Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday This and That

I’ve been in a fog since Christmas. I know the New Year has come and gone. I know that I should have hit the ground running with resolutions, new schedules, and new habits, but the only thing I seem to have formed a habit with is meandering to and from one project to another.

Last week, while I was still trying to recover from being confined to quarters for an entire week while my beloved Atlanta dug out from the snow and ice I felt a little reprieve from the things I knew I must see to – the items I need to get to Goodwill, tax documents, receipts to enter, writing projects to work on and complete – but last week was different. Things were back to normal, and I was still wandering about bumping into thing after thing all needing more than a modicum of attention.

Then it hit me. January is always a foggy time for me. The let-down after the holidays, the starkness of the house after decorations have been put away, the damned cold cutting through me like a knife…..all of that and more just does me in.

I finally admitted to myself that I had failed once again to hit the ground running as the new year began, and I surrendered.

That’s when I decided to cut myself some slack and just get over myself.   I’d pick up steam this week and by the time February gets here I’ll hit the ground walking at a brisk pace.

One of my New Year resolutions had to do with regular blogging….getting back to it….at least three times a week. We will see. Here is post number one….a little mish-mash of this and that.

Well, I’m counting it as number one at any rate.

Have you found the site Rating Historical Fiction yet? The tagline over there states “Reviews of social studies resources by teachers and librarians to help identify the best books for students”. Recent book reviews include Fever, 1793 and The Watsons Go to Birmingham.

How many of you saw the media blast regarding Fed Up With School Lunch? You can find out more about Mrs. Q and her efforts here at her FAQ page.

I continually get these emails letting me know History Is Elementary has been included on one list or another…..Seriously, I do appreciate the links and these lists always alert me to other blogs I might have missed.  

History Is Elementary is listed 26 in Top 50 Blogs by Elementary Educators and in the list, 100 Seriously Cool Classroom Blogs for Teaching Ideas & Inspiration as well as Amazing Blogs for Elementary Educators.

Do you know about “Disunion”?   The New York Times is hosting the series in their online opinion section. “The series, which will have an open-ended run, tells the story of the Civil War using both historical perspectives and contemporary accounts. Rich in voices, themes, and appearance, the series makes use of maps, portraits, engravings, diaries, and timelines in its exploration of this important moment in American history. “

The series is edited by George Kalogerakis and Clay Risen of The New York Times and will include weekly pieces written in the form of 1860-era blogs, along with several shorter posts on specific events, characters, and themes.”

Kevin Levin over at Civil War Memory has recently published a New York Times opinion piece regarding the recent black Confederate/4th grade history textbook controversy in Virginia.

You can access the piece following this link to Civil War Memory.  Make sure you read the comments at Kevin’s blog and at the New York Times site as well. Interesting stuff

And in case you missed it….

Here is a list of 25 Historic Technology Predictions from the past. Some of the entries might surprise you.

For example,

"In 1878 an Oxford professor by the name of Erasmus Wilson said, “When the Paris Exhibition [of 1878] closes, electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of it.” It’s also hard to believe in 1932 Albert Einstein said, “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.

Well now. How about that?

Head on over and read through several more predictions.

Have a happy Monday!!!!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Be a Hero: Sink a U.S. Ship

The Spanish American War tends to be the event where the term yellow journalism arises, and in my opinion it is an appropriate spot to discuss the role of media regarding war and foreign policy . There is no smoking gun, but it can be argued the headline wars between Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal helped to fan the flames of war. Both papers sensationalized news events such as the sinking of the American battleship Maine in Havana harbor in 1898. Even today after numerous investigations we still aren’t sure if the Maine exploded due to an accident on board or due to actions by the Spanish.

Both Pulitzer and Hearst told their readers the Spanish were responsible  even through there was no proof. They hyped the story to feed a public hungry for revenge though some argue folks outside of New York did not see the sensationalistic reports, therefore the papers really didn’t really cause the war. I agree somewhat……there were other things happening behind the scenes, but my focus here is the gentleman in the picture I’ve posted…..not the causes of the Spanish American War.

Whether the Spanish were at fault for the Maine explosion or not, war was declared, and Rear Admiral William T. Sampson arrived off Santiago on June 1, 1898 for what would be remembered as the largest naval engagement of the Spanish-American War. A standoff had been underway since May between the Americans and Spanish Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete who had positioned himself and his squadron in Santiago Harbor. Rear Admiral Sampson ordered the collier USS Merrimac commanded by Lieut. Richmond Pearson Hobson (the handsome man in the picture I posted), to be sunk in order to block the harbor soon after he arrived on the scene. The crew of the Merrimac bravely attempted to carry out Sampson’s order under heavy Spanish fire which eventually disabled the Merrimac’s steering gear. The Merrimac sank mainly due to Spanish fire and unfortunately it didn’t exactly end up where Sampson ordered or Hobson intended. The Americans were eventually successful clearing the harbor, and the war continued on for approximately six months.   Rear Admiral Sampson and another officer had a major disagreement over who the credit should go to regarding the overall actions at Santiago Harbor. I wrote about that here.

Now at this point some of you might be saying to yourself…..wait a minute……don’t I remember something about a vessel named Merrimac involved in the Civil War? Something about the Monitor and the Merrimac? How could the USS Merrimac sink during the Spanish-American War if it had already been sunk during the Civil War?

The answer is simple. There have been six different vessels named Merrimac throughout our history. The Merrimac Hobson scuttled was the fourth such vessel to bear the name, and it is not related to the Merrimac of Civil War fame. THAT one belonging to the United States burned and the Confederates took her hull and the rebuilt ship was then known as CSS Virginia, but we tend to remember the battle as the Monitor and the Merrimac, don’t we?

Another note I’d like to insert here is you see two spellings for the ship Hobson commanded……Merrimac and Merrimack. All six United States vessels were named for the Merrimac River running through Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and for the most part both spellings are acceptable. No one is really sure when the “k” was omitted.

Getting back to Richmond Pearson Hobson…..He and his crew were taken prisoner by the Spanish and held for at least a month before being released during a prisoner exchange. Back in the states the crew of the Merrimac became national heroes. Newspapers ran with the story printing Hobson’s picture and created an enduring American hero. Every member of the Merrimac including Hobson was awarded Medals of Honor and Hobson set off on a cross country tour where he kissed the girls, spoke to crowds, and he even dined with President McKinley. He was so popular at the time he probably would have been People’s Sexiest Man Alive or Time’s Person of the Year.

Hobson became a US Congressman in 1933 and he became what is remembered today as the Father of Prohibition for his work after leaving Congress. He wrote three books on the effects of drug use, spoke on radio programs was founder of the International Narcotic Education Association and spoke extensively for the Anti-Saloon League as their highest paid speaker.

A full account of the Merrimac sinking can be found here.

An article written by Hobson for the New York Times regarding the ills of drugs he wrote in 1924 can be found here.