Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Plea for Help

Fellow vets. As you all know, the Gold Star Mothers is an organization of women who have lost a son or daughter in combat. Renowned artist Andrew Chernak has been commissioned to design and sculpt the National Gold Star Mothers Monument in Washington, D.C. Chernak, of suburban Philadelphia, recently unveiled the original Gold Star Mother’s monument in Putnam, New York. Below is a photo of the Putnam monument, dedicated in early July of this year.
A US Army Vietnam vet, Chernak needs help locating photographs of deceased Navy and Air Force veterans and their Gold Star Mothers. The plan is to etch and carve the photographs into the granite base. He has arranged for Army, Coast Guard and Marine Corp photos, but needs the Navy and Air Force Gold Star Mothers and their sons or daughters.

Preferred are full face photos of both the Gold Star Mothers, and of their sons or daughters in Uniform.

Anyone in contact with a Gold Star Mother who would be willing to submit a photograph of herself and another of her son or daughter should please put them in contact with Mr. Chernak at the following email address:
gsmmemorial@vetsnet.us

Thanks, Veterans, for all you have done. We must also never forget to thank the Mothers of the sons and daughters who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. The sacrifice of the Gold Star Moms must be counted, remembered and honored as well.

Thank you in advance for all your help on this matter, and thank you again for all you've done.

Novus Livy

“Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2006: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Index to Battle of Gettysburg Series

Hello History fans! Here is an index to the recent series on the Battle of Gettysburg.

The 8 posts are listed in order and numbered as such. Each post contains links at the bottom taking you to the next in the series, the previous in the series, or home to the History of the World Blog’s main page.

Enjoy! And thank you for reading!
Novus Livy

“Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2006: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

“Housecleaning”


We will be moving this blog to a dedicated server sometime next month. It is highly recommended that those of you who receive email notifications from us every time an essay is posted, please subscribe to the blogs through the subscription window at the top left of the page. This will result in your receipt of notification of new posts every morning from Feedblitz. If no new post has been made, you will not get any notification. The Feedblitz notification carries the first 250 words of the post, and links to the post.

After we move, we will send one announcement out by email and post on the blogs another message that we have moved. This emailing and the post announcing the move will include the link to the blogs, which you may save if you wish.

That will be the last email notification we send out. If you do not wish to register with Feedblitz, then we suggest you save the link to the blogs in your Favorites or Bookmarks, and remember to visit us often. And don’t forget to tell others – friends and family- where to find us!

We regret that Google’s Blogger has become more of a hindrance than a help in posting blogs. However, Things Change (one of our favorite movies) and so we will be moving. Not going away, just going someplace different, and we hope, better.

We appreciate your loyalty as members of our readership, and hope that you will accompany us on our move.

Thank you!
Novus Livy

“Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2006: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"America's Town"


Frequent reference is made to “small town America”, as opposed to “urban America”, and “suburban America”. When the Main Stream Media does it, they usually find some farm community in Iowa, or someplace like Dixville Notch, New Hampshire.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, scene of the most horrific battle of America’s Civil War, is small town America, also. It is surrounded by peaceful farms, and abundant orchards, nestled near the famous South Mountain, which protects the east side of the fertile Cumberland Valley.

Adams County, in which Gettysburg sits, has some light industry (publishing, for example), but its economy is based on the delicious apples, peaches, pears, plums, and nectarines grown in Adams County (on 20,000 acres of orchards!), and other agriculture in corn, and wheat, and dairy products. But its economy is also rooted deeply in its history. That history was thrust on it over about a two week period in late June, and early July of 1863, when the Union’s Army of the Potomac turned back the Confederacy’s Army of Northern Virginia, culminating in three days of pitched battles that saw over 50,000 casualties.

The American Civil War was a war which redefined the United States of America, and gave us a national identity on the world stage. It came at the height of the nationalism movement around the world. It was, in the minds of Americans, at Gettysburg that the tide was turned in the war, where Union defeats became Union victories.

The American Civil War, and the Battle of Gettysburg redefined the town of Gettysburg, and Adams County as well, for better or worse, for all time. The worse part was pretty much taken care of over the past 142 years with the ongoing removal of commercial intrusions on the Battlefield, the establishment of the Gettysburg Battlefield National Military Park, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Presidential Site. Administered in fine fashion by the National Park Service, GBNMP (for short) is staffed by trained historians, licensed Federal law enforcement officers, and preservation artisans, and a support staff that oils the wheels. They are constantly improving the park, and delving deeper, and deeper into its history, thus providing a clearer understanding of what occurred here, and why.

The Park has become a national shrine, bringing over a million visitors each year. It also brings in millions of dollars to the local economy.

Like it or not, the town of Gettysburg, and GBNMP are inexorably linked. While little in the way of actual combat occurred in the Borough, the battle was fought in the immediate environs of all sides of the town. One civilian was killed while baking bread in her kitchen. Homes were occupied by Confederates, and some were used as sniper positions by the Rebs. Union soldiers nearly captured in the rapid retreat through town on July 1st found refuge in civilian cellars, and sheds, and some of them had their wounds cared for while in hiding. Pennsylvania College, now Gettysburg College, and the Lutheran Seminary, and many of the town’s churches became makeshift hospitals, and the town’s people ministered to the dead and dying of both sides.

Adams County was, originally a Quaker farm settlement, part of a land grant given to a son of William Penn. It quickly became filled with German farmers as well. Eventually, James Gettys developed the area around the many crossroads, and the town of Gettysburg grew up. Adams County was a part of York County until the early 19th century, when it was split off and named for our second president, John Adams. Gettysburg was named the County Seat of Adams County. It became the haven of free Blacks and escaped slaves crossing north of the Mason-Dixon Line up to the Civil War on what is known as the Underground Railroad.

How appropriate that so many Blacks settled here, where, eventually, the greatest battle was fought in the War that ended slavery.

Because of the location of the Battle areas immediately surrounding the borough, the town can never physically grow.

In the statistics of the United States Census Bureau, and those of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Adams County lags behind, or below the other counties in the state in almost all the categories listed (average education level, for example) but has higher than average household size, higher than average home ownership (single family dwellings), and a substantially higher than average household income (though per capita income is lower than average due to the migrant workers in the fruit industry). The cost of living is lower here, as well.

What’s not to love? While it has changed since the great battle of 1863, the town has not really changed that much. Many of the town’s buildings present during the battle are still present, and in use. The hospital has modernized, the hotel has expanded, and some new businesses surround the “Diamond”, as the town square is called. It has a commercial strip along what is known as Steinwehr Avenue that basically subsists off the tourist industry. In spite of these intrusions, Gettysburg has retained its quaint charm. The train station into which President Abraham Lincoln arrived to deliver his remarkable Gettysburg Address is almost fully restored, as is the house of David Wills, the local attorney with whom Lincoln stayed the night before he delivered his address dedicating the National Cemetery.

It is a small American town steeped in American history. Freedom didn’t start here, but America’s claim on Liberty was renewed and expanded here. The freedoms outlined in the Declaration of Independence were here won for those to whom those freedoms had been previously denied.

There really is no other place in the country as deserving of the title, “America’s Town”.

Say it. It rolls so smoothly, and sweetly off the tongue, it feels right, and, indeed, it is right. “Gettysburg - America’s Town”.

Novus Livy

“Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2006: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 02, 2006

“We Shall Nobly Save…”


At the time, Maryland was a slave state, and Pennsylvania basically a free one, though there were lingering effects of slavery almost up to the Civil War. The last legal slave sale in Pennsylvania took place somewhere between Lancaster and Reading around 1842. It so outraged everyone in the state (well, almost everyone), that the practice was outlawed.

Along the southern border of Pennsylvania, commonly referred to as the Mason-Dixon Line, the Underground Rail Road was in full swing from just after the American Revolution (when we took over control of what happened here), through the American Civil War. During that period, an unknown number of escaped slaves (some estimates are in the tens of thousands, others in the hundreds of thousands), came north to freedom above the Mason-Dixon Line. There were branch lines of the URR in most of the eastern counties along that border with Maryland. From east to west, they are Delaware, Chester, Lancaster, York, Adams, and Franklin Counties, almost all with rich farm soil, though much of Delaware County has been swallowed up by sprawl from neighboring Philadelphia County.

Many slaves escaping to free soil stopped running as soon as they crossed the line and settled into one of those six counties, either too exhausted to run any farther, or ignorant of the Fugitive Slave laws, or both. The Fugitive Slave laws had their basis in the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted in 1789. In Article 4, Section 2 it says:

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.
Under this law, slave owners routinely crossed the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania, drafted the assistance of a local sheriff and rounded up whatever Blacks met their fancy and took them back to slavery in the South. It was one such raid in 1851 that particularly fired up both sides. It was called the Christiana Riot, and took place on the border of Lancaster and Chester Counties, some few miles above the Mason-Dixon Line. A Maryland slave owner was killed by a group of Blacks resisting their arrest and return to slavery. There is no indication that they were owned by the slave owner, meaning they were likely not his runaways.

Many northern states offered freedom to the runaways. They enacted laws providing protection for them, yet all these laws were struck down as unconstitutional because of Article 4, Section 2. A number of legal cases occurred in the ante-bellum period, but one in particular was the basis of widening the sectional rift between slave and free states almost to the breaking point – Dred Scott. In the Scott decision, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court Roger B. Taney, a Maryland slave owner, declared that Scott had no standing to sue in American courts because he was not an American citizen, and as a Black ‘inferior being’, could never become one, therefore, any lower court decisions declaring him free were vacated. Taney’s brief went much farther than that, but needlessly. Once Scott was denied citizenship (something not guaranteed to Blacks until passage of the 14th Amendment in July of 1868), there was nothing else on which to rule. Yet Taney went on excoriating the interference of northern agitators in southern affairs by declaring the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional. He made no explanation of how that “property” quite unfairly counted as 3/5th of a person, was determining Congressional districting, giving an enormous advantage to the south in the early days of the Republic. That advantage was about to disappear with the addition of new states to the Union, hence, secession and civil war on Lincoln’s election.

[Ever since the passage of the 14th Amendment it has been contested in the courts. Some of the most important of these many cases rooted in the 14th Amendment’s clarification of citizenship are the 1883 Civil Rights Cases, which were a set back for Federal protection of civil rights, Plessy vs. Ferguson, an 1896 setback for the intent of the Amendment by upholding de jure segregation (separate but equal), and Brown vs. the Board of Education, a 1954 case that was the watershed of civil rights, though rooted in the field of public education, that reinstituted Federal authority over civil rights as intended by the 14th Amendment by declaring the de jure segregation of schools under the “separate but equal” policy of Plessy vs. Ferguson could not guarantee equal education in public schools. The Brown decision essentially overturned Plessy.]

In the Gettysburg area, as in many other areas along the Mason-Dixon line, many Blacks took up farming. It was likely what they were skilled at doing, and it was the main industry of the area. Others, who perhaps had other skills, such as tanners, carpenters, wagonwrights and wheelwrights, etc., settled on the southwest side of town. There, at the edge of their town, the Blacks built their cemetery. It was tucked away on a western slope, out of sight of the town, but with a grand view of the majestic South Mountain to the west. Here, the cemetery was dedicated as "Lincoln Cemetery - Established in 1867 by the Sons of Good Will for the proper burial of Gettysburg's African American citizens and Civil War veterans.” In 1906, Gettysburg’s older black cemetery was cleared to make way for new buildings, and the bodies were re-interred in the Lincoln Cemetery.

Today, Lincoln Cemetery overlooks the magnificent Gettysburg Borough Recreation Park, in addition to the wonderful mountain view. But today, it is also a near forgotten piece of history, for inside its iron fence lie the remains of many Black veterans of the American Civil War, those who volunteered to fight in a number of Black state regiments, and those who fought as United States Colored Troops. The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (brought to fame by the movie Glory) had a recruiting office in Gettysburg. There are veterans of the 54th buried there. There are men who served after the war, in our western campaigns against the Indians, who were known as Buffalo Soldiers, and who served with distinction in the United States Army’s Cavalry. There were Black Army units that went up San Juan Hill next to and in front of Teddy Roosevelts Rough Riders. These men were denied burial in National Cemeteries because of the color of their skin, a policy that existed until all too recently.

Nearly 200,000 men served as USCT. They fought, and bled, and died for the Union during the Civil War, with as much ferocity, tenacity, and courage as the men in the white regiments, and sometimes more, when they were deliberately and repeatedly placed in positions of extreme danger and exposed to the worst effects of enemy fire.

It is time to honor these men. It is time to erect a monument to these men for the monumental efforts they gave in the cause of freedom, and the monumental wrongs they endured in the cause of civil rights.

Abraham Lincoln, the man for whom the Lincoln Cemetery is named, remarked in his annual message to Congress on December 1, 1863:

In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free -- honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just -- a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.

And so, we have an opportunity now, to carry on what Lincoln so nobly advanced. He came to Gettysburg in 1863 to dedicate the National Cemetery. It is time to rededicate the Lincoln Cemetery, both in his honor, and in honor of those Blacks who so nobly served the cause of Liberty by serving the United States of America.

Let us strive to honor these dead as Lincoln honored their white brothers in 1863. Let us raise the funds, and construct a monument to them on the grounds of Lincoln Cemetery, and a proper, tastefully designed and built propylaeum (entrance) from Washington Street into Lincoln Cemetery.

Let us resolve to do so in time for the Anniversary Week of 2007. Let us resolve this New Year to support the efforts of the Lincoln Cemetery Committee. Let us resolve this New Year to “…nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just -- a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”

Details will be posted shortly about what you can do to help.

Novus Livy

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.” – Abraham Lincoln

Copyright © 2006: Novus Livy and The History of the World Blog. All Rights Reserved.