Ever Hopeful

I finally finished 1/ Free Soil, Free Labor,  Free Men,  2/ The Fiery Trial, and 3/ Reconstruction, by historian Eric Foner, and found myself feeling a bit down.

 Understandable you might say, but until now I’ve had a high tolerance for reading history and uncovering the past.

Although these are excellent textbook histories, Reconstruction, with its unvarnished truth, was the most challenging book I’ve read lately.

After a hopeful start following the Civil War the US experienced a series of dismal failures in its treatment of “others” (Blacks, Indians, etc.).  And not just in the South, although it was worse there because it was as decimated as Europe following WWII.

Reconstruction was about changing the status of Blacks from slaves to citizens, integrating newcomers, AND rebuilding a country shattered by war.

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Two graduate courses in American History, I took a couple of years ago, ‘History of the Corporation’ and ‘The Gilded Age’, examined the last half of the nineteenth century in the US known as The Gilded Age.

During this era, the US economy underwent a huge expansion, vast fortunes (ex. Rockefeller, Carnegie) were made, and the US experienced several bad recessions. ‘Special Interests’ took over politics, presidents were assassinated, and one president was accused of fathering an out-of-wedlock child.

Terrorists abounded, the KKK was everywhere, and the Irish Fenians became a labor problem. Immigrants poured into the United States after the Civil War. The railroad (a huge New York City Investment dream) expanded, the US military rounded up Indians, slaughtered many of them, and put the remainder on reservations. The Supreme Court decided corporations were people.

It was a great time…just like ours…and every president from Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican.

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Gene Wilder died this week.  If you lived through the 1960s and 1970s you probably appreciate the groundbreaking work Wilder and others did with Mel Brooks.

When I finished Reconstruction, to cheer myself up, I watched clips from the film, Blazing Saddles. At the time it was released, I thought he was exaggerating, but Mel Brooks sure got it  right.

blazing-saddles-klan-2

Don’t get me wrong, despite its awful at times history, the US has a mostly glorious past.  I love my country where sadly, we progress two steps forward and one step back.

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Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who currently serves as the Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Committee called for a review of the way the US classifies documents. Duh, ya think that might need overhauling?

 

25 thoughts on “Ever Hopeful

  1. I enjoy reading what you have to say about your history readings. I’d be interested in that period and what was happening when the two major political parties gradually reversed views. Presently, I’m intrigued with The Loudest Voice in the Room by Gabriel Sherman which documents “how Roger Ailes built Fox News and divided a country” — and much more.

    Love your header photo of those two good-looking Poms! BTW noticed white peaches at one of the stores I visit and thought of you so purchased a few. They are truly delicious and are freestone, too!

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    • Roger Ailes = Jabba the Hutt from the Star Wars series. Horrible man.

      I wonder if Ailes divided the country or tapped into latent feelings? What amazes me is that Americans have always been at odds, hence the two parties.

      Republicans, some of them were anti-slavery, however, they were never about the little guy, except when TR or Ike was president, or maybe Gerald Ford. Other times when they acted for the common good they did it because it won votes.

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  2. Your new heading is wonderfully uplifting and a little off-putting to see that and then read your post. Reading about the history of the U.S. depresses me a lot because it is so filled with hatred and greed and oppression and this election year brings out the worst of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Two steps forward and one step back.” About as good a description of my beloved nation as can be found. Also, it may be a pretty good label for the current presidential campaign. Do we want to keep inching forward, or take a giant step back?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You shame me. I spend too much time on Facebook and watching MSNBC. I read in the late afternoon – unless I fall asleep. Must be an interesting book!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. After my Mom became older she started the habit of reading two books at once. She read non-fiction in the morning because her mind was sharpest and fun fiction in the afternoon or evening. This worked really well for her and I keep saying I need to do this but I do so love my mystery book CDs in the evening.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reading “The Winter Fortress” . Scary how close the Nazi’s got to making an atom bomb. On the other hand I am in the middle of the 6th or 7th Outlander novel. You book list is interesting and a little intimidating for me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely header shot of your sweet dogs Dianne. Lots of countries have parts of their history that give us serious cause for reflection. Gregg and I have these wonderful conversations about history. This mornings was about Oliver Cromwell and Charles I. I have always had a great interest in history. Little did I know I would get married to someone who has an equal interest in such things.

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    • Good old Ollie. I am descended from a Cromwell, but dont think my ancestor was related to the illustrious family. One thing for sure, many in my dad’s family were descended from Nonconformists who disliked Charles. I tracked one family from Norfolk to Holland to America.

      History is extremely interesting, especially if you can locate your family in it. The books I mention in todays post describe the wold my great-grandparents knew for better or worse.

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  8. I always enjoy your posts about the history of your country. I never doubted your patriotism for one second! While I waste the summer with murder mysteries, you read works I would find challenging. You mention on occasion about your physical health, but your mind is sharp as ever it appears.

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