History comes alive with each of us…

The historical Crockett Cemetery dates back to 1812. It contains the remains of Lt. Andrew Crockett, a Revolutionary War veteran, and family members. The Crocketts were one of the first settlers to come to Middle Tennessee in 1799.

“History left behind is like a bookmark in a classic. Eventually it will be retrieved.” NLAvery

Esteemed thinker: Maud Wood Park

votingThe media can be the maker or breaker of a person’s claim to fame. It has a dramatic effect on the attention of the populous, dramatically influencing who will succeed and who may not. Yet, it is not always accurate, often giving more attention than deserved to those individuals that may not deserve such notoriety. It has the power to guide and influence in a positive way, yet regularly chooses paths that would ordinarily dismissed as follies. How often have we been bombarded by irresponsible reporting, leading us through the briar patch and around the same thorny trail… and then at the end giving the most sensational reports to those who have, shall we say, the squeakiest wheel.

And then there are those deserving souls who are never heard of, never acknowledged; ones we think of as the unsung heroes. Let us hope that those who are lead around by the media have enough sense to filter for themselves what is worthy of our time and our attention.

maude wood park Today’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Maude Wood Park (1871-1955) born in Boston, Massachusetts. Graduating from Radcliff College, Ms. Park became a leading activist for the women’s suffrage movement, advocating for the 19th Amendment (women’s right to vote).

In 1916 her friend Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA), persuaded Park to join the NAWSA’s Congressional Committee and to go to Washington to lobby directly for the federal suffrage amendment. Thus Park led the “front-door lobby” to win suffrage. As a result of her efforts Park became the first president of the League of Women Voters, an organization which preceded the passing of the Amendment, a nonpartisan organization to educate new voters.

Upon the passage of the 19th Amendment, Park continued to advocate for women, forming and running a most needed coalition, the Women Joint Congressional Committee. With leaders from several other women groups, they lobbied for and helped pass legislation of the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Protection Act of 1921 and the Cable Act of 1922, which granted protected care for pregnant women and infants and granted independent citizenship for married women

Park continued to work tirelessly for the betterment of women, advocating for social reforms. I now present from her own Front Door Lobby a passage which gives you a heartfelt view of the passing of the 19th Amendment; a journey that began so very long ago which we should without doubt continue to laud.

“… So quietly as that, we learned the he last step in the enfranchisement of women in the United States had been taken and the struggle of more than seventy years brought to a successful end. We were all too stunned to make any comment until we were in the cab on our way to the Department of State, where we almost had to stick pins into ourselves to realize that the simple document at which we were looking was, in reality, the long sought charter of liberty for the women of this country…”

Second image: League of Women Voters, Maud Wood Park 1915

Esteemed thinker: Nellie Bly

yellow journalismThe media has a dramatic effect on the attention of the populous severely influencing who will succeed and who may not. It has the power to guide and influence in a positive way, yet regularly chooses paths that would ordinarily be dismissed as follies. How often have we been bombarded by irresponsible reporting, leading us through the briar patch and around the same thorny trail… and then at the end giving exclusive coverage to those who have, shall we say, have the squeakiest wheel. Not always accurate or relevant, more time is allotted to individuals that do not merit the notoriety they inherit.

So, like a disease we had all thought had been eradicated, yellow journalism has been resurrected, gaining credence under the guise of information, whereby the best vaccine we can hope for is to inoculate with common-sense in hope that the subjected majority finds the means to the filter for themselves what is organically truthful.

Nellie BlyToday’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Nelly Bly, (1864-1922) born in Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth Jane Cochran was her given name however after her unique start to a most illustrious journalist career she used the pseudonym, Nelly Bly. In 1885 she sent an angry reply to the Pittsburgh Dispatch, regarding an article titled “What Girls Are Good For”. The editor was so enamored with her writing that he offered her a reporter’s job.

Nellie Bly broke the male barrier in journalism during an era when women reporters were relegated to cover only “women’s issues.” She became one of the most famous and influential American reporters, earning recognition for her fine undercover work in a mental institute 1887 for her exposé on the conditions of asylum patients at Blackwell’s Island in New York City. She gained international recognition by traveling around the world following the fictional character from Jules Verne’s novel, Around the World in Eighty Days.

Nellie Bly was a unconventional reporter who went undercover to seek out the truth and wrote her articles not with sensationalism but with facts. From a follow-up article titled in The New York World, 1887, “Untruths In Every Line”. I submit to you a few lines from Nellie Bly’s own words.

“On my first arrival in New York the editor of the Sun said to me in an interview, “There is nothing so valuable as a reporter who gives facts; who, when told that two and two make four, puts it four instead of three or five.” I have always been particular in stating only facts in all my work, but never did I confine myself so closely to this rule as in my story of “Behind Asylum Bars.” As the Sun undertook to prove that I really passed ten days as an insane girl on Blackwell’s Island, I would like to correct the many mistakes and misstatements which I found throughout the six columns recently published about me in that journal . . .”

First image: N.Y. : Published by Keppler & Schwarzmann, Puck Building, 1910 October 12

Esteemed thinker: William H. Seward

alaska 1869 Predicting the future; is it an art or is it a scam? There are people who make their living by claiming they can tell the future using such means as: reading tea leaves, examining “life lines” on a hand, or making predictions with the help of Tarot cards. Naturally, most of us would like someone to forecast our future, tell us what will happen tomorrow, if what we are about to do is a good plan or one that should be abandoned.

Yet, if we examine this notion of telling the future, just possibly there are among us individuals who can anticipate the likelihood of what may transpire at a later date; the ability to analyze a situation and project its outcome. Maybe they are simply individuals like you and I who can dazzle us with what we believe is ‘predicting the future’, but in reality they are merely patient enough to “see” the big picture. If so, then if we all stepped back and took our time…. we too could perform such magic!

Seward, William Today’s blog brings you the esteemed thinker: William H. Seward, (1801-1872) born in Orange County, Florida. He served as New York’s governor, a U.S. Senator, and secretary of state during the Civil war. He was an ardent abolitionist, and one of Abraham Lincoln’s closest advisors helping to ensure Europe did not recognize the Confederacy as an independent nation. On April 14, 1865, nine days after he was gravely injured in a carriage accident, the bedridden Seward was stabbed in the throat by Lewis Powell (alias Lewis Payne), a fellow conspirator of John Wilkes Booth, who had that night assassinated Lincoln. Seward made a remarkable recovery and retained his cabinet post under Pres. Andrew Johnson until 1869.

His purchase of Alaska from the Russians, became known as “Seward’s folly” though, his foresight to negotiate a deal in 1866 certainly proved him to be a man that could “see the future” way beyond those of his skeptics. By 1896 gold had been discovered in the newly purchased regions and Alaska became the gateway to the Klondike gold fields. Years later, during World War II, Alaska would prove to be a strategic importance for the United States and in 1959, earning itself a place as the 49th state.

From William H. Seward’s Alaska Speech of 1869, delivered in Sitka Alaska, I shall take you back to this historic occasion. Take a moment from your busy day and reflect on Mr. Seward premonition or “folly of 1866”…you can decide…

“… Within the period of my own recollection, I have seen twenty new States added to the eighteen which before that time constituted the American Union, and I now see, besides Alaska, ten Territories in a forward condition of preparation for entering into the same great political family. I have seen in my own time not only the first electric telegraph, but even the first railroad and the first steamboat invented by man. And even on this present voyage of mine, I have fallen in with the first steamboat, still afloat, that thirty-five years ago lighted her fires on the Pacific Ocean. These, citizens of Sitka, are the guaranties, not only that Alaska has a future, but that that future has already begun.”

Second photo: Portrait of Secretary of State William H. Seward, officer of the United States government,
Brady National Photographic Art Gallery (Washington, D.C.), photographer, Created/Published: between 1860 and 1865

Heroism and Memorial Day go hand- in- hand

memorial day_compressed

Memorial Day draws us closer to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and democracy; their lives. Words often do not give justice to the thanks and gratitude we feel and wish to offer these great women and men of the armed forces. As we enter into reflection, a characteristic that comes into our minds is Heroism; a word that we can define with both commonalities and personal experiences; rediscovered when we unite together or rekindled within our own private solitude.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about Heroism; here are some of his words that grants recognition as we pay tribute to our fallen heroes.

“… Self-trust is the essence of heroism. It is the state of the soul at war, and its ultimate objects are the last defiance of falsehood and wrong, and the power to bear all that can be inflicted by evil agents. It speaks the truth, and is just, generous, hospitable, temperate, scornful of petty calculations, and scornful of being scorned. It persists; it is of an undaunted boldness, and of a fortitude not to be wearied out…these men (and women) fan the flame of human love, and raise the standard of civil virtue among mankind. …”

With these words from Emerson and those from our hearts, let us pay tribute to our fallen soldiers and pay homage to their valor.

Esteemed thinker: Benjamin Banneker

math class Every day we use numbers and though they are part of our daily life we take them for granted. Yet isn’t it a curious notion that something we use so often is actually not a real or tangible thing but rather an abstraction? Numbers are a made-up concept. We can’t hold one, or touch one, or even eat one. Numbers are merely a representation of items. They represent the years we have lived, the amount of candy in a box, or how long it takes for a person to travel from one place to another.

Numbers are used in a calendar and on a clock whereby we can calculate another made up abstraction we call time. Time is a sequential relationship to events that mark the past, the future, or the present. The numbers are a collection of the events such as 24 hours in a day; which again represents a practical way of measuring a sequence of a specific duration. How chaotic would life be if we did not have numbers.

Which leads me to another very important integer, the zero! Yes, I know what ou are thinking, zero mean nothing…whereby I will remind those skeptics that the zero was a most ingenious invention as the universal place holder …let’s face it, without zero we would never get above 9………..

So the next time someone tells you that are not good in math, look upon them with a bit more empathy for after all, numbers are all just a bunch of made-up notations. (Might as well use x, y, and z…oh wait we do!!)

Benjamin BannekerToday’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Benjamin Banneker (1731- 1806) African-American mathematician, surveyor, astronomer, and publisher of a popular almanac. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he was the son of a free woman and a former slave father. Banneker did not have much of a formal education, although he was taught to read by his grandmother, he was able to only briefly attend a Quaker school because he was needed to work on the family farm.

Banneker was a self- motivated and self-educated man who gained national acclaim for scientific work in the 1791 surveying the Federal Territory (now Washington, D.C.). In 1753, he built one of the first watches made in America, a wooden pocket watch. His interest in how the celestial world worked eventually gave him the insight to learned to predict lunar and solar eclipses based on what he absorbed from his learning and mathematical equations that he formulated.

His skills as a mathematician continued to dazzle when he published an almanac with astronomical calculations. (1792-1797).

I now bring to you a portion from his letter to Thomas Jefferson, where the correspondence between these two great men can be seen today at the home of Jefferson, Monticello.

“… Sir, although my sympathy and affection for my brethren hath caused my enlargement thus far, I ardently hope, that your candor and generosity will plead with you in my behalf, when I make known to you, that it was not originally my design; but having taken up my pen in order to direct to you, as a present, a copy of an Almanac, which I have calculated for the succeeding year, I was unexpectedly and unavoidably led thereto.
This calculation is the production of my arduous study, in this my advanced stage of life; for having long had unbounded desires to become acquainted with the secrets of nature, I have had to gratify my curiosity herein, through my own assiduous application to Astronomical Study, in which I need not recount to you the many difficulties and disadvantages, which I have had to encounter…

I industriously applied myself thereto, which I hope I have accomplished with correctness and accuracy; a copy of which I have taken the liberty to direct to you, and which I humbly request you will favorably receive; and although you may have the opportunity of perusing it after its publication, yet I choose to send it to you in manuscript previous thereto, that thereby you might not only have an earlier inspection, but that you might also view it in my own hand writing…”

First image: Vocational Printing math class. 1916,Fall River, Massachusetts photographed by Lewis W. Hine

Second image: “Benjamin Banneker: Surveyor-Inventor-Astronomer,” mural by Maxime Seelbinder, at the Recorder of Deeds building, built in 1943. 515 D St., NW, Washington, D.C.

Esteemed thinker: Noah Webster

Eskimo

If you have ever been stymied by the loss of a word, unable to describe an object or a feeling, you are not alone. In English, as in many languages, we institute an adjective, a metaphor, or a simile to help us along. For example, let us think about snow. If it is a flurry we may call it a light snow and if it is coming down like a blizzard we may say it a heavy snow. However, in the land of snow and ice where the weather is hostile to most who inhabit the earth, there are people who communicate with snow; and within their language are lexemes (vocabulary) to describe the variety of conditions relating to snow. The Inuit/Eskimo language is credited for having over 100 of these terms however, linguistics claim the distinction is more like 50. But, regardless of the number, I believe we may all agree that it is quite eloquent a notion that one can find snow so expressive when the rest of us spend much of the winter discrediting it to nothing more than a nuisance.

Today’s blog brings to you the man who brought to us words in a compact manner, the dictionary. Allow me to introduce the esteemed thinker: Noah Webster (1758-1843). Best known for his noteworthy accomplishment as the American lexicographer, he was also a Founding Father. Born in Connecticut he grew up during the colonial days, becoming a Federalist who supported the efforts of creating a new nation. A leading statesman, who was a confidant of both George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, Webster was in Philadelphia during the Constitutional Convention writing influential essays on behalf of the nation’s founding document. Noah Webster

In 1783, he published the American Spelling Book; a text that was so popular it outsold every book in the 19th century except the Bible. He founded the first daily newspaper in New York City, American Minerva, as well as helping to establish Amherst College. However, it was in 1828’s publication of the two volumes American Dictionary of the English Language that we best remember him for. Webster was a change agent, known as the “father of copyright,” he remained active throughout his life promoting and legislating copyright protection.

I now bring you a snippet from a letter he penned to Senator Daniel Webster in 1826.

“When I was in England in 1825 I learned that the British Parliament had, a few years before, enacted a new law on copyrights, by which the rights of authors were much extended. This led me to attempt to procure a new law in the United States, giving a like extension to the rights of authors. My first attempt appears in the following letter [to the Hon. Daniel Webster, dated September 30, 1826]:—

‘Since the celebrated decision, respecting copyright, by the highest British tribunal, it seems to have been generally admitted that an author has not a permanent and exclusive right to the publication of his original works at common law; and that he must depend wholly on statutes for his enjoyment of that right. As I firmly believe this decision to be contrary to all our best established principles of right and property, and as I have reason to think such a decision would not now be sanctioned by the authorities of this country, I sincerely desire that while you are a member of the House of Representatives in Congress your talents may be exerted in placing this species of property on the same footing as all property, as to exclusive right and permanence of possession…’”

First image: On the way to sea @1900

Esteemed thinker: Matthew A. Henson

penguin They say that white is a color without hues; a pigment that ignores any gradual progression of tints or tones by which allowing us to proclaim that white is perhaps the purist of all the colors. Yet there is a paradox to our declaration; for if this wily pigment lacks the natural property attached to what we know as an essential facet of “color”… the saturation and mixture of pigments together … (a very elementary skill we all learned when we were just finger painting; red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green, and so forth)…we must ask ourselves… what then is “white”?

Can we say that white is indeed a color or is it the anti-color, the spoiler of the color wheel, the rainbow, and the kaleidoscope? We know it is present in a prism but it never really reveals itself…rather it magically performs as an invisible light that we need but don’t see. Much like infinity; which brings the mind reeling with the concept that a number line can go on infinitely; the same notion that accosts one’s thoughts that space has no end… so does the brain have to come to terms that white is not a color as we know it, but actually a perceived lack there-of; a notion that introduces a most unsettling prospect.

Yet, it is possible that this ‘unsettling’ feeling corresponds with the vast and sheer emptiness one experiences when confronted with a world that is singularly devoid of color…when everything is pure white…when you lose your sense of location for there is not a single landmark to set perspective… the land of ice and snow.And we must wonder if this sensation happens to a polar bear or a penguin…creatures that spend their lives in and out of the icy waters and then on the frozen land that is unforgiving…a most uninhabitable part of earth for many, yet although it does not seem to unfurl the welcome mat, for even the plants that we are accustomed to made a decision eons ago not to adapt, there are some brave souls who find such exotic places adventurous, exciting, even though they are vacant of all accommodations… Even though night chooses not to fall upon its frigid days…and it is always the color of the albatross…the color of pearls… the color of truth….the color…or shall we say the purist of colors… white.

Matthew_Henson_1910 Today’s blog was inspired by the esteemed thinker: Matthew A. Henson (1866-1955). Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he was the son of two freeborn black sharecroppers. Though both his parents died when he was very young, at the age of 12 he left home and became a cabin boy. Under the tutelage of Captain Childs he learned to read maps and books, the operation of ships, and navigational skills; by twenty- one he was an expert seaman. He later met the Admiral Robert Edwin Peary and was hired as his valet. Yet as time went on he proved himself to be an invaluable asset. Becoming one of the world’s greatest explorers, he accompanied Peary on numerous Arctic expeditions. Though it took years to receive his just place in history, he is best remembered today as having discovered the North Pole with Peary in 1909.

I now give you a parcel of thoughts from our great American explorer and hero, Mr. Henson. From his remarkable auto-biography, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole (1912), take a moment… for his words will surely last you a life-time….

“… Naturally there were frequent storms and intense cold, and in regard to the storms of the Arctic regions of North Greenland and Grant Land, the only word I can use to describe them is “terrible,” in the fullest meaning it conveys. The effect of such storms of wind and snow, or rain, is abject physical terror, due to the realization of perfect helplessness. I have seen rocks a hundred and a hundred and fifty pounds in weight picked up by the storm and blown for distances of ninety or a hundred feet to the edge of a precipice, and there of their own momentum go hurtling through space to fall in crashing fragments at the base. Imagine the effect of such a rainfall of death-dealing bowlders on the feelings of a little group of three or four, who have sought the base of the cliff for shelter. I have been there and I have seen one of my Esquimo companions felled by a blow from a rock eighty-four pounds in weight, which struck him fairly between the shoulder-blades, literally knocking the life out of him. I have been there, and believe me, I have been afraid. A hundred-pound box of supplies, taking an aërial joy ride, during the progress of a storm down at Anniversary Lodge in 1894, struck Commander Peary a glancing blow which put him out of commission for over a week. These mighty winds make it possible for the herbivorous animals of this region to exist. They sweep the snow from vast stretches of land, exposing the hay and dried dwarf-willows, that the hare, musk-oxen, and reindeer feed on…”

Esteemed thinker: Abraham Lincoln

gettysburg 150 years ago beginning July 1 to July 3, 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg took place in Adams County, Pennsylvania. For three hot and treacherous days this most famous and most important Civil War Battle occurred; and although it started out as a skirmish, its fierce battles ended with 160,000 Americans involved and nearly one-third of the forces engaged resulted in casualties. Noted as the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, it was also the force behind the immortal speech of President Lincoln.

On Nov. 19th, 1863 President Lincoln went to the battlefield to dedicate its “hollow ground” as a military cemetery, the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, whereupon he delivered his monumental Gettysburg Address. This brief speech of only 272 words still rings as loudly and as eloquently today; for the vision he saw for America, his vision of a new birth of freedom continues to resonate… and the famous phrase ”government of the people, by the people, for the people” demonstrates his democratic principles. His challenge to the American people a century and a half ago continues to be an inspiration; holding true “that all men are created equal”, wherever they may reside.

So in remembrance of this somber occasion I introduce or reintroduce to you to the timeless words of the 16th president of the United States, my hero, the esteemed thinker: Abraham Lincoln. I wish that my blog gives you a moment’s pause, to reawaken your memory with these most famous words. Here is President Lincoln….

Dedication gettysburg Gettysburg, Pa. November 1863. Dedication of Gettysburg battlefield

GETTYSBURG ADDRESS” (19 NOVEMBER 1863)
[1] Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

[2] Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

[3] But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate-we can not consecrate-we can not hallow-this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

blue and grey and tent gettysburg