Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tunes From a Tuscan Guitar

Tunes from a Tuscan Guitar: The Life and Times of an Italian Immigrant
by Roland R. Bianchi


In 1906 Ottorino Bianchi emigrated to the United States from the small town of Bientina in Italy's Tuscany region. The hardy farmer arrived in San Francisco, CA, just in time from the momentous 1906 earthquake. He helped rebuild the city, particularly the Italian enclave in North Beach, became a commercial crab fisherman, and watched Fisherman's Wharf evolve into a thriving commercial center.

Ottorino was also a passable guitarist, and through music he recounted the legacy of his Italian culture to his children and grandchildren -- including the author of this book.

Roland Bianchi's biography of his revered "Nonno" is an affectionate portrait of a man who loved life, cherished his family, and enriched the lives of many friends.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
by Donald Miller

Years after writing his best-selling memoir, Donald Miller went into a funk and spent months sleeping in and avoiding his publisher. One story had ended, and Don was unsure how to start another.

But he gets rescued by two movie producers who want to make a movie based on his memoir. When they start fictionalizing Don's life for film--changing a meandering memoir into a structured narrative--the real-life Don starts a journey to edit his actual life into a better story. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years details that journey and challenges readers to reconsider what they strive for in life. It shows how to get a second chance at life the first time around.



Monday, December 28, 2009

Poetics

Poetics
by Aristotle

This useful book, an extended study of the Poetics , treats such subjects as Aristotle's general aesthetic views; mimesis; pity, fear, and katharsis; recognition, reversal, and hamartia; tragic misfortune; the nontragic genres; and the historical influence of the work. Aristotle emerges as holding a deeply cognitivist view of poetry and as rejecting the attempt to judge art primarily by external (e.g., moral, political) criteria; his call for the relative autonomy of art, however, neither commits him to an aestheticist view nor prevents him from attributing to art a significant moral dimension.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville


The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville
by Shelby Foote

The Civil War: A Narrative (1958-1974) is a three volume, 2,968-page, 1.2 million-word history of the American Civil War by Shelby Foote. Although previously known as a novelist, Foote is most famous for this non-fictional narrative history. While it touches on political and social themes, the main thrust of the work is military history.

The first volume covers the roots of the war to the Battle of Perryville on October 8, 1862. All the significant battles are here, from Bull Run through Shiloh, the Seven Days Battles, Second Bull Run to Antietam, and Perryville in the fall of 1862, but so are the smaller and often equally important engagements on both land and sea: Ball's Bluff, Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, Island No. Ten, New Orleans, Monitor versus Merrimac, and Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign.

Monday, December 14, 2009

On Liberty


On Liberty
by John Stuart Mill

On Liberty is a philosophical work by 19th century English philosopher John Stuart Mill, first published in 1859. To the Victorian readers of the time it was a radical work, advocating moral and economic freedom of individuals from the state.

Perhaps the most memorable point made by Mill in this work, and his basis for liberty, is that "Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign". Mill is compelled to say this in opposition to what he calls the "tyranny of the majority", wherein through control of etiquette and morality, society is an unelected power that can do horrific things. Mill's work could be considered a reaction to this social control by the majority and his advocacy of individual decision-making over the self. The famous 'Harm Principle' is also articulated in this work: people can do anything they like as long as it does not harm others. All branches of liberalism—as well as other political ideologies—consider this to be one of their core principles. However, they often disagree on what exactly constitutes harm.

On Liberty was an enormously influential work; the ideas presented within it remain the basis of much political thought since. Aside from the popularity of the ideas themselves, it is quite short and its themes easily accessible to a non-expert. It has remained in print continuously since its initial publication. To this day, a copy of On Liberty has been passed to the president of the British Liberals and then Liberal Democrats as a symbol of office and succession from the party that Mill helped found.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Social Contract

The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right
by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The book in which Rousseau theorized about the best way in which to set up a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society which he had already identified in his Discourse on Inequality (1754).

The Social Contract was a progressive work that helped inspire political reforms or revolutions in Europe, especially in France. The Social Contract argued against the idea that monarchs were divinely empowered to legislate; as Rousseau asserts, only the people, in the form of the sovereign, have that all powerful right.

The stated aim of the Social Contract is to determine whether there can be a legitimate political authority. In order to accomplish more and remove himself from the state of nature, man must enter into a Social Contract with others. In this social contract, everyone will be free because all forfeit the same amount of freedom and impose the same duties on all. Rousseau also argues that it is illogical for a man to surrender his freedom for slavery; and so, the participants must be free. Furthermore, although the contract imposes new law, especially laws safeguarding and regulating property, a person can exit it at any time (except in a time of need, for this is desertion), and is again as free as when he was born.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Second Treatise of Government

Second Treatise of Government
by John Locke

The Second Treatise of Government places sovereignty into the hands of the people. Locke's fundamental argument is that people are equal and invested with natural rights in a state of nature in which they live free from outside rule. In the state of nature, natural law governs behavior, and each person has license to execute that law against someone who wrongs them by infringing on their rights. People take what they need from the earth, but hoard just enough to cover their needs. Eventually, people begin to trade their excess goods with each other, until they develop a common currency for barter, or money. Money eliminates limits on the amount of property they can obtain (unlike food, money does not spoil), and they begin to gather estates around themselves and their families.

People then exchange some of their natural rights to enter into society with other people, and be protected by common laws and a common executive power to enforce the laws. People need executive power to protect their property and defend their liberty. The civil state is beholden to the people, and has power over the people only insofar as it exists to protect and preserve their welfare. Locke describes a state with a separate judicial, legislative, and executive branch--the legislative branch being the most important of the three, since it determines the laws that govern civil society.

People have the right to dissolve their government, if that government ceases to work solely in their best interest. The government has no sovereignty of its own--it exists to serve the people.

To sum up, Locke's model consists of a civil state, built upon the natural rights common to a people who need and welcome an executive power to protect their property and liberties; the government exists for the people's benefit and can be replaced or overthrown if it ceases to function toward that primary end.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Capitalism and Freedom

Capitalism and Freedom
by Milton Friedman

How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat it poses to individual freedom? In this classic book, Milton Friedman provides the definitive statement of his immensely influential economic philosophy—one in which competitive capitalism serves as both a device for achieving economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom. The result is an accessible text that has sold well over half a million copies in English, has been translated into eighteen languages, and shows every sign of becoming more and more influential as time goes on.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bury the Chains


Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves
by Adam Hochschild

In 1787, twelve men gathered in a London printing shop to pursue a seemingly impossible goal: ending slavery in the largest empire on earth. Along the way, they would pioneer most of the tools citizen activists still rely on today, from wall posters and mass mailings to boycotts and lapel pins. This talented group combined a hatred of injustice with uncanny skill in promoting their cause. Within five years, more than 300,000 Britons were refusing to eat the chief slave-grown product, sugar; London's smart set was sporting antislavery badges created by Josiah Wedgwood; and the House of Commons had passed the first law banning the slave trade.
However, the House of Lords, where slavery backers were more powerful, voted down the bill. But the crusade refused to die, fueled by remarkable figures like Olaudah Equiano, a brilliant ex-slave who enthralled audiences throughout the British Isles; John Newton, the former slave ship captain who wrote "Amazing Grace"; Granville Sharp, an eccentric musician and self-taught lawyer; and Thomas Clarkson, a fiery organizer who repeatedly crisscrossed Britain on horseback, devoting his life to the cause. He and his fellow activists brought slavery in the British Empire to an end in the 1830s, long before it died in the United States. The only survivor of the printing shop meeting half a century earlier, Clarkson lived to see the day when a slave whip and chains were formally buried in a Jamaican churchyard.

Like Hochschild's classic KingLeopold's Ghost, Bury the Chains abounds in atmosphere, high drama, and nuanced portraits of unsung heroes and colorful villains. Again Hochschild gives a little-celebrated historical watershed its due at last.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Planned Chaos"

Planned Chaos
by Ludwig von Mises


An essay on the destruction of individual liberty by totalitarian ideologies. A provoking study and analysis of the results of state intervention and state planning. Mises explains how the pursuit of a mixed economy will always lead to socialism and can never avoid the business cycle.


A War Like No Other

A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War
by Victor Davis Hanson

One of our most provocative military historians, Victor Davis Hanson has given us painstakingly researched and pathbreaking accounts of wars ranging from classical antiquity to the twenty-first century. Now he juxtaposes an ancient conflict with our most urgent modern concerns to create his most engrossing work to date, A War Like No Other.

Over the course of a generation, the Hellenic city-states of Athens and Sparta fought a bloody conflict that resulted in the collapse of Athens and the end of its golden age. Thucydides wrote the standard history of the Peloponnesian War, which has given readers throughout the ages a vivid and authoritative narrative. But Hanson offers readers something new: a complete chronological account that reflects the political background of the time, the strategic thinking of the combatants, the misery of battle in multifaceted theaters, and important insight into how these events echo in the present.

Hanson compellingly portrays the ways Athens and Sparta fought on land and sea, in city and countryside, and details their employment of the full scope of conventional and nonconventional tactics, from sieges to targeted assassinations, torture, and terrorism. He also assesses the crucial roles played by warriors such as Pericles and Lysander, artists, among them Aristophanes, and thinkers including Sophocles and Plato.

Hanson's perceptive analysis of events and personalities raises many thought-provoking questions: Were Athens and Sparta like America and Russia, two superpowers battling to the death? Is the Peloponnesian War echoed in the endless, frustrating conflicts of Vietnam, Northern Ireland, and the current Middle East? Or was it more like America's own Civil War, a brutal rift that rent the fabric of a glorious society, or even this century's "red state-blue state" schism between liberals and conservatives, a cultural war that manifestly controls military policies? Hanson daringly brings the facts to life and unearths the often surprising ways in which the past informs the present.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The End of Laissez-Faire


The End of Laissez-Faire
by John Maynard Keynes

From one of the most influential economists of the last 100 years, comes this fascinating treatise on the basic concepts of government involvement in a nation's economic affairs. How far should a government reach into a free economy? How much and/or to what extent is government intervention warranted? These questions are very timely given today's economic situation which have compelled students of economics and policy makers alike to reach back to Keynes, the father of modern macroeconomic theory, who explored and studied these very questions. "The End of Laissez-Faire" comes from a series of lectures that Keynes gave in London and Berlin and reveal that, even though we are struggling with these same questions today, the issue of government intervention is not a new one and indeed the deeds of the past are lessons for today.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Down These Mean Streets


Down These Mean Streets
by Piri Thomas

Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating, lyrical memoir of his coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem. Here was the testament of a born outsider: a Puerto Rican in English-speaking America; a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge its African blood. Here was an unsparing document of Thomas's plunge into the deadly consolations of drugs, street fighting, and armed robbery--a descent that ended when the twenty-two-year-old Piri was sent to prison for shooting a cop.

As he recounts the journey that took him from adolescence in El Barrio to a lock-up in Sing Sing to the freedom that comes of self-acceptance, faith, and inner confidence, Piri Thomas gives us a book that is as exultant as it is harrowing and whose every page bears the irrepressible rhythm of its author's voice.


Friday, November 13, 2009

The Last Great Revolution

The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran
by Robin Wright

Since the 1979 revolution ended 2,500 years of monarchy, Iran's Islamic revolution has witnessed unprecedented political and social changes that are transforming one of the world's oldest civilizations -- with an impact far beyond its borders. Robin Wright, renowned journalist and Mideast expert, takes us inside Iranian society to illustrate the new women's rights movement, the birth of an internationally acclaimed film industry, the evolution of ideas on marriage and sex, the rise of a new generation of young people, and the radical reforms within the religion itself that blend Islamic tenets with democratic ideals. Comprehensive and meticulously observed, Wright's account of the last two decades of Iranian history provides insight into the lives of the people, influential figures, and political leaders in present-day Iran and raises fascinating questions about the evolving legacy of "the last great revolution."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Travels of Marco Polo

The Travels of Marco Polo
as told by Marco Polo

The Travels of Marco Polo is the usual English title of Marco Polo's travel book, nicknamed Il Milione (The Million) or Le Livre des Merveilles (The Book of Wonders). This description of his travels and stays in the Orient, including Asia, Persia, China and Indonesia, between 1271 and 1298 is also known as Oriente Poliano or Description of the World.

It was a very famous and popular book in the 13th century. The text claims that Marco Polo became an important figure at the court of the Mongol leader Kublai Khan. However, modern scholars debate how much of the account is accurate and whether or not Marco Polo ever actually traveled to the court or was just repeating stories that he had heard from other travellers. The book was actually written in French by a romance author of the time, Rustichello da Pisa, who was reportedly working from accounts which he had heard from Marco Polo when they were in prison in Genoa having been captured while on a ship.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Black Jacobins

The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution
by C. L. R. James

A classic and impassioned account of the first revolution in the Third World.

This powerful, intensely dramatic book is the definitive account of the Haitian Revolution of 1794-1803, a revolution that began in the wake of the Bastille but became the model for the Third World liberation movements from Africa to Cuba. It is the story of the French colony of San Domingo, a place where the brutality of master toward slave was commonplace and ingeniously refined. And it is the story of a barely literate slave named Toussaint L'Ouverture, who led the black people of San Domingo in a successful struggle against successive invasions by overwhelming French, Spanish, and English forces and in the process helped form the first independent nation in the Caribbean.

Haiti's revolution has always been a point of pride for people of African descent around the world. It was in Haiti that slaveholding European colonizers were finally driven away at the hands of the island's black population. The Black Jacobins dramatically and powerfully recounts the events that led up to the bloody and history-altering Haitian revolution of 1791-1803.

The revolution began in the wake of the Bastille and ended in the French colony of Santo Domingo, one of the wealthiest colonies in the world due to its rich natural resources and its importing of cotton, indigo, and coffee. Forever tied with the revolution is Toussaint-Louverture, a barely literate slave who united the slaves and mulattos of Santo Domingo and led them against the ruling population of the colony, as well as French, Spanish, and English forces, to alter the fate of millions of people and shift the economic currents of three continents.

"In 1789 the French West Indian colony of Santo Domingo supplied two-thirds of the overseas trade of France and was the greatest individual market for the European slave-trade.... The whole structure rested on the labour of half-a-million slaves." In 1791, after decades of inhumane and savage treatment by their "masters," the slaves revolted-led by one man, Toussaint-Louverture. "One of the most remarkable men of a period rich in remarkable men. The history of the Santo Domingo revolution will therefore largely be a record of his achievements and his political personality.... Between 1789-1815, with the single exception of Bonaparte himself, no single figure appeared on the historical stage more greatly gifted than this Negro, a slave till he was 45 [sic]. Yet Toussaint did not make the revolution. It was the revolution that made Toussaint."


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Miguel Street

Miguel Street
by V. S. Naipaul

Miguel Street is a semi-autobiographical novel by V. S. Naipaul set in wartime Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Naipaul wrote it while employed at the BBC using a BBC typewriter and "rustle-free paper."

The novel presents a series of separate episodes of childhood experienced by an unnamed narrator, all happening in and around Miguel Street, a street in western Port of Spain. The book contains a number of idiosyncratic characters, including Mr. Popo, the carpenter who never finishes making anything and is always working on the thing without a name; the poet B. Wordsworth (taking his last name from English Romantic poet William Wordsworth) who is working on the greatest poem ever written but has never written past the first line; and Man-Man, the mad man who becomes a prophet. The book is the story of great ambitions that never went anywhere and are only left for the narrator to remember and record. The narrator himself is part of a group of kids on the street who get into various adventures in the neighborhood. Only the narrator manages, by the end of the story, to escape from Miguel Street and leave Trinidad, with the hope of making something of himself.

The story is written primarily in the first person, with each character getting his or her own chapter; the narrator's experiences are woven in-between, except for the last two or three chapters, which are primarily about the narrator himself.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Voyage of Christopher Columbus


The Voyage of Christopher Columbus: Columbus' Own Journal of Discovery Newly Restored and Translated
edited by John Cummins

The explorer's shipboard journal details his first voyage to the New World and his fateful encounter with the natives. It exists today only in a later manuscript copy by Bartolome de Las Casas, who paraphrased extensively in the third person. By restructuring this version and supplementing it with other sources, Cummins (Spanish, Univ. of Aberdeen) claims to have restored the original in a nonliteral translation that "remodels" Columbus's cumbersome Spanish. The resulting lively and highly readable narrative will have historians arguing about the authenticity of its voice. The transcription and literal translation contained in The "Diario" of Christopher Columbus's First Voyage to America (Univ. of Oklahoma Pr., 1989) remains the standard scholarly English-language edition, but general readers will enjoy Cummins's work.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Modest Proposal

A Modest Proposal: For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland
From Being Aburden to Their Parents or Country, and
For Making Them Beneficial to The Public

by Jonathan Swift

It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants: who as they grow up either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.

I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom a very great additional grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound, useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.

But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars; it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them as those who demand our charity in the streets.

As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of other projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in the computation. It is true, a child just dropped from its dam may be supported by her milk for a solar year, with little other nourishment; at most not above the value of 2s., which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner as instead of being a charge upon their parents or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall on the contrary contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing, of many thousands.

There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas! too frequent among us! sacrificing the poor innocent babes I doubt more to avoid the expense than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast.

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couples who are able to maintain their own children, although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom; but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remains one hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, how this number shall be reared and provided for, which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing, till they arrive at six years old, except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier, during which time, they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers, as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old is no salable commodity; and even when they come to this age they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half-a-crown at most on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

Infant's flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolific diet, there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent than at any other season; therefore, reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of popish infants is at least three to one in this kingdom: and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of papists among us.

I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar's child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, laborers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about two shillings per annum, rags included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he hath only some particular friend or his own family to dine with him. Thus the squire will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among his tenants; the mother will have eight shillings net profit, and be fit for work till she produces another child.

Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flay the carcass; the skin of which artificially dressed will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen.

As to our city of Dublin, shambles may be appointed for this purpose in the most convenient parts of it, and butchers we may be assured will not be wanting; although I rather recommend buying the children alive, and dressing them hot from the knife, as we do roasting pigs.

A very worthy person, a true lover of his country, and whose virtues I highly esteem, was lately pleased in discoursing on this matter to offer a refinement upon my scheme. He said that many gentlemen of this kingdom, having of late destroyed their deer, he conceived that the want of venison might be well supplied by the bodies of young lads and maidens, not exceeding fourteen years of age nor under twelve; so great a number of both sexes in every country being now ready to starve for want of work and service; and these to be disposed of by their parents, if alive, or otherwise by their nearest relations. But with due deference to so excellent a friend and so deserving a patriot, I cannot be altogether in his sentiments; for as to the males, my American acquaintance assured me, from frequent experience, that their flesh was generally tough and lean, like that of our schoolboys by continual exercise, and their taste disagreeable; and to fatten them would not answer the charge. Then as to the females, it would, I think, with humble submission be a loss to the public, because they soon would become breeders themselves; and besides, it is not improbable that some scrupulous people might be apt to censure such a practice (although indeed very unjustly), as a little bordering upon cruelty; which, I confess, hath always been with me the strongest objection against any project, however so well intended.

But in order to justify my friend, he confessed that this expedient was put into his head by the famous Psalmanazar, a native of the island Formosa, who came from thence to London above twenty years ago, and in conversation told my friend, that in his country when any young person happened to be put to death, the executioner sold the carcass to persons of quality as a prime dainty; and that in his time the body of a plump girl of fifteen, who was crucified for an attempt to poison the emperor, was sold to his imperial majesty's prime minister of state, and other great mandarins of the court, in joints from the gibbet, at four hundred crowns. Neither indeed can I deny, that if the same use were made of several plump young girls in this town, who without one single groat to their fortunes cannot stir abroad without a chair, and appear at playhouse and assemblies in foreign fineries which they never will pay for, the kingdom would not be the worse.

Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people, who are aged, diseased, or maimed, and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what course may be taken to ease the nation of so grievous an encumbrance. But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known that they are every day dying and rotting by cold and famine, and filth and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected. And as to the young laborers, they are now in as hopeful a condition; they cannot get work, and consequently pine away for want of nourishment, to a degree that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labor, they have not strength to perform it; and thus the country and themselves are happily delivered from the evils to come.

I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.

For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of papists, with whom we are yearly overrun, being the principal breeders of the nation as well as our most dangerous enemies; and who stay at home on purpose with a design to deliver the kingdom to the Pretender, hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many good protestants, who have chosen rather to leave their country than stay at home and pay tithes against their conscience to an episcopal curate.

Secondly, The poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by law may be made liable to distress and help to pay their landlord's rent, their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown.

Thirdly, Whereas the maintenance of an hundred thousand children, from two years old and upward, cannot be computed at less than ten shillings a-piece per annum, the nation's stock will be thereby increased fifty thousand pounds per annum, beside the profit of a new dish introduced to the tables of all gentlemen of fortune in the kingdom who have any refinement in taste. And the money will circulate among ourselves, the goods being entirely of our own growth and manufacture.

Fourthly, The constant breeders, beside the gain of eight shillings sterling per annum by the sale of their children, will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year.

Fifthly, This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns; where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection, and consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating: and a skilful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests, will contrive to make it as expensive as they please.

Sixthly, This would be a great inducement to marriage, which all wise nations have either encouraged by rewards or enforced by laws and penalties. It would increase the care and tenderness of mothers toward their children, when they were sure of a settlement for life to the poor babes, provided in some sort by the public, to their annual profit instead of expense. We should see an honest emulation among the married women, which of them could bring the fattest child to the market. Men would become as fond of their wives during the time of their pregnancy as they are now of their mares in foal, their cows in calf, their sows when they are ready to farrow; nor offer to beat or kick them (as is too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage.

Many other advantages might be enumerated. For instance, the addition of some thousand carcasses in our exportation of barreled beef, the propagation of swine's flesh, and improvement in the art of making good bacon, so much wanted among us by the great destruction of pigs, too frequent at our tables; which are no way comparable in taste or magnificence to a well-grown, fat, yearling child, which roasted whole will make a considerable figure at a lord mayor's feast or any other public entertainment. But this and many others I omit, being studious of brevity.

Supposing that one thousand families in this city, would be constant customers for infants flesh, besides others who might have it at merry meetings, particularly at weddings and christenings, I compute that Dublin would take off annually about twenty thousand carcasses; and the rest of the kingdom (where probably they will be sold somewhat cheaper) the remaining eighty thousand.

I can think of no one objection, that will possibly be raised against this proposal, unless it should be urged, that the number of people will be thereby much lessened in the kingdom. This I freely own, and 'twas indeed one principal design in offering it to the world. I desire the reader will observe, that I calculate my remedy for this one individual Kingdom of Ireland, and for no other that ever was, is, or, I think, ever can be upon Earth. Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: Of taxing our absentees at five shillings a pound: Of using neither cloaths, nor houshold furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture: Of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury: Of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women: Of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance: Of learning to love our country, wherein we differ even from Laplanders, and the inhabitants of Topinamboo: Of quitting our animosities and factions, nor acting any longer like the Jews, who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken: Of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing: Of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants. Lastly, of putting a spirit of honesty, industry, and skill into our shop-keepers, who, if a resolution could now be taken to buy only our native goods, would immediately unite to cheat and exact upon us in the price, the measure, and the goodness, nor could ever yet be brought to make one fair proposal of just dealing, though often and earnestly invited to it.

Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, 'till he hath at least some glympse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice.

But, as to my self, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal, which, as it is wholly new, so it hath something solid and real, of no expence and little trouble, full in our own power, and whereby we can incur no danger in disobliging England. For this kind of commodity will not bear exportation, and flesh being of too tender a consistence, to admit a long continuance in salt, although perhaps I could name a country, which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it.

After all, I am not so violently bent upon my own opinion as to reject any offer proposed by wise men, which shall be found equally innocent, cheap, easy, and effectual. But before something of that kind shall be advanced in contradiction to my scheme, and offering a better, I desire the author or authors will be pleased maturely to consider two points. First, as things now stand, how they will be able to find food and raiment for an hundred thousand useless mouths and backs. And secondly, there being a round million of creatures in human figure throughout this kingdom, whose whole subsistence put into a common stock would leave them in debt two millions of pounds sterling, adding those who are beggars by profession to the bulk of farmers, cottagers, and laborers, with their wives and children who are beggars in effect: I desire those politicians who dislike my overture, and may perhaps be so bold as to attempt an answer, that they will first ask the parents of these mortals, whether they would not at this day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food, at a year old in the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such a perpetual scene of misfortunes as they have since gone through by the oppression of landlords, the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common sustenance, with neither house nor clothes to cover them from the inclemencies of the weather, and the most inevitable prospect of entailing the like or greater miseries upon their breed for ever.

I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich. I have no children by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine years old, and my wife past child-bearing.

The End

Mexifornia

Mexifornia: A State of Becoming
by Victor Davis Hanson

This book is part history, part political analysis and part memoir. It is an intensely personal book about what has changed in California over the last quarter century.

Hanson's primary worry is steadily rising illegal immigration into a welfare state with expanding entitlements and waning commitment to the history and virtues of Western civilization, an admittedly imperfect, coercive consensus that nonetheless held together a uniquely successful, multiethnic nation. The emerging Mexifornia is becoming "not quite Mexico and not quite America either."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Race and Reunion

Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory
by David W. Blight

No historical event has left as deep an imprint on America's collective memory as the Civil War. In the war's aftermath, Americans had to embrace and cast off a traumatic past. David Blight explores the perilous path of remembering and forgetting, and reveals its tragic costs to race relations and America's national reunion. In 1865, confronted with a ravaged landscape and a torn America, the North and South began a slow and painful process of reconciliation. The ensuing decades witnessed the triumph of a culture of reunion, which downplayed sectional division and emphasized the heroics of a battle between noble men of the Blue and the Gray. Nearly lost in national culture were the moral crusades over slavery that ignited the war, the presence and participation of African Americans throughout the war, and the promise of emancipation that emerged from the war. Race and Reunion is a history of how the unity of white America was purchased through the increasing segregation of black and white memory of the Civil War. Blight delves deeply into the shifting meanings of death and sacrifice, Reconstruction, the romanticized South of literature, soldiers' reminiscences of battle, the idea of the Lost Cause, and the ritual of Memorial Day. He resurrects the variety of African-American voices and memories of the war and the efforts to preserve the emancipationist legacy in the midst of a culture built on its denial. Blight's sweeping narrative of triumph and tragedy, romance and realism, is a compelling tale of the politics of memory, of how a nation healed from civil war without justice. By the early twentieth century, the problems of race and reunion were locked in mutual dependence, a painful legacy that continues to haunt us today.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

King Leopold's Ghost

King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa
by Adam Hochschild

At the turn of the century, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium carried out a genocidal plundering of the territory surrounding the Congo River. Ultimately slashing the area's population by ten million, he still managed to shrewdly cultivate his reputation as a great humanitarian. A tale far richer than any novelist could invent, King Leopold's Ghost is the "absorbing and horrifying account" (Los Angeles Times) of a megalomaniac of monstrous proportions. It is also the deeply moving portrait of those who fought Leopold: a brave handful of missionaries, travelers, and young idealists who went to Africa for work or adventure but unexpectedly found themselves witnesses to a holocaust and participants in the twentieth century's first great human rights movement.

Born the son of a mining company executive, Adam Hochschild visited apartheid-era South Africa during his teens and observed the injustices of racism. He subsequently became active politically, joining the civil rights movement, demonstrating against the Vietnam War, and co-founding the activist magazine Mother Jones. His National Book Award-nominated Bury the Chains is a fascinating look at the British abolitionist movement of the late 1700s.




Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

One day in 1993, high up in the world's most inhospitable mountains, Greg Mortenson wandered lost and alone, broken in body and spirit, after a failed attempt to climb K2, the world's deadliest peak. When the people of an impoverished village in Pakistan's Karakoram Himalaya took him in and nursed him back to health, Mortenson made an impulsive promise: He would return one day and build them a school. Although he was a homeless "climbing bum" living out of his aging Buick in Berkeley, California, Mortenson sold what few possessions he had to launch one of the most remarkable humanitarian campaigns of our time." "Three Cups of Tea traces Mortenson's decade-long odyssey to build schools, especially for girls, throughout the region that gave birth to the Taliban and sanctuary to Al Qaeda. While he wages war with the root causes of terrorism - poverty and ignorance - by providing both girls and boys with a balanced, nonextremist education. Mortenson must survive a kidnapping, fatwas issued by enraged mullahs, death threats from Americans who consider him a traitor, and wrenching separations from his family." Today, as the director of the Central Asia Institute, Mortenson has built fifty-five schools serving Pakistan and Afghanistan's poorest communities. And as this real-life Indiana Jones from Montana crisscrosses the Himalaya and the Hindu Kush fighting to keep these schools functioning, he provides not only hope to tens of thousands of children, but living proof that one passionately dedicated person truly can change the world.

Visit Greg Mortenson's Pennies for Peace Foundation.

Visit Mortenson's Central Asia Institute.



Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Civil War and Reconstruction

The Civil War and Reconstruction: A Documentary Collection
Edited by William E. Gienapp

An ample, wide-ranging collection of primary sources, The Civil War and
Reconstruction: A Documentary Collection
, opens a window onto the
political, social, cultural, economic, and military history from 1830
to 1877. Particular attention is paid to social history; coverage of
the experience of African Americans, women, and non-elites provides a
well-rounded picture of the period. Substantial selections, careful
editing, and helpful annotations make this collection an ideal
supplement for your course on the Civil War and Reconstruction.

This text contains selected reproductions of primary-source documents on the Civil War and Reconstruction period edited for student use. The documents, drawn from the period 1830-1877, discuss social and economic developments as well as political, military, and diplomatic events. Letters and diary entries provide information on people's private lives. A sampling of topics includes causes of the conflict, the military struggle, Union and Confederate politics, diplomacy, African Americans, common soldiers, Johnson's clash with Congress, and the end of Reconstruction. The US and Confederate constitutions are included in the appendix.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mothers of Invention

Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War
by Drew Gilpin Faust

Exploring privileged Confederate women's wartime experiences, this book chronicles the clash of the old and the new within a group that was at once the beneficiary and the victim of the social order of the Old South.

Faust makes a major contribution to both Civil War historiography and women's studies in this outstanding analysis of the impact of secession, invasion and conquest on Southern white women. Antebellum images based on helplessness and dependence were challenged as women assumed an increasing range of social and economic responsibilities. Their successes were, however, at best mixed, involving high levels of improvisation. The failure of Southern men to sustain their patriarchal pretensions on the battlefield also broke the prewar gender contract of dependence in return for protection. Women of the South after 1865 confronted both their doubt about what they could accomplish by themselves and their desire to avoid reliance on men. The women's rights movement in the South thus grew from necessity and disappointment-a sharp contrast to the ebullient optimism of its Northern counterpart. Faust's provocative analysis of a complex subject merits a place in all collections of U.S. history.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Slave No More

A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including their Own Narratives of Emancipation
by David W. Blight

Slave narratives, some of the most powerful records of our past, are extremely rare, with only fifty-five post–Civil War narratives surviving. A mere handful are first-person accounts by slaves who ran away and freed themselves. Now two newly uncovered narratives, and the biographies of the men who wrote them, join that exclusive group with the publication of A Slave No More, a major new addition to the canon of American history. Handed down through family and friends, these narratives tell gripping stories of escape: Through a combination of intelligence, daring, and sheer luck, the men reached the protection of the occupying Union troops. David W. Blight magnifies the drama and significance by prefacing the narratives with each man’s life history. Using a wealth of genealogical information, Blight has reconstructed their childhoods as sons of white slaveholders, their service as cooks and camp hands during the Civil War, and their climb to black working-class stability in the north, where they reunited their families.

In the stories of Turnage and Washington, we find history at its most intimate, portals that offer a rich new answer to the question of how four million people moved from slavery to freedom. In A Slave No More, the untold stories of two ordinary men take their place at the heart of the American experience.

Both Washington and Turnage, near contemporaries, wrote vivid accounts of their lives as slaves and the bold bids for freedom that took them across Confederate lines and into the waiting arms of Union soldiers. Recently discovered, both texts have been reproduced by Mr. Blight as written, with misspellings and grammatical errors intact. Mr. Blight…has also provided an extended preface that provides historical context, fills in biographical gaps and extends the life stories of both men past the Civil War, when their manuscripts break off abruptly, to their deaths in the early 20th century. Two remarkable lives, previously lost, emerge with startling clarity, largely through the words of the principal actors themselves.

WALLACE TURNAGE (1846–1916) was born in Snow Hill, North Carolina, and spent his adult life in New York City and Jersey City, New Jersey.

JOHN WASHINGTON (1838–1918), born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, worked as a house and sign painter in Washington, D.C., after his escape. He retired to Cohasset, Massachusetts.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Farmer Boy

Farmer Boy
by Laura Ingalls Wilder

While Laura Ingalls grows up in a little house on the western prairie, Almanzo Wilder is living on a big farm in New York State. Almanzo and his brother and sisters work at their chores from dawn to supper most days-no matter what the weather. There is still time for fun, though, especially with the horses, which Almanzo loves more than anything.

Farmer Boy is the third book in the Laura Years series.

From shearing sheep and milking cows to training young calves, Almanzo Wilder worked very hard on his family's farm in New York. But when his chores were all done, Almanzo could go to his favorite place in the whole world -- the Horse-Barn. Although his father wouldn't let him handle the frisky colts, Almanzo could still look at them and dream of one day having a horse all his own!

Hospital Sketches

Hospital Sketches
by Louisa May Alcott

Alcott briefly served as a nurse during the Civil War. These three brief "sketches" recount her experiences, though she gives herself a pseudonym and presumably embellishes her tale. The first sketch recounts her decision to become a nurse and her journey from Massachusetts to Washington, D.C. Despite her support of female equality, she finds her tasks go more smoothly when gentlemen help her.

The second sketch describes her job at the hospital. When the wounded are brought in, it is her duty to help wash and feed them, assist the doctors, and cheer the men up. She calls the men her "boys" and treats them maternally. In the third sketch, she falls ill herself and is brought home by her father.

In a postscript, she talks a bit more about the hospital. She criticizes its disorganized management and mocks the doctors, many of whom treat the patients as interesting problems to be solved rather than as people. Caring is left to the nurses. She mentions that she expected to be treated poorly by the doctors herself, but finds that they treat her well (though she also says they receive much better food and sleeping quarters). This section also contains lengthy reflections on the "Negroes" who help at the hospital.

Alcott was part of a much-debated experiment on the part of the Army’s medical department. The department had not changed since the War of 1812 and many men died early in the Civil War due to inadequate facilities and skill. Guided by the experiences of Florence Nightingale and pressed by Dorothea Dix, the Army decided female nurses would help improve conditions. Many critics found such activity indecent for women or claimed they would spend their time fainting and flirting with the men. Alcott’s writing implicitly takes such views to task. This edition of the book has a lengthy introduction that describes the start of Army nursing in some detail.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This Republic of Suffering

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
by Drew Gilpin Faust

More than 600,000 soldiers lost their lives in the American Civil War. In This Republic of Suffering, Drew Gilpin Faust reveals the ways that death on such a scale changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation, describing how the survivors managed on a practical level and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the unprecedented carnage with its belief in a benevolent God. Throughout, the voices of soldiers and their families, of statesmen, generals, preachers, poets, surgeons, nurses, northerners and southerners come together to give us a vivid understanding of the Civil War's most fundamental and widely shared reality.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Beautiful Tree

The Beautiful Tree: A Personal Journey Into How the World's Poorest People Are Educating Themselves
by James Tooley

Everyone from Bono to the United Nations is looking for a miracle to bring schooling within reach of the poorest children on Earth. James Tooley found one hiding in plain sight. While researching private schools in India for the World Bank, and worried he was doing little to help the poor, Tooley wandered into the slums of Hyderabad's Old City. Shocked to find it overflowing with tiny, parentfunded schools filled with energized students, he set out to discover if schools like these could help achieve universal education. Named after Mahatma Gandhi's phrase for the schools of pre-colonial India, The Beautiful Tree recounts Tooley's journey from the largest shanty town in Africa to the hinterlands of Gansu, China. It introduces readers to the families and teachers who taught him that the poor are not waiting for educational handouts. They are building their own schools and educating themselves.

Tooley (Reclaiming Education) documents his surprising finding that private schools are providing quality education to millions of poor children in the developing world. Whereas development experts insist that the path out of poverty lies in investment in public schools, the author draws on his fieldwork in India, China and Africa to argue that small entrepreneurs are educating the poor. In one region of India, 80% of urban children and 30% of rural children attend private schools; in China's Gansu province 586 private schools are located in small villages, even though the state prides itself on its public system. Contrary to accepted wisdom, the modest fees of private schools are within reach of most, and parents find them superior to public schools that are often riddled with corruption and incompetence. Tooley argues that development funds be invested to support these institutions, through vouchers to parents and microfinance loans to the schools. The author's engaging style transforms what could have been a dry if startling research report into a moving account of how poor parents struggle against great odds to provide a rich educational experience to their children.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dead Aid

Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is Another Way for Africa
by Dambisa Moyo

In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse.

In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo describes the state of postwar development policy in Africa today and unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth. In fact, poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined—and millions continue to suffer. Provocatively drawing a sharp contrast between African countries that have rejected the aid route and prospered and others that have become aid-dependent and seen poverty increase, Moyo illuminates the way in which overreliance on aid has trapped developing nations in a vicious circle of aid dependency, corruption, market distortion, and further poverty, leaving them with nothing but the “need” for more aid. Debunking the current model of international aid promoted by both Hollywood celebrities and policy makers, Moyo offers a bold new road map for financing development of the world’s poorest countries that guarantees economic growth and a significant decline in poverty—without reliance on foreign aid or aid-related assistance.

Dead Aid is an unsettling yet optimistic work, a powerful challenge to the assumptions and arguments that support a profoundly misguided development policy in Africa. And it is a clarion call to anew, more hopeful vision of how to address the desperate poverty that plagues millions.

Visit the Kiva microloans organization.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Other Path

The Other Path : The Invisible Revolution in the Third World
by Hernando de Soto

Altering the way we perceive underdeveloped countries, this revolutionary volume focuses on Lima, Peru, and how its internal economies and political alliances function. De Soto also describes the surprising and revolutionary world of the "informals," those who work outside the law to achieve their goals.

The Fight Against Terrorism is not only military. In the long term, it is also -- perhaps even primarily -- economic. How do we create economic and social conditions in third-world countries that will prevent terrorist organizations and ideas from taking root? How do we give ordinary people in these countries better alternatives than supporting drug lords or terrorists? In the classic The Other Path, Hernando de Soto describes how he and his organization, the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, faced this problem in Peru in the 1980s -- and how they solved it. In a world in which the root causes of terrorism are once again a pressing concern, this book is more relevant than ever.

Of all the terrorist movements since World War II that had any realistic potential to form a national government, only one was decisively defeated on the battleground of ideas. Sendero Luminoso, the Shining Path, arose in Peru in 1980. It was distinguished by both the radicalism of its Maoist ideology and the viciousness of its tactics. An American diplomat, Bernard Aronson, called the Shining Path "the most murderous guerilla group ever to operate in the Western Hemisphere" and compared them to the Khmer Rouge. At one point this group commanded eighty thousand followers-two-thirds the size of Great Britain's standing army-and was the single largest political organization in the country.

The task of making the Shining Path politically irrelevant was accomplished primarily by ideological means. Hernando de Soto offered an alternative vision of Peru's poor. Rather than see them as the proletariat, he showed that they were in fact budding entrepreneurs whose greatest desire was not to bring down the market economy but to join it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jourdan Anderson's Letter

Jourdan Anderson's Letter From a Former En-Slaved African to his Former Master

From the book Should America Pay: Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations, edited by Raymon Winbush, pp. 101–102.

The following letter was published in The Freedmen's Book, a collection of African American writings compiled by the abolitionist Lydia Maria Child in 1865. This letter is a response to a slave owner who has written his former slave at the end of the Civil War, asking him to return to work in Tennessee.

To my old master,
Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee.

Sir,

I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that yor wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than any body else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in a better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

I want to know particulary what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get $25 a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy. The folks here call her Mrs. Anderson, and the children Milly, Jane, and Grundy go to school and are learning well. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, "Them colored people were slaves down in Tennesssee." The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost Marshall-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for 32 years, and Mandy 20 years. At 25 dollars a month for me, and 2 dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to $11,608. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to.

Please send the money by Adam's Express, in care of V. Winters Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the Good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Surely, there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve and die, if it comes to that, than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits. Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when your were shooting at me.

From you old servant,

Jourdan Anderson

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Letter to Horace Greeley

Lincoln's Letter to Horace Greeley

Written during the heart of the Civil War, this is one of Abraham Lincoln's most famous letters. Greeley, editor of the influential New York Tribune, had just addressed an editorial to Lincoln called "The Prayer of Twenty Millions," making demands and implying that Lincoln's administration lacked direction and resolve.

President Lincoln made his reply when a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation already lay in his desk drawer. His response revealed his concentration on preserving the Union. The letter, which received acclaim in the North, stands as a classic statement of Lincoln's constitutional responsibilities. A few years after the president's death, Greeley wrote an assessment of Lincoln. He stated that Lincoln did not actually respond to his editorial but used it instead as a platform to prepare the public for his "altered position" on emancipation.


Executive Mansion,
Washington,
August 22, 1862.

Hon. Horace Greeley:
Dear Sir.

I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.
I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

Yours,
A. Lincoln.