I guess we in the land of the free did our share of putting down women

Today is the birthday of women’s rights reformer Lucretia (Coffin) Mott, born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, in 1793. She went to public school in Boston for two years, and then, when she was 13, she enrolled in a Quaker boarding school near Poughkeepsie, New York. After two years there, she was hired on as an assistant, and then a teacher. She quit when she found out that she was being paid less than half of what the male teachers all made, simply because she was a woman; the experience sparked her first interest in women’s rights. In 1811, she married fellow teacher James Mott, and the newlyweds moved to Philadelphia. Ten years later, she became a minister in the Society of Friends, as the Quaker church was called, and she was a popular public speaker on matters of religion and social reform.

She was active in the abolitionist movement when she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton on a ship to London; both were on their way to the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in 1840. They were attending as delegates, but found that the convention would not let them speak because they were women; they were even seated in a separate area, behind a curtain. The two women resolved then and there to organize a convention for women’s rights as soon as they returned home. It took eight years, but eventually they did: the Seneca Falls (New York) Convention of 1848.

Mott wrote, “The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation, because in the degradation of women, the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source.”

Taken from: http://writersalmanac.org/

Advertisements
Published in: on January 3, 2015 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Chairman Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward

In today’s excerpt (from delanceyplace.com) – during Chairman Mao Zedong‘s Great Leap Forward, which was an effort to use centralized Communist planning to vault China’s economy past those of the Western European powers, China endured one of the greatest tragedies in human history – the death of over 45 million people:

“Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up with and overtake Britain in less than fifteen years. By unleashing China’s greatest asset, a labour force that was counted in the hundreds of millions, Mao thought that he could catapult his country past its competitors. Instead of following the Soviet model of development, which leaned heavily towards industry alone, China would ‘walk on two legs’: the peasant masses were mobilized to transform both agriculture and industry at the same time, converting a backward economy into a modern communist society of plenty for all.

“In the pursuit of a utopian paradise, everything was collectivized, as villagers were herded together in giant communes which heralded the advent of communism. People in the countryside were robbed of their work, their homes, their land, their belongings and their livelihood. Food, distributed by the spoonful in collective canteens according to merit, became a weapon to force people to follow the party’s every dictate. Irrigation campaigns forced up to half the villagers to work for weeks on end on giant water-conservancy projects, often far from home, without adequate food and rest. The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives.

“At least 45 million people died unnecessarily between 1958 and 1962. The term ‘famine’, or even ‘Great Famine’, is often used to describe these four to five years of the Maoist era, but the term fails to capture the many ways in which people died under radical collectivization

The 3/5ths rule in the U.S. Constitution

In today’s excerpt – in the U.S. Constitution, Indians who renounced their tribe were counted toward a given state’s population for the purpose of determining how many members of the House of Representatives each state had. “Other persons,” the Constitution’s euphemism for “slaves,” counted as 3/5 of a person for this same purpose. The debate over this horrible compromise unleashed a level of vitriol among the framers that barely subsided before it erupted again scarcely more than thirty years later and then finally erupted in the American Civil War:

United States Constitution, Article I, Section 2: Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

“Census enumerators began to include Indians who had renounced their tribes in 1860. The instructions provided for the 1880 census said ‘Indians not taxed’ meant ‘Indians living on reservations under the care of Government agents, or roaming individually, or in bands, over unsettled tracts of country.’ In 1940 the government did away with the category ‘Indians not taxed.’

“[The ‘other persons’ clause] is one of the most infamous clauses in the Constitution, because not only did it countenance slavery but it was seen as doubly demeaning to the men and women held in bondage that they
were each counted as but three-fifths of a person. The political dynamic behind this clause, however, is full of ironies. It was the North that opposed counting a slave as a whole person. It was the South that wanted slaves to be so counted. The three-fifths compromise meant that the ill-gotten gains of slavery were no longer solely financial but that slaveholders were to receive political gains as well – the more slaves a state had, the more representatives it would have in the Congress. …

“Under the Articles [of Confederation that preceded the Constitution], in which each state had the same representation, there was no incentive to show a large population, and states faced the threat of a population-based tax. So they had an incentive to understate their true population. The Constitution changed the equation. Suddenly representation in Congress was no longer equal for each state but was based on population. So states now had reason to bolster their population. The issue was an existential one for the country. William Davie of North Carolina is recorded in The Records of the Federal Convention as saying that he ‘saw that it was meant by some gentlemen to
deprive the Southern States of any share of Representation for their blacks. He was sure that N. Carola. would never confederate on any terms that did not rate them at least as 3/5. If the Eastern States meant therefore to exclude them altogether the business was at an end.’

“Of the three-fifths clause, Gouverneur Morris, the Pennsylvania
delegate, said this to the Convention: ‘The admission of slaves into the
Representation when fairly explained comes to this: that the inhabitant
of Georgia and S. C. who goes to the Coast of Africa, and in defiance
of the most sacred laws of humanity tears away his fellow creatures
from their dearest connections & damns them to the most cruel
bondages, shall have more votes in a Govt. instituted for protection of
the rights of mankind, than the Citizen of Pa or N. Jersey who views
with a laudable horror, so nefarious a practice.’ The three-fifths clause,
Luther Martin declared in The Genuine Information, involved ‘the
absurdity of increasing the power of a State in making laws for free
men in proportion as that State violated the rights of freedom.’ ”

Seth Lipsky, The Citizen’s Constitution, Basic Books, Copyright 2009 by Seth Lipsky, pp. 7-8.

About Us

Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context. There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came.

To visit our homepage or sign up for our daily email click here
To view previous daily emails click here.
To sign up for our daily email click here.

Published in: on March 10, 2010 at 12:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

The Collapse of Long-Standing Empires

Excerpt from Delancey Place

In todays excerpt – the collapse of a long-standing empire has very often occurred in a very short span of time:

“What is most striking about [Rome’s] history is the speed of the Roman Empire’s collapse. In just five decades, the population of Rome itself fell by three-quarters. Archaeological evidence from the late fifth century – inferior housing, more primitive pottery, fewer coins, smaller cattle – hows that the benign influence of Rome diminished rapidly in the rest of western Europe. What [Oxford historian Brian] Ward-Perkins calls ‘the end of civilization’ came within the span of a single generation.

“Other great empires have suffered comparably swift collapses. The Ming dynasty in China began in 1368, when the warlord Zhu Yuanzhang renamed himself Emperor Hongwu, the word hongwu meaning ‘vast military power.’ For most of the next three centuries, Ming China was the world’s most sophisticated civilization by almost any measure. Then, in the mid-seventeenth century, political factionalism, fiscal crisis, famine, and epidemic disease opened the door to rebellion within and incursions from without. In 1636, the Manchu leader Huang Taiji proclaimed the advent of the Qing dynasty. Just eight years later, Beijing, the magnificent Ming capital, fell to the rebel leader Li Zicheng, and the last Ming emperor hanged himself out of shame. The transition from Confucian equipoise to anarchy took little more than a decade.

“In much the same way, the Bourbon monarchy in France passed from triumph to terror with astonishing rapidity. French intervention on the side of the colonial rebels against British rule in North America in the 1770s seemed like a good idea at the time – a chance for revenge after Great Britain’s victory in the Seven Years’ War a decade earlier – but it served to tip French finances into a critical state. In May 1789, the summoning of the Estates-General, France’s long-dormant representative assembly, unleashed a political chain reaction that led to a swift collapse of royal legitimacy in France. Only four years later, in January 1793, Louis XVI was decapitated by guillotine. …

“The sun set on the British Empire almost as suddenly. In February 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was at Yalta, dividing up the world with U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. As World War II was ending, he was swept from office in the July 1945 general election. Within a decade, the United Kingdom had conceded independence to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Libya, Madagascar, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The Suez crisis in 1956 proved that the United Kingdom could not act in defiance of the United States in the Middle East, setting the seal on the end of empire. Although it took until the 1960s for independence to reach sub-Saharan Africa and the remnants of colonial rule east of the Suez, the United Kingdom’s [centuries old] age of hegemony was effectively over less than a dozen years after its victories over Germany and Japan.

“The most recent and familiar example of precipitous decline is, of course, the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the benefit of hindsight, historians have traced all kinds of rot within the Soviet system back to the Brezhnev era and beyond. Perhaps, as the historian and political scientist Stephen Kotkin has argued, it was only the high oil prices of the 1970s that ‘averted Armageddon.’ But this did not seem to be the case at the time. In March 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev became general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, the CIA estimated the Soviet economy to be approximately 60 percent the size of the U.S. economy. This estimate is now known to have been wrong, but the Soviet nuclear arsenal was genuinely larger than the U.S. stockpile. And governments in what was then called the Third World, from Vietnam to Nicaragua, had been tilting in the Soviets’ favor for most of the previous 20 years. Yet less than five years after Gorbachev took power, the Soviet imperium in central and Eastern Europe had fallen apart, followed by the Soviet Union itself in 1991. If ever an empire fell off a cliff – rather than gently declining – it was the one founded by Lenin.”

Niall Ferguson, Complexity and Collapse, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2010, pp. 28-30.

To visit our homepage or sign up for our daily email click here
To view previous daily emails click here.
daily@delanceyplace.com

Published in: on March 2, 2010 at 10:45 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

“A Peoples History of the United States’….Howard Zinn

Zinn’s ‘People’s History’ Masterwork Hits the History Channel

Howard Zinn’s Webpage….all about the production of “The People Speak” Click for the link

By Dave Zirin, AlterNet
Posted on December 11, 2009, Printed on December 17, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/story/144486/

On December 13th, a date I’ve basically had tattooed on my arm like the guy from Memento, The People Speak finally makes its debut on the History Channel. This is more than just must-see-TV. It is nothing less than the life’s work of “people’s historian” Howard Zinn brought to life by some of the most talented actors, musicians, and poets in the country. Howard Zinn and his partner Anthony Arnove chose the most stirring political passages in Zinn’s classic A People’s History of the United States, creating a written anthology called Voices of a People’s History of the United States. Those “voices” have now been fully resurrected by a collection of performers ranging from Matt Damon to hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco to poet Staceyann Chin.

The People Speak also showcases John Legend reading the words of Muhammad Ali, Kerry Washington as Sojourner Truth, David Strathairn’s take on the soaring oratory of Eugene Debs, and Morgan Freeman as Frederick Douglass asking, “What is the 4th of July to the American Slave?” There are also the words of women factory workers read by Marisa Tomei, rebellious farmers personified by Viggo Mortensen, and escaped slaves voiced by Benjamin Bratt.

Certainly the lunatic right will howl to the heavens after seeing “liberal Hollywood” perform the words of labor radicals, anti-racists, feminists, and socialists. In fact, aided by the craven Matt Drudge, they are already in full froth, campaigning online to get the History Channel to drop The People Speak before its air-date. If it weren’t so contemptible, their actions would be almost quaint, like a virtual book burning.

But beneath the bombast, their hostile aversion “a people’s history” speaks volumes about why we need to support this project. This is a country dedicated to historical amnesia. Our radical past holds dangers for both those in power and those threatened by progressive change. We need to rescue the great battles for social justice from becoming either co-opted or simply erased from the history books. Our children don’t learn about the people who made the Civil Rights movement. Instead we get Dr. Martin Luther King on a McDonald’s commemorative cup. Because of our country’s organized ignorance, endless hours are wasted in every generation reinventing the wheel and relearning lessons already taught.

One reason Barack Obama made so many of us feel “hopey” during the 2008 election season is that he seemed to understand and even take inspiration from our “people’s history.” Candidate Obama would invoke the odysseys of abolitionists, suffragettes, freedom riders, and Stonewall rioters. He linked his campaign to this history with a slogan from today’s immigrant rights and union struggles: Si Se Puede, Yes We Can.

And yet this Presidency in practice has been like watching George W. Bush with a working cerebellum. Send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan? Say nothing in the face of racist rallies held outside the capitol? Tell LGBT people to shut up and wait for their civil rights? All in a year’s work. The Obama administration is now counting upon the American people, to once again, quietly go with the flow all while pretending we never saw this movie before. This is why The People Speak matters. It’s aimed at reclaiming our hallowed history from all who would profane it: to resurrect our past as a guide to fight for the future.

There are those who will wrongly see The People Speak as a kind of “spoonful of sugar” approach to education. Get a celebrity to recite the words of Susan B. Anthony and all of a sudden, we’ll all want to be history buffs. But this isn’t Hollywood “slumming” in the land of radical chic. It is instead a bracing spectacle where our sacred history is reimagined by performance artists of tremendous craft. Consider the dramatic task at hand: they are attempting nothing less than turning politics into art. If Zinn and co-producers Arnove, Damon, Josh Brolin and Chris Moore pull this off, it holds the potential to introduce a new generation to Sojourner Truth, Eugene Debs, and perhaps most importantly of all, to the works of Howard Zinn.

As Zinn himself once said, “Knowing history is less about understanding the past than changing the future.” This is the grand adventure of Howard Zinn’s life. I encourage everyone to come along for the ride. Get your friends and family together on Sunday night and experience The People Speak. Then take them by the hand and pledge to be heard.

Dave Zirin is the author of “What’s My Name Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States.” Read more of his work at Edgeofsports.com.

© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/144486/

Published in: on December 17, 2009 at 9:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

How the football huddle was invented

Selected from http://www.delanceyplace.com 12-17-09

In today’s encore excerpt – the football huddle is invented at a college for the deaf – Gallaudet University in Washington, DC – as a means of hiding signals from other deaf teams. It is institutionalized at the University of Chicago as a means of bringing control and Christian fellowship to the game:

“When Gallaudet played nondeaf clubs or schools, Hubbard merely used hand signals – American Sign Language – to call a play at the line of scrimmage, imitating what was done in football from Harvard to Michigan. Both teams approached the line of scrimmage. The signal caller – whether it was the left halfback or quarterback – barked out the plays at the line of scrimmage. Nothing was hidden from the defense. There was no huddle.

“Hand signals against nondeaf schools gave Gallaudet an advantage. But other deaf schools could read [quarterback Paul] Hubbard’s sign language. So, beginning in 1894, Hubbard came up with a plan. He decided to conceal the signals by gathering his offensive players in a huddle prior to the snap of the ball. … Hubbard’s innovation in 1894 worked brilliantly. ‘From that point on, the huddle became a habit during regular season games,’ cites a school history of the football program. …

“In 1896, the huddle started showing up on other college campuses, particularly the University of Georgia and the University of Chicago. At Chicago, it was Amos Alonzo Stagg, the man credited with nurturing American football into the modern age and barnstorming across the country to sell the game, who popularized the use of the huddle and made the best case for it. …

“At the time, coaches were not permitted to send in plays from the sideline. So, while Stagg clearly understood the benefit of concealing the signals from the opposition, he was more interested in the huddle as a way of introducing far more reaching reforms to the game. Before becoming a coach, Stagg wanted to be a minister. At Yale, he was a divinity student from 1885 to 1889.

“Thoughtful, pious, and righteous, Stagg brought innovations football as an attempt to bring a Christian fellowship to the game. He wanted his players to play under control, to control the pace, the course, and the conduct of what had been a game of mass movement that often broke out into fisticuffs. Stagg viewed the huddle as a vital aspect of helping to teach sportsmanship. He viewed the huddle as a kind of religious congregation on the field, a place where the players could, if you will, minister to each other, make a plan, and promise to keep faith in that plan and one another.”

Published in: on December 17, 2009 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Da vinci notebook sells for over $5 milion

On this day in 1980, American oil tycoon Armand Hammer pays $5,126,000 at auction for a notebook containing writings by the legendary artist Leonardo da Vinci.
The manuscript, written around 1508, was one of some 30 similar books da Vinci produced during his lifetime on a variety of subjects. It contained 72 loose pages featuring some 300 notes and detailed drawings, all relating to the common theme of water and how it moved. Experts have said that da Vinci drew on it to paint the background of his masterwork, the Mona Lisa. The text, written in brown ink and chalk, read from right to left, an example of da Vinci’s favored mirror-writing technique. The painter Giuseppi Ghezzi discovered the notebook in 1690 in a chest of papers belonging to Guglielmo della Porto, a 16th-century Milanese sculptor who had studied Leonardo’s work. In 1717, Thomas Coke, the first earl of Leicester, bought the manuscript and installed it among his impressive collection of art at his family estate in England.
More than two centuries later, the notebook–by now known as the Leicester Codex–showed up on the auction block at Christie’s in London when the current Lord Coke was forced to sell it to cover inheritance taxes on the estate and art collection. In the days before the sale, art experts and the press speculated that the notebook would go for $7 to $20 million. In fact, the bidding started at $1.4 million and lasted less than two minutes, as Hammer and at least two or three other bidders competed to raise the price $100,000 at a time. The $5.12 million price tag was the highest ever paid for a manuscript at that time; a copy of the legendary Gutenberg Bible had gone for only $2 million in 1978. “I’m very happy with the price. I expected to pay more,” Hammer said later. “There is no work of art in the world I wanted more than this.” Lord Coke, on the other hand, was only “reasonably happy” with the sale; he claimed the proceeds would not be sufficient to cover the taxes he owed.
Hammer, the president of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, renamed his prize the Hammer Codex and added it to his valuable collection of art. When Hammer died in 1990, he left the notebook and other works to the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Several years later, the museum offered the manuscript for sale, claiming it was forced to take this action to cover legal costs incurred when the niece and sole heir of Hammer’s late wife, Frances, sued the estate claiming Hammer had cheated Frances out of her rightful share of his fortune. On November 11, 1994, the Hammer Codex was sold to an anonymous bidder–soon identified as Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft–at a New York auction for a new record high price of $30.8 million. Gates restored the title of Leicester Codex and has since loaned the manuscript to a number of museums for public display.

Published in: on December 12, 2009 at 6:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,