Category: History

Nazi pre-war oasis on Long Island

| April 10, 2015 | 1 Reply

I had no idea there was such sympathy to Hitler in the US prior to US involvement in WWII. This article offers narrative along with some disturbing photos from this pro-Nazi community.

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What’s Old in St. Louis?

| March 25, 2015 | 1 Reply

I own an old house in the Shaw Neighborhood of the City of St. Louis, a gorgeous historic neighborhood. The houses are works of art–unique works of stone and brick. My house is especially old, built in 1894. A few days ago, I wondered what is was like to live in Shaw at about the time my house was first built. I posted my thought on a neighborhood list, and received more than a few suggestions. One of those included this link to a page that shows when every house in the St. Louis area was built. Using this page, I can see that when my house was built it was surrounded by large tracts of undeveloped land.

Other people suggested I take a look at drawings by Dry and Compton. I hadn’t heard of this work before, but it was exactly what I was looking for. In 1875, a company called Dry and Compton sent balloonists sailing into the sky with map experts who somehow divided the city into a big grid and then made precise comprehensive drawings of each of section of this grid. The individual drawings can be found in a large old book. I went to the Mercantile Library (at the University of Missouri) last night to take photos of some of the drawings, focusing on my own neighborhood. I then created the attached composite photos of the Shaw Neighborhood, as best I could given that the grids don’t fit together perfectly. The resulting collection of images gave me a very good idea of what the Shaw neighborhood looked like in 1875.

Dry and Compton - Shaw neighborhood extra lo res

For those familiar with the area, the above image focuses on the Shaw Neighborhood itself, with Tower Grove Park located at the bottom right of the image. To get one’s bearings, note the location of the Compton Heights Reservoir along Grand (with the Water Tower, which would not be built until 1898.

The image below focuses on Tower Grove Park and the area to the south of the park. I love that these resources are available to enable this trip through time. Click on either of these images for much greater detail.

TGP area - Dry and Compton - extra lo res

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On Being Primed For Worse

| November 25, 2014 | 1 Reply
On Being Primed For Worse

Haven’t we been gearing up for some kind of O.K. Corral showdown pretty much since the announcement that there would be a grand jury? Haven’t we been gearing up for some kind of O.K. Corral showdown pretty much since the announcement that there would be a grand jury? Sure looked like we expected what we got. [More . . . ]

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Early Racism

| October 21, 2014 | Reply
Early Racism

They were marched into the classroom, single file, and lined up along the blackboard to face the roomful of white faces. It would be sheerest invention to say I remember everything about that day. The only things I recall had to do with questions about how my own situation was about to change.

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Rogue Historians Invent Ancient Greeks

| October 19, 2014 | 1 Reply

The Onion reports:

A group of leading historians held a press conference Monday at the National Geographic Society to announce they had “entirely fabricated” ancient Greece, a culture long thought to be the intellectual basis of Western civilization.

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The misconduct of Columbus is Bible based.

| October 13, 2014 | Reply

From Bible Funmentionables, we learn that Columbus was acting on the authority of the Bible when government officials fail to mention when they are celebrating Columbus Day. Michael G. Morris of Bible Funmentionables explains:

Hate to ruin your Columbus Day festivities, but what better time to explore one of the worst first impressions in human history and how it was all seemingly condoned by the Good Book. Columbus’ own stated purpose for his voyage (to India) was to find people who belonged to

“the sect of Mahoma [Islam] and to all idolatries and heresies, with a view that they might be converted to our holy faith.”

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Myths of Authority in Practice

| August 22, 2014 | 2 Replies
Myths of Authority in Practice

I’ve been trying to come to terms with Ferguson since it began. The shooting of Michael Browne sparked a response that surprised many people and the counter responses have been equally surprising among certain people, not so much among certain others. Every time I start to write something I find what I intended to say had already been said better elsewhere. [More . . . ]

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The tortured history of the Senate’s report on U.S. torture

| August 5, 2014 | Reply

Propublica has published this astonishing history of the Senate’s attempt to not get to the truth.

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Short history of the NRA and the Second Amendment

| May 24, 2014 | 1 Reply

The Brennan Center for Justice recently published this history of the Second Amendment and the NRA. The Second Amendment was construed entirely differently in years past than it is now. The NRA was an entirely benign organization until a few decades ago. It’s amazing to see how something can evolve into its opposite, but that is par for the course for a symbolic species like human animals.

In the end, it was neither the NRA nor the Bush administration that pressed the Supreme Court to reverse its centuries-old approach, but a small group of libertarian lawyers who believed other gun advocates were too timid. They targeted a gun law passed by the local government in Washington, D.C., in 1976—perhaps the nation’s strictest—that barred individuals from keeping a loaded handgun at home without a trigger lock. They recruited an appealing plaintiff: Dick Heller, a security guard at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building, who wanted to bring his work revolver home to his high-crime neighborhood. The NRA worried it lacked the five votes necessary to win. The organization tried to sideswipe the effort, filing what Heller’s lawyers called “sham litigation” to give courts an excuse to avoid a constitutional ruling. But the momentum that the NRA itself had set in motion proved unstoppable, and the big case made its way to the Supreme Court.

The argument presented in District of Columbia v. Heller showed just how far the gun rights crusade had come. Nearly all the questions focused on arcane matters of colonial history. Few dealt with preventing gun violence, social science findings or the effectiveness of today’s gun laws—the kinds of things judges might once have considered. On June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Second Amendment guarantees a right to own a weapon “in common use” to protect “hearth and home.” Scalia wrote the opinion, which he later called the “vindication” of his judicial philosophy.

After the decision was announced, Heller stood on the steps of the court for a triumphant press conference. Held aloft behind him was a poster bearing that quote from Patrick Henry, unearthed by the scholars who had proven so important for the successful drive: “Let every man be armed.”

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