Sunday, May 30, 2010

Grandma Moves Out

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

The Civil War showed Leonard Jerome at his best. To seven year old Jennie Jerome, “I remember nothing about it, except that every little Southerner was ‘a wicked rebel’ to be pinched if possible.”

Leonard acquired a part interest in the New York Times. At the height of the Draft Riots in July 1863 he grabbed the latest in military hardware, a pair of gatling guns, and mounted them in the Times Building’s windows. The mob departed for easier pickings at the Herald Tribune.

Leonard made and lost enormous amounts of money. His womanizing and his gambling became increasingly notorious. As in business, he did not always win his battles. One day, while eating with his friend Belmont, he asked, “August do you remember Fanny’s celebrated ball?” Belmont replied, “Indeed I do. I paid for it”. Leonard slowly said, “Why, how very strange. So did I.”

“People like Belmont and Jerome do not enter Society, they create it as they go along,” a contemporary wrote. They founded the American Jockey Club, an important event in the history of horseracing. They built the Jerome Racetrack, with seating for eight thousand, a luxurious clubhouse, with dining rooms, guest rooms, a ballroom, and facilities for other sports such as skating, trapshooting, polo, and sleighing. It was the biggest sports facility in the country up to that time.

Distinguished guests such as Ulysses Grant attended opening day on September 25, 1866. Leonard’s horse Kentucky won and in the winner’s circle twelve-year-old Jennie was hoisted on top of him. With the crowd’s applause flowing around her, it was one of the most memorable moments of her life.

Leonard’s play became larger. How about a race across the Atlantic, with a cool $90,000, winner takes all? It was done. He held the victory party at the Royal Yacht Squadron at Europe’s most famous resort, Cowes, on the English Channel.

By 1867 Clara had had enough. She took the children and left for Paris.

This series consists of short summaries for passages from the book that I am writing. Graphic is that of another Churchill book that I really like.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tombstone In Lincoln, Maine


His widow, aged 24 lives at 7 Elm Street, has every qualification for a good wife and yearns to be comforted.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Iron Age, 1000 - 500 BC

As iron spread through the civilized world, activity in and among civilizations leveled up. China acquired iron around 600 BC.

In the first century of this age, Kings David and Solomon ruled Israel. Just to the NW, the Phoenicians ranged throughout the Mediterranean. India adopted the caste system. In Mexico, the Olmecs, still in the Stone Age, produced giant heads 9 feet high.

During this age, Assyria revived its super-power status and the Middle East remained as the foremost area of civilization. Its reach activated a coalition of enemies who destroyed it by 600. To the west, the Greeks rose to major-power status. During this period they established colonies around the Agean Sea and west to Sicily and Italy. Athens experimented with democracy.

New: Carthage and Rome were founded in this age. Old: China regressed to a feudal society. The collapse of Assyria brought Egypt a twilight glow of prosperity before the Persians came.

At the end of this age, Confucius was alive in China and Buddha was alive in India. Zoroaster lived sometime during this age.

Previous AgeMaster ListNext Age

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pharoah Proteus

Previously in Herodotus

112. After him, they said, there succeeded to the throne a man of Memphis, whose name in the tongue of the Hellenes was Proteus; for whom there is now a sacred enclosure at Memphis, very fair and well ordered, lying on that side of the temple of Hephaistos which faces the North Wind. Round about this enclosure dwell Phoenicians of Tyre, and this whole region is called the Camp of the Tyrians. Within the enclosure of Proteus there is a temple called the temple of the "foreign Aphrodite," which temple I conjecture to be one of Helen the daughter of Tyndareus, not only because I have heard the tale how Helen dwelt with Proteus, but also especially because it is called by the name of the "foreign Aphrodite," for the other temples of Aphrodite which there are have none of them the addition of the word "foreign" to the name.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Not Genius but What?

Men give me credit for genius but all the genius I have lies in this: When I have a subject in mind I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. The result is what some people call the fruits of genius, whereas it is in reality the fruits of study and labor.

- Alexander Hamilton

More on Alexander Hamilton

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mother and Jenny Lind

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

In 1851 he was appointed U.S. Counsel to Trieste. Located between Italy and the Balkans, it was the Austrian Empire’s only seaport. In Europe, Clara got her first taste at a happier life. Europe’s elites did not impress the thoroughly American Leonard. “It is better to speak well in just one language than to chatter in five,” he said.

In 1853 he returned the family to the more adventuresome venue of New York City. There he met and fell in love with one of the most famous singing stars of the century, Jennie Lind. When his second daughter was born, on January 9, 1854 he insisted on naming her “Jeannette”. Months later Clara learned that her baby had been named after this other woman.

In 1859 he built his dream mansion on the southeast corner of 26th. Street near Madison Square. Clara had it designed in the best Napoleonic Paris style. It rose six stories high. The white and gold ballroom accommodated three hundred; the dining room seventy. Leonard’s attention was on the secondary buildings. His stable cost $80,000. Next to it his theatre seated six hundred.

At this time other wealthy families were building homes in the area. Delmonico’s Restaurant made its debut. So did the Fifth Avenue Hotel. It sported impressive innovations: a central heating system, “a perpendicular railway intersecting each story” (i.e. an elevator), and most startling of all – indoor toilets. Critics called them “not only unsanitary but immoral.”

This series consists of short summaries for passages from the book that I am writing. Graphic is that of another Churchill book that I really like.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Old Country Pol Finishes His Speech

- From the Good old days, when bosses ran machines and the ward healers handed out the dough –

OCP: And in conclusion, my good friends, remember Abraham Lincoln once said that no man can fool all the people all the time. All I want is a working majority.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Bronze Age, 3000 - 1000 BC

Metallurgy was important to this age apart from the advantages (military and commercial) that it conferred upon civilization but also what it indicated. Knowledge was just one ingredient to a Bronze Age society. Organization, technical skills, and commercial rewards were necessary to implement and support industrial activity. Civilization itself had to rise to a new level.

During this period the major super-powers in the world were Egypt, Iraq, and China. (I use the general term "Iraq" for the succession of different empires that based their heartland in this area.)

China 's remoteness and protected it from the wars of the civilizations to the west. The Shang Dynasty may have ruled over 5 million people, which made the most populous empire in the world. It entered the Bronze Age by 1500.

Iraq established the first empire based on large scale conquest in the 24th. Century. It extended from the Persian Gulf in the south to the east coast of the Mediterranean in the west, and to the Caspian Sea in the north. It lasted about 2 centuries which isn't bad considering the primitive infrastructure and governance of the times. After 2000 the region became Babylon and became the hub of much inter-civ activity. It conquered and was conquered. The age ended with the Assyrian Empire in control.

This era was Egypt's golden age. The pyramids were mostly built by 2000. Egypt had its first large invasion in the 18th. Century. This changed the character of the state from an isolationist, inward looking society to a more standard warring and conquering empire.

India had a large first-rank civilization in the Indus River Valley until 1500. The Aryan invaders spent the rest of the age conquering the rest of India.

What is most significant about this age is that the historian emerges from almost total reliance upon artifacts, crockery, and excavations to written records. We go from just writing about physical things to writing about people and events.

Previous AgeMaster ListNext Age

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Pharoah Regains His Sight

Previously in Herodotus

111. Now after Sesostris had brought his life to an end, his son Pheros, they told me, received in succession the kingdom, and he made no warlike expedition, and moreover it chanced to him to become blind by reason of the following accident:--when the river had come down in flood rising to a height of eighteen cubits*, higher than ever before that time, and had gone over the fields, a wind fell upon it and the river became agitated by waves: and this king (they say) moved by presumptuous folly took a spear and cast it into the midst of the eddies of the stream; and immediately upon this he had a disease of the eyes and was by it made blind. For ten years then he was blind, and in the eleventh year there came to him an oracle from the city of Buto saying that the time of his punishment had expired, and that he should see again if he washed his eyes with the water of a woman who had accompanied with her own husband only and had not knowledge of other men: and first he made trial of his own wife, and then, as he continued blind, he went on to try all the women in turn; and when he had at last regained his sight he gathered together all the women of whom he had made trial, excepting her by whose means he had regained his sight, to one city which now is named Erythrabolos, and having gathered them to this he consumed them all by fire, as well as the city itself; but as for her by whose means he had regained his sight, he had her himself to wife. Then after he had escaped the malady of his eyes he dedicated offerings at each one of the temples which were of renown, and especially (to mention only that which is most worthy of mention) he dedicated at the temple of the Sun works which are worth seeing, namely two obelisks of stone, each of a single block, measuring in length a hundred cubits each one and in breadth eight cubits.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

* Cubit = 1.5 feet.

Monday, May 17, 2010

These Can Never Be Regained

It is a maxim universally agreed upon in agriculture, that nothing must be done too late; and again, that everything must be done at its proper season; while there is a third perception which reminds us that opportunities lost can never be regained.

- Pliny the Elder

More on Pliny

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Other Grandfather

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

Leonard Jerome made his first pile working for his uncle. He became a partner in his law firm in his hometown of Palmyra, New York.

It was a small town but it had one big attraction for Leonard: the Hall sisters. These sisters were Indian looking and rumors were that their grandmother had been raped by an Iroquois. His brother and him both came calling. Leonard fell for Clara. Eventually both brothers married the sisters.

With Clara’s money, Leonard bought the Rochester Daily American. He was restless. He bought a telegraph company, too. In 1850 he quit the law firm, sold the newspaper, and moved the family to Brooklyn.

New York City satisfied Leonard Jerome’s desires. He immersed himself in the nightlife, the gambling, the racing, and the women. He befriended August Belmont, the American representative of the Rothschild banking empire. Clara stayed home and silently suffered.

Leonard could not see why his day life couldn’t be as exciting as his night life. He sold the telegraph company and plunged into the stock market. He sometimes combined business and politics. In the New Haven railroad scandal, he lobbied for and got a bill for railroad reform. This bill enabled him to get out of it a winner. “That damned fellow has figured out how to cash in on honesty!” a competitor cried.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

No Barbed Wire Today

- Heard on a stagecoach:

Salesman: Nice day today.
Rancher: Yep.
Salesman: You going west?
Rancher: Yep.
Salesman: I sell barbed wire.
Rancher: Yep.
Salesman: You raise cattle?
Rancher: Yep.
Salesman: Can I get you to say anything to me other than YEP?
Rancher: Nope.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Agricultural Age, 10,000 - 3,000 BC

At the beginning of this age, the the planet has warmed from the Ice Age to the temperatures of today. In Alaska, the ice prison has broken up and the humans began migrating to the rest of the continent. In northern Africa, the lush plains of the Sahara turned into the desert of today. To the retreating peoples, the Nile River valley beckoned.

Climate change caused large stands of wild grain grew thoughout the Middle East. Around 8000 people in northern Iraq began to deliberately plant these grains. The nearby Tigris and Euphrates Rivers provided irrigation. After harvest, the grains were ground into flour which kept for long periods of time.

Historians call this age "The New Stone Age" or in Latin the "Neolithic Age". I don't think that advances in stonework was the determining factor in this era. It was warming of the planet and the subsequent development of farming.

Agriculture provided stability. It supported more people. It allowed people to congregate into cities. City folk were able to perform specialized tasks. Organization for defense and for commerce was needed. And people's imaginations were freed to pursue academic pursuits. Agriculture is the foundation that allows workers of other skills to prosper.

Jericho (yes, the one of the Bible) may be the world's oldest city, dating back to 8000. Posessing all of 10 acres and 2,500 people, it was the must-see metropolis of 7500. By 6000, pottery was developed. In the Far East, humans independently developed the farming of rice.

In the Sixth Millenium, the Sumerians took over the Iraq region and established a network of cities. In 4000 they founded the city of Ur and made it into the largest city in the world.
Egypt united under its first ruler in 3100. The Chinese established their first cities along the Yellow River about this time. Cities began in the Indus River Valley.

Towards the end of this era, the lands around the eastern Mediterranean began civilizations. In 4000 world population reached the unprecedented number of 85 million people. They lived in isolation from other civilizations but this was about to change.

Here's a related article.

Previous AgeMaster ListNext Age

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Egypt and Ethiopia

Previously in Herodotus

110. He moreover alone of all the Egyptian kings had rule over Ethiopia; and he left as memorials of himself in front of the temple of Hephaistos two stone statues of thirty cubits each, representing himself and his wife, and others of twenty cubits each representing his four sons: and long afterwards the priest of Hephaistos refused to permit Darius the Persian to set up a statue of himself in front of them, saying that deeds had not been done by him equal to those which were done by Sesostris the Egyptian; for Sesostris had subdued other nations besides, not fewer than he, and also the Scythians; but Darius had not been able to conquer the Scythians: wherefore it was not just that he should set up a statue in front of those which Sesostris had dedicated, if he did not surpass him in his deeds. Which speech, they say, Darius took in good part.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

I think H is talking about Nubia (modern Sudan). There is no recorded Egyptian conquest of Ethiopia.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Difference Between the Great and the Merely Adequate

For it is the willingness of people to give of themselves over and above the demands of the job that distinguishes the great from the nearly adequate.

- Peter F. Drucker

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Who Is That Woman?

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

John Winston, the 7th. Duke, set out to restore the Churchill situation. He was a serious man, and a deeply religious one. Sales of some of the palace treasures stabilized the Marlborough finances. He became active in Parliament. In a religious era, he made the religious state of the realm his priority issue. He became Lord President of the Council and a cabinet member in Lord Derby’s Third Administration. In 1868 Disraeli asked him to lead the Conservatives in the House of Lords.

The Churchill family was again a solid, established member of Europe’s nobility. They were normal. They were respectable. And John Winston intended to keep it that way. The family’s future depended upon solid conservatism both financially and socially, upon not making waves.

This is the situation in August, 1873 when Randolf bursts into the palace to announce that he has just met a most wonderful girl and he intends to marry her!

The Duke is away in Scotland but the Duchess naturally asks questions. Who is she? And more importantly, does she come from a good family? Randolf supplies such answers as he can.
Extract from a letter to his Father:

Blenheim [Palace]: Wednesday, August 20, 1873
Mr. Jerome is a gentleman who is obliged to live in New York to look after his business. I do not know what it is. He is reputed to be very well off, and his daughters, I believe, have very good fortunes, but I do not know anything for certain. He generally comes over for three of four months every year. Mrs. Jerome has lived in Paris for several years and has educated her daughters there. They go out in Society there and are very well known.
I have told you all I know about them at present. . . . .
Ever your most affectionate son,
The Duke and Duchess are increasingly concerned. Then Randolf supplies Jennie’s picture. Shock!

Who is this American with the dark skin and the mysterious past? They will make inquiries! They will find out!

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sir Thomas More on Susan Blake

Good Susan Blake in royal estate
Arrived at last at Heaven’s gate.

- His epitaph at her urgent entreaty. Two years later, they broke up and he added:

But Peter met her with a club
And knocked her back to Beelzebub.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Warming Age, 20,000 - 10,000 BC

Immense volumes have been written to expound our knowledge, and conceal our ignorance, of primitive man.
- Will Durant

The attempt to wrap one's mind around pre-historic periods requires one to confront a bewildering array of jargon. Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic describe the development of humans in terms of Stone Ages. Pleistocene and Holocene describe geological periods. As I say in my article on The Age of Agriculture, I don't think that the attributes that these terms highlight are the most important.

The warming planet and the retreat of the great ice sheets may have been indiscernable to the humans of the time. Authorities seem to agree that the process was gradual, rather than the global warming trends of today. In any case, the habitats of such Ice Age animals as the Great Wooly Mammath and the Sabertooth Tiger shrunk and led to their extinction.

The Earth's typography was still substantially different than today. There was no Black Sea; it was dry. The flood waters from the Mediterranean came later. The North Sea filled up. The Sahara in northern Africa with its lush savanas was a center of human activity.

One wonders how the equator regions - the Amazon River - differed from today. Why didn't an equivalent to Egypt in the next area arise along the Amazon? Maybe it did. An ancient civilization lays under the jungle bed just waiting to be found.

Humans did use stone and fire. They domesticated animals, though the horse wasn't domesticated until late in the next age (around 4500 BC). And they painted. A lot of these artifacts were found in caves, thus giving rise to the image of early man living in caves. The supply of available caves would have severely limited the population and restricted them to hilly/mountainous areas. Caves may have just preserved things more than the shelters constructed out in the open. Were the 20,000 BC paintings in the Alamira Cave the work of an amateur while the really good stuff got lost by the wear of time?

Previous AgeMaster ListNext Age

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Geometry Discovered

Previously in Herodotus

109. For this reason Egypt was cut up; and they said that this king distributed the land to all the Egyptians, giving an equal square portion to each man, and from this he made his revenue, having appointed them to pay a certain rent every year: and if the river should take away anything from any man's portion, he would come to the king and declare that which had happened, and the king used to send men to examine and to find out by measurement how much less the piece of land had become, in order that for the future the man might pay less, in proportion to the rent appointed: and I think that thus the art of geometry was found out and afterwards came into Hellas also. For as touching the sun-dial and the gnomo* and the twelve divisions of the day, they were learnt by the Hellenes from the Babylonians.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

* gnomo = an upright staff or an obelisk for observation of the length of the shadow.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Who Is Not Left Long Without Proper Reward

No man who continues to add something to the material, intellectual, and moral well-being of the place in which he lives is left long without proper reward.

- Booker T. Washington

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Their Age of Disgrace

Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

4th. and 5th. Generations
The succession passed through their daughter Anne to their grandson Charles Spencer. They had quiet, diffident personalities. It was said that the magnificence of the Churchill legend hung heavily upon them. They maintained but did not add to the family legacy.

6th., 7th., and 8th. Generations
The next three dukes were profligate spenders. Under them debt began to tarnish the family legacy.

The third and fourth Dukes beautified the Palace. The gardens were a special achievement. They were great art collectors. Under them the estate reached its pinnacle of splendor and of debt.

9th. Generation
When George took over in 1817, the king granted permission to add “Churchill” back to the family name. Later, as Winston Churchill’s official biography puts it, “In more recent times the Churchills have tended to drop the Spencer from their surname.”

The 6th Duke brought the financial situation to a crisis. His irresponsible behavior led to charges of adultery, kidnapping, other lawsuits, and four marriages. Scandal and ruin threatened the Churchill legacy. By this time the Duke had to live in just a few rooms of his palace and close up the rest.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tombstone in Hartfield, MA, 1771

Beneath this stone, a lump of clay,
Lies Arabella Young,
Who on the 21st. of May,
Began to hold her tongue.