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Monday, August 21, 2017

Daniel Webster, Black Soldiers, and Statues of Division


“When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood!

“Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign (flag) of the republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full and high advanced... not a strip erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured, bearing for its motto, no such miserable interrogatory as “What is all this worth?” nor those other words of delusion and folly, “Liberty first and Union afterwards”; but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart – Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!”

–Senator Daniel Webster in the Senate, second speech on Foote’s resolution, January 26, 1830

I hear people saying, “Leave the history and the remnants of the past alone. Monuments and statues of the Confederacy are tributes to those who fought with an undying devotion to their home states and a true sense of honor and duty. These are memories that should be preserved.”

Indeed, let us remember history. However, in the case of the American Civil War, let us consider not just the romanticized, sympathetic views of the Lost Cause and the Confederacy. We must possess the wisdom to separate fact from fiction to determine what or what not should be revered; why or why not it should be honored; and where or where not war memorials should be displayed.

The quote above is part of a speech made in 1830 by Daniel Webster in the United States Senate. Of course, Webster spoke these words long before the South succeeded from the Union. Now, they serve as a lantern to illuminate some of the darkest hours of American history.

The debate in 1830 began with a proposal by a Connecticut senator to limit federal land sales in the West but shifted over the course of nine days to the concerns of slavery and the nature of the federal Union.

The speech is widely considered the most famous senate speech in history. And, for good reason.

South Carolina Senator Robert Hayne entered the debate as a surrogate for Vice President John C. Calhoun. Hayne agreed that land sales should be ended. In his opinion, they enriched the federal treasury for the benefit of the North, while draining wealth from the West. At the heart of his argument, Hayne asserted that states should have the power to control their own lands and – to disobey or "nullify" federal laws that they believed were not in their best interests. Hayne continued that the North was intentionally trying to destroy the South through a policy of high tariffs and its increasingly vocal opposition to slavery.

In a packed Senate chamber Daniel Webster rose to Haynes challenge. The gifted orator began a two-day speech known as his Second Reply to Hayne. In response to Hayne's argument that the nation was simply an association of sovereign states, from which individual states could withdraw at will, Webster thundered that it was instead a "popular government, erected by the people; those who administer it are responsible to the people; and itself capable of being amended and modified, just as the people may choose it should be."

The editor of Webster's papers wrote that until 1830, the United States was "a loosely-knit confederation of states, the division of power between them still unclear despite the valiant efforts of Chief Justice John Marshall. After January 27 the United States was a nation, no longer a plural but a singular noun." While many historians would contend that such a result was only achieved by the Civil War, Webster may have planted a seed that bore fruit later.

For millions of people in 1861, Webster's words were a driving motivation: Liberty (ending slavery), and Union (keeping the nation intact). Pursuing that double objective resulted in over 600,000 American lives being lost and an additional 410,000 maimed and crippled, making it by far the bloodiest war in American history.

Those words speak to the heart of the matter of the great conflict. Although many acknowledge the need to honor the Confederate dead and preserve Southern culture, we must consider how this may denigrate the sacrifices of those who fought to preserve liberty and union … for all, not just for some.


Understanding Union Service

Frederick Douglass was of the opinion that the future of the American Republican experiment itself rested on the triumph of the black soldier and the freed slave. For Douglass, the evil of slavery had corrupted the white man as much as it had degraded the slave, and the Civil War was an opportunity not just to end the institution but to rededicate the nation to the principles set out in the Declaration of Independence.

Douglas said, “Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship."

Black Americans were not just spectators in the Civil War. They were active participants in battles and in running the Underground Railroad.

In addition, many blacks – including women – worked as nurses, cooks, laborers, and blacksmiths. Some were spies and scouts. And, this was not the beginning of their American service: they also fought in the Revolutionary War and in the War of 1812.

At first their service in the Civil War was denied. Federal law dating from 1792 barred Negroes from bearing arms for the U.S. army (although they had served in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812). By mid-1862, however, the escalating number of former slaves (contrabands), the declining number of white volunteers, and the increasingly pressing personnel needs of the Union Army pushed the Government into reconsidering the ban.

As a result, on July 17, 1862, Congress passed the Second Confiscation and Militia Act, freeing slaves who had masters in the Confederate Army. Two days later, slavery was abolished in the territories of the United States, and on July 22 President Lincoln presented the preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet. After the Union Army turned back Lee's first invasion of the North at Antietam, MD, and the Emancipation Proclamation was subsequently announced, black recruitment was pursued in earnest. In fact, two of Douglass's own sons contributed to the war effort.

Many black soldiers became American heroes, displaying great courage and deep Christian faith. Sixteen black soldiers won the Congressional Medal of Honor for their brave service in the Civil War. Some scholars believe the infusion of black soldiers may have turned the tide of the war.

Black soldiers faced additional problems stemming from racial prejudice. Racial discrimination was prevalent even in the North, and discriminatory practices permeated the U.S. military. The treatment of most colored soldiers was sub-standard, and they often bore the brunt of ridicule and violence

Discrimination in pay and other areas remained widespread. According to the Militia Act of 1862, soldiers of African descent were to receive $10.00 a month, with an optional deduction for clothing at $3.00. In contrast, white privates received $13.00 per month plus a clothing allowance of $3.50.

Black soldiers and their officers were also in grave danger if they were captured in battle. Confederate President Jefferson Davis called the Emancipation Proclamation the most execrable measure in the history of guilty man” and promised that black prisoners of war would be enslaved or executed on the spot. (Their white commanders would likewise be punished—even executed—for what the Confederates called “inciting servile insurrection.”)

Despite the ever-present dangers, nearly one in ten soldiers in the Union Army were African American. The compiled military service records of the men who served with the United States Colored Troops (USCT) during the Civil War numbered approximately 185,000, including the officers who were not African American. And, there were nearly 80 black commissioned officers.
Blacks fought in 449 Civil War battles. Nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the war – 30,000 of infection or disease.

Yet, soon, the American nation had all but forgotten that black troops had ever played a major role in the Civil War. The popular image of the Civil War was that it was “a white man's fight.” It is almost inconceivable that the black regiments’ service was long remembered as a small part of the Civil War, especially with the U.S. military remaining strictly segregated until 1948.

In the Grand Review of the Armed Forces which followed the end of hostilities very few blacks were represented. In these reviews, black veterans were relegated to the end of the procession in “pitch and shovel” brigades or intended only as a form of comic relief. Neither the free black soldier not the former slave was accorded his deserved role in this poignant national pageant.

The Civil War was fought for Union and Liberty. In his famous address of 1830, Daniel Webster defended the case for an enduring federal union, and he found slavery “one of the greatest evils, both moral and political.” The preservation of the Union during the Civil War led to the end of slavery. If it were not for the service and sacrifices of black Union troops, the Union may have fallen and slavery might have survived until who knows when.

Confederate monuments and statues symbolize both the institution of slavery and succession from the United States. How do we preserve these tributes and, at the same time, show proper respect for black America? The decision must reflect right, not concerns for the preservation of the culture of the Old South. We are bound to a commitment to do what is correct.

If such memorials remain, they should take their proper place in a setting that defines their dark roles as they relate to the history of liberty and union – those concepts forever “dear to every true American heart.”

"In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on. 

"Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on."


“Black Soldiers in the Civil War.” National Achives. October 03, 2016.
“Black Troops in Union Blue.” Constitutional Rights Foundation.
“The Civil War: Honoring Courageous Soldiers.” Wallbuilder Report. Black History. 2006.
Paul D. Escott. What Shall We Do With the Negro?: Lincoln, White Racism, and Civil War. 2009.
“The Most Famous Senate Speech.”
Senator Daniel Webster in the Senate, second speech on Foote’s resolution, January 26, 1830. The Writings and Speeches of Daniel Webster, vol. 6, p. 75. 1903.
Susan-Mary Grant. “Pride and Prejudice in the American Civel War. History Today. Volume 9 September 1998.
Budge Weidman. “Black Soldiers in the Civil War. National Archives. 1997. A&E Television Network 2017.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"What Trump Meant to Say" -- Making Excuses for Incivility

He’s just rough around the edges…” “What he meant to say was…” “He didn’t mean it…” “I don’t agree with what he said…what he did…but…”

Are you welcome in President Donald Trump’s world? You think so? Well, be careful not to question or oppose any of his policies, or he may direct his stock line “You're fired!” in your loyal direction. You see, Trump's sense of self-worth is sustained by public adoration and his sense of values is set to respect only those things that serve him.

I recently read an article written by Tricia Spencer for the Huffington Post. In the piece, she calls President Donald Trump the “Pied Piper of Division.” This title is well-deserved.

After all, Donald Trump used the “divide and conquer” strategy to build a base that somehow takes pride in being without a moral compass. He finds it impossible to remain civil, and yet his crowd is quick to make excuses for his every unwarranted behavior.

Let's explore some of Trump's indecent actions:
  • He physically mocked his opponents, the disabled, and anyone with different viewpoints he frankly did not understand.

  • A five-time military deferrer who once equated his challenge of avoiding sexual STDs to being a soldier fighting in Vietnam, he still insisted he knew more that the U.S. military generals.
  • He derided nearly every ethnicity, religion, ideology, or belief that was outside of his realm of his comprehension or beyond his capacity for compassion.

  • He brought his true views and his treatment of women front and center with ugly, personal derision and inexcusable sexist remarks.

  • He managed to divide his own party, sending scores of lifelong Republicans bolting from the fold and wondering about any party loyalty.

  • He put many questionable people in key advisory and cabinet positions, then after touting his own great sense of loyalty, he fired them or forced them to resign.

  • He refused to support inquiries into the hacking of the election while making Putin his trusted friend.

  • He continually practiced bullying and name-calling. With his juvenile “hurt me and I will hurt you more” revenge mindset, he sanctioned revenge and even violence.

  • With chants of “build that wall,” unfair immigration orders, and personal racist business dealings, he promoted his prejudiced policies about who is fit to belong in America.

  • He has declared his support for the use of torture and advocated wholesale discrimination against a religious minority, Muslims.
Oh, by the way, the man who took such pleasure in calling Hillary Clinton an untrustworthy liar during the presidential campaign proves himself to be Fabricator #1. The truth is here for all to see ...

“Politifact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning, non-partisan 'truth' watchdog group, documents, that as of this writing (October 16, 2016), Trump lied to the American people nearly three times more than Clinton, and his most egregious lies outpaced hers 8 to 1. Labeling her the liar was the Trump camp’s biggest, most successful lie of all. Politifact even awarded Trump’s body of lies its 2015 Lie of the Year Award.”

(Tricia Spencer. “Donald Trump’s Political Legacy: Pied Piper of Division.” Huffington Post. October 31, 2016.)

If you haven't noticed, Trump likes to punish people who disagree with him. He sues journalists, bans members of the press from covering him, kicks political leaders from their posts, and verbally tongue-lashes everyone who doesn't shout his praises. His small mind houses an ego that constantly spouts insulting tweet-fart after tweet-fart. He enjoys this blabbering power play.

Lastly, I dare you to tell me you haven't witnessed the Leader of the Free World in meltdown. Complete lack of control. Did you witness the latest at Trump Tower in New York? Trump unloaded about the fallout from the protests by the alt-right activists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville ...

“Gesticulating with his right hand, Trump blasted what he called the 'alt-left,' protested that he had already condemned neo-Nazis and parroted far-right talking points on the Confederacy.

“On the substance, it was a performance that quickly emboldened white nationalist groups and appeared certain to heighten racial tensions and fear in the country ...

“But the tone and the spectacle of Trump's unchained performance was equally stunning.The unapologetic, stream-of-consciousness style of delivery left no doubt at all: This was the real Trump, not the scripted version who appeared in the White House on Monday and tried to clean up his initial failure to condemn white supremacists after the death of a counter-protester in Charlottesville.

“His anger emerged in a torrent, as he obliterated any benefit of the doubt he earned on Monday, thought piling on thought, in a style the nation has become accustomed to from his Twitter feed.”

(Stephen Collinson. “A Trump Meltdown for the Ages. CNN. August 15, 2017.)

This display certainly raised questions about the suitability of Trump's temperament for the presidency. The overall impression of Trump's performance was that of a president out of control. Even his new Chief of Staff John Kelly expressed disbelief at Trump's emotional outbursts.

Those of you who insist Trump is a great leader and a moral voice of the nation must answer this question: Is this president a present danger? And, you must not speculate as to what Trump is “really meaning” as he makes his daily faux pas. He wanted the job, and it is evident he was not qualified to take the office. Perhaps you should ask yourself why Donald Trump decided to run.

Trump has been serving less than eight months, and he continues to show disregard for whomever he chooses. Why? Is Trump simply depressed? Can't he stand the immense pressure of the office? Or, is he terminally narcissistic with a completely flawed sense of fairness, justice, and judgment? I know what I believe.

Make America great again? In his mind, the Donald is“great” in all respects. To the country, his judgment of his own importance is precisely what is so troubling. If you continue to make excuses for him, you only add to the widening gap of political division. Moreover, you condone the danger. He is very suspect, and if he remains unchecked, he, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, may lead unsuspecting innocents to their demise. 


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Lost Cause: Confederate Symbols Misstating History


"There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South. Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind."

                               --Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind  

The Lost Cause is an interpretation of the Civil War that seeks to present the war, from the perspective of Confederates, in the best possible terms. This amelioration is a myth developed by white Southerners, many of them former Confederate generals, in a postwar climate of economic, racial, and social uncertainty. It romanticizes the “Old South” and the Confederate war effort, distorting history in the process.

From its beginnings, many white Americans accepted the Lost Cause, largely as a tool in reconciling the North and the South. The Lost Cause endorses the virtues of the antebellum South, viewing the American Civil War as an honorable struggle for the Southern way of life, while minimizing or denying the central role of slavery. This distorted view still receives wide acceptance.

Yale University history professor Rollin G. Osterweis summarizes the content that pervaded "Lost Cause" writings:
The Legend of the Lost Cause began as mostly a literary expression of the despair of a bitter, defeated people over a lost identity. It was a landscape dotted with figures drawn mainly out of the past: the chivalric planter; the magnolia-scented Southern belle; the good, gray Confederate veteran, once a knight of the field and saddle; and obliging old Uncle Remus.
All these, while quickly enveloped in a golden haze, became very real to the people of the South, who found the symbols useful in the reconstituting of their shattered civilization. They perpetuated the ideals of the Old South and brought a sense of comfort to the New.”
(Rollin G. Osterweis. The Myth of the Lost Cause, 1865–1900. 1973.)
Movies like Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind, along with countless late-Victorian and 20th-century books, have been dedicated to this revisionism.

Caroline E. Janney, author and professor of history, lists six tenets (assertions) for the Lost Cause interpretation of the Civil War:
1. Secession, not slavery, caused the Civil War.
2. African Americans were "faithful slaves," loyal to their masters and the Confederate cause and unprepared for the responsibilities of freedom.
3. The Confederacy was defeated militarily only because of the Union's overwhelming advantages in men and resources.
4. Confederate soldiers were heroic and saintly.
5. The most heroic and saintly of all Confederates, perhaps of all Americans, was Robert E. Lee.
6. Southern women were loyal to the Confederate cause and sanctified by the sacrifice of their loved ones.

(Caroline E. Janney, "The Lost Cause." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, July 27, 2016.)

Of course, some of these tenets are obviously false and some are, at least, partly true. Without question, the most disturbing falsehoods relate to slavery. These lies misstate history, distort the national memory, and continue to influence hate groups today. Slavery in America ranks with the greatest evils in modern history. In no manner should this servitude ever be placated.

What is the real issue of any view of slavery? Slavery, as a system, legalized and codified the slaveholder’s control over the enslaved person’s body.

Not only did slavery strip away all personal freedom from its victims, but also it routinely condoned murdering these human beings as a matter of economic policy. Edward E. Baptist – American academic, writer, and associate Professor of History at Cornell University – explains ...

“The worst thing about slavery as an experience, one is told, was that it denied enslaved African Americans the liberal rights and liberal subjectivity of modern citizens. It did those things as a matter of course, and as injustice, that denial ranks with the greatest in modern history.

“But slavery also killed people, in large numbers. From those who survived, it stole everything. Yet the massive and cruel engineering required to rip a million people from their homes, brutally drive them to new, disease-ridden places, and make them live in terror and hunger as they continually built and rebuilt a commodity-generating empire – this vanished in the story of a slavery that was supposedly focused primarily not on producing profit but on maintaining its status as a quasi-feudal elite, or producing modern ideas about race in order to maintain white unity and elite power.

“And once the violence of slavery was minimized, another voice could whisper, saying that African Americans, both before and after emancipation, were denied the rights of citizens because they would not fight for them.”

(Edward E. Baptist. “We still lie about slavery: Here’s the truth about how the American economy and power were built on forced migration and torture.” Salon. September 07, 2017.)


Now, we struggle with the remains of the Lost Cause. Symbols of the Confederacy still dapple the country, especially the South. They stand as remnants of American history and the storied Old South though their very existence is undeniable linked to a period of shame – a time when the evil of slavery was a reality.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, public lands hold 1,500 symbols memorializing the Confederacy. These include 718 monuments and statues and about 200 public schools, cities, counties and U.S. military bases named for Confederate icons.

Should we take down all Confederate statues and monuments, and should we rename these public institutions? Do such memorials belong on public land? Are they more than just commemorations to historical figures? Do these symbols of the Confederacy continue to divide the American public and encourage White supremacy?

Supporters of the works claim they represent Southern heritage, which perhaps should be more thoroughly examined in the light of the Lost Cause. It’s difficult to imagine memorials to other enemies of the United States existing anywhere inside our borders. After all, Confederate leaders fought against the Constitution, against unity and in support of slavery. 
How can we heal together? Bishop E.W. Jackson, founder and president of Staying True to America’s National Destiny, said he supports the effort to relocate Confederate monuments to museums and other educational institutions, where they can be celebrated in private by those who wish to honor their ancestors.

And, still, vast numbers of White Americans hold romanticized, twisted views of plantation days. We have been indoctrinated into accepting slavery as less than the evil it was by watching technicolored scenes of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler and the pleasant life of the “darkies” at Tara. We glory in this story of survival in the Civil War and Reconstruction, and we feel losing it somehow robs us of a storied myth.

Yet, it is fiction. More than that, it is cruel, potentially dangerous fiction that still generates adulation of a wicked Lost Cause.

Bob Cesca, Managing Editor of The Daily Banter, leaves us with some food for thought that is sure to rankle the digestive system of proponents of this Lost Cause ...

“It seems overly obviously to say this out loud, but men like Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Beauregard were willing traitors against the republic – officers who took up arms against the United States after an illegal act of secession. And they did so in the name of preserving slavery, the backbone of the Southern economy built upon the subjugation of men and women who were considered subhuman at that time. I hasten to note, though, that Lost Causers still to this day believe the war was fought over 'states’ rights,' begging the question: States’ rights – to do what, exactly? To own slaves, of course."
(Bob Cesca. “Tear down those Confederate monuments! Maybe we can finally cure America’s Civil War hangover.” Salon. May 22, 2017.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

David Duke and Trump: "The White Americans"


Sometimes the truth comes from offensive sources. And, this time the most despicable spokesman imaginable put us face to face with a very dark understanding about the leader of the free world.

President Trump's initial unwillingness to condemn the hate groups behind the deadly protests in Charlottesville raises many questions about his beliefs and affiliations. After blaming the violence "on many sides" Saturday, Trump stayed silent for close to 48 hours before finally condemning the actions of the KKK, the neo-Nazis, and other white supremacist groups.

When Trump did directly call out and condemn white supremacy, former KKK leader David Duke reacted. “It’s amazing to see how the media is able to bully the President of the United States into going along with their FAKE NEWS narrative,” Duke tweeted.

In another tweet, Duke openly warned the president against calling out white nationalists.“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists,” he wrote.

Trump has a long history of being quick to condemn anyone he doesn’t like. He is often blunt and very harsh. But, he did not initially denounce the hate groups. It appears he was, as Duke contends, “bullied” into submission. By whom? The media certainly applied immense pressure on him, but so did the public as well as politicians from both political parties.

This time the pressure to take action was well warranted. One must wonder why Trump chose to use such an irresolute, passive statement about the riots in the first place. Since he is held in high regard by the kind of people who attended the rally in Charlottesville, his resistance to speak out against white nationalism looks very convenient. His call for blame “on many sides” confirms his true feelings: he was also condemning the counter-protesters.

Even if Trump did not name the counter-protesters, it is apparent he made his broad reference intentionally vague on purpose. It is as if he was saying, “Here is the 'cup of blame.' Fill it up with any and all demonstration participants you choose.”

There is also evidence that before he spoke Saturday, Trump's own team of advisers warned him to sharply criticize the white nationalist protesters …

“At the center of the discussion was Mr. Bossert (Thomas P. Bossert – White House Homeland Security Adviser), who laid out the situation on the ground, including a description of provocations by both protesters and counter protesters, according to a White House official.

“Two hard-edge economic populists – Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and Stephen Miller, a senior adviser – spoke with Mr. Trump repeatedly on Saturday, the person said, although it was not clear if Mr. Bannon had offered him advice on his comments.

“Mr. Trump listened attentively, according to another person familiar with the discussions, but repeatedly steered the conversation to the breakdown of 'law and order,' and the responsibility of local officials to stem the violence.” 

(Glenn Thrush and Rebeccar Ruizaug. “White House Acts to Stem Fallout From Trump’s First Charlottesville Remarks.” The New York Times. August 13, 2017.)

Bannon and Miller and Bossert and Trump – what an excuse for a team of advisors …
  • Bannon, once the executive chair of Breitbart News, the platform for the alt-right and the loose network of individuals and groups that promote white identity and reject mainstream conservatism in favor of politics that embrace implicit or explicit racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy.
  • Miller, the man who had the heated exchange with Jim Acosta regarding support for the RAISE Act to sharply limit legal immigration and favor immigrants with high English proficiency.
  • Bossert, spear-phished by a British hacker into thinking he was Jared Kushner by sending an email to Bossert.

In the end, any and all measured response by Trump to the actions of the hate groups was calculated to raise the love of Trump as it is seen in the eyes of Trump, himself. He lives for the praise of his adoring crowd and wants to maintain the “biggest” exaltation possible. He needs all of this to feed his monstrous ego.

Monday, August 14, 2017

White Supremacy From Plymouth Rock to Trump


 E pluribus unum -- “out of many, one” 

This Latin phrase is a 13-letter traditional motto of the United States of America. It appears on the Great Seal of the United States and was adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782. The meaning originates from the concept that out of the Thirteen colonies emerged a single nation.

Although never codified by law, E Pluribus Unum was considered a de facto motto of the United States until 1956 when Congress passed an act adopting “In God We Trust” as the official motto.
The phrase “e pluribus unum” is a pledge of unity. While American residents originate from all nations around the earth, this amalgamation of people pledges their allegiance to the one country founded on the promise of equality, justice, and freedom for all.

However, not all Americans adhere to the ideals of equality. In fact, white supremacy has always occupied the landscape. White supremacists follow a racist ideology based upon the belief that white people are superior in many ways to people of other races and that, therefore, white people should be dominant over other races.

Beliefs in white supremacy have plagued America from the beginning of European settlement. Long before the American Revolution, early colonists began to dispossess Native Americans. Then, fueled by faith in manifest destiny, settlers traveled to new frontiers with goals of “redeeming” the west in the name of their own particular immigrant groups.

Of course, slavery was also instituted in America as early as 1555, and African-Americans have suffered bondage, oppression, and racism in the United States for hundreds of years. Throughout the history of the United States race has been used by whites for legitimizing and creating difference and social, economic and political exclusion of blacks. Slavery and racism are ugly stains in American heritage.

And yet in 2017 we still wonder if we will ever truly “come together” before we “come apart.”

Once more racial superiority has come out of the shadows – this time in Charlottesville, Virginia. The KKK, Neo-Nazis, and other white supremacist groups have been energized by the “Make America Great Again” movement of President Donald Trump, and the racists have boldly taken the stage to promote their evil agenda.

Is it any wonder? After all,
  • Trump panders to white nationalists, bigots, and anti-Semites. Fearing he would lose their votes, he has refused to distance himself from these hate groups
  • Stephen K. Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, formerly ran the right-wing Breitbart News while advocating the alt-right movement.
  • Through his fear-mongering views that immigrants and other so-called “second-class citizens” are taking jobs and bringing crime, Trump has continually preached that some people are simply not fit for democracy.
  • Trump is the same man who spent years questioning the birthplace of President Barack Obama, the nation's first black president. What were his motives for such a witch hunt?
  • Trump is also the same man who in 1989 encouraged the mob anger that resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of the Central Park Five. Most remember the vengeful full-page ads.
  • Trump's incessant, incendiary, half-baked tweets and comments fuel feelings of division and hatred. His words fall woefully short of encouraging diversity. Short on wisdom and long on judgment, Trump often allows his life of privilege to rule his mouth.

Seemingly every day, Trump's people must edit, interpret, and repair tweets and statements made by the president. His words are often pointed and more than often sophomoric. Seldom measured and calculated, Trump wins the approval of those who favor confrontation and blatant opposition – those like white supremacists. A model of blathering unrest, Trump has emboldened the racists.

It was said the Trump presented his comments “in a direct pipeline to the American people” allowing him to “put his thoughts out and hear what the people are thinking in a way no one's ever been able to do before.” This is true, but far from a being a good thing. He sees himself as a champion of a white world, a world comprised of the base of his “take the country back” supporters. His conservatism goes far beyond beliefs in limited government intervention and free markets. His philosophy empowers groups that pose threats to civil liberties and individual and human rights.

I don't know if President Trump is a racist. I hope not. I do know, however, that he is a mouthpiece – knowing or unknowing – for dangerous exclusion. He has chosen to maintain and even strengthen this position in his cabinet choices and in his own words. Since he has fueled this position with hardcore rhetoric and imprudent actions, he continually paints himself in the corner of ill-considered behaviors.

Be it in response to happenings in Charlottesville, Virginia, or in Pyongyang, North Korea, Americans look toward a leader in the White House with a wise, experienced, farsighted head. And, in my limited opinion, the chief executive that possesses those qualities is not home … even when he is “in the building.” You can bet he is busy … somewhere … promoting himself. So, I guess, he is practicing his own kind of “e pluribus unum” – expecting others to anoint him the “one.”

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The First Family of Scioto County Pioneers -- Meet the Marshalls


In American history, being the first is most often a distinction of honor. It is so with trailblazing pioneers. In settling the American frontier, those who established the first permanent habitations showed unbridled courage, grit, and industry. They truly had the qualities that define American heroes.

Who were the very first brave pioneer settlers in Scioto County? I wonder how many present-day residents could even venture a guess. Considering the limited resources for verification, the notability may be up for some dispute; however, ample documentation exists that gives evidence that greatly limits the field.

The noted historian of Scioto County, Mr. James Keyes, often considered the historian of Scioto County, stated that Samuel Marshall, Sr., the father-in-law of Thomas McDonald, built the first cabin at a point about two miles above the site of Portsmouth in February 1796. He had passed down the river the year before in company with General Anthony Wayne, who was sent out by President Washington to conclude a treaty with the Indians.

Keyes points out that others may have “built a cabin and stayed a year or two, but it was not their intention to stay in this county.” People such as the French, who settled at the mouth of the Scioto River in 1756 at the time the French held Canada, stayed for a brief time then moved on.

Henry Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio (1847) gives Thomas McDonald credit for building the first house in Scioto County. But Keyes says McDonald did not build a house or have a long stay, instead he “went up the Scioto and settled at or near Chillicothe.

But, Keyes notes, those who came after the Indian War settled here, remained here, and assisted in developing the resources of the county. This means they and their descendants remained long enough to establish a civil government and, thus, maintain a permanent home.

Keyes claims Samuel Marshall Sr. was followed in March, by John Lindsay. Both Marshall and Lindsay had moved up from Manchester where there was a small picketed fort with a few settlement houses.

Keyes acknowledges these two, separated by just a month, were “probably the first permanent settlers in Scioto County.” Keyes also states that Samuel Marshall put in the first crop of corn in the county; that the first person married there was a daughter of his (Lord knows who served as justice of the peace.); and that the first child born in the county was another of his daughters.

Samuel Marshall, Sr.

Samuel Marshall, Sr. was born June 29, 1750, in Washington County, Pennsylvania. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and after serving in the Northwest Indian War with General Wayne, Marshall sold his property in Pennsylvania for about ten thousand dollars and took his pay altogether in continental money. He wanted to take this small fortune and invest it in government lands, but surveying in the lands northwest of the Ohio had yet to be done. And, he evidently loved the area he had seen while on his journey with General Wayne.

Therefore, Marshall left for Ohio and waited in Manchester for a treaty to be made with the Indians. It is written he “wanted to be on the ground when Congress lands should come into market.” By that time he had a large family of children, some already grown up. In fact, he had three married daughters. One was wed to Thomas McDonald, a brother to the celebrated hunter and Indian scout Col. John McDonald.

General Wayne then negotiated the Treaty of Greenville between the tribal confederacy and the United States, which was signed on August 3, 1795. The treaty gave most of what is now Ohio to the United States, and cleared the way for that state to enter the Union in 1803.

So, in February 1796, 46-year-old Samuel Marshall loaded his family and his goods in his perogue and moved to a point about three miles above the Scioto River, nearly opposite the mouth of Tygart's Creek. Here, he built his house. This is a brief account of the new settlement:

“Marshall built his house out of pickets or puncheons split out of the body of a tree, three or four inches thick, and as wide as the tree would make. He dug a trench in the ground and set these pickets in so as to include a space of eighteen or twenty feet square and covered with the same material. He banked the earth up around the outside, to keep out the cold winds, and used the ground for a floor. Into this he moved his family, consisting of four children, himself and wife. (Two of his daughters remained behind.)”

Keyes offers this image of the land …

“Grand primeval forest surrounded them on every side with gigantic trees from four to six feet in diameter rearing their heads 80 to 100 feet without a limb and as straight as an arrow. Huge grapevines dangling from their branches gave the scene an awful (yet) grand appearance. The tops of the trees being so interwoven with grapevines that the sun never penetrated to the earth while the trees and the vines were clothed with leaves.”

So it was that Samuel Marshall Sr. came to live in an area that would become known as Scioto County – a place at the time where it was said “not another human being was living – white, black, or red.” However, the land was plentiful with buffalo, bears, elk, deer, turkeys, panthers, catamounts, beaver, and otter.

Yet, the Marshalls were not alone for long. Soon, John Lindsey came from Manchester and built a log cabin at the mouth of the Little Scioto, and this dwelling became the first regular built log house within the present limits of Scioto County.

The settlers had no horses, cattle, hogs, or sheep, so there was no need to build fences. But, the pioneers cleared off pieces of ground for raising corn. They remarked how the corn grew very large – much larger than what they were used to seeing in Pennsylvania.

It was actually Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Marshall who gave birth to the first white child born in the county. Fanny was born here later in 1796. Later, she would marry George Shonkwiler. She died in 1870 and was buried in Bennett Fairview Cemetery in Minford.

Marshall had another daughter, Mary “Polly,” who married John H. Lindsey. Commonly called “Captain Jack Lindsay.” The first marriage known to have taken place in Scioto County. She died in 1860 and was also buried in Bennett Fairview Cemetery.

And, what about that fortune of $10,000?

When Samuel Marshall tried to buy government land with his money, his currency was “not worth a cent.” Although he made several improvements on Congress lands, other men “turned him out of his improvements” At that time, there were no pre-emption laws. It was said that the money lay “in piles and rolls around the house for many years” -- basically just trash.

Marshall eventually leased a school section on the Little Scioto. (Land Ordinance of 1785 – Section 16 in each township was reserved for the maintenance of public schools.) There he made improvements that could not be taken from him. He lived on his land until he died in 1816. Marshall was buried on top of one of the hills surrounding Scioto Furnace now known as Scioto Furnace Cemetery in South Webster.

Frances Mary Hazelrigg Marshall, Samuel's wife, died in 1830 and is also said to be buried in Scioto Furnace Cemetery.


Andrew Feight, Ph.D. “Connecting Local History to American History in Friendship, Ohio.”

James Keyes. Pioneers of Scioto County. 1880.

Kay L. Mason. “History of Lower Scioto Valley Ohio. U.S. GenWeb Archives.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Grisly Murder of Enoch McLaughlin: The Tragic End of a Lucasville Recluse

At 8:00 A.M. on the morning of September 20, 1944, 65 year-old Enoch McLaughlin left his farmhouse on Fallen Timber to spend a day cutting fence posts. He carried with him a jacket and various items he would need that day – a double bit ax, a brand new saw, a few wood wedges, a sack containing his lunch, water … and his pistol.

McLaughlin always carried protection, usually a shotgun or a pistol. Not only was it said he lived “a rugged life with few friends,” but also he and his sister Ada were confirmed recluses with good reason to fear their neighbors. Their past had been unrestrained to say the least. Some might say extremely contentious.

In fact, Ada said that only the Tuesday before someone had shot at Enoch and barely missed him as he walked from his barn.

Ada confirmed she also felt like a target. “A few weeks ago while I was picking berries a man came through the woods carrying a shotgun and a rifle. I dropped my berry bucket, seized my shotgun, and ordered him off the premises,” she told authorities.

Bad blood had built up over many years. It may have all started when the McLaughlins experienced trouble with dogs killing their sheep. Enoch responded by killing several of the suspect canines. This likely caused some ill feelings.

Indeed, the McLaughlins suspected revenge because, after that, several times their timber tracts had been suspiciously fired. Trouble just kept brewing.

The most serious incident occurred in 1928 when Enoch shot a dog on his farm. Then, an argument with the dog's owner and a friend resulted. According to Ada, not long after that argument, Enoch was shot in his face from ambush. After he had been wounded in the face with shotgun slugs, the farmer was still able to reach his wagon bed, get his gun, and exchange shots with the assailant (unnamed in this report), who later died. Ada said she and Enoch had both religiously packed guns ever since.

Then, around 1934 another violent incident occurred. Enoch McLaughlin shot a former employee who was cutting roots on the farm, his sister said. All of this violence was to be a portent of another tragedy on this September day.

Shortly after dark on September 20, Ada McLaughlin lighted a lantern and put a shotgun under her arm. She decided to search for her brother because he was late coming home from the woods. She found Enoch's “virtually disemboweled” body three-quarters of a mile from their home. Near his corpse she discovered his jacket and the other items he had taken with him in a “disordered fashion” indicating “he had cast them from his shoulder quickly.” His pistol was not found.

It appeared Enoch had walked a quarter mile toward his home in an effort to reach there before collapsing from his wounds. Upon finding her brother, Ada quickly summoned neighbors who sent for the sheriff, the coroner, and the undertaker.

Sheriff Earl C. Brandel and Coroner Virgil E. Fowler sifted through evidence and counted more than a dozen suspects. Sheriff Brandel said “Any one of several persons could have killed Mr. McLaughlin. It could have been someone with whom he has had trouble. It could have been a hunter or trespasser. The slayer could have waited in ambush, or the murder could have resulted from an argument started shortly before the killing. We shall investigate every angle fully and carefully.”

Authorities estimated McLaughlin had been slain about 8:30 A.M. His body was examined at McKinley Funeral Home, and reportedly officers found it difficult to determine what instrument was used to commit the heinous crime. Some thought he was slashed with knife or possibly a saw. Enoch had been cut twice across the abdomen, and he had five or six lacerations which resembled saw tooth marks. The body also had marks on left arm which was bruised badly “as if he had been stuck with an instrument as he threw up his arm to protect his face.”

Ada said, “I urged him not to go. I was afraid something would happen. Everyone is against us. They tried several times to burn us out. But, he insisted on going.” She said she was the one who actually put Enoch's pistol into his overall jacket.

“If I had been with Enoch today the sheriff would not be searching for his murderer. I know how to shoot and I am not afraid” declared the frail, small woman. Later that evening she was said to be in her yard standing in vigil alone – lantern in hand and shotgun nearby.

This incident remains one of Valley Township's most mysterious murders. As far as I know it is unsolved and perhaps a cold case in local files. Who killed Enoch McLaughlin? How did the murderer(s) kill him with a sharp object when he was carrying a firearm? What led to the murder?

Sister Ada even reasoned politics caused the trouble. “We do not believe in the New Deal or relief or federal aid and red tape,” she said. “Some of out neighbors were getting relief and old age pensions and wanted to know why we didn't get relief. We did not want relief and told them we would take care of ourselves as long as we possibly could. We worked long hours tending out farm and making an honest living.”

Enoch McLaughlin was the son of Daniel and Mary McLaughlin. He lived all his life on the family farm. Besides his sister Ada, he was survived by another sister, Mrs. Mary Cockrell of New Boston.

This account remains an interesting item of folk history. Reading the article makes one wonder what happened in the aftermath of the murder. I hope recounting it here will bring some fruit upon further details. The story of Enoch McLaughlin begs further research.

This blog entry was researched and rewritten from one source. Those who want to read the original article can find it in the Portsmouth Times archives at (Just click on the site.) I encourage everyone to read it in its entirety.

Killer Sought After Recluse Slain By Knife.” The Portsmouth Times. September 21, 1944.


 The Strange Case of Enoch McLaughlin

This is an additional report on the brutal murder of Enoch McLaughlin on September 20, 1944. The case went unsolved and remains an intriguing mystery to this day. For amateur sleuths, these details may shed considerable light on the tragic event. Considering the stormy past of the McLaughlins, one may speculate his or her own conclusions.

The McLaughlins

Enoch Selvester McLaughlin was one of 11 children born to Daniel (1823-1904) and Mary Browning McLaughlin (1840-1901). His father was born in Gushire, Scotland, and his mother was born in Jackson County, Ohio. Daniel immigrated from Scotland 1851 Filed for naturalization 1854 and naturalized in 1860. Mary married Daniel McLaughlin December 23, 1857 in Jackson. The family cut timber and raised sheep on their property near Lucasville.

Enoch McLaughlin never married but maintained the home farm with his sister (and other siblings?) after his parents died.

Further Details About the Murder

Sheriff Earl C. Brandel continued his investigation into the murder of Enoch McLaughlin. In a report about the killing, Brandel said the murderer was “fiendish and in a fit of anger and hate determined to make the farmer suffer much before death.” Wounds from a saw blade indicated “that the killer apparently sought revenge,” the sheriff said.

The Portsmouth Times reported that some of the neighbors who expressed dislike for Mr. McLaughlin because of arguments in the past forgot their disagreements and dug his grave in Owl Creek Cemetery. The report also stated that some of the others remembered their neighborhood duty and helped Miss Ada MaLaughlin, 62, recluse sister of Enocn with her farm chores.

Funeral services for Enoch McLaughlin were conducted at the McKinley Funeral Home. Rev John Kemper was in charge, and burial was in Owl Creek Cemetery.

Past Incidents

(a) 1908

In December 1908, Enoch McLaughlin, indicted for cutting with intent to kill, was found guilty of assault and battery. The case against the defendant's brother, Dan McLaughlin, jointly indicted with him, could not be heard until the next term. The Portsmouth Times reported: “It is quite likely that it will never be heard on account of the verdict being returned for the minor offense against the brother.”

The defendants were charged with endangering in an affray with their neighbor, Charles Lyons in Jefferson Township. The fight allegedly occurred because the McLaughlins' cattle got on Lyons' land. In the fight Enoch McLaughlin was alleged “to have slightly cut Lyons in the nose.”

Judge Blair sentenced Enoch with “a fine of $20 and ordered him to pay the costs, amounting to $66 more.”

In passing sentence, Judge Blair said that “doubtless the jury had found its verdict for the smaller offense because of the good character McLaughlin has always borne in his neighborhood.” It was warranted also in holding that he cut Lyons in the nose. Judge Blair further “held for the evidence, and believed that it was a case where McLaughlin's temper had gotten the better of his judgment.”

An effort was made to have the court nolly the case against the defendant's brother, Dan, but Prosecutor Miller said that he would not agree to his at the present time.

(b) 1932

In July 1932, Levi and Maggie Justice of Coon Hollow, a branch of Miller's Run, went to the McLaughlin farm to gather raspberries and ginseng. While they were on the property Enoch McLaughlin, 52, was said to have fired a gun at Mr. and Mrs. Justice and their 12-year-old son as they were walking out of the woods.

Mrs. Justice told officers she saw McLaughlin shoot her husband with a shotgun from ambush. She and her son were walking a short distance behind Mr. Justice. “Shotgun slugs sprayed all around the trio,” but Justice was the only one hit.

Constables W.R. Jacobs and Floyd Nance arrested McLaughlin on a charge of shooting with intent to kill. Mr. and Mrs. Justice claim they had secured permission to pick berries on the McLaughlin farm before going there. Levi Justice told officers he had permission from McLaughlin to hunt herbs on his place, and he could give an explanation why McLaughlin shot him. McLaughlin refused to comment on the shooting.

A charge from counts of stealing raspberries against Mr. and Mrs. Justice was dismissed.

Historical Note

Two of Enoch McLaughlin's sisters are buried in Lucasville Cemetery: Martha McLaughlin Robertson and Mary Catherine "Kate" McLaughlin Cockrell. 


Portsmouth Times. December 26, 1908.
Portsmouth Times. July 1, 1932.
Portsmouth Times. July 13, 1932.