sufficient strength, armament, and training.

“McClellan supported his argument for a sizeable army with inflated estimates of enemy numbers. On August 8, he reported that Johnston had at least 100,000 troops in front of the Federals. Five weeks later, he placed the figure at 170,000, while his department had barely 80,000 officers and men. At the same time, he called Allan Pinkerton, the head of a detective agency, to Washington to conduct intelligence operations. By the end of September, Pinkerton, who used the name E.J. Allan, had twenty-four agents in the field.

“Together Pinkerton and McClellan submitted overestimates of Confederate strength, a pattern that would characterize McClellan’s tenure as army commander. Pinkerton deliberately overstated the number of Rebels, and McClellan knew it. On October 4, when the agent reported Johnston’s strength as 98,400, far less than the 170,000 that McClellan had stated earlier, the general did not forward this estimate to the War Department. ‘No other general,’ historian Stephen W. Sears has asserted, ‘exaggerated in such monumental proportions or for so long a period.’

“His assessments of enemy numbers defy logic. His reports painted a portrait of a ‘vast machine’ constructed by the Confederacy, although its white male population was only one-third that of the North. If the Lincoln administration could not marshal such manpower, how could the newly organized Davis government? McClellan, however, evidently believed his own reports, which provided him with a logical base for his strategic and command decisions. He could justify his unwillingness to advance against the Rebels until preparations had been completed. Likewise he justified his cautious tactics when he met the foe. But these overestimates could, however, cripple, if not paralyze, the army when an opportunity to strike arose.

“If the difficulties between McClellan and the administration had been only questions about numbers, readiness, and timing, they might have been resolved. But it went deeper than that, for McClellan had a record of quarreling with superiors and an abiding contempt for politicians. From his days at West Point through his years in the army, he had clashed ‘with anyone in authority,’ according to Sears.

“It is not surprising then that McClellan ignited a feud with Winfield Scott within days of his appointment. ‘The old man . . . cannot long retain command I think,’ he informed his wife on august 2. ‘When he retires I am sure to succeed him, unless in the mean time I lose a battle – which I do not expect to do.’ Six days later, after he had ‘a row’ with Scott – most likely over the adequacy of the capital’s defenses – he described the general-in-chief to Ellen: ‘I do not know whether he is a dotard or a traitor! . . . he is a perfect imbecile. He understands nothing, appreciates nothing & is ever in my way.’ Six weeks later, he wrote that Scott ‘threw down the glove & I took it up, I presume war is declared.’

“His letters to his wife during these months contain a litany of his troubles and also harsh descriptions of Lincoln and Cabinet members. At different times, McClellan called the president ‘an idiot,’ ‘a rare bird,’ and ‘the original gorilla, about as intelligent as ever. What a specimen to be at the head of our affairs now!’ Following a Cabinet meeting, he railed to Ellen: ‘I can’t tell you how disgusted I am becoming with these wretched politicians – they are a most despicable set of men & I think [Secretary of State William] Seward is . . . a meddling, officious, incompetent little puppy.’ As for Lincoln, ‘The Presdt is nothing more than a well meaning baboon.’

“McClellan’s antipathy toward political leaders reflected a common opinion within the professional military. He and fellow officers had seen the pernicious effects, as they thought, of political interference with the army in Mexico. Mcclellan was contemptuous of and condescending toward them. In his thinking, he was a general beset with a numerically superior force in front and an ignorant and obstructive government in the rear. ‘It is perfectly sickening,’ he wrote in another letter to Ellen, ‘to have to work with such people & to see the fate of the nation in such hands.’

“The army commander’s disdainful attitude festered and worsened over time. He failed to understand that the conflict was fundamentally a political contest. Campaigns and battles would derive much of their significance from their impact on public opinion. The war had begun in a boiling cauldron of politics; its resolution rested on the steadfastness of the political will of Northerners and Southerners.

“As Henry Hunt said, ‘Revolution devours her children,’ and revolution was afoot in the land. Its shape remained undefined, but it could not be limited. Like a swelling current, it would scour and establish new courses. The war tested, as never before, the military would be intertwined with politics. Blinded by his prejudices, McClellan refused to see that ‘the fate of the nation’ rested ‘in such hands.’ He was a soldier breasting a powerful stream.

“Despite his private, belittling descriptions of Lincoln, McClellan enjoyed the support of the president during the summer and fall. Lincoln conferred frequently with McClellan, joined the general at reviews of the troops, worked tirelessly to recruit and equip the army, and even defended the commander when others complained about the army’s inertia. He witnessed the disagreements between Scott and McClellan over the capital’s security and strategy. A patient man, Lincoln accepted McClellan’s argument for more men and more time.

“Lincoln, however, never lost sight of his greatest burden as president – to sustain his fellow citizens’ will to wage war against the Confederacy for as long as it might require and at whatever its cost. He had tapped into the outpouring of nationalism after Fort Sumter and had exploited the new resolve after the defeat at Bull Run, but he knew that it would not endure without success on battlefields. The foundation of the Union cause resided at isolated farmhouses, on dusty village roads, and amid the bustle of city streets. Military inactivity or stalemate could erode away some of that foundation.

“While the union war effort encompassed both the Eastern and Western theaters, most of the Northern press and populace focused on the Army of the Potomac. It had the primary burden of defending Washington. If the national capital fell, the Union cause would be no longer politically sustainable. In turn, the Confederate capital beckoned a mere hundred miles to the south as it had before Bull Run.. Although Federal successes in the West ultimately led to the collapse of the Confederacy, the war’s main battleground rested in Virginia. Here, the southerners had their best opportunity to secure a favorable political settlement with battlefield victories. Here, too, the Army of the Potomac, with the shadow of Washington upon it, carried more than any other union command, the political will of the North.

“Military necessity and political reality bound Lincoln to the Army of the Potomac. His almost unremitting attention to its operations reflected this tie. Its fortunes would be his. The relationship between him and its commander would be a central theme of the war in the East. In George McClellan he would find his most difficult subordinate. One of them believed the army belonged to him. The other knew it belonged to the country.”

Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment