Archive for the ‘history’ Category
I was feeling worn-out and exhausted today, so I decided to pep myself up by reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln, because that is who I am now. I’m reading Doris Kearn Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, that book that won all the awards in the late 2000s. I opened the book up to page 152 and scanned the page to see where I had last left off. On page 152, Virginia officially seceded from the Union, taking the crucial Norfolk Navy Yard with it.
With its stategic location, immense dry dock, great supply of cannons and guns, and premier vessel, the Merrimac, the Norfolk yard was indispensible to both sides.
But, of course, Virginia secedes from the Union, and Gideon Welles, the Secretary of the Navy, was unable to secure the vital navy yard before the Confederacy took it over. We shall see what the consequences of this was.
The loss of Norfolk prompted Charles Francis Adams* to note in his diary:
We the children of the third and fourth generations are doomed to pay the penalties of the compromises made by the first.
You may recognize this as my facebook status a few days ago.^ For some reason that quote has stuck with me. I stopped at that line again. I read it over a few times. I couldn’t think of why I like that sentence so much. I read it again. Suddenly I realized that to pay the penalty is a vocab term in early Latin studies (poenas dare. Had the sentence simply triggered my Classics scholarship?
I decided to translate the sentence into Latin rather than read on.
After writing out the sentence, the next step is to break it down into parts of speech. Diagramming it. However the old-school folks say it.
We the children nominative (subject)
of the third and fourth generations genitive (possessive)
are doomed first person plural indicative active present
to pay the penalties infinitive/accusative plural (infinitive/object)
of the compromises genitive (possessive)
made wait there’s another verb?
by the first ablative
I stared in horror at the last three steps. There was already a possessive and a verb in the sentence. How could there be more? I set that question aside for the moment and tried to think about the ablative.
Ablative doesn’t have a direct correlation in English, unlike nominative/subject, genitive/possessive, dative/indirect object, and accusative/direct object. The best I can explain it is as a setting. Ablative tells you where the sentence happened, when it happened, or how it happened (ablative of means). The first several chapters of my textbooks avoids ablatives, and then suddenly ablatives are everywhere. They’re hard to get across in English. When I was in high school, I wrote out English translations for every single word I diagrammed: by/with/in/on/from the troops, I would write.
My life is brilliant
My love is pure
I saw an angel
Of that I’m sure
She smiled at me on the subway
She was with another man
But I won’t lose no sleep on that
‘Cause I’ve got a plan
You’re beautiful, it’s true
I saw your face in a crowded place
And I don’t know what to do
‘Cause I’ll never be with you
You’re beautiful, it’s true
There must be an angel with a smile on her face
When she thought up that I should be with you
But it’s time to face the truth
I will never be with you
But I also knew from my days in community college Latin that there was another use for ablative. And by another I mean “the way bearded dragons and komodo dragons are both lizard dragons.” That way is Ablative Absolute.
There must be an angel with a smile on her face
When she thought up that I should be with you <—BAM WHAM
When the angel thought up that he should be with her, the angel smiled.
Ablative absolute sets the scene like nothing else. It can’t stand on its own, it’s not a full sentence even though it might have a subject and a verb (wait-). It’s very ablative-heavy. And it always (well, typically) goes in the front, especially in Latin.
By the compromises made by the first generation, we the children of the third and fourth generation are doomed to pay the penalties.
Compromissit primis aetatibus facerunt, nos pueri aetatis tertiae et quartiae damnamus poenas dare.
Is it correct? I actually have no idea.
*grandson of John, son of John Quincy
^or you may not, I don’t know you.
Song Reference if you haven’t seen Chicago
Who’s Mi-chael Brown?
A Black Teenager.
Why’d you shoot him?
We were fightin’.
Was he angry?
Like a monkey
Still I said, “Mike, move along.”
He hasn’t done anything wrong.
Then describe it.
He ran toward me.
With the pistol?
From my holster.
Did you fight him?
Like a hero.
Mike had strength and he had none.
And yet we both reached for the gun
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes we both
Oh yes we both
Oh yes, we both reached for
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun
Oh yes, we both reached for the gun
For the gun.
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes they both
Oh yes, they both
Oh yes, they both reached for
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun,
Oh yes, they both reached for the gun
for the gun.
Yes it’s perfectly understandable
Not a bit reprehensible
It’s so defensible
How’re you feeling?
Are you sorry?
Are you kidding?
A week or so ago, I spent two days with a group of fifth-graders, teaching them about the Boston Massacre. Most of this teaching involved showing them the famous engraving by Paul Revere. I had them tell me what they saw, and then had them extrapolate from there. I’m not stupid, I didn’t say “extrapolate”. I said “what do you think that means?”
I had some notes from the teacher in my hand as the kids and I analyzed this primary source. It was a fantastic exercise. The kids learned a lot, about the Boston Massacre and the use of images as propaganda. They also did real history as opposed to just being told what to think, which is a major plus.
But one of the points that the Teacher’s Notes made, which I wasn’t sure what to do with, was the fact that Crispus Attucks is depicted as white in the image. There are three dead men depicted in the engraving. All three are white. Despite its name, only five people died in the Boston Massacre (as opposed to the dozens or hundreds the name implies). Three of the dead were white men, one was a white boy, and the last was Crispus Attucks, a black man. The fact that there are no black men on the engraving at all indicates some rewrite of the facts, but to go so far as to say that Crispus Attucks was turned white for propaganda purposes seems to be going too far. After all, three white men died, back when it was thought that white men were the only people worth noting. The three white men are being shown dying. To me, the boy and the black man were completely ignored.
I didn’t mention this thinking to any of the kids. All I did was point out the lack of Crispus Attucks, and slid that right into the demographics of the crowd overall (very peaceful, diverse, and well-dressed for a mob of ropemakers and dockworkers, don’t you think?). The kids jumped right onto the fact that no one in the mob has a weapon. A lesson was learned.
It occurred to me today, two weeks later, that Crispus Attucks is the only name I know from the Boston Massacre. How often had I pointed out the Commander of the British regiment to the kids, without knowing his name? I didn’t even know the name of the white men and the boy who had died. Just Crispus Attucks. Which isn’t a bad thing, but this morning, as I stared into the bacon frying in the pan, I suddenly wondered if that was on purpose. Perhaps the Civil Rights movement had something to do with it. What was more important for American schoolchildren to know, the names of each individual person that died at the Boston Massacre, or the fact that there were only five of them? In the grand scheme of things, did we really even need to know their names? And yet, here I was, with this fact. Crispus Attucks died in the Boston Massacre. I didn’t know what his job had been beforehand. I didn’t know how old he had been. All I knew was that he died on March 5, 1770, by British hands.
Google has a tool called the Ngram, which tells you how many percentage of books, in each year, included a certain phrase. It’s therefore easy to compare mentions of the Boston Massacre to mentions of Crispus Attucks.
The mid-1850s had a sudden spike of interest in the Boston Massacre; possibly because of the impending Civil War and the surge of patriotism in the North and South towards their respective countries. Tellingly, Crispus Attucks’ name was not use proportionally. In other words, most mentions of the Boston Massacre didn’t mention Crispus Attucks. Perhaps they didn’t want to mention that black men were fighting for the American cause from the start, or perhaps, like me, the writers felt that the existence of the five victims was more important than their individual names. Or perhaps the Boston Massacre was just a name, a reference in American society, the same way we talk about the Boston Tea Party as an example of rebellion without mentioning what the participants actually did.
Crispus Attucks and the Boston Massacre don’t sync up until the post-WWII era, when the Civil Rights movement kicked off. Look at how neat that is. From 1940 onwards, Crispus Attucks isn’t always mentioned, but interest in him surges and plummets at the same rate that interest rises and falls in the the Boston Massacre in general. I think my theory is correct: I only know the name of Crispus Attucks because of the efforts of the Civil Rights movement.
Still, a simple Google search pulled up all of the names of the Boston Massacre victims. I wondered what the story would be. Would Crispus Attucks be excluded from the narrative? Would the four white people have been mentioned while excluding the black man? The results turned out to be an absolute mess, so I sorted them a bit.
James Caldwell was the name of a prominent Irish baronet who lived from 1722-1784. He served in the Army and wrote a book or two. In a few places, interest in his name surges at the same rate as the Boston Massacre, but not enough to make me think that the James Caldwell mentioned is the dead Bostonian.
The last three rarely sync up with the Boston Massacre. Perhaps some books mention them, but not always? Only Crispus Attucks seems to be directly linked to the Boston Massacre, and that looks to be the result of the Boston Massacre.
Crispus Attucks was born into slavery in 1723 Massachussetts to Prince Younger, a black slave and a local Indian, Nancy Natick. In September 1750 he escaped captivity. He was 6’2, and knock-kneed, and made a living for himself in and out of Boston Harbor, first working on whaling ships and then later as a ropemaker. He was part of the mob that started a fight with a lone British soldier outside a pub. He was the first one killed.
James Caldwell was born in 1753. He was not from Boston; he had only recently arrived on a ship, the merchant ship Hawk. Very little else is known about him. He was part of the mob that started the fight, and was the third to die.
Patrick Carr was born in 1740 in Ireland. He was not part of the mob, but instead ran to help. He was shot in the abdomen crossing the street. It took him nine days to die of his wound, during which time he gave a testimony of what happened, and notably forgave the British soldiers who opened fire. Sam Adams therefore denounced him as a papist. He died on March 14, 1770, the last to die.
Samuel Gray was born in 1718 and was a professional ropemaker. He was apparently always starting fights, and had the previous week started a fight with some British soldiers. Two of those same soldiers had reappeared during the fight, as reinforcements for the British sentry the mob had happened upon. He was the first person fired upon, although he was not the first to die.
Matthew Kilroy was one of the soldiers Samuel Gray had fought with the week before. He ended up killing Gray. He was later convicted of murder.
John Maverick was born in 1753, a local apprentice to Isaac Greenwood. He was not part of the mob that started the fight, but was instead called over by the bells and hubbub. He and his friend, John Greenwood, assumed it was a fire and ran to help. The two boys got separated in the fight. Maverick may not have started the fight, but when the British soldiers raised their guns in fear, he shouted, “Fire away!”, indicating that he probably got wrapped up in the revolutionary spirit/mob mentality. He died of his wounds on March 6.
Edward Montgomery stumbled a bit, whether it was from slipping on ice, or getting his with a stick or a snowball. He was the first person to fire, although whether he fired on purpose or accidentally is left for debate. He was apparently heard shouting for the other soldiers to fire.
Captain Thomas Preston was born around 1722, and was probably Irish. He was Captain of the Guard that day. Upon hearing that a mob was looking to attack and kill a sentryman, he sent about 12 men to the sentry’s aid, and then went to the mob himself. He claimed to have stood between the mob and his soldiers himself. He was found Not Guilty, but soon after left the army and returned to the British Isles.
Why didn’t anyone tell me
The Roman Forum!
It was there all along!
I just had to look behind the Palatine Hill
No, seriously, I love this. I love looking at a whole group of ruins, unfolding before you. You can see, just a little bit, how it must have looked to people standing there 2000 years ago.
Also, people were throwing coins at this monument. I don’t really understand why. I actually saw some people throwing coins. It appeared to be an athleticism thing rather than a good-luck thing. It didn’t really answer my question of “why”.
Some other pictures I took on my drawing errand:
“To be, or not to be. That is the question.”
This is the view from the building on top of the Palatine.
This is il Teatro di Marcello, Marcellus’ Theatre. Marcellus was Augustus’ nephew, by his sister Octavia’s first marriage (not to Mark Antony). It sits right next to Octavia’s Temple, which held a temple to Jupiter and Juno. This area also functioned as the Jewish ghetto and the fish market. There are pictures of actual stores being built into the Theatre there. Mussolini kicked the storeowners out and tore the stores down to restore the Theatre to its former glory. Nowadays it functions as part of the structure for the apartment building behind it. Can you imagine??? Living in a ruin? A ruin of a building commissioned by Emperor Augustus himself? Oh my gosh.
Okay, so it’s taken me two days to get this post going because Holy Crap did I take a lot of pictures of the Vatican. (did you see what I did there? Ahaha) Anyway I’ve uploaded all the pictures to imgur, which took a very, very long time, so after it was all done I went to bed rather than make this post. And now I’m making this post. Congratulations! You are now up to date on the goings-on in my blogging career.
So my roommates made it home safe the night before. They got in at about 4:30, when I was already asleep. The bar the Italian guys had been taken them to turned out to be closed, so they just went to a touristy karaoke bar they knew was overpriced but good. Nicole was, ah, “not feeling well” so she didn’t go. It was just Ayan, Sarah, Deanna, and me then. Our tickets were scheduled for 1:00, but due to everyone being out late the night before, we showed up at the Vatican around 1:30.
Here is a picture I took on the way to the Vatican, near Argentina, which has a lot of bus stops on it. The street art in Rome is amazing.
First we wandered through St. Peter’s Square. I wanted to stop and take more touristy pictures, but we were On A Mission. I will probably try to go back there at some point and take pictures, but not today. Not Sunday. Not in St. Peter’s Square.
So there isn’t really an obvious route that you’re supposed to take. You walk out into a terrace area and you try to figure out for yourself where to go. I wanted to see the Pigna, so we went to the Cortile della Pigna first. Once upon a time, there was a fountain built in a section of Rome that was made to look like a pinecone. It gave water to the whole district, and so the area was named “pinecone district.” Eventually one of the popes was adding to the Vatican. He realized that the people at the Vatican needed to drink, so he took the foutain from the district and made it the fountain of the Vatican.
Historically, that was a good move. Had there been a chunk of bronze just hanging out, it would have been torn down anyway during the many invasions of Rome in the middle ages. But it was in the Vatican. No one wanted to take from the Vatican. Nowadays the area is still known as “pinecone district” even though there is no pinecone, it’s weird.
Here’s something that I learned fairly quickly. I was excited to go to the Vatican because I wanted to learn about the Popes. I wanted to learn about the Borgia and the historical political institution known as the Papacy. But the Vatican is an art museum. Lots of art has been contributed to the Vatican, they gotta do something with it. That makes sense. But the Vatican museum is a gigantic collection of art. You don’t go to the Vatican museum to learn about the Vatican.
As you can see, there are a lot of statues. So many that instead of taking serious pictures of statues, I just took pictures of the few that amused me.
Haha, check out this guy’s moobs.
BEHOLD THE MOOBS.
I took this picture to make a joke about “ahaha she’s going to take your soul” but now I’m looking at it. I know the dark spots are holes in the eyes. What was there before? Was it gems or precious metals? Was this statue looted, the body tossed aside? Now looking at this statue makes me sad.
I forget why this statue amused me. Maybe because it looks like it’s snapping? I don’t know, but look at that hand. That is some fine detail work.
This baby frightened Ayan.
Speaking of frightening children.
Okay we’re done with phantom childen.
This statue is all “LAD-AYS.”
I have to tell you that there were a lot of statues like this one, based around the story of Ganymede and Zeus. Ganymede was a beautiful boy. Zeus was Zeus. He turned himself into an eagle and stole Ganymede away for some, ah, Zeusing.
A lot of these statues were damaged in some way. This picture was weird to me, because either the statue head was completely reconstructed (horribly) or the head is all mildewy. Eww.
You could say that the sculptors had some phantom limb syndrome. Actually for serious, this one is shown with an arm around its shoulder and I liked that.
We’re done with the statues now by the way.
Okay, this struck me as weird about the Vatican. Absolutely none of the statues that hung over doorways looked happy to be there.
NONE OF THEM.
It was around this time that Ayan and I realized that we had lost Deanna and Sarah. So we decided to just hang out for a bit and wait to see if they would find us. You see, we were in part of a loop, so we hoped that they just hadn’t exited the loop yet.
So we waited. Eventually Sarah found us. We didn’t find Deanna for a while; she had wandered off completely on her own. She got to see the Borgia apartments and I didn’t.
What is going on with these statues, I don’t even.
“So I says to Mabel, I says”
“Dude you’re not even hitting the plate with your water jug.”
“Haters gonna hate.”
I guess even the great art preservationists have to use tape.
I’m not entirely sure why, but imagery of dudes kissing baby Jesus’ feet always amuses me. Generally speaking, the person doing the kissing is the guy who commissioned the art, which is I’m sure are important things to note, but mostly I just think it’s funny that old dudes are always kissing a baby’s foot.
2000 years before CGI, there was Jesus, doing the Dreamworks face.
(yes I know the tapestry is like 400-600 years old, not 2000, but I was making a joke)
Anyway look at this foot.
Anyway look at this ceiling.
It is a very pretty ceiling.
I took this picture because haha, dudes kissing. But Ayan turned out to be really interested in this tapestry. I looked at the tapestry more closely, and I realized that it was depicting Holy Thursday. It was separated into three panels, represented by the walls of the building that the Last Supper took place in. I pointed out what about the second panel indicated that it was the Last Supper — Jesus with a ring of holy light, the apostles blatantly getting drunk and falling asleep. Then in the third panel, I explained why St. Peter was holding a sword and a dude’s ear was falling off, and why it was significant that Jesus was kissing Peter. I felt bad about secretly taking a terrible picture because it was funny, because this is an important piece of early sequential art.
Anyway on to the Sistine Chapel. I took pictures inside the Sistine Chapel, because you’re not allowed to take pictures of the Sistine Chapel. I understand why they don’t want pictures taken (actually I don’t, I can only guess it has to do with copyright). I just wanted to break the rules. So I won’t post pictures of the Sistine Chapel.
Here, have a picture of a cow instead.
We actually found Deanna at the Sistine Chapel. It was funny. We were worried about her, but after waiting around we decided to just go ahead to the Sistine Chapel. And there she was. And the first thing she said was, “I found your friend!” It turned out that Sarah’s friend who was supposed to join us yesterday was in the Vatican eating a pastry at the little cafe just off of the Sistine Chapel. Life is full of surprises.
I took this photo because hahaha buff babies, but actually this is a pretty vase.
In the Vatican, even the exit is pretty.
I was a little disappointed though. I know nothing more about the Papacy than when I went to the Vatican. I was hoping to buy a book on the history of the Papacy in the bookstore at least, but no dice. Nothing but books on the Sistine Chapel and Botticelli and Michelangelo. I did buy stuff — their price for prints was really reasonable — but it was all art history.
We were all starving so we went to a cafe close to St. Peter’s Square to eat, and who should join us but Sarah’s friend? I am seated away from the crowd because after about forty minutes of sitting in direct sunlight your neck starts to get hot and you start to worry about getting burned.
So as a follow-up to this blog post, imgur posted a musing about Hitler, lifted from tumblr. And now I’m lifting it from the cycle will never stop
It reminds me of the picture I found, of Hitler giggling with some schoolgirls.
How evil was Hitler? How much of his evil is from his advisors, and how much came from him? I know he was twisted and horrible anti-semetic and xenophobic and anti-Slavic and etc. That came from him. The fascination with the military was not unique. The xenophobia was not unique. What evil was Hitler?
So in my Post-1949 China course (aka “history of the PRC”), we’re learning about the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. Around 1966-1976, urban China was basically taken over by a whole bunch of radical students. They started out protesting against educational standards. Mao started to take advantage of the situation, and suddenly we had students dressing up in military uniforms, putting on red armbands, and walking through the streets beating up people less enthusiastic than they were. Or maybe they beat up people who were more enthusiastic than they were, because those people were taking advantage of the situation.
Very few urban dwellers got through this period unscathed. People died regularly. A lot of these kids — the Red Guard — beat people or even killed people. We’re reading the memoir of Ye Weili. Whenever we see or read about her, she talks about how girls at her high school murdered their headmaster. They forced the woman to do manual labor. The woman was old and arthritic and had heart problems; when she collapsed, they dumped her in a laundry basket and left her there overnight. We’ve read and heard interviews of people saying that they had beat people, and when the people they beat protested, they beat them even more harshly. We’ve seen videos and images of authority figures being forced to walked around with a sign hanging on their neck while stadiums of people shout abuse at them. We’ve seen Red Guard members burning and beating old symbols of art. “Cultural Revolution is not a dinner party,” Chairman Mao told them.
My professor, Prof Chang, asked us, “Who do you think did the most violence in the Cultural Revolution?”
I answered, more because it was obvious what he wanted us to say than anything. “The Red Guard.”
Prof Chang reviewed all the images we had seen in all the classes before, of the Red Guard beating and interrogating and parading their victims around. It was obvious that he was going to end this with a “But…”
And he did. The Red Guard committed a lot of violence (don’t misunderstand), but the People’s Liberation Army did worse, in shutting down the Cultural Revolution. The Chinese Government plays up the idea of the Red Guard committing all the violence. After all, the PLA was sent in by the government. The PLA is the current military of the People’s Republic of China.
“It’s like Kent State,” Prof Chang said. “The National Guard came in and shot people.”
Now I learned that what happened in Kent State was…an accident? Let’s call it that. The students were protesting, wildy enough that the National Guard was called in. The National Guard fired into the air to get the students to calm down. What goes up must come down, and four bullets land in the heads of student protesters.
Compare that to the systematic, intentional urban warfare of the Cultural Revolution. Not to mention the fact that we discuss the Kent State shootings. Both the Chinese and American governments talk about the Cultural Revolution as if the biggest atrocities were only committed by the Red Guard. Yet Kent State entered our national dialogue.