Category Archives: Profiles

Biographies and commentary on famous people – of note – and maybe not so.

Sybil Ludington

This month in U.S. history, we remember that famous ride that would warn the colonies that the British were coming.

The Colonel needed someone he could trust, someone brave enough, someone who could ride a long distance, through the darkness, from 9 p.m. to dawn, someone who could fight off enemy combatants, to alert the Colonial militia to the approach of British forces.

So, the Colonel chose the “best man for the job.”

Sybil Ludington was born on this day, April 5, 1761. Continue reading

Cesar Chavez Holiday: Honoring An American Hero

I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness, is to sacrifice for others in a totally nonviolent struggle for justice. To be a man is to suffer for others. God help us to be men! ~ Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez

March 31 is an official State holiday in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, and is observed in several other States, in honor of the birth on March 31, 1937, of an extraordinary American — Cesar Estrada Chavez, the late co-founder and president of the United Farm Workers of America who became a legend in his own time in the civil rights era.

In his honor, his headquarters for the UFW, which he named “La Paz” (“The Peace”), in the Tehachapi Mountains in Keene, CA, on Highway 58 between Bakersfield and Tehachapi, is now officially the U.S. Cesar Chavez National Monument, established by the federal government. Continue reading

John Letcher, Governor of Virginia

“I received your telegram of the 15th, the genuineness of which I doubted. Since that time I have received your communication, mailed the same day, in which I am requested to detach from the militia of the State of Virginia ‘the quota designated in the table’ which you append, ‘to serve as infantry or riflemen for the period of three months, unless sooner discharged.’

In reply to this communication I have only to say that the militia of Virginia will not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the Southern States, and a requisition made upon me for such an object – an object, in my judgement, not within the purview of the Constitution or the act of 1795 – will not be complied with. You have chosen to inaugurate civil war, and having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the Administration has exhibited toward the South.”

John Letcher, Governor of Virginia, to Cameron, 16 April 1861

Remembering Gov. Letcher on his birthday, born March 29, 1818.

Forgotten Virtue: The Baseball Hero Nobody Knows

NOTE: The following post has nothing to do with ‘Education’ per se – other than that of a life-lesson. The subject and message of the article is well worth a place in ‘Profiles.’ ~ Ed.

Gil Meche

His career stats indicate that he was a mediocre baseball pitcher – perhaps the epitome of mediocrity: 84 wins; 83 losses; a 4.49 Earned Run Average; a Walks-plus-Hits-to-Innings-Pitched ratio of 1.42. Yet Gil Meche, who played for the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals, was responsible for one of the most astounding, yet almost unnoticed, acts of virtue ever committed by a sports figure.

In the winter of 2011, Mr. Meche, then with the Royals, voluntarily retired from the game, foregoing the final $12 million on his multi-year contract. Mr. Meche was injured and would have sat out the 2012 season while receiving paychecks. Continue reading

Dr. Mildred F. Jefferson

March is recognized by the U.S. Government as “Women’s History Month.” According to womenshistorymonth.gov, we “join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society”. There are countless women who have dedicated themselves to making the world a better place and to ushering in a turning point in history, so it’s fitting that we should honor and celebrate them this month.

Surgeon, right-to-life activist, and noted speaker, Mildred Fay Jefferson was the first African American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School in 1951. Continue reading

She was a maid at 9, wrote a hit song at 11 –  and won a Grammy at 93

Elizabeth Cotten was never famous, and almost slipped into total obscurity

Domestic, 71, Sings Songs of Own Composition in ‘Village,’” ran a New York Times headline in November of 1965. The piece, about a woman with “five grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, a guitar, a banjo and about 20 old-time folk songs,” heralded the return of then-unknown folk songstress Elizabeth Cotten, who was poised to play the Gaslight Cafe, on Macdougal Street in a Greenwich Village still quaintly set off by single quotation marks. Continue reading

Andrew Jackson Unconquered

Whatever his sins, Andrew Jackson was a man. He did not cringe before power or curry favor with oligarchs. He admired independence.

Andrew Jackson (1824) by Thomas Sully (1783-1872)

Andrew Jackson’s reputation is drifting down, down, down, like a sere autumn leaf. Whereas in 1948, the first year of Arthur Schlesinger Sr.’s poll of historians, Old Hickory ranked sixth among the presidents, in recent surveys by a variety of sponsors he has dropped into the midteens. It seems only a matter of time before Jackson is banished to the reputational basement with Warren Harding, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan, presidents who never dragged their country into war, which is the yellow brick road to greatness. Continue reading

Robert E. Lee Reconsidered

Clearly, Robert E. Lee’s reputation has plummeted from the lofty height it once occupied. It is time to clear a path through the rubble of toppled statues and discarded plaques to examine the qualities of the authentic Lee, as well as the turn of mind that would relegate him to historical ignominy…

I.

“What excellence is there in a nature which merely rejoices in its own well-being and does nothing, never has done anything and never will do anything?” ~ Cicero, The Nature of the Gods, Book I

The greatest human heroes, from the beginning of recorded history and lore, all share a common trait: a flaw in character that often proves to be their undoing, and perhaps even leads to their death. There are many examples from antiquity: the fatal arrogance of Achilles; Odysseus’ disastrous taunting of Polyphemus; King David’s lust for Bathsheba; the unquenchable thirst for conquest of Alexander the Great; and the pride of Oedipus and Agamemnon. Taken together, they remind us of an eternal verity: man—especially the man who wears the laurels—is imperfect. In his short biography of Napoleon, Paul Johnson hammers home this point:

We have to learn again the central lesson of history: that all forms of greatness, military and administrative, nation and empire building, are as nothing—indeed they are perilous in the extreme—without a humble and contrite heart.

He added that the integral part of this lesson comes from stripping away the myth surrounding the man so that his reality can be revealed. Continue reading

Dickens: Great Expectations…

…for my friend, Charles Dickens

Lost portrait of Charles Dickens

Portrait of a thirty-something Charles Dickens as he looked when he wrote A Christmas Carol was found caked in mould at a South African market 150 years after it vanished

A youthful portrait of British writer Charles Dickens that went missing for 150 years went on display in London in late November, 2018 after being found covered in mould next to a metal lobster at a market in South Africa.

The miniature watercolour and gouache portrait by Margaret Gillies, valued at £220,000 pounds was painted in 1843 as the young Dickens, then in his early 30s, was writing ‘A Christmas Carol’.

The painting shows the Victorian writer clean shaven, with long, wavy hair, looking over his left shoulder, a contrast to the more common image of an ageing Dickens, with long bushy beard and messy, balding hair. Continue reading

Thomas Paine Blasts Fake Money

The paper money that funded the American Revolution led to post-war grievances, the most well-known of which was Shays’s Rebellion in back-country Massachusetts. For years after the war the Boston legislature imposed taxes, falling mainly on those least able to pay, for the full payment in specie of the highly-depreciated notes issued during the war and held mostly by well-to-do legislators and bankers. As a further aggravation, the war was fought mostly by those on whom the taxes fell, while the elites stayed home. (See the Nobel-worthy Shays’s Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle by Leonard L. Richards)

Petitions for redress having been ignored by the legislature for several years, town leaders in western Massachusetts organized marches, beginning in August 1786, to shut down the courts, demanding that the state constitution be revised. Eventually, through force of arms, the government put a halt to the uprising while mischaracterizing it as a refusal of the poor to pay their just taxes. Continue reading

Lysander Spooner: The Anarchist Who Single-Handedly Took on the US Post Office

The story of a man who showed the world how a peaceful, non-governmental system can flourish.

Lysander Spooner

This is a story about a philosopher, entrepreneur, lawyer, economist, abolitionist, anarchist—the list goes on. As his obituary summarizes, “To destroy tyranny, root and branch, was the great object of his life.” Although he is rarely included in mainstream history, Lysander Spooner was an anarchist who didn’t merely preach about his ideas: He lived them. No example illustrates this better than Spooner’s legal battle against the US postal monopoly.

Born in 1808 in Athol, Massachusetts, Lysander Spooner was raised on his parent’s farm and later moved to Worcester to practice law. Eventually, he found himself in New York City, where business was booming—but not for the Post Office. Continue reading

The Great Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee was a great American. He was in rebellion against his country for four tortuous, bloody years. At the head of the Army of Northern Virginia, he came darn close to winning Southern independence. Lee was a brilliant field commander, full of audacity. His daring was a gift and a bane. He was a man of integrity. He was a man of his place and time. He deserves our remembrance and respect.

The left – and the mainstream media, the Democratic Party, the race industry, and establishment go-alongs – want to destroy our history. Destroy anything that honors the men who fought for the South in the Civil War. Destroy, as the left does – here and abroad – history that doesn’t comport with its worldview. Destroy it or ignore it and rewrite it, as the Stalinists did. As Orwell warned. Continue reading

Cicero: Enemy of the State, Friend of Liberty

Question: If you could go back in time and spend one hour in conversation with 10 people – each one separately and privately – whom would you choose?

My list isn’t exactly the same from one day to the next, but at least a couple of the same names are always on it, without fail. One of them is Marcus Tullius Cicero. He was the greatest citizen of the greatest ancient civilization, Rome. He was its most eloquent orator and its most distinguished man of letters. He was elected to its highest office as well as most of the lesser ones that were of any importance. More than anyone else, Cicero introduced to Rome the best ideas of the Greeks. Continue reading

Dwight D. Eisenhower in Defense of Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee remains one of the most polarizing figures of the Civil War (or War Between the States). Debates and opinions abound in newspapers, books, and social media as to whether Lee is a person to be admired or condemned. Many of the anti-Lee arguments center on his resignation from the U.S. Army to fight for the Confederacy, an act many view as an inexcusable violation of his oath as a West Point graduate and army officer.

Along those lines, surely an exemplary officer and general like Dwight D. Eisenhower would also regard Lee as a traitor, would he not? Basically, that was the question asked of then President Eisenhower in August 1960. During the Republican National Convention of that year, Eisenhower mentioned that he kept a picture of Robert E. Lee in his office. That prompted a dentist from New York to send the following letter to the White House: Continue reading

Lincoln: the FINAL Word

NOTE: From a personal standpoint I learned much of the following at a very young age while going to elementary school – in the North. Be advised – what you are about to read is the last posting I intend on devoting to Lincoln. If you choose to roll your eyes at this point – then you will never understand – and you have become a full-fledged victim of indoctrination. What you are about to read is the coup de gras on this TRAITOR to all that this nation was founded upon and once stood for. ~ JB

The Terrible Truth About Abraham Lincoln and the Confederate War

President Lincoln has been all but deified in America, with a god-like giant statue at a Parthenon-like memorial in Washington. Generations of school children have been indoctrinated with the story that “Honest Abe” Lincoln is a national hero who saved the Union and fought a noble war to end slavery, and that the “evil” Southern states seceded from the Union to protect slavery. This is the Yankee myth of history, written and promulgated by Northerners, and it is a complete falsity. It was produced and entrenched in the culture in large part to gloss over the terrible war crimes committed by Union soldiers in the War Between the States, as well as Lincoln’s violations of the law, his shredding of the Constitution, and other reprehensible acts. It has been very effective in keeping the average American ignorant of the real causes of the war, and the real nature, character and record of Lincoln. Let us look at some unpleasant facts. Continue reading

Sam Houston and Texas Secession

Lincoln, under no circumstances, would I vote for … So, I say, stand by the ‘Constitution and the Union’, and so long as the laws are enacted and administered according to the Constitution we are safe …“ (emphasis added) Letter from Sam Houston to Colonel A. Daly, August 14, 1860

The 1860 Election was still 3 months in the future and Houston had no inclination to pre-judge the new sectarian party that might be brought to power in Washington City. He was wrapping himself, as he always did, with a Jeffersonian understanding of constitutional liberty and wanted Texas protected by that same banner of Law. He was clear-sighted what might happen but remained a Jacksonian Dreamer. He knew the cherished Union of Jackson and his forefathers. Their dreams embodied his. Continue reading

Louis L’Amour: Western Writer and Western Principles

Louis L’Amour – famed western writer, penned roughly 130 Western novels, and short stories, to include the old Maverick television series; I have perused as many as 75% of his books – like many a sailor of my era, I became almost addicted to L’Amour in the USN; reading some of his books more than once… His’ Education of a Wandering Man is (an autobiography in which L’Amour not only recounts his life’s sundry diverse experiences which took place before he settled down to write; he details – by year – the hundreds of books which he studied; books of Classical Literature, Philosophy, Law etc.) included in a number of scholar’s recommended books lists, some quite surprising e.g., Father James V. Schall (S.J.) includes L’Amour’ book in his book titled: Another Sort of Learning. Continue reading