Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dura Europos

Recently THC wrote of the connection between the ancient Mesopotamian area of Singara once ruled by the Roman Empire and the hills of Sinjara to which the Yazidi fled just weeks ago to escape persecution from the Islamic State of ISIS.  In that post THC also discussed another Roman town, Dura Europos on the Euphrates River.

It turns out that Yale University has a direct connection with Dura as archaeologists from the school along with French colleagues conducted extensive excavations at the site from the late 1920s into the 1930s and many of the artifacts can be seen as the Yale University Art Gallery which THC recently visited.

Dura Europos was founded as a Greek Macedonian colony around 300BC, shortly after the death of Alexander the Great eventually being incorporated into the Roman Empire by the Emperor Septimius Severus in 197AD before being destroyed by King Shapur I of the resurgent Sassanian Empire around 256AD.
(from users.sticc.edu.)
The site lay abandoned and eventually covered by desert sands until accidentally discovered by British soldiers digging a trench in 1920.  The excavated town was a perfectly preserved relic from the third century.
(excavated Dura Europos; image from DigitalGlobal Inc)

The Sassanid siege was lengthy and brutal.  Excavators have found remains of several tunnel dug by the besiegers to undermine walls and attempt to gain access to the city.  In those tunnels have been found the remains of Roman and Sassanid soldiers who died in a dark underground struggle.  For those of you who enjoy historical fiction there is a fine recent novel based upon the siege,  Fire In The East by Harry Sidebottom, the first volume of his Warrior of Rome series.

Dura Europos was a prosperous and cosmopolitan city during its existence with a population consisting of Greeks, Syrians, Palmyerenes, Jews, Persians and other trading peoples.  The Yale-French excavations uncovered evidence of this mixing as well as of the Roman occupation garrison, including the oldest known Christian home church and one of the oldest Jewish synagogues ever found.  Below is a ceiling tile from the synagogue:
This is the only example of an intact Roman legionary shield ever discovered:
Below is a section of an inscription from the wall in Roman military headquarters.  You can see the letters SPQ which is part of the Roman motto SPQR; Senatus Populusque Romanum or "the Senate and People of Rome".   The full inscription tells us it is a dedication by Julius Domninus, an officer of Legio III Scythica, expressing hope for promotion for himself and his assistants:
The Mithraeum celebrates the cult of Mithras which was particularly popular with the Roman military of the third century.
A wall painting from a private home:
Dura's location today is just within the Syrian border in the area currently ruled by the Islamic State which has announced its intent to destroy or sell pre-Islamic era relics within its control.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Regular Season Wrap Up

This will be the first post-season since 1993 not to see either the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees playing.  The Yankees have appeared 17 times since then and the Red Sox made it to the post-season on 10 occasions.  The times they are a-changin'.

We did make it to Fenway yesterday to see Derek Jeter's farewell and experience the oddity of having perhaps half those attending being Yankee fans.  It was a fun afternoon with many former Sox showing up - Yaz, Lynn, Rice, El Tiante - as well as some icons from other Boston sports including Paul Pierce and Mr Hockey, Bobby Orr, who nearly 40 years after retiring got the biggest hand - other than Jeter.  They showed this tribute from Will Ferrell (as a Sox fan), Chris Rock and Kevin Hart. Big Papi led the current Sox squad out to say farewell to Mr Jeter and we all, Sox fans included, gave a fond goodbye to a respected foe.  Next up for Derek is bringing about World Peace.  We can't wait for A-Rod's farewell so we can give him a more traditional Red Sox send off.   

Future Nobel Peace Prize Winner                       Excommunicated From Church Of Baseball
  We'll wrap up by taking you to Grantland's Year-End Pitching GIF Awards.  Here's a sneak preview of two of the winners:

Corey Kluber (Indians): Slider

Felix Hernandez (Mariners) Changeup

Sunday, September 28, 2014

It Don't Mean A Thing

Since we're still in a Louis Armstrong mood, let's start a relaxing Sunday with Louis and Duke Ellington collaborating on It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing):

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Louis Armstrong House Museum

Yesterday we visited the Louis Armstrong House Museum in the Corona section of Queens, NYC.  We've written before about Armstrong and this trip has been on our to-do list for awhile.

Armstrong and his fourth wife Lucille purchased the house for $8,000 in 1943 just after their marriage and lived there until their deaths; Louis in 1971 and Lucille in 1983, although "lived there" may not quite be the right term for Louis who was constantly on the road playing up to 300 gigs a year. 

Corona then and now was a racially mixed middle class neighborhood with small frame houses and the Armstrong home is only a half block from heavily trafficked 37th Avenue.  The house (with the  garage converted into the museum) is modest and small.  Armstrong could have afforded a much larger home in a more exclusive area (he was making several hundred thousand a year in the 50s and 60s) but liked Corona and his neighbors, feeling very comfortable on the street and becoming friends with neighbors and having the local kids (Armstrong himself was childless) hang out in and around his home with the couple they knew as Uncle Satchmo and Aunt Lucille.  The photo at the top of this post is taken on the front steps of their home.

The home tour takes about 45 minutes and is well worth it.  The house remains as it was in the 1970s and it's definitely a trip back in time.  This is the retro kitchen which was very expensive back then (photos are not permitted on the tour so this is from a postcard):

Although the house itself is modest the Armstrongs collected art, particularly Asian, and Lucille made some very interesting choices about wallpaper; for one thing there is a lot of it.

Along with seeing the rooms you will also hear tapes of Armstrong speaking in several of the rooms (he made hundreds of hours of tapes over his life) and in his study you'll see a painting that Tony Bennett did of Louis (for more on Bennett see The Best Is Yet To Come).

Our tour guide, Tara O'Grady, was terrific - knowledgeable, enthusiastic and entertaining.   The visit and tour reinforced my existing impression that Louis Armstrong was a genuine good guy as well as a brilliant musician and you come away with the feeling he wanted you to have when he said:

"That's me and I don't want to be nobody else.  They know I'm there in the cause of happiness."
You can read more about the museum by clicking here.

It also turns out that Tara O'Grady is a talented singer performing at various venues in the New York area.  This is her website and here she is singing:

The Armstrong home is only a mile from Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, which THC had never been to so after our tour we went over to see the Mets lose to the Houston Astros 3-1.  We had a great time at the park except for this annoying guy with a giant head who kept obstructing our view!  I guess I shouldn't be so critical since you could see from the stitches that he'd had some terrible injury.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

RMS Republic And Our Grandfather Louis

Due to the intrepid detective work of the THC Sister we've recently discovered that our paternal grandfather Louis Stoler (THC wrote about our maternal great-grandfather in Our History And My History) arrived in Boston during the summer of 1905 as a passenger on RMS Republic.  The Republic was the product of the shipbuilders Harland and Wolf of Belfast, Ireland who built Titanic a few years later.  Launched in 1903 by the Dominion Lines, after its first two voyages it was acquired by the British White Star Lines, the later owner of Titanic. 
RMS Republic(From rms-republic.com)

White Star built a very successful business model marketing to emigrants traveling in third class, providing inexpensive, safe and clean accommodations along with good service, giving it the best reputation of all the shipping lines among emigrants.  Advertising heavily all over Europe and organizing feeder routes from ports in Germany, Holland and the Scandinavian countries to funnel emigrants to Liverpool, White Line operated five main immigration routes to the U.S; three ending in New York City, one in Montreal and the fifth in Boston, this last being the route our grandfather took.

Republic is best known to passenger steamship fans because of its last voyage.  In early 1909 the ship left New York sailing for Mediterranean ports.  Off the south coast of Nantucket on the dark wintry morning of January 23 Republic was proceeding cautiously in heavy fog when, at 5:47 AM, the Lloyds Italian liner SS Florida, carrying 800 Italian immigrants, appeared out of the gloom and struck the Republic amidships.  What ensued made history.  Fatally punctured, Republic used its newly installed Marconi wireless telegraph system to alert nearby vessels, becoming the first ship in history to issue radio distress signals.  The US Coast Guard cutter Gresham and the White Star Liner Baltic responded and, along with the Florida, which was still floating, rescued all 1200 passengers and crew with the exception of six killed in the collision.  Thirty six hours later the Republic sank while under tow.
(From slu.edu)

The White Star Line still exists, merging in 1934 with Cunard Line with the combined company now part of Carnival Corporation.  You can read more about the White Star Line and the voyages of the Republic at Norway-Heritage.com here and here.

Why was Louis Stoler on the Republic and why did he emigrate to America?  Louis died in 1933,  didn't talk much about his past with family, and we have little documentation, so what follows is a likely tale but one that can't be confirmed in all its details.

Louis and his family were from somewhere in the Minsk district of what was then Russia but is now Belarus.  In 1905 Russia had the largest Jewish population in the world, more than 5 million people, most descended from Jews expelled from Western Europe and who moved east at the invitation of King Casimir of Poland in the 14th century settling in lands that were part of Poland or the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until the 17th and 18th centuries when the Polish Kingdom first began to shrink before finally being disassembled by Russia, Austria and Prussia in 1793.

Once Jews came under the rule of the Russian Empire they were restricted to living in certain designated portions of the country known as the Pale of Settlement.
(The Pale, from Wikipedia; the colors and numbers indicate the % of Jewish population)

Even within the Pale, Jews were restricted to living in specific cities and villages and barred from many trades and activities.  Until 1827, they were also barred from serving in the Russian military being compelled to pay double taxes in lieu of service.  The reform minded Nicholas I (1825-55) instituted a new policy requiring Jewish community leaders to provide a set number of annual conscripts from among Jews aged 12 to 25 for twenty five years of military service, the standard conscription length for the Russian Army at the time.  By the latter part of the 19th century the age was raised to 18 and the term of service limited to 5 to 10 years.  While the Czars initially implemented the policy to encourage religious conversion very few Jews did so.  The regime for the Jewish soldiers was tough, but bearable, under Nicholas I and his successor, Alexander II (1855-81).  However, under the last two Czars, Alexander III (1881-1894) and Nicholas II (1894-1917), both anti-Semites along with much of the senior military leadership, treatment became harsher.  If you'd like to know more about the circumstances under which Jews served in the Russian Army read here.

Louis Stoler was one of those conscripts.  The family lore always had it that he'd been in the Russian Army and we located this picture in which Louis (on the left) is wearing what we've recently confirmed is a Russian military uniform from that period.
By 1900 Jews constituted about 5% of the Russian Army compared to about 4% of the overall population.  About 14% of the population of the Minsk area was Jewish and the recruits were selected from the poorer and less skilled portion of the population.  Exactly when Louis was conscripted is unknown but as he was born in the early 1880s it is unlikely he'd been in the army for more than 3 or 4 years by the time the Russian Revolution of 1905 occurred.  The Jewish Pale had already been subjected to a renewed series of pogroms (attacks on Jewish people and property done with the tacit encouragement or forgiveness of the authorities) beginning in 1903, when the first revolutionary riots broke out in Moscow and St Petersburg in December 1904 in the midst of the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-5.  In January and February of 1905 Russia suffered a series of catastrophic land and naval defeats at the hands of the Japanese and the violence and strikes intensified, including several mutinies in the Navy.  It was in the midst of this chaos and upheaval that Louis decided to desert and make his way to America, a journey an older brother made several years earlier.  How he got out of Russia and to Liverpool we don't know.  It is possible that he made his way via Hamburg in Germany, one of the main feeder ports for Russian Jews coming to America, and thence on to Liverpool.

Louis was part of a huge wave of emigrating Russian Jews from 1880 to the mid-1920s, though most were not deserters, adding an element of danger and risk to his escape.  During this period more than 2.2 million Jews left Russia with about 80% coming to the United States.

Once he arrived what was he to do; how would he survive?  As a young man with military experience it appears he decided to apply his training and a few weeks after landing in Boston we find him in Trenton, New Jersey enlisting for a three-year hitch in the United States Army!  He left the service for a few months after finishing his enlistment and then re-enlisted for another three years, finally being discharged as a sergeant in 1912.  At some point in this period he served with his regiment, which may have been the 23rd Infantry, in the Philippines; in the U.S. he was primarily stationed in Georgia .  Here's a picture of him while in the U.S. Army; he's the guy standing on the far left. Russia to America to the Philippines and serving in two armies all in the space of less than five years!
At some point while in Georgia, Louis was joined by a young woman, Bessie Gordinitzky, whom he had known in Russia.  They married and Bessie learned English working as a housekeeper for local families.  Many years later my father mentioned that his mother spoke English with a Southern accent.

For some further speculation why Louis and his wife left Georgia after his discharge from the army in 1912 see Strange Fruit (you'll need to scroll down into the post to find the part about him).  He and Bessie had brief stays in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Lexington, Kentucky before moving to White Plains, NY around 1916.  In 1923 they moved, with their four children, to Darien CT where they opened a store in Noroton Heights, that was run by the Stoler family until the mid-1970s.

In the course of this research I accessed some Belarus and Jewish Genealogy databases but was unable to find any record of Louis or his immediate family.  What I did find discloses the fate of most of the Jews who never left Belarus.  The only records of Stolers (there are also many Stolars, Stolairs and Stolinskys, and there was even a town called Stolovichi) were of nine Stolers murdered by the Germans and their collaborators in the town of Novogrudok, about 70 miles from Minsk, on August 7, 1942 (their names and ages were Benjamin (10), Chaim (30), Gita (25), Hirsh (28), Meier (17), Moisiei (6), Moisiei (54), Musia (34) and Shosel (12)), and of two Stolers known to have fought with the Partisans against the Nazis; whether they survived is unknown.  Of the estimated 800,000 Jews of Belarus in 1939, 90% were killed by the Germans.  Most of the survivors served in the Red Army, fled from the German advance in the summer of 1941, or were among the small number of Jewish partisans who survived (the best known of whom are the Bielski Brothers who later emigrated to America; their story is told in the 2008 film Defiance, starring Daniel Craig).  Many of remaining Jews of Belarus emigrated after the collapse of the Soviet Union and today there are only about 12-15,000 left in the country.

We are forever grateful to Louis for deciding to come to America when he did.  Thanks grandpa!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Notes From Our Masters

Something that came to THC's attention this morning:

Via Hot Air THC learned the New York Times published a correction to a September 11 article comparing the approaches to war in the Middle East employed by George W Bush and Barack Obama which contained the assertion "Unlike Mr. Bush in the Iraq war, Mr. Obama has sought to surround the United States with partners."  Since Mr Bush had 29 partners in the Iraq War compared to the five for our new adventure (three of whom also partnered with Mr Bush) this did seem a tad in error and today the Times finally corrected it.
Apart from his mild surprise that the Times deigned to print the correction since it is, in the words of Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption, "deliberately obtuse" and reluctant about such corrections if they impair the party line what this most reflects is the inbred nature of the Times and much other media reporting.  THC is sure that the reporter has heard endlessly about Bush's "unilateralism" so didn't even think about it when he wrote the sentence and none of the paper's legions of editors also thought it unusual.  They live in a world where they repeat nonsense to each other so much that they just come to accept it as the truth.

As if to prove the point, the Times is not the only media representative making the same mistake.  The same Hot Air article also points out this tweet from reporter Josh Lederman, who covers the White House for the Associated Press,  just last night.
As was pointed out the distinguishing factor was not that Obama had Arab allies since Bush did also, it was the Bush, not Obama, went to Congress to seek authorization.

The problem with the Times compared to the ignorant tweet of Josh Lederman is that it is the paper of record and relied upon by educators and researchers.  The September 11 article will always be there for the researchers while the correction is hard to find. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bodhisattva Isolated Guitars

While researching the post on The Edge, THC ran across this isolated guitar track from the Steely Dan's Bodhisattva which contains his favorite Dan guitar solo (see Steely Dan guitar solos).

On it you just hear the guitars and it's thrilling; despite the title of the Dan's first album, Can't Buy A Thrill, it turns out you can.  Guitars courtesy of Denny Dias (it's his solo that starts at about 1:35) and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter.   

Sunday, September 21, 2014

About 4 Years Ago . . . No, It Was Yesterday

A THC favorite, Steven Wright, who like many comics in the 1980s got his start in the Boston clubs.  He often takes a very convoluted route to his punch lines.

"The ice cream truck in my neighborhood plays Helter Skelter".

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Kidnapping Of Flint Rhem

The National League pennant race was hot when the St Louis Cardinals arrived in Brooklyn on September 15, 1930 for a three games series against the Dodgers at Ebbetts Field starting the next day.  The Cards had been on a torrid streak, winning 34 of their last 45 games and raising their record to 82-60 only a game behind league leading Brooklyn and only a half game in front of the Chicago Cubs. 

Cards manager Gabby Street had a problem on his hands due to the hand problem of Wild Bill Hallahan whose turn it was to pitch the next day.  Hallahan had caught a finger in the door of a taxi and told Street he couldn't pitch.  Gabby decided to move the next man in the rotation, Flint Rhem, a hard throwin' and hard drinkin' South Carolinian, up a day.  Rhem had been outstanding recently winning five in a row including his last start on September 12 beating the New York Giants 5-2 in probably his finest performance of the season.
https://assets-sports.vice.com/images/articles/meta/2014/08/11/untitled-article-1407773313.jpg?crop=1xw:0.45xh;0xw,0.1484375xh&resize=400:*(Mr Rhem)
The only problem his manager faced that evening was that Flint Rhem was nowhere to be found.  He'd disappeared, just like Judge Crater had vanished in nearby Manhattan only six weeks prior.  In desperation Gabby went to Wild Bill who agreed to give it a try.  It turned out to be quite a try.  The Cards won 1-0 in ten innings with both Hallahan and the great Dazzy Vance (see Dazzy Koufax for more on Vance) going the distance.  Hallahan was touched for only five hits; Vance gave up seven, striking out eleven and walking nobody.

The following day, almost 48 hours after his disappearance, Flint Rhem reappeared but in no condition to pitch.  No problem, the Cards won again and then beat the Dodgers once more on the 18th to sweep the series and leave with a two game lead, going on to win the pennant.

What happened to Flint Rhem?  Why, he'd been kidnapped by thugs who force fed him liquor to prevent him from pitching against the Dodgers!

According to the Sabr Bioproject  biography of Rhem a wire service story devoted to Flint's shocking tale appeared on September 19;

 “Rhem, who through his diamond career has never been celebrated as an ardent prohibitionist, failed to appear at the Cardinals’ local headquarters [before a game in Brooklyn] on Monday night. Last night, however, he returned and faced ‘Gabby’ Street, the manager. ‘Yes?’ said Street coldly. ‘Yes,’ mumbled Rhem. ‘Bandits. Guns. Kidnapping. They made me drink the awful stuff.’” Rhem’s claim was that two thugs had kidnapped him and taken him to a remote roadhouse. They were armed, and forced him to drink a large quantity of hard liquor. “‘And I am sorry to say that I got drunk. Imagine that happening to me! Of all people, me!...I was helpless, always in fear of my life.’”

(from legendsrevealed.com)

Another version of the story can be found at dbsociety.com:
When the Redbirds returned to their hotel following the extra-inning thriller, Rhem showed up visibly, the worse for wear. According to Rhem, he was standing outside the team's hotel when a car pulled up. Two men, presumably Robins' fans, forced him into the car at gunpoint. His abductors then took him to a house in New Jersey, where again at gunpoint, forced him to drink whiskey all day. Ring Lardner wrote that Rhem continually kept saying to Street, "It was terrible, Sarge, it was just awful."

Dan Daniel in the New York Telegram quoted our ill-starred hero as confessing, "I am ashamed to say that I got drunk. Imagine me getting drunk! I pleaded with the bandits not to make me drink hard liquor, which you know I abhor, but they would not listen to me. I was in their power. I drank and drank – always at the point of a gun, always threatened. It was horrible."
The story got around Brooklyn that gambling interests kidnapped Rhem away in order to give Brooklyn an edge in the series against the Cardinals. The league was poised to open an investigation, but Branch Rickey, business manager of the Cardinals, went to NL president John Heydler to tell him that Rhem's story was nonsense. Heydler wisely chose not to proceed with the investigation.

Undaunted, Rhem could not help police locate the house in New Jersey, nor could he give complete descriptions of the bandits. Nick Altrock, former pitcher and the first "Clown Prince of Baseball," later stated that he rushed into the streets of New York hoping to be mistaken for a Cardinal pitcher by gunmen, bandits, or anyone else who would provide the necessary whiske
You can tell from the tone of the news stories that Flint Rhem already had quite a reputation which induced widespread skepticism of his explanation.  He reached the majors with the Cards in 1924 and could be quite an effective pitcher, winning 20 games for the 1926 pennant winners.  He was also known for his rowdy and rambunctious ways which included a lot of drinking.  He was Grover Cleveland Alexander's drinking partner and the story is that it was Flint who was drinking with Alexander in the bullpen when Grover was unexpectedly called into the game in the seventh inning and struck out Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded.  So it was not an unnatural suspicion that what had actually happened in Brooklyn was that Flint Rhem went on one of his benders and years later Rhem indirectly confirmed those suspicions.

Exhibiting his hard-won wisdom from dealing with Flint over the years, Gabby Street did not seem unduly upset telling a wire service (printed in the New Castle (PA) News, Sept. 17, 1930):

"Rhem is a good pitcher.  I think he can help us to win the pennant.  I am sorry this happened but we are going to give the Kid another chance.  Whether Rhem's story is true I do not know.  It may be true but I prefer to let the matter drop."

The Cards took no disciplinary action and Flint won his next start against the Phillies on September 20 and even made a start in the World Series.  Flint continued his major league career until 1936 finishing with a record of 105-97.

The other feat for which Flint Rhem is remembered are the two times he faced Babe Ruth in the fourth game of the 1926 World Series.  Ruth hit towering home runs on both occasions, as part of a three homer outburst supposedly pledged by the Babe to a sick hospitalized youngster, Johnny Sylvester.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dred Scott's Trial

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/48/Dred_Scott_photograph_(circa_1857).jpg (Dred Scott, Wikipedia)

On September 17, 1858 Dred Scott died of tuberculosis in St Louis, Missouri.  In March 1857 Mr Scott had been the subject of the infamous Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v Sandford, considered one of stepping stones to the American Civil War.  Less than three months after that decision, in which the Court affirmed that he remained a slave, Scott was freed by his owner, Charles Blow (there lies a very tangled tale behind the ownership of Scott and his wife Harriet).

But for an unlikely sequence of events Dred Scott would have won his freedom in a state court case a decade earlier and the case never would have added to the bonfire of sectional conflict.

THC's purpose is not to rehash the Supreme Court decision, which remains a source of scholarly and historical interest more than 150 years later with still-raging disputes about what the actual holding of the case is and what is mere dicta, a dispute complicated by the fact that all nine justices filed separate opinions.  Rather it is to focus more on the earlier litigation in the Missouri state courts because it illustrates the changing and hardening attitudes about slavery in the slave holding states in the decades prior to the Civil War.  The best account of the case and its historical setting remains the 1978 Pulitzer Prize winning book by Don E Fehrenbacher; The Dred Scott Case:  Its Significance in American Law and Politics from which much of the story is this post is taken.

Dred Scott was born around 1800 in Virginia.  Almost nothing is known of the man so we have virtually no insight into his personality.  He may have been no more than five feet tall.  Fehrenbacher cites an 1857 newspaper article in the St Louis Evening News which calls him "illiterate but not ignoble" and with a "strong common sense".  We do not know how much of the initiative of the eleven years of litigation was at his initiative.  There is still so much unknown regarding his character, his relationship with his original owners, the Blows, and what other people or groups played a role in setting the strategy and funding it for the years of litigation.

In 1833, Dred Scott was sold to Dr John Emerson of St Louis by the family of Peter Blow, his owners since his childhood or early adulthood.  The Blow family was later to become his chief supporters in his fight for freedom.  Dr Emerson had recently received an appointment as assistant surgeon in the U.S. Army and his first posting was in Illinois, a free state, to which he took Scott.   In 1836 Dr Emerson was transferred to Fort Snelling on the Mississippi River near present day St Paul, Minnesota again taking Scott with him.  Fort Snelling was in what was then the Wisconsin Territory and within the area where slavery was forbidden by the Missouri Compromise of 1820.  While at Snelling, Scott met and was allowed to marry Harriet Robinson, a marriage that lasted until his death.  Harriet and their two daughters joined Dred in his lawsuit. 
In 1840, Dr Emerson was ordered to Florida.  Instead of taking the Scotts with him they accompanied his wife Eliza (Sanford) Emerson to their home in St Louis.  Emerson resigned from the Army in 1842 returning to St Louis and dying in Iowa the next year.

In 1846 Dred Scott tried to buy freedom for himself and his family but Mrs Sanford refused for reasons that are still unclear.  In April of that year, Dred and Harriet filed petitions in Missouri court seeking their freedom based on their residence on free soil.  Under then-existing Missouri law the petition by the Scott stood a good chance of success.  It may seem surprising but several slave holding states applied a relatively strong presumption of freedom in such cases. On numerous occasions the Missouri Supreme Court had ruled that a slave, taken by his master to reside in a state where slavery was prohibited, was thereby emancipated and had even ruled in favor of a slave held by a military officer at Fort Snelling (see Rachel v Walker (1836)).

At trial in June 1847 Scott's lawyers only needed to prove two facts to prevail; that Dred had been taken by his master to reside in a free state or territory and that Mrs Emerson currently owned him.  Nonetheless a verdict was returned in favor of Mrs Emerson because Scott's lawyers failed to prove that she was the owner of the Scotts leading to the bizarre result that the Scotts remained the slaves of Mrs Emerson because technically it had not been proved she owned them!  Apparently, Scott's lawyers planned to rely on the testimony of Samuel Russell who stated he'd hired the Scotts to perform some work for him from Mrs Emerson.  However, on cross-examination Russell admitted that his wife, who did not testify, had made all the arrangements and he only knew what his wife had told him.  The whole thing sounds very strange to THC.

The cases were refiled with additional defendants added and a new trial ordered.  The defendants appealed the order but the Missouri Supreme Court sided with the Scotts and directed the trial to proceed.  At the second time around in January 1850 the jury found in favor of Dred Scott (this would have been an all-white jury as blacks were not permitted to serve).  The defendants then appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.  Although briefs were filed in March 1850, the Court did not render a decision until 1852.  If the Scotts had prevailed in the original 1847 trial they would have won their freedom but changes in the political atmosphere led to a different result five years later.

To understand what happened we need to go back a bit.  At the time of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Constitution Convention (1787) sectional differences over slavery could not be resolved but the common assumption, North and South, was that it would, and should, cease to exist at some point in the future.  As the United States expanded the issue of whether slavery was to be allowed in the territories was subject to a series of differing accommodations.  Slavery also became more economically and culturally embedded with the growth of the cotton economy. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both of whom assumed slavery would fade away in time, grew more distressed at the intractability of the problem expressing their despair during the final years of their correspondence which ended with their deaths in 1826.

The 1830s saw the sectional conflict heat up with the start of the abolition movement in the North (particularly New England) which was seen as a great threat and incitement to slave rebellion by the South and in the South by the growing doctrine that slavery was a positive good for both master and slave.  It also saw the start of an explicit rejection of the Declaration's statement that "all men are created equal" a proposition which John C Calhoun, the intellectual godfather of Southern rejectionism, called a "hypothetical truism" and "the most false and dangerous of all political errors" (as quoted by Harry Jaffa in Dred Scott Revisited, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy).
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/67/John_C_Calhoun_by_Mathew_Brady,_March_1849-crop.jpg(John C Calhoun; ya gotta love the neckbeard!)
The situation reached a fever pitch during the Mexican War (1846-8) when Congress embarked on a series of fierce debates over whether to permit slavery in the territories acquired from Mexico and slavery for the first time became the dominant issue in a Presidential election (1848) all of which culminated in the Compromise of 1850 which left many in the South outraged because it did not open all the new territory to slavery and left many in the North angry that some of the territory would become slave-holding and that the North would be subject to the loathsome Fugitive Slave Act which subordinated state courts to federal enforcement in returning runaway slaves.

At the same time the legal framework for slavery was changing.  All slave states had Slave Codes setting forth how enslaved people were, or were not, to have access to courts, the relative rights of master and slave, and on what grounds they could be freed.  During the 18th and early 19th century some of these codes afforded slaves more legal rights than free white women.  That changed in the decades preceding the Civil War.  New restrictions were placed on the ability of slaves to travel on their own, pass systems were put into place, it became more difficult for masters to free slaves, many states required freed slaves to leave the state and several states forbid slaves being be taught to read and write.

It was in this context that Missouri law, which had been relatively liberal in providing access to courts and in presumptions regarding freedom was about to change.  In 1852, the Missouri Supreme Court effectively overruled Rachel v Walker and found against the Scotts by a vote of 2-1.

It is worth quoting at length (from Fehrenbacher's book) the majority opinion by Justice William Scott which well captures the changed tenor of the times:

Times are not now as they were when the former decisions on this subject were made.  Since then not only individuals but States have been possessed with a dark and fell spirit in relation to slavery, whose gratification is sought in the pursuit of measures, whose inevitable consequences must be the overthrow and destruction of our government  . . . Although we may, for our own sakes, regret that the avarice and hard-heartedness of the progenitors of those who are now so sensitive on the subject, ever introduced the institution among us, yet we will not go to them to learn law, morality or religion on the subject.

Justice Scott closed his opinion with these sentiments:

We are almost persuaded that the introduction of slavery amongst us was, in the providence of God, who makes the evil passions of men subservient to His own glory, a means of placing that unhappy race within the pale of civilized nations. 

On appeal to the Supreme Court, the Scotts again lost by a vote of 7-2.  As mentioned previously the debate over what the court decided, as a matter of law, has gone on for over a century but what is clear is that the Court, or at least Chief Justice Roger Taney, decided that rather than base its decision on narrow grounds as it could have, it would attempt, once and for all, to resolve the slavery issue for the nation, one of the greatest miscalculations in American history.
http://a5.files.biography.com/image/upload/c_fill,g_face,h_300,q_80,w_300/MTIwNjA4NjM0MjE1ODkyNDky.jpg(Chief Justice Taney, from Biography.com)
Most critically the Court, in Taney's decision, concluded:

(1) Negroes were not citizens of the United States and therefore unable to bring suit in a federal court [note: this applied to all Negroes slave or free]

(2) The Missouri Compromise provisions regarding slavery were unconstitutional since Congress had no power to forbid slavery in the territories.

For anyone who opposed slavery and the power of the South, not just abolitionists, the decision was their worst nightmare.

To reach his result, Justice Taney had to employ a type of perverted Originalism to rewrite the history of the Founding Era in order to conclude that it had never been the intent to provide Negroes any of "the rights and privileges which that instrument [the Constitution] provides for and secures to citizens of the United States".  Once again, remember that Justice Taney is making this statement as to all Negroes whether free or slave.  In the course of his opinion Taney ignores, distorts and rewrites the history of the late 18th century.  As an example, he completely rewrites the history of the Northwest Ordinance, which forbid slavery in the territories north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi, was originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson and passed by the Continental Congress and then ratified by the first Congress under the new Constitution.

Justice Taney discovery of this "secret" history contravened the narrative of Southern leaders both before and after Dred Scott.  After all, if the Founders never intended to include Negroes with at least some degree of rights, why was John C Calhoun so intent on denouncing their "error" in this regard in the quote cited earlier?  And, as Jaffa points out in Dred Scott Revisited, if Taney was correct why did Alexander Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederacy feel compelled in his notorious Cornerstone speech of 1861 to express these sentiments?:

The prevailing ideas entertained by [Jefferson] and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically.  It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the man of that day was that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away.

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid; its corner-stone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not the equal to the white man.  That slavery - subordination to the superior race - is his natural and moral condition.

This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

[By the way, it turns out Stephens is a much more complex and interesting character than THC thought and will be the subject of a future post.]

The Dred Scott decision did not itself make the Civil War inevitable but it helped it along.  THC believes Civil War was very likely regardless of the Scott decision but if Dred's lawyers had been a little more prepared and astute in 1847 it is possible that this bit of tinder might never have been added to the fire.

And, if you are interested in reading more about slavery as the root cause of the Civil War take a look at Forever Free, Part 2.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An Evening With Ayaan Hirsi Ali


Last night I attended a lecture at Yale sponsored by the William F Buckley Program (the goal of the program is "to promote intellectual diversity" at the school) and delivered by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, currently a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  I’d been unaware of the scheduled lecture until reading about a controversy triggered by an open letter from Yale’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) which denounced the invitation to Hirsi Ali because of her alleged history of hate speech and intolerance as well as her lack of academic credentials to speak about the Islamic faith.  The letter backfired on the MSA when a number of the 35 other Yale student groups it claimed had endorsed the letter stated that they had done no such thing.

Since I'd read about Hirsi Ali over the years, though never read anything by her except maybe an op-ed here or there I decided to attend the event to hear her talk entitled "The Clash of Civilizations: Islam versus the West".  And also because I don't like being told what I should or should not listen to and remembered that last spring Brandeis University rescinded an offer to award her an honorary degree at commencement due to pressures from the same groups.

The evening consisted of a one hour talk by Hirsi Ali followed by 30 minutes of Q&A which was limited to questions submitted in writing by the audience.  There were no protests outside and the audience, which included students from the MSA, was polite and orderly.

Below is a summary of my notes which I have not tried to organize or to add my own interpretation except where clearly noted as "My Comment".

Before that, for those unfamiliar with her background; Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia in 1969.  Her father was a politician opposing the government who spent some time in exile.  Her family moved to Saudi Arabia in 1977 and shortly thereafter to Ethiopia and then Kenya.  She grew up in a Muslim household and as a girl underwent female genital mutilation, a practice she has decried as an adult.

In 1992, to avoid an arranged marriage she received political asylum in the Netherlands where she obtained a college degree and began learning several languages.  Horrified by the events of Sept 11, 2001 and increasingly dissatisfied with her religion she renounced Islam in 2002 becoming an atheist.  She became politically active and was elected to the Dutch Parliament in 2003.  In 2004 she worked with the Dutch director Theo van Gogh on Submission, a short film criticizing the Muslim treatment of women.  Later that year, van Gogh was shot, had his throat slit by an Islamist and was left lying dead in the street with a note pinned by a knife in his chest threatening Hirsi Ali with death.  Since that time she has lived with some level of security around her.

In 2005 a controversy erupted over whether her 1992 asylum application was accurate and she resigned from Parliament and a year later moved to the United States.  In 2005 Time Magazine named her as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world and in 2006 her best selling autobiography Infidel was published.  In 2013 she became an American citizen.

The Lecture 

She complimented the President of Yale for his recent statements in support of free speech and contrasted it with Brandeis University’s decision to rescind heraward of an honorary degree last spring.

She spoke of the Brandeis incident and other commencement fiascoes at the same time and said they involved two phenomenon.  The first, which she called self inflicted, an excessive focus on any controversial or potentially offensive (to someone) speakers and second, in her case, the problem with Islam to listen to any criticism which she said takes advantage of the first concern.

Referring to the kidnapping of young girls by Boko Haram she said we (the West) show too much restraint in our response but praised the West’s use of diplomatic pressure to free the Sudanese woman who converted to Christianity.

She spoke about ISIS and said “I do not blame the President for showing restraint” and then said we need to finally figure out how we are fighting and what we are fighting.  Yes, we can militarily take out the ISIS leadership but what will we do about the next group, and there will be a next group.

It was significant that the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the US last week wrote in a Wall St Journal op-ed denouncing “Islamic extremism“, a term she said the Arab states had previously avoided.  She called it “a good step forward“.

We need to broaden the tools and methods to deal with this threat beyond just military action and surveillance. [MY COMMENT:  This was a theme she returned to several times].

She then moved to her broader themes.  First she took on those who attacked her for a lack of academics credentials and questioned why her experiences are relevant. [MY COMMENT:  You may find this unbelievable since the Left routinely elevates those with "authentic" experience as ones we simply must listen to, but when it is someone they don't like they are dismissed on those grounds].

In response she moved to what I thought the most powerful part of her talk:

She pointed out what happened to those well credentialed religious academics in Muslim societies who dissented in even minor ways from the historic teachings of Islam.  She ran through a list of 20th century Muslim academics who were exiled, forced to divorce their wives, recant and, in some cases, executed.

Hirsi Ali then spoke at length about her own experience growing up in East Africa.  Her family and community were Muslim but she described it as an Islam that “if you neglected some teachings you were left alone”.  There was not hostility between Sunni and Shiite and they got on well with their Christian neighbors, though she added they did hate the Jews, but they again, they never met any.  She said many Muslim, then and now, are “peaceful, loving people“.

This changed when she was 15 and a teacher (she referred to him as the Preacher Teacher) arrived in their community.  He had been trained somewhere in the Middle East, perhaps Saudi or Egypt and he preached intolerance and a language new to their ears.  He introduced the concepts of jihad and martyrdom, the subordinate role of women and the need to aspire to kill all Jews (not just those in Israel).

This, Ali emphasized, is the indoctrination process that it overlooked.  It must be addressed because this is “the cancer“.  These preachers are not just active in the Muslim world; they are here in the U.S. and U.K. [MY COMMENT:  She never said anything about how to address this other than the West needed to empower Islamic reformers and dissidents].

She then said that there is only one Islam but several different kinds of Muslims:

The first are the Preacher Teachers who focus on a core of Islam (submission to Allah) and preach hatred and intolerance along with their followers.
The second, whom she said are the majority of Muslims, are in cognitive dissonance.  They are horrified by and condemn the atrocities carried out by the first group in the name of Islam but they still believe in core Islamic beliefs.
The final group are the small minority of reformists and dissidents.  Ali places herself in the latter category.  She defined the dissidents as those who when confronted by a conflict between their conscience and the core creed of Islam choose their conscience.

She closed by addressing some questions to the Muslim students in the audience.  These included:
Why don’t you spend your time protesting the Preacher Teachers and their intolerance instead of protesting against people like me?
Why don’t Muslims protest against the image of the Koran sandwiched between two Kalashnikovs (the banner of Boko Haram)?
Why are Muslims silent about the murder of others by the intolerant ones (whether members of different Islamic sects or those of other faiths)?
She ended by saying that every day there is a headline that forces Muslims to chose between conscience and creed.


Q. Is there too much focus on Islamic extremism?  What about colonialism and the evils of the West?

A. Colonialism is not unique to the Muslim world.  The Vietnamese and most African states were colonized but they are not waging jihad in response.  She also reminded the audience that Islam itself once was a colonial empire.

In response to another question (don’t have details in my notes) she again mentioned that using military means may be a necessity but our tools need to be broadened.

In response to a question about the Israeli-Palestinian conflicted she mentioned she had come across Palestinians who sincerely want a state that will co-exist peacefully with Israel but a second group see this as a religious war regardless of how the boundaries might be drawn.  She said the first group was in the minority but she hopes that in light of the other regional threats that the Arab nations might empower this group to seek a real peace.

The last question was why should we consider the problems of extremism in Islam as an indictment of the entire religion?  In her response she makes it clear that any “unreformed” religion is potentially a threat and said that in the West this reform had happened (she mentioned that even the Vatican had to make reforms in recent decades).  She mentioned visiting the Salem Witch Museum and seeing the texts used to condemn people for sorcery.  She said that’s where unreformed religions belong, in the museum.  The problem with Islam is that it is still in the 7th century and that increasing numbers of Muslims view the Koran and hadiths as a driving manual.

The dissidents and reformers must be empowered and must push for doctrinal change in Islam.  She pointed out that the huge demonstrations in Egypt overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood were opposing the imposition of Sharia law as were the 2009 demonstrators in Iran.

She made three final remarks:

Reminded us that her community had no interest in jihad until the arrival of the Preacher Teacher.
We should not be in bed with the Saudis who spread intolerance.
A world not led by America will be a really bad place to live in.” 

MY COMMENT:  Hirsi Ali said both that Islam is in the 7th century and that her community was fine practicing Islam until the arrival of the intolerant Preacher Teacher.  My sense is she would reconcile this by saying that Islam is a good faith "as long as you don't take it too seriously", a belief she would apply to all religions.  The universalist side of her message will make many uncomfortable.  For instance, along with opposing female genital mutilation she would also forbid the male circumcision practiced by Muslims and Jews.  She would also ban religious educational institutions.

I admire Hirsi Ali's courage and while I don't feel knowledgeable enough to comment on her religious critique of Islam it seems to me that her message about the instrumental role played by the fundamentalist preachers is correct.  However, while her message can be effective in the West, as a self described Islamic dissident and atheist it seems doubtful she will have any impact on the Muslim world and it is hard to see how a non-Islamic West can effectively empower Islamic reformers and dissidents.  This is a problem that makes taking on Communism look like child's play. 

Monday, September 15, 2014


Last night THC caught Supercop for the first time in several years.  It's the third film in the great Jackie Chan's Police Story trilogy and co-stars Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).  Michelle, playing a Chinese Police Inspector, holds her own with Jackie, as a Hong Kong cop, in the 1992 film.  They are both undercover seeking to break up a drug smuggling gang with action set in China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia.

The climactic action sequence is set in Malaysia's capitol of Kuala Lumpur and includes incredible stunts by both Jackie (the helicopter sequence) and Michelle (a motorcycle leap on to the top of a moving train).  No CGI or blue screen here and you can't say no one was hurt in the making of the film.

Below are the three key final sequences along with the outtakes showing what happens when the stunts don't go quite as planned.

In this first sequence it's Michelle with the headscarf and Jackie dressed in yellow.

Next up is the helicopter hang.

Michelle's cycle leap.

The outtakes including the botched cycle leap.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Enter Sandman Meets Bluegrass

Just what you've been waiting for - a bluegrass version of Metallica's lullaby Enter Sandman by the bluegrass band Iron Horse.  In its own way it's just as ominous as the original.  As a bonus feature you can actually understand the words!

The Iron Horse boys are from Killen, Alabama and this is their website.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sherman's Letter To The Mayor of Atlanta

http://www.civilwarphotos.net/files/images/104.jpg (Atlanta from civilwarphotos.net)

On this date in 1864 General William Tecumseh Sherman sent a letter to James M Calhoun, Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia containing a passage well-known to Civil War aficionados and students of the general's career:

You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty and you cannot refine it, and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war.

What prompted Sherman to express these sentiments in a letter to the mayor of a city his army had occupied ten days earlier? 

In early May 1864, Sherman's army began a campaign from its base at Chattanooga, Tennessee with the capture of Atlanta, a key Confederate manufacturing center and rail hub, as its goal.  After four months of marching, maneuvering and fighting (though despite Sherman's bloodthirsty rhetoric he avoided committing his troops to battle more than most Civil War generals) against the Confederate forces commanded at first by Joseph E Johnston and then later by John Bell Hood, Atlanta fell to the Union forces on September 2.  As the Confederates withdrew they set fire to some buildings and an ammunition train which exploded causing extensive damage (it is this event that is the setting for Rhett Butler's dramatic rescue of Scarlett O'Hara and her sister in Gone With The Wind).

(Mill and train destroyed by Confederates)

Although Sherman now had possession of Atlanta, the Confederate army under General Hood still existed and was in a position to possibly cut his supply line which ran back to Chattanooga.  This led Sherman to decide that the civilian population of Atlanta must be evacuated as he could not reliably supply it and did not want to be burdened with the need to do so.  His evacuation order came on September 7, 1864 and triggered several rounds of correspondence between Generals Sherman and Hood as well as Mayor Calhoun over the ensuing days (the entire exchange can be found here).  These letters provide a good insight into Sherman's strategy and state of mind at the time. 

Sherman's letter of September 7 to Hood announces his intent to evacuate and proposes a truce to facilitate movement for those people who want to go in the direction of Hood's army:.  Of particular interest is his approach towards the handling of black "servants":

If you consent I will undertake to remove all families in Atlanta who prefer to go South to Rough and Ready [a station on the rail line outside Atlanta], with all their movable effects, viz, clothing, trunks, with their servants, white and black, with the proviso that no force shall be used toward the blacks one way or the other. If they want to go with their masters or mistresses they may do so, otherwise they will be sent away, unless they be men, when they may be employed by our quartermaster. Atlanta is no place for families or non-combatants, and I have no desire to send them North if you will assist in conveying them.
On the 9th Hood responded accepting Sherman's proposal but then at the end of his letter adding two sentences that clearly left Sherman irate:

And now, sir, permit me to say that the unprecedented measure you propose transcends, in studied and ingenious cruelty, all acts ever before brought to my attention in the dark history of war. In the name of God and humanity I protest, believing that you will find that you are expelling from their homes and firesides the wives and children of a brave people.  

Sherman's reply the following day addresses almost exclusively those closing sentences.  He points out that it is not "necessary to appeal to the dark history of war when recent and modern examples are so handy" citing the many instances in the recent campaign when Johnston and Hood forced the evacuation of civilians, destroyed their property and placed women and children in harm's way.  Sherman closes by calling Hood a hypocrite:

Talk thus to the marines, but not to me, who have seen these things, and who will this day make as much sacrifice for the peace and honor of the South as the best born Southerner among you. If we must be enemies, let us be men and fight it out, as we propose to do, and not deal in such hypocritical appeals to God and humanity. God will judge us in due time, and He will pronounce whether it be more humane to fight with a town full of women, and the families of "a brave people" at our back, or to remove them in time to places of safety among their own friends and people. 

The next day Mayor Calhoun along with two city councilmen injected themselves into the discussion requesting "most earnestly, but respectfully" that the General reconsider his evacuation order.  They write of the hardships being imposed by the order when "Many poor women are in advanced state of pregnancy; others now having young children, and whose husbands, for the greater part, are either in the army, prisoners, or dead." and laying out the practical difficulties once they reach a countryside already filled with refugees from the earlier phases of the campaign:

This being so, how is it possible for the people still here (mostly women and children) to find any shelter? And how can they live through the winter in the woods? No shelter or subsistence, in the midst of strangers who know them not, and without the power to assist them much, if they were willing to do so. This is but a feeble picture of the consequences of this measure. You know the woe, the horrors and the suffering cannot be described by words; imagination can only conceive of it, and we ask you to take these things into consideration. 
 The writers are almost apologetic about disturbing Sherman with their request:

We know your mind and time are constantly occupied with the duties of your command, which almost deters us from asking your attention to this matter, but thought it might be that you had not considered this subject in all of its awful consequences.

Given Sherman's personality it is unlikely in any circumstance he would have changed his mind but it is certain that after Hood's letter of September 9 he would never change it.  Thus, Sherman's letter of September 12 which is of interest for more than just its most famous passage.  The letter starts calmly:

I have read it carefully, and give full credit to your statements of the distress that will be occasioned by it, and yet shall not revoke my orders, simply because my orders are not designed to meet the humanities of the case, but to prepare for the future struggles in which millions of good people outside of Atlanta have a deep interest. We must have peace, not only at Atlanta but in all America. To secure this we must stop the war that now desolates our once happy and favored country. To stop war we must defeat the rebel armies that are arrayed against the laws and Constitution, which all must respect and obey. To defeat these armies we must prepare the way to reach them in their recesses provided with the arms and instruments which enable us to accomplish our purpose.  
Sherman then lectures the Mayor about the responsibility of the citizens of Atlanta for the terrible war:

You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home is to stop the war, which can alone be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride.

The first sentence of this passage strikes us as odd but comports with Sherman's views: he was a Union man, not an emancipationist:

We don't want your negroes or your horses or your houses or your lands or anything you have, but we do want, and will have, a just obedience to the laws of the United States. That we will have, and if it involves the destruction of your improvements we cannot help it.

Responding to their tales of woe, Sherman accuses them of not being troubled when the tables were turned:

I myself have seen in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi hundreds and thousands of women and children fleeing from your armies and desperadoes, hungry and with bleeding feet. In Memphis, Vicksburg, and Mississippi we fed thousands upon thousands of the families of rebel soldiers left on our hands and whom we could not see starve. Now that war comes home to you, you feel very different. You deprecate its horrors, but did not feel them when you sent car-loads of soldiers and ammunition and molded shells and shot to carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee, and desolate the homes of hundreds and thousands of good people who only asked to live in peace at their old homes and under the Government of their inheritance.
He closes by bestowing a benediction:

But, my dear sirs, when that peace does come, you may call on me for anything. Then will I share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against danger from every quarter. Now you must go, and take with you the old and feeble, feed and nurse them and build for them in more quiet places proper habitations to shield them against the weather until the mad passions of men cool down and allow the Union and peace once more to settle over your old homes at Atlanta.

                                                                                                                  Yours in haste
                                                                                                                  WT Sherman

On November 15, 1864, after wrecking much of what remained in Atlanta, Sherman's army left the city on its March To The Sea reaching Savannah on December 21.