Sunday, January 26, 2014

Yale and Darwin

Rev. Merrill Richardson, Yale 1839: "The development theory of Darwin, Huxley, Owen, and others of that school was shown by their own standards to be without foundation in fact or science." 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hispanics: Remapping The Territory

Tracing the "Hispanic" history of the United States is even more complicated than Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, author of Our America, may realize.   One of the most significant soldier-administrators for northern Mexico was in fact Irish.  Hugo Oconor (Hugh O'Conor), "The Red Captain", stabilized the northern territory of Mexico by among other measures establishing garrisons near Tucson and San Antonio to defend against raids by Native American tribes, e.g., the Apache.  In other words, Tucson was established to keep the Apaches and other Native-Americans out of Mexico.  While the Spanish are often simplistically viewed as conquerors, they viewed themselves as coming to America not only for fortune, but also to save souls and protect native peoples from famine and predation by other tribes, the Apache and Aztecs being the most fierce predators.

The real heroes of the Mexican-American war (the American War to establish slavery in Texas) were the Irish-Catholic soldiers who deserted the U.S. Army to fight for Mexico as the San Patricio Brigade.  Fifty of the Irish soldiers were hanged after the American victory, one of the darkest moments in American history.

In a better moment, Grant sent Phil Sheridan, his fierce little Irish general who had stormed Missionary Ridge, and thousands of African-American soldiers of the XXV Corps, which closed the trap on Robert E. Lee at Appomattox, to the Rio Grande to help Benito Juarez drive the French out of Mexico.  Sheridan left guns and ammunition on the Rio Grande for Juarez, and then allowed his soldiers to "resign" and "volunteer" to serve with the Mexicans fighting the French. The US army volunteers were "designated the American Legion of Honor."   As many as 3,000 American war veterans fought for the Mexican Republic and possibly 2,000 Confederate veterans sided with the Mexican forces aligned with the French.

The North's greatest Hispanic general,  of course, was George Gordon Meade, who defeated Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg.

Only Carlos Fuentes and Cervantes have explored the ancient roots of the Hispanics, Numantia, and the stormy marriage, some might call it rape, of Celtic Spain with Rome.

*   *   *   *  *

San Xavier del Bac.
August 20, 1775
"I, Hugo Oconor, knight of the order of Calatrava, colonel of infantry in His Majesty's armies and commandant inspector of the frontier posts of New Spain
Certify that having conducted the exploration prescribed in Article three of the New Royal Regulation of Presidios issued by His Majesty on the tenth of September 1772 for the moving of the company of San Ignacio de Tubac in the Province of Sonora, I selected and marked out in the presence of Father Francisco Garces and Lieutenant Juan de Carmona a place known as San Agustin del Tucson as the new site of the Presidio. It is situated at a distance of eighteen leagues from Tubac, fulfills the requirements of water, pasture, and wood and effectively closes the Apache frontier. The designation of the New Presidio becomes official with the signatures of myself, Father Francisco Garces, and Lieutenant Juan de Carmona, at this mission of San Xavier del Bac, on this twentieth day of August of the year 1775."
Hugo Oconor
Fray Francisco Garces
Juan Fernandez Carmona

Friday, January 17, 2014

Tammany Heroes: Wagner and Gavagan

Bob Wagner was born an ordinary German, married Irish and was buried Catholic.  He fathered Social Security, the National Labor Relations Act, giving workers the right to organize and a mayor who championed fair housing, minority hiring and the City University.  Very much the Wagners' work reflected the Papal Encyclical Rerum Novarm concerning social responsibility and justice.

Wagner also lobbied for rescuing Jewish children from Hitler and the Tuskegee Airmen's right to fly, and along with Harlem Congressman Joseph Gavagan and their NAACP ally Walter White waged a determined but ultimately futile campaign to pass anti-lynching legislation.

My grandfather was proud to call them friend and to have convinced Wagner to run for the US Senate.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Anglo-German Exceptionalism

Rev. Merrill Richardson, Yale 1839: "Our fathers belonged to that conquering race.... They are the same Cythians still, in their venturous and indomitable spirit... It has been said that the Saxon race has cut off the heads of more Kings than all other races....In coming to New-England the Pilgrims struck good soil.  The soil and the climate are not far different from the homes of their Cythian forefathers.... Sounder minds were never seen in sounder bodies and stronger hearts than theirs.... the people were intelligent; they were the people who composed Cromwell's Ironsides... the men who Macauley and Carlye declared established the liberties of Englishmen.... we would fulfill the mission of our noble ancestors and accomplish the task designed for them by the Almighty.

The New York Times

Published: May 9, 1870


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Meade's Pursuit of Lee

It's an egregious allegation to make by saying Meade did not follow Lee's army after Gettysburg. In fact Meade did follow Lee and came very close to trapping him at the Potomac on July 13-14. It was only through a remarkable feat of bridge building and falling water levels in the river that Lee was able to escape prior to Meade's attack scheduled for the 14th. Meade's pursuit was remarkably effective given that he was under orders to protect Washington and Baltimore and had to move by forced marches on the east side of the South Mountain. Lee executed a very competent withdrawal. He never gave battle without a pre-planned and defendable line of retreat, the Shenandoah-Cumberland Valley being one of the best avenues of attack and retreat on the continent.

Recall that Grant failed to trap Bragg after the victory at Missionary Ridge, and that it took over eight months for Grant to bring Lee to bay at Appomattox. His Vicksburg campaign took six months. Grant captured the garrison, which never attempted an escape, and then paroled it. A few months later he found himself fighting the same troops at Chattanooga. Sherman's Atlanta campaign took four months and at the end of it he captured Atlanta, but failed to destroy the Confederate Army of the Tennessee.

Complaints about Meade and McClellan are really apologies for the first Republican administration to sell the American people a war that would be far more difficult to win than advertised.   An added dimension in the case of Meade is that the Irish-Catholic was unacceptable as a hero for many Republicans who were Nativists and rabid anti-Catholics like the Beechers.