Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant; April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was the 18th President of the United States (1869–1877) following his dominant role in the second half of the Civil War. Under Grant, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and effectively ended the war with the surrender of Robert E. Lee's army at Appomattox. As president he led the Radical Republicans in their effort to eliminate all vestiges of Confederate nationalism and slavery; he effectively destroyed the Ku Klux Klan in 1871. In terms of foreign policy, Grant revealed an "unexpected capacity for deliberation and consultation" that promoted the national interest. His reputation was marred by his repeated defense of corrupt appointees, and by the deep economic depression (called the "Panic of 1873") that dominated his second term. Although his Republican Party split in 1872 with reformers denouncing him, Grant was easily reelected. By 1875 the conservative white Southern opposition regained control of every state in the South and as he left the White House in March 1877 his policies were being undone. Reconstruction ended on a note of failure as the civil rights of blacks did not remain secure.
A career soldier, he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served in the Mexican–American War. When the Civil War began in 1861, Grant trained Union volunteer regiments in Illinois. In 1862, as a general he fought a series of battles and was promoted to major general after forcing the surrender of a large Confederate army and gaining control of Kentucky and most of Tennessee. He then led Union forces to victory after initial setbacks in the Battle of Shiloh, earning a reputation as an aggressive commander. In July 1863, after a long, complex campaign, Grant defeated five uncoordinated Confederate armies (capturing one of them) and seized Vicksburg. This famous victory gave the Union full control of the Mississippi River, split off the western Confederacy, and opened the way for more Union triumphs. After another win at the Battle of Chattanooga in late 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made him lieutenant general and commander of all of the Union Armies. As commanding general of the army, Grant confronted Robert E. Lee in a series of very bloody battles in 1864 known as the Overland Campaign that ended bottling up Lee at Petersburg, outside the Confederate capital of Richmond. During the siege, Grant coordinated a series of devastating campaigns launched by William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip Sheridan, and George Thomas. Finally breaking through Lee's trenches, the Union Army captured Richmond in April 1865. Lee surrendered his depleted forces to Grant at Appomattox as the Confederacy collapsed. Although Lee's allies denounced Grant in the 1870s as a ruthless butcher who won by brute force, most historians have hailed his military genius.
Grant's two consecutive terms as President stabilized the nation after the American Civil War and during the turbulent Reconstruction period that followed. As president, he enforced Reconstruction by enforcing civil rights laws and fighting Ku Klux Klan violence. Grant won passage of the Fifteenth Amendment; giving constitutional protection for African-American voting rights. He used the army to build the Republican Party in the South, based on black voters, Northern newcomers ("Carpetbaggers") and native white supporters ("Scalawags.") As a result, African Americans were represented in the U.S. Congress for the first time in American history in 1870. Grant's reputation as president by 1875 was at an all-time high for his previous veto of the Inflation Bill, the passage of the Resumption of Specie Act, and Secretary Bristow's successful raids that shut down the Whiskey Ring.
Grant's foreign policy, led by Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, implemented International Arbitration, settled the Alabama Claims with Britain and avoided war with Spain over the Virginius Affair. His attempted annexation of the Dominican Republic failed. Grant's response to the Panic of 1873 and the severe depression that followed was ineffective. More than any other president, Grant had to respond to Congressional investigations into financial corruption charges of all federal departments. In 1876, Grant's reputation was damaged by his White House deposition defending his personal secretary Orville Babcock, indicted in the Whiskey Ring graft trials, and his Secretary of War William W. Belknap's resignation, impeachment by the House, and trial in the Senate over receiving profit money from the Fort Sill tradership. After leaving office, Grant embarked on a two-year world tour that included many enthusiastic royal receptions. In 1880, he made an unsuccessful bid for a third presidential term. His memoirs were a critical and popular success. Historians until recently have given Grant's presidency the worst rankings; however, his reputation has significantly improved because of greater appreciation for his foreign policy and civil rights achievements, particularly: avoiding war with Britain and Spain, the Fifteenth Amendment, persecution of the Ku Klux Klan, enforcement of voting rights, and his Indian Peace Policy

“Helped Rob Heanman thrash barley this forenoon.  Shut up the pigs this afternoon and made two yards this afternoon.”

Leesah

Friday, September 28, 2012

Charles Duryea

Charles Duryea (left) with J.Frank Duryea
Charles Edgar Duryea (December 15, 1861 – September 28, 1938) was the engineer of the first-ever working American gasoline-powered car and co-founder of Duryea Motor Wagon Company. He was born near Canton, Illinois, the son of George Washington Duryea and Louisa Melvina Turner and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but spent most of his life working in Springfield, Massachusetts. It was in Springfield that Charles and his brother, Frank, produced and road-tested America's first gasoline-powered car.

“Commenced husking corn a little.  Very fine day”
Leesah

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Andy Williams

Andy Williams, 1969
Howard Andrew "Andy" Williams (December 3, 1927 – September 25, 2012) was an American singer who recorded eighteen Gold- and three Platinum-certified albums. He hosted The Andy Williams Show, a TV variety show, from 1962 to 1971, as well as numerous television specials, and owned the Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri, named after the song "Moon River", with which he is closely identified.

“Finished cutting corn this forenoon.  Went up town this afternoon and got my suit of clothes ordered off Young & Pierson.  Warm day.”
Leesah

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Galvin Manufacturing Corp.

September 25, 1928, Paul Calvin (Paul V. Galvin) and brother Joseph Calvin (Joseph Galvin) in Chicago, Motorola co-founded the predecessor: Galvin Manufacturing Company
Motorola started in Chicago, Illinois as Galvin Manufacturing Corporation (at 847 West Harrison Street) in 1928, with its first product being a battery eliminator. In 1930 Galvin Manufacturing Corporation introduced the Motorola radio, one of the first commercially successful car radios. Company founders Paul V. Galvin and Joseph Galvin created the brand name Motorola for the car radio - linking "motor" (for motorcar) with "ola" (which implied sound). Thus the Motorola brand was meant to indicate "sound in motion." The name "Motorola" was adopted in 1930, and the word has been used as a trademark since the 1930s.

“Picked up 19 bu apples that the wind blew off yesterday and cut two rows of shocks of corn.”

“Cut corn all day.  Martin Burke helped me this afternoon. Pleasant day.”

“Cut corn all day. The two Burkes helped me this forenoon but the old gentleman went home with a lame back at noon and the young man helped me until night. We have less than three rows of shocks to cut yet.  Heavy frost this morning.  Cut the corn some and potatoes very badly in some places.”
Leesah

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Benito Mussolini

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (Italian pronunciation:; 29 July 1883 – 28 April 1945) was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party, ruling the country from 1922 to his ousting in 1943, and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of fascism.
Originally a member of the Italian Socialist Party and editor of the Avanti! from 1912 to 1914, Mussolini fought in World War I as an ardent nationalist and created the Fasci di Combattimento in 1919, catalyzing his nationalist and socialist beliefs in the Fascist Manifesto, published in 1921. Following the March on Rome in October 1922 he became the 27th Prime Minister of Italy and began using the title Il Duce by 1925, about which time he had established dictatorial authority by both legal and extraordinary means, aspiring to create a totalitarian state. After 1936, his official title was Sua Eccellenza Benito Mussolini, Capo del Governo, Duce del Fascismo e Fondatore dell'Impero ("His Excellency Benito Mussolini, Head of Government, Duce of Fascism, and Founder of the Empire") Mussolini also created and held the supreme military rank of First Marshal of the Empire along with King Victor Emmanuel III, which gave him and the King joint supreme control over the military of Italy. Mussolini remained in power until he was replaced in 1943; he remained the leader of the Italian Social Republic until his death a short time later.
Mussolini was among the founders of Italian Fascism, which included elements of nationalism, corporatism, national syndicalism, expansionism, social progress, and anti-communism in combination with censorship of subversives and state propaganda. In the years following his creation of the Fascist ideology, Mussolini influenced, or achieved admiration from, a wide variety of political figures.
Among the domestic achievements of Mussolini from the years 1924–1939 were: his public works programs such as the taming of the Pontine Marshes, the improvement of job opportunities, the public transport, and the so-called Italian economic battles. Mussolini also solved the Roman Question by concluding the Lateran Treaty between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See. Mussolini and the Fascist regime initiated an aggressive campaign to destroy the Sicilian mafia with mass arrests and mass trials of mafiosi. Mussolini was unable to purge Sicily of the mafia, because the mafia utilized its strong base of supporters to hide and protect itself as an underground movement during Fascist rule in Italy.
Since 1938 Mussolini had sought to delay a major war in Europe until at least 1942 to allow Italy to focus its resources to rearm its military, such as to rearm its army with new artillery to replace its existing outmoded artillery, to complete a squadron of new battleships, to create a large colonial-recruit army in newly-established Italian East Africa, to secure Italy's foreign currency reserves through the planned world exposition in Rome to be held in 1942, and to allow the repatriation of the largest number of Italians abroad as possible to fight for Italian forces in a major war. However European war erupted in 1939 after Germany's invasion of Poland. On 10 June 1940, Mussolini led Italy into World War II, siding with Germany. Mussolini was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity in 1940 to carry out a long war with France and the United Kingdom. Therefore, he waited until the former was on the verge of imminent collapse and surrender because of the German invasion before declaring war on France and the UK, on the assumption that—following France's collapse—the war would be short-lived and peace negotiations would soon take place. Mussolini believed that after the imminent French surrender, Italy could gain from this country some territorial concessions and then concentrate its forces on a major offensive in Egypt where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces. However the UK refused to accept German proposals for a peace that would involve accepting Germany's victories in Eastern and Western Europe, plans for a German invasion of the UK did not proceed, and the war continued.
On 24 July 1943, soon after the start of the Allied invasion of Italy, through the Ordine del giorno Grandi Mussolini was defeated in the vote at the Grand Council of Fascism, and the day after the King had him arrested. On 12 September 1943, Mussolini was rescued from prison in the daring Gran Sasso raid by German special forces. Following his rescue, Mussolini headed the Italian Social Republic in parts of Italy that were not occupied by Allied forces. In late April 1945, with total defeat looming, Mussolini attempted to escape north, only to be quickly captured and summarily executed near Lake Como by Italian partisans. His body was then taken to Milan where it was hung upside down at a petrol station for public viewing and to provide confirmation of his demise.

“I put in the sluice by the Kearny place.  Got it done about four o’clock.  And I came home and repaired a piece of lane fence that the cows had broke down very fine day.”



Leesah

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chester A. Arthur

Chester Alan Arthur (October 5, 1829 – November 18, 1886) was the 21st President of the United States (1881–1885). Becoming President after the assassination of President James A. Garfield, Arthur struggled to overcome suspicions of his beginnings as a politician from the New York City Republican machine, succeeding at that task by embracing the cause of civil service reform. His advocacy for, and enforcement of, the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act was the centerpiece of his administration.
Born in Fairfield, Vermont, Arthur grew up in upstate New York and practiced law in New York City. He devoted much of his time to Republican politics and quickly rose in the political machine run by New York Senator Roscoe Conkling. Appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant to the lucrative and politically powerful post of Collector of the Port of New York in 1871, Arthur was an important supporter of Conkling and the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party. In 1878 he was replaced by the new president, Rutherford B. Hayes, who was trying to reform the federal patronage system in New York. When James Garfield won the Republican nomination for President in 1880, Arthur was nominated for Vice President to balance the ticket by adding an eastern Stalwart to it.
After just half a year as Vice President, Arthur found himself, unexpectedly, in the Executive Mansion. To the surprise of reformers, Arthur took up the reform cause that had once led to his expulsion from office. He signed the Pendleton Act into law, and enforced its provisions vigorously. He won plaudits for his veto of a Rivers and Harbors Act that would have appropriated federal funds in a manner he thought excessive. He presided over the rebirth of the United States Navy but was criticized for failing to alleviate the federal budget surplus that had been accumulating since the end of the American Civil War. Suffering from poor health, Arthur made only a limited effort to secure renomination in 1884; he retired at the close of his term. As journalist Alexander McClure would later write, "No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted as Chester Alan Arthur, and no one ever retired ... more generally respected, alike by political friend and foe." Although his failing health and political temperament combined to make his administration less active than a modern presidency, he earned praise among contemporaries for his solid performance in office. The New York World summed up Arthur's presidency at his death in 1886: "No duty was neglected in his administration, and no adventurous project alarmed the nation." Mark Twain wrote of him, "[I]t would be hard indeed to better President Arthur's administration

“Lettie and I spent the afternoon at Will McEwen’s.  Has not been a very pleasant day.”
Leesah

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Eva Peron

María Eva Duarte de Perón (7 May 1919 – 26 July 1952) was an Argentine political leader, the second wife of President Juan Perón (1895–1974) and served as the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She is usually referred to as Eva Perón, or by the affectionate Spanish language diminutive Evita.
She was born in the village of Los Toldos in rural Argentina in 1919, the youngest of five children. In 1934, at the age of 15, she went to the nation's capital of Buenos Aires, where she pursued a career as a stage, radio, and film actress. Eva met Colonel Juan Perón on 22 January 1944, in Buenos Aires during a charity event at the Luna Park Stadium to benefit the victims of an earthquake in San Juan, Argentina. The two were married the following year. In 1946, Juan Perón was elected President of Argentina. Over the course of the next six years, Eva Perón became powerful within the pro-Peronist trade unions, primarily for speaking on behalf of labor rights. She also ran the Ministries of Labor and Health, founded and ran the charitable Eva Perón Foundation, championed women's suffrage in Argentina, and founded and ran the nation's first large-scale female political party, the Female Peronist Party.
In 1951, Eva Perón announced her candidacy for the Peronist nomination for the office of Vice President of Argentina, receiving great support from the Peronist political base, low-income and working class Argentines who were referred to as descamisados or "shirtless ones". However, opposition from the nation's military and bourgeoisie, coupled with her declining health, ultimately forced her to withdraw her candidacy. In 1952, shortly before her death from cancer at the age of 33, Eva Perón was given the title of "Spiritual Leader of the Nation" by the Argentine Congress. Supporting her husband's regime enthusiastically even as she was dying, Eva Perón was given a state funeral upon her death, a prerogative generally reserved for heads of state.

“I went up town this forenoon and got some sewer tile for a sluice across the road.  This afternoon I helped Will McEwen thrash barley and oats.  The Munro cow calved last night.  Quite a pleasant day.”

“It commenced raining some time during the night and has rained about all day.  A good deal of rain has fallen.”
Leesah

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

John Keats

Portrait of John Keats by William Hilton. National Portrait Gallery, London
John Keats (31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821) was an English Romantic poet. He was one of the main figures of the second generation of romantic poets along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, despite his work only having been in publication for four years before his death.
Although his poems were not generally well received by critics during his life, his reputation grew after his death, so that by the end of the 19th century he had become one of the most beloved of all English poets. He had a significant influence on a diverse range of poets and writers. Jorge Luis Borges stated that his first encounter with Keats was the most significant literary experience of his life.
The poetry of Keats is characterized by sensual imagery, most notably in the series of odes. Today his poems and letters are some of the most popular and most analyzed in English literature




Friday, September 14, 2012

Robert Feller

Robert William Andrew "Bob" Feller (November 3, 1918 – December 15, 2010), nicknamed "The Heater from Van Meter," "Bullet Bob," and "Rapid Robert," was an American Major League Baseball pitcher with the Cleveland Indians from 1936–1956.
Feller was a prodigy who bypassed the minor leagues and entered the major leagues at the age of 17. Feller played 18 seasons, all with the Indians, his career interrupted by four years of military service during World War II. He became the first pitcher to win at least 20 games in a season before the age of 21 and threw three no-hitters and 12 one-hitters (both records at the time of his retirement). He won a World Series title in 1948 and helped the Indians win an American League-record 111 games and the pennant in 1954. He led the American League in wins six times and strikeouts in seven seasons. In 1946, Feller recorded 348 strikeouts on the season, a total not bettered for 27 years.
Ted Williams called Feller "the fastest and best pitcher I ever saw during my career...He had the best fastball and curve I've ever seen." Stan Musial believed he was "probably the greatest pitcher of our era." He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 on his first ballot appearance. He was elected the inaugural President of the Major League Baseball Players' Association and participated in barnstorming exhibition games which featured players from both the Major and Negro Leagues.

“We fixed some fince this forenoon rolled some of the wheat this afternoon.  Quite a heavy shower last night in the night.”
Leesah

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning

Letter from Robert Browning to Elizabeth Barrett, 10 September 1846
Her 1844 volume Poems made her one of the most popular writers in the country at the time and inspired Robert Browning to write to her, telling her how much he loved her work. He had been an admirer of her poetry for a long time and wrote "I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett" praising their "fresh strange music, the affluent language, the exquisite pathos and true new brave thought". Kenyon arranged for Robert Browning to meet Elizabeth on 20 May 1845, in her rooms, and so began one of the most famous courtships in literature. Elizabeth had produced a large amount of work and had been writing long before Robert Browning had. However, he had a great influence on her writing, as did she on his: two of Barrett’s most famous pieces were produced after she met Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese and Aurora Leigh. Robert's Men and Women is a product of that time. Some critics, however, point to him as an undermining influence: "Until her relationship with Robert Browning began in 1845, Barrett’s willingness to engage in public discourse about social issues and about aesthetic issues in poetry, which had been so strong in her youth, gradually diminished, as did her physical health. As an intellectual presence and a physical being, she was becoming a shadow of herself". Her doctors strongly encouraged her to go to the warmer climates of Italy to avoid another English winter, but her father would not hear of it.
"Portuguese" was a pet name Browning used. Sonnets from the Portuguese also refers to the series of sonnets of the 16th-century Portuguese poet Luís de Camões; in all these poems she used rhyme schemes typical of the Portuguese sonnets. The verse-novel Aurora Leigh, her most ambitious and perhaps the most popular of her longer poems, appeared in 1856. It is the story of a female writer making her way in life, balancing work and love. The writings depicted in this novel are based on similar, personal experiences that Elizabeth suffered through herself. The North American Review praised Elizabeth’s poem in these words: "Mrs. Browning’s poems are, in all respects, the utterance of a woman—of a woman of great learning, rich experience, and powerful genius, uniting to her woman’s nature the strength which is sometimes thought peculiar to a man".
The courtship and marriage between Robert Browning and Elizabeth were carried out secretly as she and her siblings were convinced their father would disapprove. Six years his elder and an invalid, she could not believe that the vigorous and worldly Robert Browning really loved her as much as he professed to. After a private marriage at St. Marylebone Parish Church, they honeymooned in Paris. Browning then imitated his hero Shelley by spiriting his wife off to Italy, in September 1846, which became her home almost continuously until her death. Elizabeth's loyal nurse, Wilson, who witnessed the marriage, accompanied the couple to Italy.
Mr. Barrett disinherited Elizabeth, as he did each of his children who married. Elizabeth had foreseen her father's anger but not expected the disgust of her brothers, who saw Browning as a lower-class gold-digger and refused to see him. As Elizabeth had some money of her own, the couple were reasonably comfortable in Italy, and their relationship together was harmonious. The Brownings were well respected in Italy, and even famous. Elizabeth grew stronger and in 1849, at the age of 43, between four miscarriages, she gave birth to a son, Robert Wiedemann Barrett Browning, whom they called Pen. Their son later married but had no legitimate children. At her husband's insistence, the second edition of Elizabeth’s Poems included her love sonnets; as a result, her popularity increased (as well as critical regard), and her position was confirmed.
The couple came to know a wide circle of artists and writers including, in Italy, William Makepeace Thackeray, sculptor Harriet Hosmer (who, she wrote, seemed to be the "perfectly emancipated female") and Harriet Beecher Stowe. In 1849 she met Margaret Fuller and the female French novelist George Sand in 1852, whom she had long admired. They met Lord Tennyson in Paris, and John Forster, Samuel Rogers, and the Carlyles in London, later befriending Charles Kingsley and John Ruskin.

“We finished sowing wheat today.  Eight acres.  Rained a little between twelve and one o’clock but not to hinder work.”
Leesah

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (6 March 1806 – 29 June 1861) was one of the most prominent poets of the Victorian era. Her poetry was widely popular in both England and the United States during her lifetime. A collection of her last poems was published by her husband, Robert Browning, shortly after her death.

“I commenced dragging on the wheat ground this morning but it commenced raining about 10 o’clock and I quit a little before 11.  Ed Loy & wife and Mrs. Loy’s sister came at 10:39 this morning and spent the day and took the evening train for their home in Michigan.  Is pleasant tonight.”

“We cleaned up some seed wheat this morning and then dragged rest o the day.  Finished dragging for wheat.”

“We cleaned up some seed wheat this morning and I drilled 6 acres today.  The piece north of the gravel road.”
Leesah

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Huey Long

Huey Pierce Long, Jr. (August 30, 1893 – September 10, 1935), nicknamed The Kingfish, served as the 40th Governor of Louisiana from 1928–1932 and as a U.S. Senator from 1932 to 1935. A Democrat, he was noted for his radical populist policies. Though a backer of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential election, Long split with Roosevelt in June 1933 and planned to mount his own presidential bid for 1936.
Long created the Share Our Wealth program in 1934 with the motto "Every Man a King", proposing new wealth redistribution measures in the form of a net asset tax on corporations and individuals to curb the poverty and homelessness endemic nationwide during the Great Depression. To stimulate the economy, Long advocated federal spending on public works, schools and colleges, and old age pensions. He was an ardent critic of the Federal Reserve System's policies. Charismatic and immensely popular for his programs and willingness to take forceful action, Long was accused by his opponents of dictatorial tendencies for his near-total control of the state government.
A leftist populist, he was preparing to challenge FDR's reelection in 1936 in alliance with radio's influential Catholic priest Charles Coughlin, or run for president in 1940 when Franklin Roosevelt was expected to retire. However, Long was assassinated in 1935; his national movement faded, while his state organization continued in Louisiana.
Long expanded state highways, hospitals and educational institutions. His governance has had critics and supporters, debating whether he was a dictator, demagogue or populist

“Rained two or three hours this morning and I did not work on the wheat ground.  I dragged this afternoon.  The weather is pleasant tonight.”


Friday, September 7, 2012

The Riker

The Riker was a veteran and brass era electric car founded in 1898 in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Designed by Andrew L. Riker, they were built in small numbers until the company was absorbed by the Electric Vehicle Company in 1901.
An article in the September 26, 1896 edition of Scientific American lists The Riker Electric Motor Company, of Brooklyn, N. Y as the winner of the horseless carriage race in Narragansett Park track at Providence, R. I. The prize was $900.00. The article also states "The fastest mile was made by the Riker electric carriage, the time being 2:13." This is possibly the first automobile race done around a track in the USA and was won by The Riker Electric Vehicle Company.

“Dragged on the wheat ground all day.”
Leesah

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Henry David Thoreau

Maxham daguerreotype of Henry David Thoreau made in 1856
Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American author, poet, philosopher, freemason, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist. He is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.
Thoreau's books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism. His literary style interweaves close natural observation, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore, while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and "Yankee" love of practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life's true essential needs.
He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending abolitionist John Brown. Thoreau's philosophy of civil disobedience later influenced the political thoughts and actions of such notable figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thoreau is sometimes cited as an anarchist, though Civil Disobedience seems to call for improving rather than abolishing government—"I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government"—the direction of this improvement points toward anarchism: "'That government is best which governs not at all;' and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have." Richard Drinnon partly blames Thoreau for the ambiguity, noting that Thoreau's "sly satire, his liking for wide margins for his writing, and his fondness for paradox provided ammunition for widely divergent interpretations of 'Civil Disobedience.'

“I dragged all day on the wheat ground.”
Leesah

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Jesse James

Jesse Woodson James (September 5, 1847 – April 3, 1882) was an American outlaw, gang leader, bank robber, train robber, and murderer from the state of Missouri and the most famous member of the James-Younger Gang. Already a celebrity when he was alive, he became a legendary figure of the Wild West after his death. Some recent scholars place him in the context of regional insurgencies of ex-Confederates following the American Civil War rather than a manifestation of frontier lawlessness or alleged economic justice.
Jesse and his brother Frank James were Confederate guerrillas during the Civil War. They were accused of participating in atrocities committed against Union soldiers. After the war, as members of one gang or another, they robbed banks, stagecoaches and trains. Despite popular portrayals of James as a kind of Robin Hood, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, there is no evidence that he and his gang used their robbery gains for anyone but themselves.
The James brothers were most active with their gang from about 1866 until 1876, when their attempted robbery of a bank in Northfield, Minnesota, resulted in the capture or deaths of several members. They continued in crime for several years, recruiting new members, but were under increasing pressure from law enforcement. On April 3, 1882, Jesse James was killed by Robert Ford, who was a member of the gang living in the James house and who was hoping to collect a state reward on James' head.

“I finished plowing and rolled down the head land this forenoon.  Dragged this afternoon”

“I helped Earny Stowell thrash about three hours today.  Rained quite a good deal this afternoon and I did not do anything.”
Leesah

Monday, September 3, 2012

Frank Capra

Frank Russell Capra (born Francesco Rosario Capra; May 18, 1897 – September 3, 1991) was a Sicilian-born American film director. He immigrated to the U.S. when he was six, and eventually became a creative force behind major award-winning films during the 1930s and 1940s. His rags-to-riches story, having worked his way through college, has led film historians like Ian Freer to consider Capra the "American dream personified."
Capra became one of America's most powerful directors during the 1930s, winning three Oscars as Best Director. Among his leading films was It Happened One Night (1934), which became the first film to win all five top Oscars, including Best Picture. Other leading films included Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Lost Horizon (1937), You Can't Take It With You (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Meet John Doe (1941), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and State of the Union (1948). Because of his early fame as a director, his name was listed "above the title" of his films when they were publicized. People "flocked to the theaters" during the 1930s and 1940s to see films directed by Frank Capra.
After World War II, however, Capra's career declined as his subjects were more out of tune with the mood of audiences. Critics described his films as being "simplistic" or "overly idealistic."] However, the public nonetheless loved his films, especially during the Great Depression years, when audiences needed uplifting themes of inspiration. His pictures let viewers witness "a triumph of the individual over corrupt leaders", and experience "inherent qualities of kindness and caring for others." Most of his best works have been revived, and are today considered timeless fables filled with love and respect for the struggles of the common man.
Outside of directing, Capra was also active within the film industry, engaging in various political and social issues. He served as President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, worked alongside the Screenwriters Guild, and was head of the Directors Guild of America. He enlisted in the Army during World War I after graduating college, and again in World War II at the peak of his career, when he directed 11 documentary war films for the U.S. government's Why We Fight series, winning an Academy Award for one and a Distinguished Service Medal when the war ended.


“I finished plowing today except two or three hours work on the head-lands.  Has been quite warm today.”
Leesah

Saturday, September 1, 2012

P. T. Barnum

Barnum with Commodore Nutt, photograph by Charles DeForest Fredricks
Phineas Taylor Barnum (July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891) was an American showman, businessman, scam artist and entertainer, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the circus that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Although Barnum was also an author, publisher, philanthropist, and for some time a politician, he said of himself, "I am a showman by profession...and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me," and his personal aims were "to put money in his own coffers." Barnum is widely, but erroneously, credited with coining the phrase "There's a sucker born every minute."
Born in Bethel, Connecticut, Barnum became a small-business owner in his early twenties, and founded a weekly newspaper, before moving to New York City in 1834. He embarked on an entertainment career, first with a variety troupe called "Barnum's Grand Scientific and Musical Theater," and soon after by purchasing Scudder's American Museum, which he renamed after himself. Barnum used the museum as a platform to promote hoaxes and human curiosities such as the '"Feejee" mermaid' and "General Tom Thumb." In 1850 he promoted the American tour of singer Jenny Lind, paying her an unprecedented $1,000 a night for 150 nights.
After economic reversals due to bad investments in the 1850s, and years of litigation and public humiliation, he used a lecture tour, mostly as a temperance speaker, to emerge from debt. His museum added America's first aquarium and expanded the wax figure department.
Barnum served two terms in the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as a Republican for Fairfield. With the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution over slavery and African-American suffrage, Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, "A human soul, ‘that God has created and Christ died for,’ is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit." As mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut he worked to improve the water supply, bring gas lighting to streets, and to enforce liquor and prostitution laws. Barnum was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital, founded in 1878, and was its first president.
The circus business was the source of much of his enduring fame. He established "P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome," a traveling circus, menagerie and museum of "freaks," which adopted many names over the years.
Barnum died in his sleep at home on April 7, 1891 and was buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut, a cemetery he designed.
 
“Have plowed since Thursday morning.  Have little more than a day’s work to finish fourteen acres for wheat.”
Leesah