Are You Brave?

While many would see the above image as horrifying proof of racism in America, we must remember the flip side. Yes, there were racists, but as the cartoon says, the Republican congress  gave blacks the right to vote and pushed for racial equality. The fact that violence and hatred still remained after the Civil War…

Books I’ve Known And Loved

When Harriet Hanson Robinson explained to her busy (and presumably happy) single friend that she felt sorry for her  because she wasn’t married and could not  be a complete woman there was no hint of bitchiness. Harriet was a contented creature of her time. In my early feminist days I would have found this hard…

Books I’ve Known And Loved

“The patriotism of the people who worked in the powder mills during the war was only exceeded by the front line soldiers.” On the day of the final explosion  Helen remembered her mother at the sink. The tree-lined village with its substantial homes and churches lit by new stained glass sat chilled by a March…

Robert Todd Lincoln: Airing Dirty Laundry

What does one say about a son who commits his mother into an insane asylum? With images of dark and dank cellars and mistreatment of patients we tend to tsk-tsk yet Robert Todd Lincoln, the eldest son of Abraham and Mary had money to put his mother up in a posh asylum. Still, Mary seething…

Political Correctness: Ideas in Exile

It’s tempting to tsk, tsk at little remembered holidays celebrated in America’s past like POPE’S DAY in Boston. Oh, how intolerant we say. Did they really set aside a day to burn effigies of the Pope? Not the Pope! We may applaud the current pope’s stance on global warming, no cooling, no warming. We may…

Books I’ve Known And Loved

“One surviving letter suggests that the men engaged in seizing black civilians may have had no uniform attitude toward the kidnapping.” And here lies a great truth: people are complex. As much as we would like to think otherwise there are no super heroes–and villains while evil may only be slightly more blind to their…

Books I’ve Known And Loved

Many heard the city’s siren call: freedom, freedom, freedom.  In the wake of crumbling farm communities and great and small depressions, many American-born young women (and men) moved to the burgeoning city of New York for work and a fresh start, freed from a “patriarchal”, rural society in the second quarter of the 1800’s. The…

How The Civil War Changed The World

“Even while the Civil War raged, slaves in Cuba could be heard singing, “Avanza, Lincoln, avanza! Tu eres nuestra esperanza!” (Onward, Lincoln, Onward! You are our hope!) – as if they knew, even before the soldiers fighting the war far to the North and long before most politicians understood, that the war in America would…