#history

The People of the Borderlands: A History of the People of the Anglo-Scottish Border Region and Beyond in Ulster and America

It has been estimated that some 27 million Americans are of Anglo-Scottish descent by way of Ireland’s Ulster Province, a people known as the Ulster-Scots in the United Kingdom, and the Scots-Irish, or Scotch-Irish, in the United States, making it one of the largest ethnic groups in the country.[i]

 In addition to the US, people of Ulster-Scots descent are to be found in all other parts of the Anglosphere, including Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, and of course Britain. Indeed, the people whence they directly emerged are still to be found in Northern Ireland and other parts of the United Kingdom, with as many as 47% of the people of Northern Ireland identifying as British as of 2018.[ii]

Their origins as a distinct group lie in the so-called Ulster Plantations, which were initiated in 1609 by King James I in the wake of the Nine Years War of 1593–1603, fought largely in the province of Ulster between the forces of Gaelic Irish chieftains led by Hugh O’Neill and their allies on one hand, and the Kingdoms of England and Ireland on the other, the latter’s decisive victory leading to the end of the Gaelic Clan system, and the colonization of Ulster by English and Scottish Protestants, known collectively as the ‘British’.[iii]

 Many of the original planters had been Borderers, which is to say, inhabitants of the Anglo-Scottish borderlands, and so, hailing from Northern English counties such as Cumberland, Westmoreland, Northumberland, Yorkshire and Lancashire, and counties of the Scottish Lowlands, such as Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire, Roxburghshire, Berwickshire and Wigtownshire.[iv]Lowlanders are historically distinct from their Highland counterparts, not least by dint of a significant Anglo-Saxon strain[v] arising from the settling of the ancient kingdom of Bernicia in southeastern Scotland, formerly part of the Kingdom of Northumbria, by Angles, the Germanic people hailing from what is now Angeln in Southern Schleswig.[vi]

 From ca. 430AD to 600AD, tribes of Saxons and Jutes had colonised the southernmost portions of Britain, while the Angles had done the same for the north, forever changing the demographic landscape of an island that had hitherto been peopled by the Christianised Romano-British Celts[vii], and various indigenous Celtic peoples who had avoided assimilation, Britain having been part of the Roman Empire for around four centuries.[viii] In addition to the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, who came ultimately to be known — collectively — as the Anglo-Saxons, Batavians, Frisians and Franks[ix] may have been among the pagan Germanic invaders of Romano-Celtic Brittania, and the same is true of Flemings and Swabians.[x]

 The Ulster-Scots had emigrated to the New World in modest quantities in the latter part of the 17th Century, with some 50,000 Ulster men and women having made the crossing in its final decade. However, from 1717 to the start of the American Revolutionary War, successive waves of immigration from Ireland helped to modify the demographics of what was still a predominantly English nation, with between 200,000 and 300,000 undertaking the crossing to British North America.[xi]

 Initially, they settled in the New England regions of Massachusetts, where their roughness of manner and appearance offended Puritan sensibilities, despite their shared Calvinism[xii], and adherence to the Protestant work ethic[xiii], and so they were driven out of Massachusetts, to become religious refugees in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island.[xiv]

 However, it was Pennsylvania, to which Scots-Irish immigration took place in three waves between 1717 and 1776, that proved to be their first major spiritual homeland[xv], even while, from the outset, tense relations existed between the Scots-Irish and the Quakers.[xvi] Pennsylvania had been granted by King Charles II on the 2cnd of March 1681 to William Penn, a former Cavalier who had joined the Religious Society of Friends at 22[xvii], as a means of settling a large debt owed by the king to his father Admiral William Penn, and named Pennsylvania in the latter’s honour. Penn the younger had gone on to sign a treaty with various Indian tribes in the region, thereby securing a long period of peace between Quakers and Native Americans. However, the Scots-Irish had a tendency to settle land without first paying for it[xviii], behaviour which stood in marked contrast to that of the Quakers, who took pains to pay the for any land they acquired from the Indians, while Penn himself had always treated them as friends and equals.[xix]

 Many Scots-Irish men and women would remain in Pennsylvania, while others, as restless as they had been in the old country[xx], drifted southwards, finding themselves at odds with what was largely English hegemony concentrated at the major economic centres along the coastal regions of not just Pennsylvania, but Virginia and the Carolinas.[xxi] While this fostered the kind of discontent that would ultimately transition into out and out revolutionary zeal, the roots of the latter were multi-faceted, having been significantly inspired by an essentially Anglo-Saxon philosophy of liberty.[xxii]

 The Commonwealth of Virginia had been settled during the English Civil War and its aftermath by Royalist Cavaliers, who had arrived in the New World between 1640 and 1669, mostly from London and southern England, before going on to constitute the ruling elite of Cavalier Planters in the southern colonies. Thence, they founded what would ultimately be known as the first families of Virginia, bearing such surnames as Ball, Broadhurst, Carter, Chicheley, Corbin, Culpeper, Custis, Digges, Fairfax, Hammond, Harrison, Honywood, Isham, Landon, Madison, Mason, Page, Randolph, Skipwith, and of course Washington, whose family seat was Sulgrave Manor, just north of Oxford.[xxiii]

 Yet, they constituted but a small portion of Virginian society in the late 17th Century, with the vast majority consisting of indigent settlers from England who served as indentured servants[xxiv], as in the case of many of those of Scots-Irish origin, and in time these two groups would intermarry to create a distinctive, largely rural, Southern people.[xxv]

 Specifically, the Virginian Scots-Irish favoured the rural western region comprising the Shenandoah Valley and Appalachian southwest Virginia. Others moved into the Carolinas, which was under the sway — like Virginia — of the Plantation system and the Church of England, and Maryland, which had been established for the English Catholic nobility. Moreover, in the 1780s and ’90s, they gravitated towards Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee[xxvi]; while ultimately Southern Ohio, Arkansas, Oklahoma and East Texas all became intensively Scots-Irish, as did those regions dominated by the Ozark Mountains.[xxvii]

 A theory has existed at least since the mid 19th century that Northerners and Southerners were descendants of the Anglo-Saxons and Normans respectively.[xxviii]. Yet, a census of surnames of the states of Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia taken in 1790 revealed that while 10.5% of the population was adjudged to have been Scots-Irish, 59.7% were of apparent English descent.[xxix]

 Only in Pennsylvania, which was 38% German, did the English not predominate, Germans having first arrived in America as early as 1681, when William Penn brought thirteen German and Dutch Mennonite families into Pennsylvania; while they would soon be joined by thousands of German Protestants from the Palatine region fleeing persecution, the majority of which were indentured servants known as ‘redemptionists’. In time, Southeastern Pennyslvania became heavily Germanic, with Lutherans, Calvinists, Dunkers, Amish and Mennonites from Germany and Switzerland forming a Germanic hearth in the region.[xxx]

 All throughout the 19th Century, white Southerners, many if not most of these being perforce of English and Scots-Irish ancestry, flowed westward, into Indiana and Illinois, as well as Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and California, where they joined the Gold Rush of 1848–1855.[xxxi]

In the Civil War, The Scots-Irish fought for the Union and the Confederacy alike. However, some 100,000 Southerners, Scots-Irish and otherwise, elected to fight for the Union as Southern Unionists, Union Loyalists, or Southern Yankees[xxxii]; while four so-called slave states, viz., Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri, never seceded from the Union, and Washington D.C., while historically part of the Upper South, remained the nation’s capital throughout the conflict.[xxxiii]

 Many Union Loyalists hailed from Southern regions inclining to be sympathetic to the Union cause, this being especially true of Virginia (out of which the separate state of West Virginia arose on the 20th of June 1863[xxxiv]), North Carolina and Tennessee. Despite being part of the greater Confederacy, East Tennessee, North Alabama, North Georgia, Western North Carolina and the Texas Hill Country remained pro-Union regions par excellence throughout the duration of the Civil War.[xxxv]

 Several of the conflict’s key figures were of partial Scots-Irish descent, including Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth, and for many the greatest, President in American history[xxxvi], among whose most momentous quotes were: ‘As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy’[xxxvii], who was of English ancestry, with an alleged Scots-Irish admixure[xxxviii], his opposite number, Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865, and the only man in American history to serve as such, who was of Welsh paternal and Scots-Irish maternal ancestry[xxxix], and Union Army leader, General Ulysses S. Grant, who was of Scots-Irish, Scottish, Irish, English, Welsh and distant French Huguenot and Belgian Walloon descent.[xl]

 Many, perhaps the majority, of the more mythical figures of the Old West era of ca. 1865–1895 were of British Isles, including Scots-Irish, descent[xli], such as Wild Bill Hickok, who was descended on the paternal side from Stratford-on-Avon native William Hickcox[xlii], William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, whose ancestral name had originally been Lacaudey[xliii], and Annie Oakley, who was from a Pennsylvania Quaker family of English ancestry.[xliv]

 Among the more notorious outlaws, Jesse James was of Welsh ancestry through his father[xlv], while his mother’s was a family of English origin traceable as far back as the late 10th Century[xlvi], John Wesley Hardin descended from a Frenchman named Pierre Hardewyn[xlvii], with English[xlviii] and Scots-Irish[xlix] part of his ethnic make-up, Billy the Kid was of Irish, or possibly Scots-Irish, ancestry[l], while Butch Cassidy, was ethnically English[li], despite a distinctly Irish pseudonym.

As to the lawmen, Wyatt Earp, of the famous Earp family, was of Scottish paternal and English maternal ancestry, Pat Garrett was descended from one John Garrett II of Leicestershire, England[lii], while Bat Masterson was an Irish Canadian from Henryville, Quebec.[liii]

 Of all the regions of the United States, few have been more closely tied with the Scots-Irish than Appalachia[liv], which in a cultural sense stretches all the way from New York’s Southern Tier to portions — in the Deep South — of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, and also comprising the distinctly Appalachian territories of Southeast Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, Southwest Virginia, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina.[lv]

 Yet, while Appalachia is undoubtedly the most Scots-Irish of regions, it is also intensively English, although historically, the Appalachian English were themselves allegedly a diverse group which included people of English, Welsh, Dutch and French origin[lvi]; while Germans were among the earliest settlers. Moreover, Appalachia has always been home to small amounts of Native Americans[lvii], African-Americans[lviii] and Melungeons, a Southern Appalachian people of uncertain ethnicity[lix], among other minorities.

 Appalachians are among the most mythologized of American peoples[lx], not least by virtue of the fundamentalist Christian fervour that has long been an Appalachian feature[lxi], and while Presbyterianism was the original faith of the Scots-Irish, the first Methodist church was established in Maryland as early as 1764 by Robert Strawbridge, an Irish Anglican born in County Leitrim of English ancestry,[lxii] and by 1850, it had become dominant all throughout the South, including Appalachia[lxiii], while the Holiness movement — a major early manifestation of Pentecostalism — emerged in the region in 1886 via the ministry of Methodist preacher Richard G. Spurling, who sought to return to Wesley’s idea of Biblical holiness.[lxiv]

In addition to their intense spirituality, the English and Scots-Irish of the rural South established a culture of honour attributable to their traditional way of life in such precarious regions as the Anglo-Scottish borderlands[lxv], and which self-evidently possessed the potential to erupt into out and out violence, including blood feuds, such as that most notoriously existent between 1863 and 1891 between the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Eastern Kentucky.[lxvi]

 During the 1890s, white Southern, and specifically Appalachian, culture represented an undiluted Anglo-Saxonism to certain Northerners at a time of national uncertainty, which helped to pave the way for a reconciliation between the North and the South in the wake of the Reconstruction era of 1863–1877.[lxvii] Yet, it is the Celtic element of the South that has latterly been emphasised by certain writers on Southern history,[lxviii] which could be said to have — to a certain extent — placed the Southerner, and this is especially true of the Scots-Irish, within the context of the traditionally romanticised, not to say oppressed, Celt[lxix]; and given the region’s roots in Northern England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, there is some substance to their argument. However, in the final analysis, whether predominantly Scots-Irish or English, Celtic or Anglo-Saxon, the American South is, as it has always been, supremely reflective of the history of the British Isles as a whole, of those two tiny islands off the coast of north western Europe, which despite their relative geographical insignificance, have been the site of so much turbulence, yet so much genius, and so much influence for good and ill.

___________________________________________________________________________________

[i]

M.M. Drymon, Scotch-Irish Foodways in America: Recipes From History(New York City: Wythe Avenue Press, 2009), p. 41.

[ii]

Vadakar says border poll would be defeated as new survey shows Irish unity would be close (Belfast: Belfast Telegraph Digital, 2018).

[iii]

David Scott, Politics and War in the Three Stuart Kingdoms, 1637–49(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), p. 8.

[iv]

Carlton Jackson, A Social History of the Scotch-Irish (Lanham, New York and London: Madison Books, 1993), p. 2.

[v]

 Sean Byrne, Growing Up in a Divided Society: The Influence of Conflict on Belfast Schoolchildren (Madison and Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1997), p. 24.

[vi]

 Barry Vann, Rediscovering the South’s Celtic Heritage (Johnson City: The Overmountain Press, 2004), p. 66.

[vii]

 Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage, British Fortifications Through the Reign of Richard III: An Illustrated History (Jefferson and London: McFarland 7 Company, 2012), p. 99.

[viii]

 Peter Hunter Blair, An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 1.

[ix]

 Martin Wall, 10 things you (probably) didn’t know about the Anglo-Saxons(History Extra, 2018)

[x]

 Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage, British Fortifications Through the Reign of Richard III: An Illustrated History (Jefferson and London: McFarland & Company, 2012), p. 99.

[xi]

 James A. Leyburn, The Scotch-Irish: A Social History (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1962), p. 180.

[xii]

 Jackson, p. 58.

[xiii]

 Jackson, p. 72.

[xiv]

 Jackson, p. 60.

[xv]

 Phillip S. Klein and Ari Hoogenboom, A History of Pennsylvania(University Park and London: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1980), p. 44.

[xvi]

 Jackson, p. 63.

[xvii]

 David Andrew Schultz, Encyclopedia of the United States Constitution: Vol. 1 A-L (New York: Facts on File, 2009), p. 545.

[xviii]

 Mary Beth Norton, Carol Sheriff, David M. Katzman, David W. Blight and Howard Chudacoff, A People & A Nation: A History of the United States: Volume One: To 1877 (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008), p. 97.

[xix]

 Jackson, p. 63.

[xx]

 S. Scott Rohrer, Wandering Souls: Protestant Migrations in America, 1630–1865 (The University of North Carolina Press, 2010), p. 76.

[xxi]

 Edward C. Adams, Prelude to Revolution: Scots-Irish Vigilantes in the Colonial Backcountry (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University, 2003), p. 5.

[xxii]

 Adams, p. ii.

[xxiii]

 David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed; Four British Folkways in America(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), pps 213–214.

[xxiv]

 Fischer, p. 227.

[xxv]

 Fred DeArmond, Scotch-Irish Heritage (Forsyth: White River Valley Historical Society, 1971), p. 13.

[xxvi]

 Jackson, p. 91.

[xxvii]

 DeArmond, p. 10.

[xxviii]

 Christopher Hanlon, Puritans vs. Cavaliers (New York: New York Times, 2013).

[xxix]

 John B. Rehder, Appalachian Folkways (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2004), p. 57.

[xxx]

 Rehder, p. 56.

[xxxi]

 James A. Gregory, The Southern Diaspora: How The Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1986), p. 12.

[xxxii]

 Rogan Kersh, Dreams of a More Perfect Union (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004), p. 194.

[xxxiii]

 Tim McNeese, America’s Civil War (St Louis: Milliken Publishing Company, 2003), p. 34.

[xxxiv]

 Soldier and Scholar: Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve and the Civil War, ed. by Ward W. Briggs Jr. (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1998), p. 149.

[xxxv]

 William C. Davis, Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America (New York, London, Toronto, Sydney and Singapore: The Free Press, 2002), p. 260.

[xxxvi]

 Abraham Lincoln Esq.: The Legal Career of America’s Greatest President, ed. by Roger Billings and Frank J. Williams (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2010), p. 6.

[xxxvii]

 Lincoln on Democracy: His own words, with essays by America’s Foremost Civil War historians, ed. by Mario M. Cuomo & Harold Holzer (New York: Fordham University Press, 2004), p. 121.

[xxxviii]

 Joeytwo2, Abraham Lincoln (Ethnicity of Celebs | What Nationality Ancestry Race, 2012).

[xxxix]

 James Ronald Kennedy and Walter Donald Kennedy, Was Jefferson Davis Right? (Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company, 1998), p. 14.

[xl]

 Tttyyy, Ulysses S. Grant (Ethnicity of Celebs | What Nationality Ancestry Race, 2012).

[xli]

 Joseph R. Conlin, The American Past, a Survey of American History: Volume I: To 1877, ed. by (Boston: Cengage Learning, 2009), p. 100

[xlii]

 William Hickcox (Los Angeles: Geni, 2018).

[xliii]

 Linda Wellman, Guillaume Lacaudey (Los Angeles: Geni, 2014).

[xliv]

 James A. Willis, Central Ohio Legends and Lore (Mount Pleasant: Arcadia Publishing, 2017), p. 52.

[xlv]

 John “The Immigrant” James (Los Angeles: Geni, 2018).

[xlvi]

 Nancy Jo Leecraft, General Justice Cole (Los Angeles: Geni, 2018)

[xlvii]

 Anthony Lavorn King, Pierre Hardewyn (Los Angeles: Geni, 2017)

[xlviii]

 Carole (Erickson) Pomeroy, Henry Corbet (Los Angeles: Geni, 2016).

[xlix]

 William Dixon (Los Angeles: Geni, 2018).

[l]

 Frederick Nolan, The West of Billy the Kid (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998), p. 3.

[li]

 W.C. Jameson, Butch Cassidy: Beyond the Grave (Lanham, New York, Boulder, Toronto, Plymouth, UK: Taylor Trade Publications, 2012), p. 7.

[lii]

 Melton Bennett, John Garret, of New Kent (Los Angeles: Geni, 2018)

[liii]

 Shirley Ayn Linder, Doc Holliday in Film and Literature (Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2014), p. 7.

[liv]

 Deborah Vansau McCauley, Appalachian Mountain Religion: A History(Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995), p. 171.

[lv]

 Appalachia Revisited: New Perspectives on Place, Tradition and Progress, ed. by William Schumann and Rebecca Adkins Fletcher (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky), p. 4.

[lvi]

 McCauley, p. 171.

[lvii]

 Rehder, p. 62.

[lviii]

 Rehder, p. 63.

[lix]

 Melissa Schrift, Becoming Melungeon: Making an Ethnic Identity in the Appalachian South (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2013), p. 122

[lx]

 Ellen Churchill Semple, The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mountains (San Francisco: Internet Archive: 1910), pps. 29–30.

[lxi]

 Semple, pps. 23–24.

[lxii]

 Cynthia Lynn Lyerly, Methodism and the Southern Mind, 1770–1819(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 11.

[lxiii]

 McCauley, p. 238.

[lxiv]

 The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 1: Religion, ed. by Samuel S. Hill (Charlotte: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), p. 23.

[lxv]

 Nicholas Obuf and Peter Onuf, Nations, Markets and Wars: Modern History and the American Civil War (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press), p. 105.

[lxvi]

 Altina L. Waller, Feud: Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860–1900 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1988), p. 21.

[lxvii]

 Nina Silber, The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865–1900 (Charlotte: University of North Carolina Press, 1997), p. 144.

[lxviii]

 Vann, p. 29.

[lxix]

 Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1998), p. 17.

 

Afterword: I have attempted in the above essay to write in a spirit, reflected by my intensive deployment of references, of absolute truth and accuracy, and I sincerely hope I have succeeded.

 

 

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Alfred de Musset and the Prophetic Significance of 1830s Paris

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Alfred Louis Charles de Musset-Pathay came into the world in Paris on the 11th of December 1810, as an unusually sensitive infant of noble lineage, who would be much in demand by portrait painters within a few years of his birth by virtue of his extraordinary beauty. Both the son and grandson of writers, his father, Victor-Donatien Musset-Pathay, had published several literary works between 1798 and 1829, including a biography of Rousseau, Histoire de la vie et des ouvrages de J.-J. Rousseau (History of the Life and Works of J.J. Rousseau); while his maternal grandfather Claude-Antoine Guyot-Desherbiers was most famously the author of the satire, Les Chancelières, targeted at one-time Chancellor of France, René-Nicolas de Maupeou, as well as several other minor pieces, including a collection of poems, Les Heurs et les Chats. Neither attained a tithe of the glory that would ultimately befall their illustrious descendant, who published his first poem, À Mademoiselle Zoé le Douairin, aged just 16 in 1826; while he ascended to true fame with the publication of Contes d’Espagne et d’Italie (Tales of Spain and Italy) in 1830. As an eighteen year old, he was, according to a description tendered in 1871 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ‘laughing and mocking, coldly ironical, a charming story-teller, a pitiless jester, at open war with prosody as well as with morality, a kind of sceptical and licentious nightingale.’1

 He entered the seismic 1830s blessed with every great gift a gilded young genius might hope to possess, and was idolised by the jeunesse dorée of the day, as Francine du Plessix Gray confirms:

 ‘In the 1830s, Parisian youth so worshipped his image as a profligate Romantic rascal – he was a drunk, a whorer, and generally outrageous – that they fought in the streets over his discarded cigarette butts.’2

 And his was the era in which the Romantic movement burgeoned in France for the first time in the wake of the July Revolution, in consequence of which Louis Philippe, known as the bourgeois monarch because the bulk of his support came from the upper middle class, supplanted his cousin Charles X as king of France; while his reign, which had initially been welcomed, was ultimately productive of widespread discontent, as Sylvia Kahan writes:

 ‘[…] the “Citizen King” became progressively more conservative and monarchical, limiting freedom of association and expression. In 1834, new reductions in factory wages resulted in widespread uprisings. The government’s reaction to the uprisings was increased military repression of civil disorder […]’3

 At the same time, as Kahan goes on to assert, ‘The political upheaval of the mid-1830s coincided with the flowering of Romanticism, a word first used during the Napoleonic era.’4

 Yet by the time Musset came to publish his only novel in 1836, namely, the celebrated autobiographical La Confession d’un enfant du siècle (The Confession of a Child of the Century), which was as much about his turbulent love affair with fellow romantic George Sand as the disenchantment of the generation that had come to maturity in the wake of the Revolutionary Age, he had become afflicted by a kind of generational depression which has come to be known as mal du siècle; as Tim Farrant puts it:

 ‘Nowhere is this disenchantment, or mal du siècle, more poignantly expressed than in the second chapter of Musset’s La Confession d’un enfant du siècle (1836):

 

Alors s’assit sur un monde en ruines une jeunesse soucieuse. Tous ces enfants étaient des gouttes d’un sang brûlant qui avait inondé la terre ; ils étaient nés au sein de la guerre. (…) Ils n’étaient pas sortis de leurs villes, mais on leur avait dit que, par chaque barrière de ces villes, on allait a une capitale d’Europe. Ils avaient dans la tête tout un monde; ils regardaient la terre, le ciel, les rues et les chemins; tout cela était vide, et les cloches de leurs paroisses résonnaient dans le lointain.

 

(Then troubled youth sat down on a world in ruins. All these children were drops of a burning blood that had flooded the earth; they had been born in the bosom of war, for war. […] They had not left their towns, but they had been told that, by each gate of those towns, you went to one of Europe’s capitals. They had a whole world in their heads; they cast their gaze at the earth, the sky, the roads and the paths; all that they saw was empty, and the bells of their parishes rang out in the distance.)’5

 

While the central female figure, Brigitte, was based on Sand, the character of Octave was forged from Musset himself, while being representative of an entire generation, as Karen L. Taylor writes:

 ‘Octave […] represents both Musset himself and his entire generation of young men [for whom] Despair over lost innocence and moral idealism lead to debauchery, the only apparent alternative to boredom and frustration.’6

 This epochal melancholia arose from a variety of causes, not least the fact that his generation came into being in the wake of the Revolution, and Napoleon’s recent ignominious defeat, exile and premature death, as Musset himself describes it:

 ‘[…] Napoléon avait tout ébranlé en passant sur le monde […] Ainsi tout avait tremblé dans cette forêt lugubre de la vieille Europe; puis le silence avait succédé.’7

 

([…] Napoleon had shaken everything as he passed over the world […] Thus everything had trembled in that dismal forest of old Europe ; then silence had succeeded.’8)

 

In addition to disenchantment centring on Napoleon, Musset’s generation had been profoundly impacted by two figures central to the Romantic revolution in the shape of Goethe and Byron, the creators, respectively, of Werther, the suicidal anti-hero of Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of the Young Werther), published in 1774 at the height of the Sturm und Drang period in German literature, and the Byronic Hero, a fatalistic figure considerably indebted to Werther, as Arnold Hauser confirms:

 ‘The Byronic Weltschmerz has its source in Chateaubriand and the French émigré literature, the Byronic hero in Saint-Preux and Werther.’9

 Of the impact of the Byronic Hero on post-revolutionary France, Sarah Wootton writes:

‘The Byronic Hero’s suffering, isolation and defiance of authority and conventional morality captured the deflated spirit of a generation that had witnessed the horrors of the French Revolution.’10

 Musset links the two, with allusions to both Werther and Faust, as well as Byron’s Manfred in the following passage:

 

‘Or, vers ce temps la, deux poètes, les deux plus beaux génies du siecle après Napoléon, venaient de consacrer leurs vies a rassembler tous les éléments d’angoisse et de douleur épars dans l’univers. Gœthe, le patriarche d’une littérature nouvelle, après avoir peint dans Werther la passion qui mène au suicide, avait tracé dans son Faust le plus sombre figure humaine qui eût jamais représenté le mal et le malheur. Ses écrits commencèrent alors a passer d’Allemagne en France. […] Byron lui répondit, par un cri de douleur qui fit tressaillir le Grèce, et suspendit Manfred sur les abîmes, comme si le néant eût été le mot de l’énigme hideuse dont il s’enveloppait.’11

 

(‘Now about that time two poets, the two finest geniuses of the age following that of Napoléon, had just devoted their lives to colleting all the elements of anguish and sorrow scattered through the universe. Goethe, the patriarch of a new literature, after having depicted in Werther the passion that leads to suicide, had traced in his Faust the darkest human figure that ever represented evil and misfortune […] Byron answered him with an exclamation of sorrow that made Greece bound, and suspended Manfred over the abyss, as if nothingness had been the solution to the riddle that enveloped him.’12)

 

Thence, according to Musset’s Octave, Byron responded to a nascent strain of decadence within the ‘littérature nouvelle’ of which Goethe was the patriarch, with his own contributions, such as the aforesaid Manfred from the ‘metaphysical drama’ of the same name, composed between 1816 and 1817, who is quintessentially Byronic by virtue of what F.W. Stokoe refers to as ‘the consciousness of superior faculties, and by the remorseful memory of a past mysterious crime’13. Moreover, he has been likened to Goethe’s Faust, not least by virtue of his Faustian craving for knowledge, specifically of the esoteric variety, as confirmed by Frank Erik Pointner and Achim Geisenhanslüke:

 ‘What Manfred and Faust have in common is the indefatigable striving for knowledge of the world-secret, which they both know is impossible to attain.’14

Musset’s mal du siècle can be traced as least as far back as 1833, the year he composed the long poem Rolla, centring on protagonist Jacques Rolla, whose combination of libertinage and melancholia anticipated that of Octave; while the narrator voiced the loss of Christian faith that afflicted Musset’s tragic generation, as Linda Kelly writes:

 ‘1833, the year of his meeting with George Sand, was a period of intense creation in Musset’s life […] In August, his “Rolla” appeared, a poem memorable for its analysis of the religious drama of his generation […]’:

 

Je ne crois pas, ô Christ ! à ta parole sainte :

Je suis venu trop tard dans un monde trop vieux […]’15

 

(‘I am not one, O Christ, who dwells within your fold,

Too late have I set foot within a world too old […]’16)

 

Yet, while it would be inadvisable to view the narrator of Rolla as Musset himself, his brother Paul provides a portrait of the youthful Alfred as a king of epochal seer - as well as a quintessential poète maudit - which reinforces the cogent theory of the autobiographical nature of both the eponymous Rolla and the poem’s narrator:

 ‘Not only did Alfred de Musset receive the gift of keen feeling and forceful expression, but the sentiments and thoughts to which he gave so fair a form were those of a whole generation […] Sensitive souls are sent into the world to be crowded and crushed […] So that those who afford us our highest intellectual pleasures and our sweetest consolations appear doomed to weariness and melancholy […]’17

 While Musset’s Octave laments the darkness he sees as having been ushered into the collective psyche of his generation by works by Goethe and Byron, the narrator of Rolla reaches further back into Western literary history for the root cause of generational malaise to the personage of Voltaire, described by Karen O’Brien as ‘the personification of the Enlightenment’18:

 

‘Dors-tu content, Voltaire, et ton hideux sourire,

Voltige-t-il encore sur tes os décharnés ?

Ton siècle était, dit-on, trop jeune pour te lire ;

Le nôtre doit te plaire, et tes hommes sont nés.

Il est tombé sur nous cet édifice immense

Que de tes larges mains tu sapais nuit et jour […]’19

 

(‘Sleep you content, Voltaire, and does your hideous smile,

Flit o’er your fleshless skull in mockery the while?

Your century was too young to read you so they say;

Our own must please you well – your men are born today!

The mighty edifice with your industrious hands

Worked with such zeal to undermine, no longer stands […]’20)

 

What the narrator is asserting is that the influence of Voltaire as what has called, while exerting minimal influence on the eighteenth century itself, impacted the nineteenth, and specifically Musset’s own generation, with a leviathan-life force which he views as wholly destructive, this being especially true with regard to religious faith in France. Yet, what Paul Lawrence Rose describes as ‘Voltaire’s anti-Christian sentiments’21 were to a degree reflective of the French Enlightenment as a whole; as Terence Nichols writes:

 ‘The French Enlightenment, led by men like Voltaire, Rousseau and Diderot, was […] much more anti-Christian and anti-clerical than the English, American or German Enlightenments.’22

 Accordingly, Musset’s mal du siecle, expressed firstly through Rolla, and subsequently through La Confession d’un enfant du siecle, was significantly rooted in a conviction that his generation had been blighted by, one the one hand, the impact of the Enlightenment, and specifically Voltaire, on the Christian faith, and on the other, a distinctly morbid strain within Romanticism epitomised in its earliest stages by such fictional characters as Werther, Faust, and Manfred.

 Musset’s anguished critique of the Paris of the 1830s, expressed in Rolla, and to an even greater degree in La Confession d’un enfant du siècle, is remarkably applicable to our own post-war Western culture, and while Musset was in nowise immune to the temptations tendered by societal dissolution, he was yet something of Jeremiah for his times. It was, one might say, as if he foresaw the Parisian fin de siècle of which the 1830s was a foretaste (Maria Filomena Mónica has described him as ‘The precursor of fin de siècle pessimism’23); in fact not just the fin de siècle, but the far greater decadence that, according to the conservative worldview, afflicted the entire Western World during the second half of the twentieth century, with the 1960s very much the starting point. With respect to Britain, although they could equally have been writing about the United States, among other Western nations, Anthony Adams and Witold Tulasiewicz asserted in 1995:

 ‘[…] the conservative Right identified the ‘1960s’ as the period of moral decline when pride in the nation diminished and the moral decadence of relativism in values began.’24

 A similar declension in terms of the absolute nature of traditional values was at the heart of the misery that afflicted several of the anti-heroes Musset forged during the turbulent years of 1833-36, which were of course coincidental with his love affair with George Sand, one of, if not the, defining event in his life.

 By the time of Sand’s relationship with Musset, she was already a divorcee with two young children, as well as being a Baroness through her marriage to Casimir Dudevent. Born Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin in Paris in 1804, of aristocratic lineage through her father, she was clearly a woman of quite extraordinary magnetic power, inspiring much of Musset’s finest work (while in addition to Musset, as well as Jules Sandeau, Prosper Merimee and others, she was also, famously, Chopin’s lover from 1838 until some ten years thereafter). For in addition to La Confession d’un enfant du siècle, the famous series of poems known as Les Nuits spring from his unhappy relationship with Sand, and they are rightly considered to be among the unimpeachable masterpieces of French Romanticism, indeed of French literature as a whole, as Germaine Mason writes of them:

 ‘His liaison with George Sand (1833-35) gave him the great love he had dreamed of, but their separation, in Venice, nearly brought him to despair. The repercussions of this sentimental crisis inspired his deepest and most moving verse, the four poems of Les Nuits (1835-37): Nuit de mai; Nuit de décembre; Nuit d’août; Nuit d’octobre. No other Romantic poetry has such an intense and poignant beauty, none sounds so deeply sincere. It is indeed the purest poetry of the heart.’25

 Musset’s dramatic career began as early as 1830 with La Nuit venitienne, whose failure caused him to temporarily forego writing for the physical stage, even while he continued to compose theatrical works, such as Lorenzaccio from 1833, and On ne badine pas avec l’amour from the following year. However, it would not be until 1847 that Musset achieved success as a dramatist, when Un caprice, produced at the Comédie-Française by the actress Madame Allan-Despréaux, provoked a revival of interest in his plays; as Felicia Hardison-Londré writes of this felicitous occurrence:

 ‘[…] Madame Allan-Despréaux performing in St. Petersburg, saw Musset’s Un Caprice (1837) presented there in Russian. Charmed by the delightful and psychologically penetrating three-character play, she took it to the Comédie-Francaise, performed it there with great success, and became Musset’s mistress.’26

 From towards the end of the 1830s, Musset wrote increasingly little, as Karen L. Taylor confirms:

 ‘After 1838, Musset seemed to lose inspiration. He […] was elected to the Académie Française in 1853, the same year that he was appointed librarian to the Ministry of Education, but he no longer wrote […]  Musset’s most creative period was during his youth and ended by 30.’27

 In the respect that Musset’s period of greatest glory took place during the frenetic 1830s, he was akin to other artistic legends who have ascended to pre-eminence during decades of unusual incandescence and significance, only to become indelibly associated with the epoch that made their name, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, who effectively defined the Jazz Age, and The Beatles, who will forever be associated with the Swinging Sixties, even while they were unable to survive it as a functioning entity. Yet, like his close contemporary Théophile Gautier, Musset attained respectability in late middle age, receiving the Légion d’honneur in 1845, at the same time as another contemporary, Balzac, while being elected to the Académie française in 1852.

 He died four years later at the early age of 46 from a case, allegedly syphilitic in origin, 28 of aortic regurgitation, thereby lending his name to one of the latter’s symptoms, which subsequently became known as ‘De Musset’s sign’. Delicate as a child, he’d attained a powerful degree of physical soundness by his twenties; however, his health started to decline from 1840, which marked both the year marking the end of the revolutionary 1830s, and Musset’s own thirtieth birthday on December the 11th. Thence, while his life was in many ways a tragic one of what some might describe as unfulfilled promise, his reputation has ascended by degrees since his death, as Susan McCready has asserted:

 ‘Musset’s road to redemption had begun in 1847, when his Caprice, a play written in 1837, was performed at the Comedie-Francaise for the first time […] By the time Emile Fabre took the helm of the Comédie-Française in 1915, a shift in the way Musset was appreciated both as a poet and playwright was underway […] From the beginning of his tenure, Emile Fabre wished to pay homage to Musset by adding his name to the list of playwrights whose birthdays were traditionally celebrated at the Comédie. Musset was thus promoted to the select group of Moliere, Corneille, Racine and Hugo.  The canon was indeed under review.’29

 Moreover, both La Confession d’un enfant du siècle, and the actual events at its heart, continue to inspire creative artists, having recently birthed no less than two moving pictures in the shape of Diane Kurys’ Les Enfants du Siècle from 1999, loosely based on the real life romance between Musset and Sand, and more recently, a faithful adaptation of the novel itself by Sylvie Verheyde, featuring singer-songwriter Pete Doherty as Octave, and Charlotte Gainsbourg as Brigitte. And if anyone can rightly be called a poète maudit in the classic tradition, but within a millennial context, it is dandy-bohemian Doherty; while Charlotte Gainsbourg is the deeply gifted daughter of chanson genius Serge, himself a latter-day poète maudit of the old school.

As to the age of his passing…it appears to be quite a common one for great poets whose flaming, beautiful youths were garlanded with the most magnificent promise imaginable, for as well as Musset, Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde both died at 46, and together they might serve as a testimony to the awful truth of the brevity of even the most glorious of youths.

________________________________________________________________________________________

The Poets and Poetry of Europe, intr. and biographical notices by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1871), p. 850.

2 Francine du Plessix Gray, Rage and Fire: A Life of Louise Colet: Pioneer Feminist, Literary Star, Flaubert’s Muse (New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore: Simon and Schuster, 1994) p. 223.

3 Sylvia Kahan, In Search of New Scales: Prince Edmond de Polignac, Octatonic Explorer (Rochester: university of Rochester Press, 2009), p. 12.

4 Kahan, p. 12.

5 Tim Farrant, Introduction to Nineteenth-Century French Literature (London, Delhi, New York and Sydney: Bloomsbury Academic, 2007), p. 17.

6 Karen L. Taylor, The Facts on File Companion to the French Novel (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2007), p. 276.

7 Alfred de Musset, La Confession d’un enfant du siècle (Paris: Larousse, 1900) p. 9.

8 Alfred de Musset, The Confession of a Child of the Century, transl. by T.F. Rogerson (Philadelphia: George Barrie and Sons, 1899), p 15.

9 Arnold Hauser, intr. by Jonathan Harris, The Social History of Art: Volume III: Rococo, Classicism and Romanticism (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), p. 199.

10 Men and Masculinities: A Social, Cultural and Historical Encyclopaedia, Volume 1: A-J, ed. by Michael Kimmel and Amy Aronson (Santa Barbara, Denver and Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 2004) p. 122.

11 Musset, p. 12.

12 Musset, p. 20.

13 F. W. Stokoe, German Influence in the English Romantic Period: 1788-1818 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926), p. 165.

14 The Reception of Byron in Europe, Volume I, II, ed. by Richard A. Cardwell (London and New York: Continuum, 2004) p. 245.

15 Linda Kelly, The Young Romantics: Writers & Liaisons, Paris 1827-37 (London: Starhaven, 2005), p. 105.

16Alfred de Musset, The Complete Writings of Alfred de Musset: Volume Two, trans. by George Santayana, Emily Shaw Forman and Marie Agathe Clarke (New York: James L. Perkins and Company, 1908), p. 3.

17 Paul de Musset, The Biography of Alfred de Musset, trans. by Harriet W. Preston (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1877), p. 2.

18 Karen O’Brien, Narratives of Enlightenment: Cosmopolitan History from Voltaire to Gibbon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 21.

19 Alfred de Musset, Poésies nouvelles (Paris: Charpentier, 1857), p. 15.

20 Musset, The Complete Writings of Alfred de Musset: Volume Two, p. 21.

21 Paul Lawrence Rose, German Question/Jewish Question: Revolutionary Antisemitism in Germany from Kant to Wagner (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), p. 47.

22 The Christian Theological Tradition, ed. by Catherine A. Cory and Michael J. Hollerich (London and New York: Routledge, 2016), p. 384.

23 Maria Filomena Mónica, Eça de Queiroz, trans. by Alison Aiken (Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2005), p. 311.

24 Anthony Adams and Witold Tulasiewicz, The Crisis in Teacher Education: A European Concern? (London and Washington D.C.: The Falmer Press, 1995), p. 20.

25 Germaine Mason, A Concise Survey of French Literature (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), p. 176.

26 Felicia Hardison-Londré, The History of World-Theatre: From the English Restoration to the Present (New York: Continuum, 1999), p. 241.

27 Taylor, p. 276.

28 JV Pai-Dhunghat and Falguni Raik,  Alfred de Musset’s Sign (Mumbai: Journal of the Association of Physicians of India: Vol. 63, 2015).

29 Susan McCready, Staging France Between the World Wars: Performance, Politics and the Transformation of the Theatrical Canon (Lanham, Boulder, New York, London,: Lexington Books, 2016) p. 103.

 

 

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Born in a Cabin in Cuyahoga County: The Tragic Curtailed Presidency of James A. Garfield

Cursive signature in inkFormal seated portrait in oils

That James Abram Garfield is one of America’s least remembered Presidents(1) is something to lament in the light of the fact that the 20th man to hold office as such was manifestly a man of genuine decency, a true Christian gentleman. Yet, as the great American novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote of him in his short story The Four Lost Men:

 ‘For who was Garfield, martyred man, and who had seen him in the streets of life?’(2)

 This ‘martyred man’ was born in a log cabin in Cuyahoga County, Ohio(3) on the 19th of November 1831 into a family affiliated to the Disciples of Christ denomination, also known as the Christian Church(4). Largely of English ethnicity, he was a descendant of Mayflower passenger and convicted murderer John Billington(5), while French Huguenot ancestry arose through his mother Eliza Ballou. His father, Abram Garfield, died when he was less than two years old and he was subsequently raised by his mother(6), notwithstanding a brief second marriage.

 Aged 16, he worked for six weeks as a canal driver near the big city of Cleveland, before malaria forced him home.(7)

  In March 1849, he joined the Geauga Academy in Chester, Ohio, founded by Free Will Baptists in 1842, where he discovered a taste for academia, which led to his being offered a teaching post in 1849, which he accepted, although his teaching career was not without its problems.(8)

 A year later, aged 18, he was baptised and would remain a member of the Disciples of Christ denomination for the remainder of his life, as he wrote in his diary:

 ‘”Today, I was buried with Christ in baptism, and arose to walk in newness of life’”.(9)

 From 1851 to 1854, he was a student at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, now known as Hiram College, founded by the Disciples of Christ in Hiram, Ohio, where he developed a special interest in Greek and Latin, and ended up teaching there, while serving as a preacher in local churches, then at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, from which he graduated in 1856. However, he decided against preaching as a vocation(10), returning instead to the Eclectic Institute, where he taught Classical languages, and where, while still only in his mid-twenties, he was elected principal in 1857 (a position he held until 1860 or 1861 according to the account).(11)

 A year later, on the 11th of November 1858, he married one of his more gifted Greek pupils, Lucretia Rudolph, who, of German, Welsh, English and Irish ethnicity, was a Mayflower descendent such as himself, whose ancestors James and Mary Chilton had been among the original pilgrims(12). She went on to bear him seven children.

 In 1859, he entered politics for the first time, becoming elected an Ohio state senator in 1859, serving as such for two years, while in 1860, he began to study Law, being admitted to the Ohio bar in that year(13).

 When the Civil War began on April the 3rd 1861, he joined the Union Army, and the following August (the 18th), while still under 30 years old, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 42cnd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, rising to the rank of brigadier general of the Twentieth Brigade in the Army of Ohio on the 10th of January 1862. Also in 1862, he was elected by the Republicans to the United States House of Representatives; and by the time he resigned his commission in December 1863 to take his seat in congress, he had been promoted to major general of volunteers(14). He was elected the 20th president of the United States in March 1881, an office he held for four months.

 On the 2cnd of July 1881, President Garfield was shot by a one-time author influenced by the religious writings of John Humphrey Noyes, founder of the Oneida Community of New York with which he had been unhappily associated as a young man(15), and very briefly, lawyer, by the name of Charles Julius Guiteau. Like Garfield, Guiteau was a Midwesterner, born in Freeport, Illinois on the 8th of September 1881, of partial French ancestry, who had latterly written a pamphlet in support of the soon to be president, before becoming a desperate - and consistently rejected - seeker of political office.(16)

 Garfield survived the attempt on his life, and was bedridden for several weeks in the White House, before being moved to the Atlantic Coast of New Jersey in September in the hope that the fresh air might provoke a recovery, but this was not to be and he died on the 19th of that month from a massive heart attack exacerbated by a variety of factors including severe infection of the wound, which served to fatally compromise his immune system.(17)

 Before being so violently cut down, Garfield had led a brilliant and heroic life, having transcended the utmost indigence to ascend to the highest political office in America, becoming the only serving church minister to do so(18), and it was his faith that had inspired his affiliation with the Union cause, as Fred Rosen has written of him in this respect:

 ‘For him, fighting for the Union was a spiritual calling. It was quite simple; slavery was against the laws of God and Man and should be abolished.’(19)

 Had he lived, it is possible that he would be spoken of in the 21st Century in the same breath as Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, as one of the greatest and most fabled of all American Presidents, rather than being spoken of - if he is spoken of at all - as a mere ‘martyred man’ of American history. Yet, despite his obscurity, he could be said to be the very quintessence of all that is noblest in the American dream.

_______________________________________________________________________________

(1) Ira Rutkow, James A. Garfield: The American Presidents Series: The 20th President, 1881 (New York: Henry Holt, 2006), p. 3.

(2) Thomas Wolfe, The Four Lost Men: The Previously Unpublished Long Version, edit. by Arlyn and Matthew J. Brucolli (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2008), p. 78.

(3) Ruth Tenzer Feldman, James Garfield (Twenty-First Century Books, 2005), p. 10.

(4) The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, edit. by Douglas A. Foster (Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing, 2004), p. 95.

(5) Michael Newton, Crime and Criminals (Infobase Publishing, 2010), p. 24.

(6) Feldman, p. 11.

(7) Feldman, p. 17.

(8) Allan Peskin, Garfield, a Biography (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1978), p. 16.

(9) Feldman, p. 28

(10) William C. Ringeberg, The Religious Thought and Practice of James A. Garfield: The Stone-Campbell Movement: An International Religious Tradition, edit. by Michael W. Casey and Douglas Allen Foster (Knoxville: University of Tennessee press, 2002), p. 219.

(11) Michale Duvalle, Complete Book of Historic Presidential Firsts: With Fascinating Details & Factual Tidbits (Bloomington, Indiana; XLibris Corporation, 2009), p. 125.

(12) Chronology of the U.S. Presidency: Volume One: George Washington through James Knox Polk, edit. by Matthew Manweller (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2012), p. 629.

(13) Duvalle, p. 125.

(14) American Civil War: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection, edit. by Spencer C. Tucker (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2013) p. 744.

(15) Charles E. Rosenberg, The Trial of the Assassin Guiteau: Psychiatry and the Law in the Gilded Age (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), p. 19.

(16) Jonathan Goodman, Bloody Versicles: The Rhymes of Crime (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1993), p. 36.

(17) David J. Phillips, On This Day (Bloomington, Indiana: iUniverse, 2007), p. 159.

(18) Duvalle, p. 125

(19) Fred Rosen, Murdering the President: Alexander Graham Bell and the Race to Save James Garfield (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016), p. 34.

 

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History Class

I was not alive in 1836.

It was much too long ago.

But my teacher taught us in History class

to, ‘Remember The Alamo’

 

I was not alive in 1898

when Cuba revolted against Spain.

But my teacher taught us in History class

how we must, ‘Remember The Maine’.

 

I was not alive in 1941

when the Hawaiian skies turned to grey.

But my teacher taught us in History class

to, ‘Remember Pearl Harbor Day’.

 

I wasn’t alive when the Nazis were in power

and all those lives were lost.

But my teacher taught us in History class

how we must, ‘Remember The Holocaust’.

 

I wasn’t alive when George Santayana

talked of History...and how we mistreat it...

He said if we cannot learn History...

we will all be doomed to repeat it.

 

But I am alive now...and I will do all in my power

to make hate, war, and bigotry cease..

So when my children’s children...and their children take History class...

 

they’ll be taught to ‘Remember a world...at Peace’.


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Globes

Oh atom bomb kiss them sweet,

yellow paper skin, but we all come from

the same beast, or Eve got a sunburn of the womb, depending on your thinking.

 

Over time we see ourselves as high art

because we pine for Eleanor Rigby and her lonely people. Looking back to where they come from is

only half the key, more comes from what gets bottled in times loose capsules

.

Little battleship, your sad crusaders trapped, corked in dead space while Napoleon's manhood lies in a glass case,

under an admission fee. A punch line made of a tyrant; would Josephine love him now?

History knows us well, playing on infinite repeat while we’re nostalgic for trash and hungry for the moments we steal from the back pockets of winter tableaus.

Skate away on me, the river, sitting with one eye closed, fearing what’s behind

These daily triumphs.

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The History Behind The Fake Smile

This smile is what hides behind all the lies,
A mask to keep away from what actually dies.
This smile is known as a façade,
Whom they just assume is up for takes.

 


 

Let's start at the beginning to learn how it became empty.
Like every once upon a time, life seemed plenty,
A boy waltzed right into a girl's life
And while he was there she never strayed to knife.
But one day the boy left, all of a sudden
And the girl was in pieces created from destruction.
Her once true smile in sadness took sanctuary,
And seemed to turn cold in late January.
The world was comprised of every shade of grey
And the girl wondered if it was meant to be this way.
There was no hope in the world left for her
And oh how she wished the boy would return.
But as the days continued to fly by
The girl sat in her room and continued to cry.
This was her life in the broken now
And to the sadness soon she would bow.
But once out in the open, she did something vile.
This girl would shine her teeth, and fake a smile.
She hasn't been the same since that guy left
And oh how she is just waiting to finally be able to rest.
But the boy of which I speak has yet to came back
And she fears that "once upon a time" may turn black.

 


 

That is the story of why I hide behind a smile,
But it doesn't really matter because of every mile.
I'm alive on the outside shown by this grin
But on the inside, I know how I'm dead and can never win.

 


 

This is my smile and it's here to stay
So go ahead and leave if you may.

 

Embarassed

Author's Notes/Comments: 

The truth behind my smile.

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