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.
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.
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.