A grand leader

A country was once on heard times; inflation and unemployment was rampant and the gross domestic product suffered. In just four years, a man saved the economy and gave hope back to the people. The unemployment rate dropped from six million to 900 thousand. The GDP rose over 100% and per capita income also doubled. Inflation dropped roughly 25% every year while he was in office. The country: Germany; the man: Adolf Hitler. It’s easy to dismiss Hitlers leadership skills what with the Holocaust hanging over his head, but in truth Hitler was an excellent leader. That’s not to say he was an excellent person though…

Bittersweet Thanksgiving

Exactly forty-nine years ago today on this very minute in Dallas, Texas, President John F. Kennedy was needlessly assassinated by Soviet-sympathizer Lee Harvey Oswald. While this makes Thanksgiving Day bitter-sweet, I ask that as you give thanks for the life you live today, you honor John F. Kennedy by reflecting upon what you have done for your country, not what your country has done for you. Reflect and remember one of America’s greatest presidents who was struck down by the brutal tensions of the Cold War and the delusions of a troubled young man. Remember John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy.

Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to debunk the common myths surrounding the holiday. First of all, the pilgrims who landed at and settled the Plymouth Colony did not wear black, nor did they were an excessive amount of buckles (especially on their simple hats). The buckles myth was added in the 1800s to represent the Puritans as “quaint”. The Puritans escaping religious persecution were simple people but did not dress monochromatically.

Additionally, the “First Thanksgiving” was not at the Plymouth Colony; thanksgiving days had been celebrated in the Spanish St. Augustine, Florida, French Canada and even Jamestown, Virgina many years before the Plymouthites in 1620. Moreover, at the Plymouth Thanksgiving, the pilgrims did not feast on turkey, but rather it is more likely they ate deer or similar big game.

Emancipation Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Many have been taught that this executive order freed slaves across the entire country, but this is only a half-truth (literally). The Emancipation Proclamation freed all slaves in the Confederacy, not the entire Union. However, Lincoln was not an abolitionist first, but rather a president that wanted to preserve the union he was put in charge of. A clause of the proclamation stipulated that all states in the Confederacy that returned to the Union within one hundred days (that is, by April 10, 1863) would be allowed to retain their slaves and all the rights entitled therein. None of the Confederate states rejoined, nor did they many slaveholders even recognize the proclamation as legitimate. So much for abolishing slavery in one fell swoop, Abe.

Chloroform or whiskey?

It’s a common urban myth that during the wars of the 1800’s (like the Mexican-American, American Civil, and Spanish-American) the doctors in war camps were analogous to butchers, chopping off limbs with no anesthetic but a gulp of whiskey and a stick to bite. However, it’s called a myth for a reason. War surgeons had access to anesthetics like nitrous oxide as early as 1844 and later chloroform in 1847. The notion of someone taking the Hippocratic Oath and later hacking off limbs in the most inhumane way possible holds little water, especially when general aesthetics were readily available.

Government parallels

A tall, light complexion African American man in a suit walked across the steps of the United States Capitol to be sworn into office as a crowd erupted as history was made. The man was of mixed races and an eloquent speaker to boot. Barack Obama? No. Hiram Rhodes Revels. Revels was elected Senator in 1870 for Mississippi shortly after the American Civil War. A black man being elected President in 2008 is certainly grand but is easily conceivable; this is the Twenty-First Century after all. A black man being elected Senator of Mississippi in 1870 is completely unheard of. Perhaps Barack Obama’s election isn’t as grand as many would like to think.

Le Français

Over the past couple centuries, the French have gotten a bad rap. They’re portrayed as wine-drinking snobs who smoke heavily and drink even more so, with hairy woman and effeminate men. But what if I were to tell you that without the French, the American Revolution would have been slipped into the dusty archives with the rest of the failed revolutions from around the world.

During the Siege of Yorktown from September 28 to October 19, 1781, the French played a pivotal role in blocking off British naval reinforcements from entering Chesapeake Bay from the north which would have turned the tide of the American siege. Although a freak storm days before Cornwallis’ surrender landed several other British navel vessels, so that also contributed to the victory.