Five AM Scholar

It wasn’t a need to crack a book that got me up at five AM it was a sick dog.  I have never been a “put it off til the morning of the exam,” kind of person. I also never pulled “all-nighters.” I am far too serious for all that. I read as I go along and mostly finish the assignments one at a time.  It takes, discipline and planning. Or as my EX used to say, “you’re a real hard-a–.”  

I have read the 10 books for my long paper and most of the 15 books for this course.  I still have a couple of articles and books to go before I begin writing my long paper on moral reform (sex and women) in the Gilded Age and Progessive eras.  I don’t know when I will start to write this paper, but all that I have read and the ideas the books generated will coalesce at some point, and I will be inspired to sit down and write.

This must be what writers call inspiration.  I have heard many of them refer to a muse.  My muse is Clio, the goddess of history.  Heck, our department even calls our online system “Clio wired.”  That’s because almost anything you want these days is online.  Hillary wrote It takes a village, and it surely is the case that our big wide world is becoming a global village.  But you knew that if you are under the age of 40.

Which of course makes me think of politics, even if it is 5 AM.  Everything is political, isn’t it?  If I sat here at my desk and wrote a great long explanation of what I think is going on, you probably wouldn’t read it, would you?  That’s the problem with politics, most folks don’t have the time or patience to discover what’s going on.  But, it wasn’t always like this.

Before the Civil War, when the Republic was younger, Americans were heavily involved in politics. The voter participation rates were sky-high in the US, although in those days, most important political challenges took place at the level of local geography.  Fighting fires, building water systems. settling disputes between neighbors…these were the important issues. But then the Civil War came with all its moral and economic implications. 

My Dad was a Civil War buff, although I don’t find that dreadful period at all romantic.  No Gone with the Wind for me.  The colonial era with maids a milking and coopers a coopering, is more my style, although most of my ancestors were in Europe doing that stuff.  

Thus, I have focused on Europe in graduate school.  I did this because I wanted to understand my ancestors roots.  All of them came from Europe.  Only a few of them came here in the colonial era when the Republic was not yet formed. The rest came during the nineteenth century. 

Great grandpa Schmidley was a cooper.  He moved from the village of Villemergen in Canton Aargau in Switzerland to Chicago in the 1840s.  The family story is that he first served in the German army.  That is not unlikely, because many if not all Swiss boys served in the German (Prussian) army. We know he came through Ellis Island because his name is engraved on the Wall of Fame in the museum.

The Swiss government cut expenses because it didn’t maintain a standing army. Every householder was armed.  The men (and maybe women these days) got their training somewhere else.  If an emergency occurred the householders could rally quickly. At least that was the theory.  

America tried that for a while.  Remember the farmers behind each farm-yard wall fighting the British? Well, perhaps you don’t remember them, but the militia composed of farmers is what Paul Revere was calling out when he made his famous ride. 

Cropped screenshot of John Wayne and Angie Dic...

Image via Wikipedia

By the time of the Civil War, the US formed a huge standing army they  used to defeat the Southerners. Later the government used this army to subdue the western Indian tribes.  OK, when I was a kid, I too thought John Wayne was great, but all those films we saw were told from one side.  The really sad thing is that this carnage in the west was totally unnecessary and not at all heroic. 

Average Americans lost the fight to control their own destiny during the Civil War when the government grew so big it was virtually uncontrollable. After the war, this uncontrollable government took its army and subdued the area west of the Mississippi when it didn’t need to do so. How it got to this point is a long story, and maybe before I die I will know all the details.  

English: A Roman Catholic chaplain ministering...

Roman Catholic Chaplain during the Civil War - Wikipedia

What I do know about politics today, is one political party is not the saviour and the other the enemy. It doesn’t work like that, and never has.    

 I’m signing off now.  Got to feed the dogs.

11 thoughts on “Five AM Scholar

  1. Bravo for the awakeness at 5 in the morning. Hope the dog is ok.

    We will be there and love to meet with you October 15th through the 25th. We are staying at the Madison. I’m terribly excited.


  2. I am still amazed that you can think things through at 5am in the morning. I’ve told you before that I am sadly lacking in my understanding of American politics. We get a very slanted view over here in the UK, so it is good to read things as they really are, particularly the background. Many thanks.


  3. Yes, MItt will probably be the Republican nominee. All the big guns, even Charles Krautheimer, have decided to get behind him. I don’t know who I will vote for, but religion is not my biggest factor, the economy is.

    Both men have good and bad points. I know Mitt is a good man, and David is going to work in Romney’s campaign, but I tend to lean Democrat and already plan to vote for the Democrat running for the Senate here in Virginia. One thing for certain, I am not a knee-jerk voter, I am a fiscal conservative and an environmentalist.


  4. Before the Civil War, women were not allowed to vote. I think you should allude to that in your post, because the voters were all men.

    Looks like Romney is going to be the Republican nominee for president. It will be interesting to see if Americans will vote for a Mormon candidate. The next time I see my son-in-law, who is a devout Mormon, I’ll ask him how he feels about Romney. In the previous local election, he and his parents did NOT vote for the Mormon candidate for Hawaii governor. So it seems they do not always vote according to religious affiliation. Good for him and his parents!


    • When we lived in NYC, rarely would someone ask my spouse if he was related to another Bloom. It was assumed it was a common name, and there were many. Since we’ve been in the Northwest, several people of German descent have asked. Last night I startled a woman by answering, “Not unless they came to Ellis Island as ‘Bialashevski’ and were told to select [something shorter] beginning with ‘B’.” I neglected to add that they were Jews fleeing the Czar’s pogroms.

      The American labor movement was crucial to the improvement of their lives. Thus the alignment with the Democratic Party. Later financial success by some of these late 19th/early 20th century immigrants has not broken the bond.

      And how was the U.S. government going to stay small as our population increased exponentially in the periods you’re writing about?


      • I am not writing about women’s suffrage. I am writing about First Ammendment issues, contraception, wayward girls, child mothers, fallen women, population changes, etc. Suffrage is only a small part of reform in the Gilded Age and Progressive era.

        Re labor, don’t confuse labor with unions.


  5. You always give me something to think about. Moral reform in the Gilded Age should be an interesting subject … but way beyond what I could handle! As to politics … I can’t believe the vitriol being spread. My 2012 Obama plaque on my car gets me all sorts of abuse in my “kindly” right wing county…but of course, being that I live in the deep South, they adamently deny that it has to do with color!


    • Ginnie, I hate to disabuse your idea about where you live, but NC is not the deep South. The southerners you encounter in NC are mostly the descendents of poor white people (and black), unless they are migrants from up North.

      We had a saying when I was a kid, “NC, a valley of humility between two mountains of conceit (Virginia and South Carolina). Don’t forget, Obama won NC in the last election. Was that owing to the local peole or migrants from up north?


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