Among the things that has made restarting my campaign to have Pete Stauber removed from his timid treachery have been my reading of a couple damn good history books. They take time to read which is stolen from campaign work but they have the advantage of reminding me how much Pete Stauber is willing to sacrifice to win an election. Selling one’s soul is a one way street to hell. Pete I suspect believes in hell. He’s a fundamentalist Christian. Not me, I’m an agnostic. I think of hell the way my mother did. If there is a hell its right here on Earth. And the news of our Earth’s fraying environment makes my Mother look like a prophet.
I was delighted by the book by Nathaniel Philbrick on George Washington, “Travels with George” Of the four or so books I’ve read about our first president it was the most successful in humanizing him. I think the author was answering the critique of Washington from another author Alexis Coe whose book, You never forget your first, pointed to a number of things that are hard to accept today…..having his slaves knock out their teeth to be implanted in the President’s mouth as one example.
Philbrick’s book mentioned Washington’s work to win over Indian Tribes of the Carolinas which would later be sullied by politicians of the South. Not long after finishing that book I began reading book 38 Nooses about the Sioux Uprising in the Minnesota River Valley where my family moved as I started seventh grade. The books subtitle includes Lincoln in it as the war was a brief episode during Lincoln’s much more pressing concern with the Civil War. Its a wonderful book.
Its not just a retelling of a well documented story it explains the inexorable and unchristian onslaught against native Americans that was presaged in our Declaration of Independences accusation against the King of England “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”
It was a two way street of course. I was particularly struck with both the introduction and Afterward that talked about the murder of Abraham Lincoln’s grandfather in an Indian attack and how it affected his 15 year old son Mordecai which is explained in the afterward. Mordecai would take up solitary missions to hunt down and kill Indians ever afterward. That is a far cry from his nephew Abraham whose father, Thomas, only escaped capture by the Indians when Mordecai made a spectacular shot that killed one of his captors.
And now I’ve opened a book that is equally fabulous. Ways and Means by Roger Lowenstein. I can’t recall who the reviewer was but he was thrilled that a book about the dreary science of economics could be told so well. I heartily agree. I’m not quite a third of the way into the book but most pages have my yellow magic markers streaking across them.
And that is lead me to the next book I feel obligated to dig into, Unworthy Republic, whose subtitle explains its contents. “The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory.” This is the book about all of the Trails of Tears Andrew Jackson helped force through with the quip, “John Marshall (the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) has made his decision: now let him enforce it.”
Ironically both Lincoln and Trump made Jackson their symbol as President. Lincoln did it because Jackson forcefully threatened southern secessionists from breaking away from the United States. Trump did it because Jackson was his idea of a tough guy. Of course Jackson would have offered to duel Trump if he had seen him trying to start a new Civil War.