Starts as an excellent lecture on McClellan and Lee by Dr. Rafuse & quickly veers into “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!”

A really excellent talk on by Ethan S. Rafuse on McClellan and Lee, and the gentlemanly/outdated West Point notions they brought to the Civil War. (Which, by the way, didn’t hamper Robert E. Lee from fighting in the way it did McClellan.)

As a University of Missouri alumnus – where I was born – as well as serving as Park Ranger at the Harry S. Truman National Memorial Site, I like his nod to technology at the beginning of his talk. My father would most definitely approve.

“The Civil War –“

(“Looks like we got an issue with the Clicker, here.”)

(“Alright…”)

“Either Duct tape it or slam it into something. One of those two will make it work.”

This sets up perfectly a lecture titled: “We always understood each other so well.”


[GEHH aside]

And also makes me take a little curve into the virtuoso performance of James Whitmore in Samuel Gallo’s

“Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!”

which, of course, my Dad filmed just in time for the 1976 elections and then unveiled in “Whistle Stop Campaign” fashion. While not an exacting historical record, it gets wholly deserved recognition for bringing focus back onto Truman’s legacy.

[snip]

“…’Well, Congressman, while I am most grateful of your concern for me and your possible influence with the Almighty, from what I know of the man, He’s got a helluva lot more important things to do –”

“And sign that, ‘God’s humble servant, Harry S. Truman.’

 

give em hell harry - .. --and sign that-----

” …and sign that God’s Humble Servant –“

 

 

“You wanna cut ‘helluva lot?’

“Fine, Rose, cut it out — 

 

give em hell harry ..--.. fine rose cut it out

” –doesn’t matter, cut it out, if it makes it easier for you –“

 

“Doesn’t matter. If it makes it easier, cut it out.”

“Alright. Now the next one is going to Senator Bishop of Colorado —

give em hell harry -_...and sign that ..god.s humble servant harry s truman...__

 

‘Dear Senator,

not only would I not appoint John L. Lewis, Ambassador to the Soviet Union — 

 

 

give em hell harry - .. --and sign that-----

“I wouldn’t appoint the old bastard dogcatcher.”

 

“Don’t you want to cut ‘old bastard,’ Rose?”

“Oh, you don’t?”

[end GEHH aside]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The South – Grant – and what about the cotton strategy?

So, this fact is obviously not news to Ethan S. Rafuse – military historian – but since you mention cotton,

what about the South deciding to use that great stick they certainly did have – COTTON – by choosing to starve the system instead of flooding it?

Look, I’m sure this is probably the stuff of tons of scholarly debate that simply doesn’t rise to my level of experience, but point me to it, because I would very much like to add to it.

I could, in but a few hours, add thousands of words and hundreds of footnotes on why this was

the stupidest decision ever in the history of warfare.

And that statement contains only the thinnest shred of hyperbole, despite my reputation.

The South should not have risked the chance that the world could survive without their cotton.

Even in the realm of the tightest Secondary Order Effect [SOE] it has little payoff for what should have been seen as an unacceptable risk.

Because it was an unacceptable risk.

No serious scholar argues this.

In trying and starve the globe of cotton in the hopes that it would come begging, the South also bankrupted itself.

But of course, the worst and most foreseeable risk was that the world might discover that it could survive just fine without slave-picked cotton.

As it did.

Meanwhile, you’ve bankrupted yourself for the promise of a payday that will never materialize.

Now what?

 

 

 

Vicksburg – well, first, Grant more broadly – (and an amusing time-traveling sidetrack to Gettysburg)

unconditional surrender grant clipped

Grant at Ft. Donelson

So I really want to concentrate on Vicksburg but because Vicksburg was really about long, difficult, and seemingly endless preparation and because in that situation the purely personal relationships are key – and because Steve Knott’s Army War College lecture is so good – I’m going to put it up first so that at least I will have it close by to liven up my swamp digging siege stuff.

Let Steve Knot tell you why Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart ended up in Carlisle while the rest of the Confederates were converging on Gettysburg. Then we’ll head back to the long slog at Vicksburg.

Actually, you know what, before the terrain heavy, tactical, and brilliant siege Grant laid to Vicksburg, I think, because this is my own damn blog and I can put up any damn thing I want, it is my pleasure to just roll around in the amazingness of Grant in general and this, in my humble opinion, is one of the best takes on him that exists.

The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant and the American Civil War

by

Dr. Richard J. Sommers

at the

U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center

From the YouTube description:

Ulysses S. Grant was neither a magnetic leader of Soldiers (such as George McClellan or George Patton) nor a military genius (in the mold of Robert E. Lee or Douglas MacArthur). Yet his qualities of command mark him as the best general in the Federal Army and one of the most successful generals in all of American history. Most significantly, he understood how to convert advantages into achievements. Our February program analyzes the generalship of Ulysses S. Grant, identifies his many strengths as a military commander, and yet also acknowledges limitations in his leadership. The presentation proceeds to place his generalship in the overall context of the American Civil War.

 

 

 

“How does a black person not get shot in America?”

“How does a black person not get shot in America?”

MOOC Mania

 

I have become a certified MOOC freak. There are several different platforms for MOOCS – Massive Open Online Courses – such as edX and Coursera, and happily many others are available on YouTube. (Many are available through those platforms as well as on YouTube.)

I prefer the edX platform if I use one. I have never gotten a certificate or worried about that at all, so I ride free, just for the joy of cramming my ever-curious mind.

What’s so amazing is that anyone at all can, for free, peek in at some of the most elite and incredible classes being taught today.

Harvard’s most popular course, Justice,” for instance, taught by Professor Michael Sandel, is a class everyone should at least check out. I am big on “archived” courses, because they are always “self-paced,” but Justice actually just began again for real, so check it out.

Here’s the little course intro video and text below:

Taught by lauded Harvard professor Michael Sandel, Justice explores critical analysis of classical and contemporary theories of justice, including discussion of present-day applications. Topics include affirmative action, income distribution, same-sex marriage, the role of markets, debates about rights (human rights and property rights), arguments for and against equality, dilemmas of loyalty in public and private life. The course invites learners to subject their own views on these controversies to critical examination.
The principal readings for the course are texts by Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and John Rawls. Other assigned readings include writings by contemporary philosophers, court cases, and articles about political controversies that raise philosophical questions.

Other favorites of mine are Boston University’s War for the Greater Middle East taught by the amazing Andrew Bacevich – archived now at edX – and all three of the foremost Lincoln/Civil War Historian’s – (Dr. Eric Foner’s) – courses on Civil War and Reconstruction from Columbia University.

Jump in!

 

Foner Funny – Prof Eric Foner on Delaware

“So, here it’s really martial law, almost, which is holding, which is getting, making sure that Maryland stays in the Union. And of course, if Maryland stays in the Union, there’s not much chance of Delaware leaving, because Delaware is just a tiny, little place stuck over in the corner.”

“Is anybody here from Delaware?”

[Silence from class. No one is claiming Delaware.]

“I don’t mean to say anything bad about Delaware.”

[Silence solidifies. Prof. Foner surveys his classroom, and seemingly finding them safely non-Delaware friendly, decides that actually…]

“I don’t really like Delaware much because…”

 [laughter]

“No, no, nothing against them but, you know, first of all, what kind of state has a blue hen as a motto, as a — it’s weird — as a symbol?”

“But no, if you drive to Washington, on Route 95, you pass through Delaware for about ten minutes. And they charge you an arm and a leg for the privilege of driving for ten minutes through their state. That’s how they balance their state budget –“

[laughter]

“– so no one outside of… anyway. They couldn’t secede.”

 

Black History, Hidden Figures, & learning through laughter: SNL Weekend Update

“Hidden Figures” has given us all a glimpse into all the history we’re lacking, and I don’t think every scholar in America put together could make the point better than Leslie Jones does in this short clip.

Leslie Jones on SNL gave me more Black History on Weekend Update than I’ve had heretofore. And I’m pretty damn historically literate. And Weekend Update is pretty short and she only came in at the end.

Everyone should read Lies My Teacher Told Me, which emphasizes a vast amount of the lies, slights, and outright omissions fed to us through our history textbooks.

But one area Lies misses, probably in large part because the subject matter is so shamefully difficult to find in the first place, is the place in our history made possible by minorities. It is criminal that our Congress can’t manage to even bring to a vote a Sense of the Congress – a non-binding declaration with no force of law or any power whatsoever – resolution condemning slavery in the US, let alone apologizing for it.

As Columbia Professor Dr. Eric Foner, considered the foremost Abraham Lincoln scholar by most, so beautifully points out in (one of his three & I cannot remember which) Civil War and Reconstruction class, Americans would find it terribly odd to find an American Slavery Memorial or United States of America Slavery Museum in Germany, especially if they didn’t have a Holocaust Memorial.

Right?

That brings it home, does it not?

How do we manage to act so high and mighty, fellow citizens, when we ignore this part of our history? The fact that so many US citizens deny that racism even exists, let alone dare to acknowledge the fact – and it is a fact – that slaves built this country, is staggering to me. And yes, slaves did build this country. They built it with sweat, blood and with tears.

Here’s another fact, a single, simple fact, that unlike the fact above – a complicated fact drawn from a complex equation of many sources – is wholly undeniable and inarguable.

The 1860 Census, the last pre-Civil War census, quantifies in the most horrific way possible just how much this country owes to slavery and in what seems to be America’s favorite metric: DOLLARS.

In 1860 “slave property”* was worth more than every other industry COMBINED.

Banks + Railroads + Factories/Companies ≠ SLAVES

Yup, white people who whine constantly that racism doesn’t exist, or worse, the only racism is “reverse racism!!!”

Again, 1860:

slaves as “property” > every bank + every railroad + every company

So, now, I’ll leave my rant and deliver the promised funny version, where I learned & laughed. Thank you, Leslie Jones.

*It disgusts me to write “slave property” and I simply could not bring myself to use the census terminology and the term that was once completely commonplace, “property in slaves.” That was once a thing. A term no one really paid attention to, not even the most ardent Abolitionist, because it was just part of the lexicon. It was a true description of something so repulsive that anyone with even a stitch of humanity recoils at it. I apologize for using the term “slave property” as well, but to make the point I had to link the two words one way or another, because they were, in fact, human beings that were quantifiable in the same way a car is now.