Originally posted on Practically Historical:
Progressive historians like Charles Beard… went to great lengths to discredit the work of America’s first published historian, George Bancroft. The Nationalist school of American history revered our Founders and proclaimed American exceptionalism. Beard argued that America’s founding ideals were nothing more than a clever disguise for our true inspiration, greed. The New Left revisionism that pervades historiography today is a mere continuation of Beard’s fundamentally flawed concept- America really isn’t that great….
Neo-Nationalism is a historical school of thought… that strives to reconcile two wildly opposed views of America’s past. Common ground is sought within the discipline- social, political, military historical study working in concert to preserve the common threads that bind all Americans together…
- America’s founding ideals are exceptional- and are standards that are difficult to attain- our history is comprised of the struggle to uphold these ideals.
- The Founders were extraordinary men- but…
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There’s a wickedness to not exploring the past–not the past that’s contrived and shoved down your throat by a committee of people with an agenda. Go to the old buildings and listen to them speak to you. Find that little piece of a battlefield still untrammeled by suburbs. In the distance you hear a lawnmower but closer still you feel the fear and heartbreak of men in sweat-stained uniforms being carried from the field under sunny sky.
Don’t put all your faith in the snarky characterizations, the slip-shod research and self-righteous tendency to tear the noble moments of a man’s life down. We’ve all fallen and would prefer no one finds the self-pitying journal entry from 20 years ago that exposes our temptations, mixed motives and sins.
Trash the textbooks and throw open the historical libraries to children. Let them feel the leather-bound book — pages dripping with ink and humanity. To see a general’s script is to fall in love and understand this man truly existed and thought his own thoughts–not that of a scared little college adjunct professor. I may think great things about a soldier and you may think the Indian is superior, but I say, go back and be with them. Quiet little houses and dusty old local libraries await with their treasure.
Why is it wicked to be fed your history? Because you put your trust in fallen man. I think what I think. I have an agenda so go see for yourself.
Wicked maybe, but beautiful too. Oh, for the days of such wickedness! Before the CIA promoted ugly art causing president Truman once to remark, “If that’s art, then I’m a Hottentot.”
Gambling was illegal when Mr. Morrissey, a tough prize-fighter from Troy rolled into Saratoga and set up his Gentlemen’s Club (aka casino). The Saratoga mineral springs had attracted rich Southerners before the war who liked to flaunt their wealth and Paris fashions, but after the war a more democratic crowd filled the hotels and rubbed shoulders with the wealthy. That was fine all day, but when evening came . . .
Morrissey recognized the need for gentlemen to have a luxurious place to have a bit of gambling fun and so the casino began. Nellie Bly, Spencer Trask and others bemoaned the gambling being done at the club and then at the track (Morrissey realized vacationers would get bored of mineral water before noon and needed afternoon diversion so started the races with the backing of richie-riches like Travers, Jerome and Vanderbilt ).
Okay, so drinking, drugging, betting and adultery are wicked pursuits, but the seasons at Saratoga were beautiful–as was the casino.
The Vanderbilts, the Whitneys, US Grant and Mark Twain ate club sandwiches (invented here so not all wicked) while they gambled the night away. That must have been fun and here’s the sideboard where the stacks of refreshments where kept ready for hungry wicked people.
But what about the wicked women? Nellie Bly found the women trashy, but they don’t look too bad to me–though maybe a little pale as they read magazines, sip tea and play tunes on the piano in the reading room of the casino (some probably fretting a small bit about fortunes being squandered up above.
A Fisher’s Child
by Theodore Tilton
I weave a tale of old and new;
The half a fact, the rest a dream;
Yet many dreams are wondrous true,
However strange they seem.
So silent was the summer day,
That one could hear the far-off bees,
Till winds from over fields of hay
Came down to rough the seas.
A fisher brought his nets to land,
And just above the water’s reach
Drew out his boat upon the sand,
And hurried from the beach.
Along a reedy water-edge,
His little son ran up and down,
And, breaking off the spears of sedge,
Entwined them for a crown.
Now, when the urchin spied the craft,
He clambered up the side in glee,
And tossed his laurelled head, and laughed,
And wished himself at sea.
The boat, amid the watery roar,
Was like a warning finger, laid
Across the lips of sea and shore,
To hush the noise they made.
A breaker, with a headlong swell,
Ran up around it where it lay,
And rolled so high that when it fell
It launched the boat away.
The poplar trees grew tall and green
Between the fisher and the tide,
And sadder sight was never seen
Than there they stood to hide.
By rushing winds, the drifting hull
Was blown beyond the harbor-light,
Till, seaward, like a flying gull,
It dwindled out of sight.
The father never called his child
Until the west was all aflame,
And then, except an echo wild,
No voice in answer came.
Whereat, as with a giant’s hand,
The frantic fisher seized a boat,
And dragged it down the griping sand,
And through the surf afloat.
He pulled his oars for thrice a league,
And down his brawny beard ran sweat,
But not a sinew felt fatigue,
For hope inspired him yet.
The mantle of the night was dark,
Wherein his eyes were folded blind,
And so he chased the truant bark,
To seek, but not to find.
At last his strength was overspent,
And down against his panting breast
His hot, bewildered head he bent,
And swooned, and lay at rest.
He dreamed that through a yawning wave
A child, with sea-grass on his head,
Went down within a boundless grave,
To wander with the dead:
Thence rising to a wondrous land,
The human creature grew divine:
And when the fisher waved his hand,
The child gave back a sign.
The dreamer woke with sudden start,
And, shuddering in the chilly dew,
Knew well, by token in his heart,
The vision must be true.
In sorrow homeward he returned,
And sank aweary in his chair,
And, gazing where the embers burned,
Beheld an angel there!
And in the old familiar place
Which on the earth it loved the best,
A figure with a shining face
Is still the fisher’s guest.
O, pleasantest of mortal things! –
That angels dwell in homes on earth,
Where silently, with folded wings,
They tarry by the hearth!
And why wasn’t he wearing a helmet?
I was going to write about a charming little bookstore I visited recently, but then I happened upon the horrifying photos of beheaded Christian children still in their adorable kid clothes. I really wanted to just escape back into the past or at least into a charming bookstore. I wanted to flip through books that showed how people bandaged wounded soldiers who are long since dead. I wanted to see books on genocide and pass them by because, thank God, the holocausts were over. I wanted to still be able to imagine that I could use the word evil lightly as if the meaning of the word had lost it’s essence and was just a funny remnant from the past.
I bet most Germans browsed bookstores, wrote novels and gossiped as the powers of evil rolled by carrying people to camps. My neighbor sends his beef cows to market but I never see them shoved into the truck that carries them away.
We see. Everyday we see things on television. How many innocent people are murdered every week in Chicago? Would a big counter in the corner of our screen make us give a damn? If we want we can read Bertrand Russel’s disturbing idea’s about education and see as we sit before our computers that his ideas may have become reality. I’m just as dumb as the next person–the person who thinks that couldn’t happen here; that couldn’t happen now. And why is my coffee cold?
What is that numbness that so paralyzes us all? That sense that it might be a bit rude to question evil? But once questioned the problem still exists for the sort who like quiet bookstores–what’s to be done? Do we have a right to say someone is evil or is that a little too judgmental? Maybe the very same people who manage to write sonnets and invent telescopes and love their children have no control over their actions. Bookstores magically appear and child butchering is explained away–they couldn’t help it.