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Mar 15, 2021Liked by Heather Cox Richardson

What a great story...I love how you tell them and how applicable they are to current events. Now may we figure out how to reclaim democracy again.

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So here's another part of this that didn't fit. Hamlin studied law under Samuel Fessenden, who was the father of William Pitt Fessenden, the famous Civil War senator. But the reason I'm writing this here is that I was... amused?... to see that if you look up SF on Wikipedia, it says he married... and that he and his wife had several children. And that his children became politicians. All true. But they kind of skip over the fact that WPF was not his father's wife's son.... Funny that that still sticks in people's craws all this time later.

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Joanne Freeman covered Fessenden in Field of Blood. I happened to be walking next to his grave in Portland at the time. The dead rise to speak. Kismet.

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The Wikipedia entry for William Pitt Fessenden says his father was Samuel Fessenden and his mother was Ruth Greene. "The parents were unmarried." I take that to mean neither was married at the time -- or does it mean they were not married to each other? And the entry for Samuel Fessenden does not name the wife with whom he had several children. Why so vague, I wonder.

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The quirks of Wikipedia. You can become an editor, and if you can find reasonable sources, you can edit those historical facts into the Wiki entry, subject to Wikipedia's editorial standards.

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Alas, Wikipedia does not want actual experts in the subject of the article to write or edit them. I have experienced numerous instances where I have tried to correct woefully inaccurate information, only to have my edits rejected because I am a recognized "expert." I am also plagiarized all over Wikipedia in my field. Sigh.

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Understood and agreed. Sometimes it's a great source - some times it's woefully misdirected by its attempts at egalitarian editing and editorial contribution standards.

I've managed to get my very minor contributions to stick by simply announcing what I know will be considered bias (no matter how well-sourced or well-received) but citing to other sources for authority for my edits.

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Wikipedia is accurate at least 51% of the time.

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This must be a guess since no one knows what constitues 100% wikipedia.

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Linda, are you intimating that Wikipedia is run by a bunch of today's Republicans? LOL

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So I wonder if there is a birth certificate or record of some type that lists the mother. My initial thought was she was perhaps a servant raised by him and his wife.

I have a vague family history but no solid records that my mother, born in 1929, was born to an Italian woman down the street. I did not learn this until both of my parents passed and there was no family to ask. It seems my grandfather was not a faithful husband. Even the woman that was the only grandmother I knew was the sister or half or step sister of my mothers “real” mother. This has been impossible for me to research. I am also supposed to be a descendant of John Quincy Adam’s but the family member with the proof of that never shared it.

I love this family history stuff and have spent many days at the National Archives in Kansas City reading microfilm. I could not even find my grandfather’s birth certificate from 1895.

I shared this post with my 18 year-old grandson hoping to teach him something.

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I have to share a true and funny tale with you! My mother was born in 1929 too. She is still alive, but lost in dementia, so there's no retrieving anything these days. However, several years ago I was writing a children's book based upon my grandmother's life (her mother) and I asked her to read it and give me feedback on accuracy, as I was writing about primitive farm life and was out of my league, recalling only bits and pieces of childhood memories. Mama liked it, but whispered (literally - whispered), "don't tell anyone, but (name of uncle inserted here) is really my half brother. Mama was already pregnant when she married Dad...I think his real father was (insert name of Scottish colonel visiting the US at that time.)" This never made its way into the (unpublished) book and has never been shared, except right here with you where it will be buried in that famous Cloud in the sky where all things on social media end up going to rest!

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It's those little facts that make history fascinating - reminds me of my HS History teach who was the most interesting history teach I'd ever had the pleasure of sitting in their classroom. It's your ilk of teaching that makes the student listen - the characters of our past become people, not just names and dates that is so quickly forgotten. Thank you for making these history "lessons" come to life as they need to be to appreciate the true meaning.

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When "democracy" can no longer in principle degenerate into a food fight, something is terribly wrong. The rebirth-struggle of death defying renewal is a composting process: rot serves to fertilize the inspired life-force powerfully motivated to get some distance on the persistent flies and bad smells. The urge to live is often too focused on running toward, and not enough on the often more credible running from.

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HCR Reader Matthew Goulet offered us the concept of "deep gardening" to keep our democratic process.

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pls repost that analogy?

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With our limited searchability on Substack, we're lucky I remembered Matthew Goulet's name! "Deep gardening" builds on Sadpanic's metaphor about composting to fertilize democracy.

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Accepting the truth of that statement, the next upsurge of democratic activism will be powerful indeed because the layer of fertilizer runs very deep right now.

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Amen!

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Well written and powerful as usual! But I do hope you'll spill some ink (or illuminate some pixels?) regarding how tied to slavery and its economy the entire North, and indeed the whole of the United States, so thoroughly was.

My dad's family's story on this continent begins in Boston in 1652, when unwilling Scots on the wrong side of Oliver Cromwell were exiled here. I live just a few kilometers (#GoMetric) from where their ship, the John & Sarah, docked that year after a trecherous winter crossing of the Atlantic. My mother's history in Boston begins with her folks starting in the 1920s (she passed of Covid back in May at the age of 86 by the way - I'm just 44 myself, she had me late). Her dad, my grandfather, had a stint co-running the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham & Women's) back when it was a small outfit just finding its sea legs after he graduated Harvard Med School.

And it was my mother's brother, a well-connected jazz artist who played and produced records until he passed about 8 years ago now, has childhood memories of very old Civil War soldiers marching in the streets of Boston on July 4th (he actually played his way through the Army years later) and he always said the Civil War was America's "long shadow," a rift that we've never truly recovered from.

Let's take Faneuil Hall, for example, dubbed the "Cradle of Liberty" since the American Revolution -- it was absolutely financed with money from Peter Faneuil's slave trading business. More and more are we (re)discovering these truths. I want to be honest with you, Professor - sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes I find some (not all) aspects of your narrative concerning these United States of America a little too tidy. A little too attached to this narrative habit we've had in Boston for quite some time - that we've been the enlightened home of abolitionists, and the South has been source of racist rot in our country.

One of my ancestors was legal witness in the 17th century to one of the, shall we say, "shady real estate deals" that was vehicle for the colonization of this continent, the violent cultural and physical genocide our nation is entirely predicated on.

I'd really appreciate it if you chose to delve a little more unflinchingly into America - the full story. For example, we all should learn the horrible history of Thanksgiving. Abraham Lincoln, whom you venerate reasonably on some counts, proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in 1863, right? And the federal government declared the last Thursday in November as the legal Thanksgiving holiday in 1898.

However, the meaning of Thanksgiving is whitewashed with the happy feasting Pilgrims & Indians story. And yes, that did happen. Once. In 1614 when a band of English explorers sailed home to England with a ship full of Patuxet Indians bound for slavery. (As you know, they left behind smallpox which almost entirely wiped out those who'd escaped.) By the time the Pilgrims got to Mass Bay, they found only one living Patuxet Indian, a man named Squanto who'd survived slavery in England and knew English. He taught them to grow corn and fish and negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. At the end of their first year, the Pilgrims held a great feast honoring Squanto and the Wampanoags.

Hurrah.

BUT, as word spread in England about this new world paradise, religious zealots (you guessed it, the Puritans) began arriving by the boatload (no, they were not all fleeing religious persecution - they actually had a great deal of religious freedom - most were pursuing an economic opportunity). In any event, finding no fences around the land, they considered it to be public domain. Joined by other British settlers (whom my highland ancestors would later fight in the Battles of Dunbar and Worcester), they seized land, capturing strong young Natives for slaves and killing the rest.

The Pequot Nation, however, hadn't agreed to this peace treaty that Squanto negotiated and dared to fight back.

The Pequot War was one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought. In 1637 near today's Groton CT, over 700 men, women and kids of the Pequot Tribe were having an annual "Green Corn Festival." In the predawn hours the slumbering tribe members were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside. Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were then literally burned alive inside (yup, pretty horrid - if any tried to come out, they were of course shot).

The NEXT day, Mass Bay Colony governor John Winthrop declared “A Day Of Thanksgiving” because 700 unarmed men, women and children had been murdered. Elated by the “victory” God granted them, the "brave" colonists attacked village after village. Women and children over 14 were sold into slavery while the rest were murdered. Boats loaded with as many as 500 slaves regularly left New England ports.

Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now Stamford CT, the churches announced a 2nd day of Thanksgiving to celebrate victory over the heathen savages. During the feasting, the hacked-off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls. Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the madness. Their chief, Metacom (son of the original welcoming Massasoit, whose statue you can find in Plymouth) was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts where it remained on display for ~25 years after King Phillip's War (which was arguably this continent's first battle for independence, or cultural survival, however you look at it).

Anyway, the killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. Eventually we get to George Washington himself, who finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. Later still, our beloved Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War (on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Sioux in Minnesota).

So, professor Richardson, that version of the story doesn’t have quite the same fuzzy feelings associated with it as the one where the Indians and Pilgrims are all sitting down together at a big feast, and I've been kind of hoping you'd write more about the things we need to unflinchingly reckon with as a nation. I think you'd agree we need to look at history square in the face, so I truly hope you continue to work in service of the truth of our mutually conjoined stories.

Sincerely from Somerville (once Charlestown, which was later annexed anyway and is now Boston),

Michael Monroe

P.S. Connected with James Monroe, yes - I actually share his birthday. By the way, he owned enslaved people. None of us are of noble blood, and I really think we, as white people, need to talk about it A LOT more.

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Michael Monroe, thank you for your reminding detail of the horrible history of European assault of the Native Americans and appropriation of the land in what is now New England.

For anyone interested in further reading of a history book that reads like a novel:

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (2006) by Nathaniel Philbrick.

Dr. Richardson has mentioned her study of the Puritans and Native American history. My interpretation is that her Letter tonight was to take pride in connecting dots of her home state's contributors to American democracy, and not to depict the history of Maine in a "warm and fuzzy" whitewashed way.

As to your comment about Lincoln's declaration of Thanksgiving as a national holiday, Dr. Richardson expounded upon this in her Letter of Nov. 25, 2020, that Lincoln was not referencing the myth of the Pilgrims, but in Dr. Richardson's words, established the holiday in the context of the Civil War "to celebrate the survival of our democratic government."

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Another, from the incomparable Sarah Vowell, is The Wordy Shipmen. One of my favorites of her books.

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Sorry: The Wordy Shipmates is the correct title

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"Shipmen" seems more appropriate, given Puritan restrictions on women and the fates of Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer.

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I’ll never forget running across Mary Dyer‘s statue up by the state house. That story is indelibly printed in me.

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Hello, Roland! I was wondering where you were. Glad to see you as well as lol the other familiar names here. You all keep me going as I consider the possibility that we’ve all been accidentally assigned to an insane asylum.

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HCR provided the carrot, here's the stick.

Both are precious, and we should be grateful for them.

Your last sentence is very important.

At the same time, EVERYONE needs to talk about both aspects, the shadow and the light.

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Sounds like a good start for your own history blog.

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Thank you, that's high praise! I personally find Heather's writing voice just so amazing though, don't you? She's just got this je ne sais quoi that I adore - haven't found anything out there quite like it.

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Well informed history blogs can coexist.

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Shocking to read! Hard to internalize. Stomach turning to contemplate.

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You could be equally shocked by a true history of any area of this country. If interested, check out what Cortez did to Pueblo Indians in the southwest — etc., etc., etc.

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Yes indeed.

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It was a different world . Christian people believed God was in the sky looking down on them and that their prayers would reach God if the church steeple was tall enough. Be glad we survived until now and for the science we have.

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And I wonder if perhaps you might be hired by a great university to teach history where you could help educate future voters - would the school board of directors approve of your selection and let you teach what you have written here? I have recently learned about racism in places where I never suspected it existed. It’s deplorable and, for me, unforgivable. Knowing makes me responsible, but I haven’t yet learned how to effectively change humanity. How do we learn that? Who teaches that?

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Seems to me Christian numbers are decreasing, but their fervor might be increasing?

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It depends on how one defines Christians, by word or by deed. Jesus was a Jew who taught certain values, upon which Western civil law is based. Fervor directed in a civil way is not destructive. Irrational fervor can become a frenzied killing spree. I seem always to come back to human fear of death, or even of being ignored, and our need for validation, everyones need to justify their existence. Every time I bring up over-population, the human need to procreate overwhelms rational thought, but it seems to me that our biggest dilemma is a fight for a place in the world, not heaven.

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Yup, irrational fervor

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But wait, I was taught that our laws were based on the Greeks and Romans, with a bit of help from the original people's covenants, the very ones the "pilgrims" massacred. I'm embarrassed to say that I can't remember the exact tribe at this moment, even though it was mentioned.

I think the whole "we owe our nation's laws (ie values) to Christianity" is a dangerous simplification.

Many of our greatest founding fathers rejected the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition in favor of agnosticism or deism, largely because of the history of war and oppression associated with Christianity in their own motherland.

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Yes it’s an everyday fight.

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But they believed that God only shined on them and not the other...a common problem to this day

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Their fate is outlined in the Book of Job, but a lot of them don’t read the Old Testament and don’t have the cultural history of it to understand what they’re reading. They remind me of Renaissance painters who painted biblical characters costumed in 15th century Florentine clothing.

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Severe problem

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Some did. Cultural relativity is often used as an excuse for overlooking something uncomfortable: Not all people at the time bought into that story. There were arguments and schisms among congregations over the treatment of indigenous peoples. There was the interesting tendency of white settlers to leave and go to live with native people- as one of them. Towns of both sometimes existed side by side or intermixed. Things were much, much more complex than even our "enlightened" revisions recognize. The world was not so different then as we think.

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But isn't that exactly what the White "Christian" Nationalists being weaponized by the Oligarchy are still saying now, in 2024? They are not focused on the height of the steeple, but on the dome of Congress and the White House porch. (they have already completed a judicial coup, thus proving their Divine Destiny.)

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Whoa, a difficult read. Thank you for that. The immensity of man’s inhumanity to man, (and women, children and animals), can be quite overwhelming when the unvarnished truth of the past, and in some parts of the world, the present, is revealed. Is the collective conscienceless of humanity inching towards the light? I hope so. But the shadows of the past are very long but if the truth is viewed with clear eyes and discernment perhaps it can spark a new vision for the future. To save what progress has been made so far in the universal pursuit of life, liberty and happiness for all, constant vigilance is necessary. We are nowhere near the promised land yet.

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No time left to redeem "man's" bad record of inhumanity to others. Prez 45 stands as a monument to the waste of space that human beings can be on earth. A whole lot of "good" people can be trashed by one evil soul. This is not the first rodeo......and there seems to be no improvement, so I'm not sad about earth finishing us off. Too sorry there will be no survival of any to proclaim the worst of humankind as a warning to any future human beings. Also sorry that the best of humankind will be without memorial on this hunk of rock circling the sky.

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I would agree, but I have children.

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And remember, Moses was denied entry to the promisedland

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It’s a tough question about how much grotesque violence we want to focus on from one period of American history to another. I disagree that HCR’s version of history is too tidy. In any historical narrative, choices have to be made about what points are being made. Of course the north was tied economically with the south’s slave profits. And there were people living in the north who were or had been slave traders. It’s a given since we were all tied together before the civil war. What stands out to me is how early the struggle began to keep slavery legal. Another astounding force is the obstruction that remained in effect to the human rights of freed slaves. And we’re still reckoning with this evil.

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It *is* a tough question, isn't it. I had an uncommon 6th grade teacher in the 80s who spent the whole year focusing on the Civil War as the main theme while we checked off boxes in other areas as well. She didn't mince words - we learned the (truly) gorey details of the Nat Turner Rebellion, how horrid the seige of Vicksburg truly was, what enslaved people really went through - all kinds of stuff. We were 12, but we could handle it. I think we underestimate the capacity of the moral brain of pre-teens, and I find myself looking to Germany's practices in terms of education and reckoning with the past. We've never really had the same approach here in the US, and perhaps we should.

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I’m not up on Germany’s approach but as to the gorey part of war I think the use of films like Lincoln which had scenes of the amputations and discarded body parts can get those difficult parts across so the teacher can focus on the other important parts like the whys and the how did it come to this. I think many teens can deal with sordid stuff but why dwell on it when the other ideas like economics and moral issues plant seeds of questioning and understanding.

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Germany's approach to reckoning with its past would be Another great post for you to write. I have often wondered about it, and re Japan as well. What a perfect subject for our times.

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Thank you for your well written and illuminating account of the 'Thanksgiving' history. HCR did write about this over the past Thanksgiving, not in such detail, but she did clarify the contrast between the 'Pilgrims and Indians' mythology many of us grew up with and the very different holiday's significance when instituted by Lincoln and, in fact, different states at different times.

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True, that was a hot take that I appreciated as well.

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Thank you Michael! I never knew the enormity of THIS! The way you tell it is Explosive. Very sad, but very True!!!

Wish I learned this in Grammar School. Could have gotten me into a Civic and History minded persona earlier!!!!

Thank you again for This History Lesson🤔😟😊

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Thank you, Michael. To adapt your own phrase, MA has been the home of more enlightened abolitionists than the South, and the South has been source of more racist rot than other parts of the country. Your own account of Thanksgiving verges on mythmaking itself.

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Um, that's not actually "my" account? It's all over extant manuscripts of the day, not hard to look it all up, there are mountains of historical data. But on average, probably you're right re: north vs. south. That being said, Boston's INCREDIBLY racist. A lot of People of Color come here and are horrified because the company line, so to speak, is that we're this place that "got over all that." Alas, as we're all learning, we have a lot of work to do.

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Sorry, I should have specified the first Thanksgiving. The account of the later development of the holiday is fine, but on the first, it's the conventional mythologized story. Having numerous accounts does not guarantee accuracy; in fact, errors have long been replicated until recent decades Indians turned up and were served, but not invited; venison was the main fare, not turkey; and harmony between New Eng Indians and the English was fleeting despite some exceptions like Squanto (Tisquantum; he's not even known by his real name, and died in 1622), Massasoit, and the praying towns of eastern MA. Americans have been led to accept a sanitized history flattering to Euro Amer sensibilities.

A Cave, The Pequot War

F Jennings, The Invasion of America

K Kupperman, Indians & English

J Loewen, Lies Across America

____, Lies my Teacher told Me

N Salisbury, Manitou and Providence

____, "Squanto," in Struggle & Survival in Early Amer

Y Kawashima, Igniting King Philip's War

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It is a gift to have our knowledge expand as you and Michael exchange information and provide sources. Thank you.

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The name Fern has a deep meaning for me now after I watched Frances McDormand play the lead character Fern in Nomadland yesterday. It’s quite a film. Everyone should see it. It was directed by a Chinese woman who has been nominated as best director for this year’s oscars. It’s about many things but mostly about one woman’s grief.

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Thank you, Liz. It took me years to accept the name. I was Bonnie at summer camp. On alert to being teased, because Steve Allen, a man of many talents, and the first host of The Tonight Show, often asked male guests, 'How's your fern'? I escaped ridicule and grew up to own the name, perhaps, because I love plants, ferns included.

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Thanks Fern. Michael and I actually have a minor dispute on 1st Thanksgiving going today, but I look forward to more from him. Michael, you are a skilled phrasemaker. Write on.

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Yup. My mother was raised in Braintree and shared your opinion. I remind my self that the last time a schoolbus was bombed was in Southie.

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After this pandemic has been blotted out, I’m thinking Thanksgiving will have a deeper meaning than ever.

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When I taught high school social studies, I was often torn about how much "reality" to include. To what extent does one want to jade a 15-16 year old just as he/she is entering the years of dawning awareness and budding idealism? Like Dr. R's letter today, I tried to connect dots but in ways that would not leave them in utter despair.

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My comment above:

"It *is* a tough question, isn't it. I had an uncommon 6th grade teacher in the 80s who spent the whole year focusing on the Civil War as the main theme while we checked off boxes in other areas as well. She didn't mince words - we learned the (truly) gorey details of the Nat Turner Rebellion, how horrid the seige of Vicksburg truly was, what enslaved people really went through - all kinds of stuff. We were 12, but we could handle it. I think we underestimate the capacity of the moral brain of pre-teens, and I find myself looking to Germany's practices in terms of education and reckoning with the past. We've never really had the same approach here in the US, and perhaps we should."

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Oh yes, I agree. My students were able to absorb a lot and, actually, kids have a very sensitive crap detector that enables them to quickly recognize when they are being patronized. They are also entering the higher stages of moral development. Nonetheless, history contains a disturbing and largely uninterrupted thread of cruelty and viciousness that I, admittedly, softened.

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When I look back on myself as a high school student, I think my adult life and understandings, even voting, would have been better served by being taught the truth of our American ways. But it is helpful to hear from the teachers about why they may have done what they did.

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Exactly, Susan. I was certified to teach high school history and lessons have to be balanced.

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Michael Monroe, I always appreciate learning more about our terrible treatment of Native Americans, African Americans, and Asians throughout our history. However, your characterization of Dr. Richardson "whitewashing" history is wrong. If you read her daily for the past 15 or so months she's been sharing daily letters, I believe you'll sing a different tune.

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Amen from the "other" Annie!

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In order to finish my long struggle with earning a bachelor's degree in biology, I was required to take a Freshman history class. It was Freshman only enrollment, so I had to beg and plead my way into class. The professor clearly had taught this class too often, but he was a great storyteller in his way and a wealth of information. I never became a biologist but I did get hooked on history. My favorite history books are the older ones - they often are much more upfront and detailed about the truly horrid history of this country, including the intricate embedded national economics of slavery. And yet we persist in striving toward our highest ideals. I'm reading a book right now, published in 1939, that notes how much of the "old money" in New England was first acquired via the slave trade. As I'm sure Dr. Richardson knows, slaves were sold in Portsmouth NH, just across the border from Maine. History is very complicated and without a doubt one of the most important subjects for students of all ages.

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Michael, It felt as I read your comment as though you have carrying in your mind the violent conquests this country has committed to arrive at its power, wealth, might, mythology and 'exceptionalism'. While subscribers here cherish the ideals of democracy, some of us are not proponents of nationalism or captive of the false narratives and omissions concerning the history of the United States of America. I don't know that HCR is a captive of that either. Please continue to share your understanding of this country. I would like to know what you think with regard to the condition of the country now.

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Michael Moore. (I'm reading your comment on April 10,2022). Thank you for this extraordinary history! I was bullied in grade school by my first history teacher, a "man", and thus turned off to history for the next 80 years. There is a lot to learn, catch up with. So hopefully people like Dr. Richardson, yourself, and other researchers of history can begin to expand/expose the hidden truths of our earliest months/years, up through and including our current history-making calamities. I'm unlikely to live long enough to witness any significant restitutions, but at least the beginnings are apparent.

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Thank you. I agree that “The Lies My Teacher Told Me” was truly an education for me. What I learned was all lies. Oh and btw our dad’s may well have been in med school together. My family are also Bostonians. My mom grew up on Concord Ave in Cambridge. My dad went to Milton Academy and then ended up in Boston, although his family had roots in Boston also. We also had a large family who lived in Yarmouth Port on the Cape.

Thacher’s and Perara’s were in Boston and the Cape. Thacher Island was from my relatives ship wreck. I learned a lot from your reply. I too seek the truth. Small world huh?

Sarah Thacher

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Are you related to the Lexington Monroes?

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Yup. If I had my way, the Munro Tavern would turn back into a sweet bar & Inn! ;)

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My grandmother’s brother wrote the Genealogy of the Lexington Munroes. You can find me at rtdavisartist@gmail.com.

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Heather, it's getting so every morning I say to my husband, "Heather's Letter for today is really good!" I learned so much from this letter. If Rudyard Kipling really did say this, he was so correct. "If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten."

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I was so lonely in high school, and books were my armor. I read a lot of historical fiction back then, and absolutely nailed every history exam. The stories made me see connections beyond names and dates, and to understand and remember. The people came alive. You are so right.

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Kathy, I was lucky enough to have a history and government teacher in high school whose philosophy was, "I don't care if you don't know when the War of 1812 was fought - I want you to understand WHY it was fought, and what were the ramifications!" He taught as if it were college level; lectured an hour, you took notes, and the text book was only a broad outline. If you missed a class, you'd better borrow someone's notes to copy, because the tests all came from the lectures, and they were essay questions. None of that namby-pamby multiple choice crap!! We at first hated his guts, and soon worshiped the ground he strode on! His father had been a US Senator from Iowa, so he grew up partially in DC and knew his subject intimately. He would regale us with stories that would never be found in a history text back then.

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I, too, was lucky enough to have history teachers who taught with passion and made events come alive. We needed to know dates, and to fill in blank maps with boundaries, rivers, cities, etc. but I actually loved that. And we, too, needed to know the why of things. We were so lucky. I only wish I could remember it now haha.

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The word history contains the word "story.". If only it were always taught that way.

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Yes. I, too, had one history teacher in HS that made history/herstory come allive and it made all the difference.

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This sounds like my partner's high school and fifth grade history teachers. He grew up remembering and loving history. I grew up feeling it was boring and irrelevant (because I never had a good teacher until now-with HCR).

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How I wish I’d had your history teacher.

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Diane Love and Liz Ayer, Yes, I was very lucky. But I also had an American History teacher who was from Alabama, and an old school Southerner. The difference between the two was night and day. If I hadn't been inclined to love history as I did, I would have never learned anything in Mr. McC's class.

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Lucky you—my history teacher in high school was intimidating.

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Yes, I start conversations with several friends and family with “Have you read Heather yet today?”

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I was very interested in Maine history but when I looked into it, I had trouble finding any overview.

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In the years around 1976, WW Norton published a general history of each state. Most are of high quality. Here's the one on Maine.

https://www.amazon.com/Maine-States-Nation-Clifford-Clark/dp/0393056538/ref=sr_1_15?dchild=1&keywords=maine+norton&qid=1615823976&sr=8-15

The Federal Writers Project State Guide series also covers all states (48 in 1930s). They're obviously dated now, but the history sections were good at the time, and the itineraries offered lots of local history.

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Thanks much!

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youʻve managed to shrink history (or expand it, depending on your point of view) and people it with neighbors and shopkeepers...this time par excellence...whatʻs the opposite of a chill? a warm flush? I get this sensation when you connect all the dots, Dickinsonʻs father with the abolitionists...the determination of good people across the land and conversely, the entrenched “other” who think itʻs ok to enslave others...I applaud you and appreciate you! As they say here in Hawaiʻi, mahalo nui

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A key literary mentor of Emily Dickinson, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, was the most ferocious white abolitionist in Massachusetts. Unitarian minister (!!) ... Stormed Boston's courthouse to free Anthony Burns ... Among the Secret Six who funded John Brown, and the only one who never fled after Harpers Ferry ... hard-fighting colonel of a pioneer Black regiment in the CW ... And after a life of turmoil and consequence, still titled his memoir "Cheerful Yesterdays!" You can't make up stuff like this.

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excellent!

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I was a good student -- in high school and college -- and loved history. I love it even more each time I read one of your columns. Particularly today's column. I feel that we are at such a turning point, a potential transition point, and we must not lose it. If we do, I fear that we will degenerate into a chaos from which we will not return. Where are the Washburnes and the Mainers and those we need to keep us from reeling? They are the Stacy Abrams and Rev. Warnocks and the Stacey Plasketts. They are the Jamie Raskins. We must keep them safe.

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If I may paraphrase Walt Kelly’s cartoon character, Pogo, “We have met the heroes and they are us.” And yet another paraphrase: “Now is the time for all good women and men to come to the aid of our country.”

In other words, the salvation of America is not the U.S. Marine Corps slogan, “A few good men [and Women].” The saving grace of the nation lies within each of us. We must not delegate our citizens’ rights and obligations to a handful of professional politicians. It hasn’t done the job so far.

History may or may no rhyme, but it sure as heck repeats. Let’s do it differently and (much) better this time.

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Time is not on our side.

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But the salvation of America is the U.S. Marine Corps, “Semper Fi"

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They are! We must keep them safe, keep learning the real history, and support all the helpers.

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Here here!

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I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to read this story tonight before I head to bed in California. I will share it with some of my family in the Midwest (where I am originally from)...who need to read some actual History, and not the vile, hate-and-lie-riddled crap that passes for "news" and "truth" on Fox and Newsmax and OAN...and my guess is they are also QAnon followers although they don't admit it. I am so heartsick, as is my one sister whom

I am closest to. What to do? 💔

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Study anthropology. Focus on how the concept of “race” has been supplanted by “culture” and “subcultures”.

Culture vs Race

Please see: The Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropogy, edited by Alan Barnard and Jonathan Spencer.

Page 463:

“The word race was used by the English and other colonists justifying abuse and robbing the people in their colonies. The use of the word race became associated with cranial studies in the 1830s and 1840s when Samuel Morton “proved “ the larger brain size, and therefore superiority of Whites over other races. Only in 1977 did biologist Stephen Jay reanalalyze the data and discovered that Morton’s overt racists bias had made mistakes in the measurements.”

Page 464

“Modern anthropologists use “ethnicity” to express process of cultural identification.”

The USA is a mass culture. It has lots of sub-cultures, life styles, each with their own traditions and each may include many skin colors.

OK, I hope I haven’t bored you too much. It’s hard for me to find English books here in the backwoods of Portugal. I’m sure there are many more that can back me up. I was so interested in this discussion, I couldn’t resist sticking my nose in. To be silent is to be aquiesent.

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I never forgot my good friend Axel whose first childhood memory in prewar Silesia was of a man placing metal calipers on his head to measure his skull.

Years later, he became a citizen of The Netherlands and celebrated by burying his German passport in Ireland.

Having said which, I, born in England one month into the Second World War, with memories of V1s falling on London, have gone out of my way to spend time in Germany, where I formed deep friendships. Given paranoia and the depth of the horrors, it wasn't always easy.

It won't be easy either for Americans to talk to one another after so much mind-poisoning and the dark history that lies behind it, and to wake up to the fact that their fellow-citizens are not demons but human beings just like them.

When I first read these words “for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me,” I thought this was a cruel, savage Deity. Yet Deuteronomy is stating a simple truth which one need not be a believer to understand: we are conditioned by our families' forgotten past. We, too, are often the innocent victims of our forefathers.

The horror of evil is how it stains the innocent and makes itself a home in their consciousness, so that they too pass down the curse to their children and grandchildren.

HCR's contribution to our consciousness and the growing awareness we are sharing here and now—this is what true citizenship is all about. Being simply human.

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This wisdom is well known and the foundation for indigenous cultures. “An essential value which forms the foundation for much of the Haudenosaunee ways is the duty of preparing for the seventh generation. The nations of the Haudenosaunee believe that we borrow the earth from our children’s children and it is our duty to protect it and the culture for future generations. All decisions made now are made with the future generations, who will inherit the earth, in mind.” https://www.haudenosauneeconfederacy.com/historical-life-as-a-haudenosaunee/

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Yes.

Could there be a sounder concern, a sounder basis for our actions?

I shall read the item you included, but it strikes me at once that in our supposedly advanced societies we must overcome a problem among the living: the absence of dialogue between generations, especially the old and the young.

How to care for the unborn when there is so little fellow feeling among the living?

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Additionally there is a serious tenet of "respect for elders" within indigenous cultures and multigenerational homes are common and so with the exception of the loss of their languages, there is a lot more room for that dialogue. I was heartened that the indigenous voice in the recent Truth and Reconciliation Forum I recently posted about began her shared story by apologizing to her elders out of respect for their wisdom. Of course perhaps some of our problems today arise from elders who are defined by their disrespect for "life". Sometimes in the moment it can be a challenge to discern what is life affirming versus what is not. Right now in my husband's homeland there exists conflict between elders who want to respect traditions and the land and subsistence versus the corporatists who want the dollars that the oil industry has brought to them. Nothing can be black and white when it comes to humanity. I think most of us, though, want our grandchildren to know grace and joy and beauty

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I went to the T&R gathering, by the way, and was deeply inspired by it. Thanks for posting the link to it.

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And of course to eat. This gives to Corporatists leverage in trying to debunk the rest.

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Yes, Mr. Burnett, I agree. However I think that some of the problem is the premise that we are indeed more advanced. Perhaps in technology, but what has that cost us?

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Thank you, Christy. I have read through the material in the Haudenosaunee website, but the most important aspect for the purposes we are talking of is protecting the earth for future generations FROM WHOM WE HAVE BORROWED IT.

Economic modelling based on that premise?

It would surely make far more sense than trading in pollution rights. (When economists first came up with cap and trade—such a wonderfully clever idea—I penned a Swiftian proposal for trading in... human rights... And then, in the same vein, invasion rights, likewise secured by means of a Multilateral Arrangement under the auspices of the relevant UN Subcommittee.)

Setting aside this derision, we seem to agree at quite a deep level, as expressed by your phrase "but what has that cost us?"

“Progress”, linear progress, is one of those grand abstract ideas, blind belief in which unites modern materialists both Communist and capitalist. But innovation and “progress” always come at a cost. There is always a corresponding regression, something is always lost. Even when that something lost is a handicap, a disease or a phenomenon like illiteracy, we count only our short-term gains and fail consistently to factor in the cost of the new imbalances we’ve created. It’s all like squeezing a balloon—tremendous expansion, but no one pays any attention to the contraction that produced it. Schumpeter’s creative destruction?

In America, an entire society has been desperately sick for decades and, as with so many psychoses, unaware of its sickness even when the symptoms worsen, blaming its woes on others. Like so many words and phrases issuing from the mouth of the former president, “witch hunt” tells us plenty about the accuser, nothing about those accused. And when America falls ill, the whole world’s in danger. Hence the incalculable importance of every effort that promotes health.

And yes, we are animals. Animals—often feral—that have lost their survival instincts and replaced them by… the ideas of the moment.

Christy, the most reprehensible thing about our societies is how we have replaced the Soviet lie which sacrificed the present to a mythical future by the sacrifice of the poor, of our children and of all future generations to assuage the present greed of a few.

Having said all of which, I remain convinced that we humans have it in us to turn away from what we are not and become what we truly are.

The Haudenosaunee order of priority could provide a framework and a schedule for the recovery of our sanity and the healing of the planet. What are the practical implications of applying it?

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Read Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society to dicover the answers to the question, "What is the cost of technology?

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the link was simply given as a source. there are multiple others, but it certainly is interesting to explore.

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History is a love letter from the past, when we know how to read it. Heather knows History like a mother knows her own child.

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“we are conditioned by our families' forgotten past.” Hear, hear, Peter.

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Hi Peter, I too have similar memories - waiting under my father’s raincoat, beneath my mother’s arms, for the awful overhead whine to “stop”. My godmother, who was Irish, had such a hatred for Germany, that even years after the war she refused to meet a German girl I befriended who was spending a year at my grammar school. My arguments all fell on deaf ears, alas, the closed and bitter mind, yet in many other things she was a wise and kind woman. It is good to be “simply human” but we have also to overcome “fear” when our mind closes in.

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Well put whether we’re simply or complicatedly human. One of my smartest friends occasionally reminds me that after all we’re animals. I guess as part of the animal kingdom, we’ll always be engaging in turf wars.

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Yes, and the most invasive of all species.

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That’s for sure and the most violent

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But the other breeds do it for survival and control of the size of the herd whereas human animals...

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Dear Susan Lorraine Knox,

I did study Anthropology at UC Berkeley many years ago, when I was reading

"Ishi, Last of His Tribe", by Theodora Kroeber (the mother of one of my most beloved writers, Ursula Kroeber LeGuin), and mourning in those younger years the loss of an entire people and their language and customs. And because I didn't go into my own ancestry, I will say here that I am of English, German, Irish, Dutch and Native American descent. I am almost certain that none of my ancestors or predecessors owned slaves. On my maternal side my German ancestors arrived in Illinois in the 1860's and proceeded to become very respected citizens and farmers in Edgar County, and when they felt perhaps they owned more than their share of the fertile land there, they offered the county residents an opportunity to buy, at what was reported to be very fair prices, land to create more small farms there. As far as I know, Edgar County has never succumbed to corporate farming. But I don't know everything. On my father's side, I was informed (by him) that we have three tribes in our blood: Cherokee, Cree and Blackfoot, and my great grandmother was indeed a Cherokee whom I knew as a small child. All this is to say that my sisters of course know this history as well, but that did not apparently figure into their current political stance. And stance it is. One refuses to have political discussions of almost any kind, and the other has all but disappeared down the rabbit hole of conspiracy.

So...looking at anthropology is all well and good, but having that sort of discussion with either is not

currently possible. My other sister continues to try to engage them in a deeper conversation, bless her, and I occasionally send along Heather's posts ~ up to now with no acknowledgement.

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Isabel Wilkerson's Caste is a very important book in this discussion.

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For sure. I found it changed my life.

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Yes!

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I think you would be interested to read Isabel Wilerson's book titled Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (published 202). It is such an important book which helps to explain why the social construct of caste supercedes that of race, class, and culture. Her Pulitzer prize winning book written before Caste is titled The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration (pubished 2010) also deals with the concept of caste and is exquisitley written.

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Unfortunately for access to the English books and the absence of bookshops in rural areas Amazon comes to the rescue for me in France too.

You are right, kowing the history of the "word" , how it was used and often now deformed helps us understand the "pickle" that we've now got ouself into everywhere.

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Not boring to me, Susan. Thank you for sharing!

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Stephen Jay Gould; The Mismeasure of Man

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Welcome to LFAA, Edward.

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It is a conundrum. I have stopped following posts on FB from the radical right racists from my family. I have more peace. Although I am still tempted to think in all caps when I remember previous interactions.

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Dear David, I no longer follow my immediate family on Facebook; in fact I have unfriended one of my sisters because I just could not bear to see what she posted. But yes, the ALL CAPS responses - yikes!

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Dear Lorri, your own story is instructive too. Many antislavery New Englanders moved due west to settle the Midwest, just as Southerners moved due west to settle LA and TX. As the former Western Reserve, Ohio especially is marked by Yankee migration. The area around Oberlin was a real hotbed of abolitionism, with daring fugitive rescues and a couple of John Brown's raiders. If your people hail from OH-IN-Il's southern-settled "butternut counties" along the Ohio River, well, that's also where Lincoln and Grant grew up, a proud heritage. Digging into your family and local history might provide some common ground for you all, plus the guilty pleasure of seeing someone else shocked. Last year I was surprised to learn about distant cousins descended from former Confederates -- living in Brazil! (I still prefer my direct ancestor whose name is on the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg.) There is an opportunity for your family to see yourselves from a fresh perspective.

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It reminds me of the "awful" genealogical research findings of a "rabid" supporter of Québec's independence and surnamed "Phaneuf" ; un bon québecois, quoi? He found his Canadian origins in Newfoundland...a good Scots immigrant named "Farnsworth" !

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Western Reserve - Connecticut's Western Reserve. In Hudson, Ohio the now Western Reserve Academy was originally built as Western Reserve College, a replica of the Yale campus in New Haven. For those interested in seeing what Yale looked like in the 1830s visit WRA, fence and all.

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I grew up in the Firelands or "Sufferers Lands" of north central Ohio. Many of our towns, townships and inhabitants share the names and descendants from the towns in Connecticut where their homes were burned during the Revolutionary War. These include towns and townships in Erie, Ottawa, Ashland, Huron and part of Lorain Counties-Danbury, Fairfield, Florence, Greenfield, Groton, Huron, Lyme, Milan, New Haven, New London and Norwalk to name a few.

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War is hell. Gen. Washington's breadbasket of central New York State was also burned by British Canadians and displaced Iroquois. That would be interesting to track if an outflow of people named their new towns after those of the Mohawk Valley.

https://www.dundurn.com/books_/t22117/a9781550022711-the-burning-of-the-valleys

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Lorri, many of us are in the same boat. Their fear let them be broken. We must work against their beliefs, but not against them. It is not easy, it is heartbreaking.

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This is very wise.

I have been richly enlightened, disturbingly enlightened, by the hundreds and hundreds of comments I have read in the past several months.

I read Heather from a sort of academic interest before I paid for a membership. I follow American current events closely because a) they affect Canada immensely and b) there is immense human interest in the drama. Heather’s daily synopses quickly became required reading because they are calm, measured, trustworthy and woven into the historical fabric.

But joining and hearing the voices of so many people who care so deeply about their country *and* the importance of shared, empathetic humanity has filled a massive hole for me. You all live “where the rubber hits the road”. This has been a near death experience for you. Simply from reading/synthesizing your comments, two ideas have grown in me and currently hold great force in my mind and heart.

The first is that of trauma. To me Trump and his coterie have been an abomination. It was difficult to comprehend that he could ever been elected President, and that once there, he wasn’t thrown out on his ear. I “knew” all the reasons (supporting media, the love some have for demagoguery, the immense and unresolved race question, the fact that some people delighted in him saying and doing the ugly things that they wished to say and do). But some part of me always could not believe the numbers. They should never have added up - Trump should simply have been some right-wing crank whose lack of gravitas would rule him out for office.

But you guys lived through it and suffered under it. It has affected you deeply and personally. Day after day I read comments that come from a place of fear that this could repeat itself in a minute. For many I see it a step further - that it *will* repeat itself.

I salute your courage in surviving and even thriving in this miasma - you guys are the fighters.

The second idea that insists on coming to the forefront of my mind is that this whole era is going to have an ugly, ugly ending. I have no doubt that right will triumph and the worst of the Right will eventually be vanquished - no pun intended there. Not after the last five months.

Trump’s fanatics are in the grip of a cult, a cult so powerful that many are willing to be martyred as proof of their loyalty. They have lost -a loss so I imagined and spectacular in its implications that the hole is too deep to crawl out of with dignity. Much of this is animated in the South and by supporters everywhere of the South’s Lost Cause. The openness with which people support voter suppression to “level the playing field” indicates to me that there is some kind of bloody trial by fire ahead. The Democrats will win again and again electorally - I have no doubt of that. They are governing brilliantly and giving evidence of having learned from past mistakes. They will ultimately pass HR-1. To not do so would be to repudiate in the deepest way those who got them into power. The filibuster is as good as gone in my view.

The midterms of 2022 will not be a repeat of 2010. A Democrat will be elected President in 2024. One look at the smoking hulk that is today’s Republican Party would not support any other conclusion. They are committed to doubling down on their loss.

But these wins are going to come at a fearsome cost. Political defeat is going to be taken personally and the wound will be scraped raw. And these people are heavily armed.

I think the violence will be uneven and sporadic, but terrible nonetheless.

The only hope is outreach. Democrats must govern with the deepest humanity and humility. Citizens must listen to those who oppose them. They are a group who live in great fear and that fear has metastasized into hatred.

As I type this, KarenDavis’ post is directly below me on the screen. “...The only thing you can do is quietly show the way.” A huge amen to that.

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I too can only agree with this. I wake to read that a group of Republicans under McCarthy are traveling to the border to save us from an invasion. It revives all the anxiety and outrage of 16 to 20, the self-serving proposals to “save” our country, the total lack of humanity, the gross self-interest, and lack of “leadership”, an empty gesture. I would praise them if I felt they were truly going to “learn” something, but they are going with a mind-set, already closed to learning and will only see what they want to see. I said it once before, but it comes to mind again: “No Man is an Island”. Our world has “shrunk”, the pressures of population and politics increases and will continue to do so. We have to be willing to “open up” our minds. “Right” does not come in a package delivered by the welcome wagon lady. I am so grateful for this community. I think I’ll get off my soap-box and drink my coffee before I fall off the planet.

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Mary, You absolutely described the tossing and turning of our socio-political lives, and. what's more, you ended with a phrase that made me laugh: 'before I fall off the planet.' Laugh, deeply!

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Yes, Fern, really good to laugh!!! When I am too depressed by the news I watch old Carol Burnett shows, or Tracey Ullman, to shake up the neurons.

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Thank you, Mary, for those neurological recommendations!

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Yes we all should do whatever it takes to have at least one good belly laugh per day.

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Absolutely!! We must hold on to our senses of humor :-)

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Perhaps they will read Green Eggs and Ham to them. Making a mockery of our government seems to be the only thing they are capable of.

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Thank you for this analysis and hopeful outlook. I too, before subscribing, read Heather for many months, often at 4 in the morning as I searched for clues to the unfolding nightmare. For 2021 I decided to put at least a little of that much appreciated stimulus check where the hope lives. The community is an unexpected wonderful side effect. Thanks to all of you who aid our path forward.

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Eric, In your comment, you stated that two themes have emerged, TRAUMA, being one, and UGLY ENDING, the second, in your effort to understand the United States of America' at this time. In my reading, two forces or tools of yours seemed at work in your analysis: THINKING/LEARNING/TEACHING/HISTORY, for one, and YOUR GUT, the second. Naturally, these tools combine.

The TRAUMA being TRUMP, is not a theme that I would argue with. Your UGLY ENDING wasn't really an ending. As I gather. it is an unavoidable piece of USA's puzzle as was the Civil War, our Civil War, which has not, yet, ended. You propose that we will have another violent chapter with race at its core. RACE is about POWER, so it is a battle for POWER using RACE as its weapon. Many Americans get this. Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and people in the administration as well as in both political parties understand this.

We are very fortunate to have both Joe and Kamala as our leaders. I did not suspect such depth in them. James Clyburn, Stacy Abram, LeBron James, Beyonce, a less racist and seasoned youth ... the wisdom, strength, talent and determination behind our need to support one another and democracy is formidable.

When I look at the opposing side, the millions driven by hate and fear is horrifying. While this mass may seem rock stolid, we cannot know what help from the government and what listening can do. Look also at our numbers and demographics. Look at the leaders of the mob: Trump, Stone, Flynn, Cotton, Cruz, Hawley.... Eric, you prompted me to see the forest. Is there a violent and deadly chapter ahead of us?

We need to be fortunate, in that Biden has four healthy years ahead of him and that we will see a strong and united Democratic Party to persevere as never before in the recent past. We depend as well on the not so young Nancy Pelosi and the valiant young representatives behind her.

The next few years, are critical in being able to work through a lot of our DILEMMA without a violent battle.

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Solid analysis. Thank you for providing it. Making predictions is a mug’s game, but one must stand behind them.

I do believe that Democrats are in for a period of sustained electoral success.

I do think there will be isolated violence. That does *not* mean it will be inconsequential. It could very well be extremely bloody, especially if people see no alternative to what they perceive as a bleak future without Trump.

However, there are always intervening events, totally unexpected, which can render predictions laughably wrong.

If I have to be wrong. I hope it’s on the second of my predictions.

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I share that hope, Eric.....

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"the deepest humanity and humility"

Words to live by, thank you Eric. BTW, kudos to Canadians past who welcomed and sheltered fugitive slaves and abolitionists, and granted citizenship. Osborne Anderson, the only Black survivor among the John Brown raiders, lived in Chatham ON for nearly 10 years and wrote the only participant's account, A Voice From Harpers Ferry.

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Trouble ahead, no doubt, but I am not confident of Democratic successes. Republicans control a majority of state governments, and actually gained some in the last election cycle. I live in upstate South Carolina, so maybe my everyday experiences check any optimism I feel. Everywhere I go I see Trump signs, Trump flags, “Pray for Our Country,” etc. The other day I was behind a pickup truck flying a big flag that said “F**K BIDEN.” So many people have an irrational hatred for Democrats. They have been convinced that Democrats hate the USA and are determined to destroy it. The points you make are valid, but I’m afraid you underestimate the extent to which our system of government favors minority rule.

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Karl, It wasn't clear who you were addressing in your comment. Pointing to state governments was apt when considering our struggle for Democracy. The Democratic Party has failed in that as well as not addressing the needs and voices of the working-class. These are deep fault lines I don't think that I am optimistic but see strengths and possibilities to stem the neo-fascistic trend. I do not know what the next two or three years will bring. Do you deny that there have been several positive and consequential moves in past month?

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No, I’m very happy with the new administration so far. I was referring to electoral successes in the future. Eric seems sure the Democrats will prevail. I hope he is right. But Republican legislatures will control the congressional redistricting in many states. They are already pushing dozens of voter suppression measures. The U.S. Supreme Court seems inclined to side with them. The country as a whole has moved radically to the right in the past 40 years. I’m hopeful that the pendulum is swinging back, but it’s far from clear to me.

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Not at all. The events post-election show a revitalized America. I’m very optimistic for a more humanistic future for America. The Republicans (federally) seem dead serious about wresting the worst possible defeat from the jaws of their actual defeat.

I just fear that the Trump cult will not go down without providing fireworks of a most unpleasant kind. It’s that old saw about the cornered rat.

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Trump's power is, in numerous ways, on the wane....he is scrambling and lost and may become like the cornered rat you describe. His followers will react with more immediate violence. They have many, many guns.

I have relatives who own some of them. I try to give money to the organizations who are working for gun control. Everything seems to be such a long, long struggle.....

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"Snatching defeat from the jaws of defeat"

Eric, I like the old saying that you just made up.

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Oops sorry. I didn’t realize you were addressing Karl when when I write the post that began “Not at all”...

I’ll step out of the way now, red of face. :)

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Thank you for putting into words what so many of us living this nightmare feel. There is hope now that Joe Biden is President that if anyone can heal this fractured country in this moment, he and his administration can. He is "quietly showing the way". However, the fact remains there are millions of heavily-armed, angry/fearful individuals who continue to voraciously consume the hate-speak and conspiracy theories pushed by those who want to see our democracy fail. This is what keeps me up at night.

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I would encourage anyone who has “lost” family members to conspiracy theory rhetoric or want to understand how it is happening to watch an excellent documentary on Netflix called “Social Dilemma” which describes how people are sucked into these groups.

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an Eric O'Donnell fan

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So appreciated! You join a very limited group (outside of family), I must hasten to inform you. :)

May I drive through VA again - an incredibly beautiful state.

But being in Vancouver, it may not happen.

Thank you, Lynell. :)

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Another member of the Eric O'Donnell Fan Club. Shall I send dues to Lynell?

Re Virginia, try to visit Harpers Ferry. It is stupendous alike in natural and human history.

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I’ll never forget being there in Harper’s Ferry @ July 4th 2011.

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That place name (and many others in the US come out of the mist at me. When we travelled, we never went far off the beaten path - big cities for baseball and Myrtle Beach to escape the hellish weather in Ontario in March.

I so regret that I did not enlighten myself by visiting your geographic and historic wonders. Doh!

Maybe yet, however.

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Cogent and articulate to the point of a febrile reaction by the reader, well done.

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Eric O'Donnell, following HCR and the conversations that follow her postings, I sometimes have difficulty in believing that I’m seeing what I’m seeing.

Your long, deeply felt message is a case in point.

Thanks for the reassurance. For that I thank everyone here.

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Lynne 1 min ago

I would encourage anyone who has “lost” family members to conspiracy theory rhetoric to watch an excellent documentary on Netflix called “Social Dilemma” which describes how people are sucked into these groups.

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Yes, it was excellent

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Thank you, Lynne...will do.

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Dear Cathy, yes, we are in that same boat. It's just that they are in a different boat, and the seas are pretty choppy. Thank you, you speak true.

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I would encourage anyone who has “lost” family members to conspiracy theory rhetoric to watch an excellent documentary on Netflix called “Social Dilemma” which describes how people are sucked into these groups.

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Keep the door open enough so family can see your good works and loving spirit-

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"Pearls before swine?"

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Sadly.....

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Although I have been reading HCR’s letters, I have never written a Post. I’m so sorry this is happening to you Lorri, I understand your pain. My only brother has not spoken to me in six months, because I refused to vote for dt. He said I needed to study history. I told him, he might want to read about Germany pre WWII. We have not spoken since.

Almost forgot, born in New York, moved to Florida in 1984, I was 38.

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Many of us here have lost family and friends. I often wonder if they grieve losing us as much as we seem to grieve for losing them. I tried today to send good wishes to my lost friend. She is still so angry but I am going to keep trying. There is a lot of good advice and kindness to be found here. Hoping for the best for you.

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Ahh, Phyllis...this is also heartbreaking. Thank you for responding to my post (I don't post often, but Heather's post was so evocative/provocative/significant that I wrote out of an immediate need to respond). How many families are living through this division, and on top of it, Covid? My two sisters who are Trump supporters both have had Covid, and we were worried we might lose one of them. It was a blessing they're both ok, plus at least five other family members. I have now had both vaccines. I live in California. They live in southern Illinois. I sent one of my sisters "1984" by George Orwell for Christmas. Believe it or not, she took it 'the other way'. As though the Democrats are the Thought Police. This journey is a tough one.

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I have a sister in southern Illinois as well

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Hello Phyllis, we're in the same mid-January cohort of LFAA. Please comment more often; you have something worth sharing.

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I totally understand. The only thing you can do is quietly show the way. For sure direct attempts at persuasion are useless and create more division. I have watched my best friend try to hold her family together through this same split and truly only compassion is working.

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I am finding it difficult to be compassionate with my Covid-denying, Trump supporting sister because she knows better. I don't know what happened. She used to be intelligent and analytical, but now she is all emotion. She is an evangelical Christian, and I have a hard time with the hypocrisy. She once told me that she doesn't wear a mask (she lives in Florida) because no one needs to and that everyone around her feels the same way. I am so glad that I live in Massachusetts! We barely speak - only a brief text now and then and our last phone call was mid-November. I'm sad, but I don't see a way out except maybe time and the ending of the pandemic.

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Mend the rifts with relations whenever possible. Too many people regret not resolving family tensions.

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I agree with you. Both my sisters live in the Keys, which at the begining closed off from the rest of Florida to protect their residents, but now it is like it never happened. I have a son with a developmental disability so part of my world is with those who are disabled. Most are democrats and would do anything to protect their children and receive medical help, as the costs can be staggering. But my son just came and told me his friend thinks the vaccine is unnecessay, unless you are in your 80's. This friend also has had cancer and has heart problems. He is in his late 20's but is a Trumper and will not get the vaccine. It just makes me want to cry. Trump secretly getting the vaccine was just so horrible.

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I would encourage anyone who has “lost” family members to conspiracy theory rhetoric to watch an excellent documentary on Netflix called “Social Dilemma” which describes how people are sucked into these groups.

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I believe it was yesterday or possibly Saturday that a gripping and heart breaking account in the Washington Post addressed the great divide happening in families. They interviewed the mother (who had become a QAnon cult member) and her daughters who were struggling to reach her. All involved were intelligent and educated women. This is a terrible plight for many families and I don't know how it is going to end. It is the elephant in the living room in my own family; we only discuss the weather or family. Nothing else is safe.

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Lynne 1 min ago

I would encourage anyone who has “lost” family members to conspiracy theory rhetoric to watch an excellent documentary on Netflix called “Social Dilemma” which describes how people are sucked into these groups.

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If it helps, remember you can abhor the behavior, yet love the person.

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I have found 1 thing I can still talk civilly about with each of my 3 trumper brothers. To that end I watch The Voice, make Mexican food, and plan camping trips. Once a week since the inauguration, I call or text each of them, riff with then on the their respective topic, and wish them well. Two months after the insurrection, none of them have brought up politics. I doubt if they have changed their stars and stripes. I think it's just that life is happening again, the stock market hasn't crashed, and they have gotten vaccines. I have hope.

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To the best of your knowledge, what *did* happen? These stories abound, while seeming inconceivable.

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I would encourage anyone who has “lost” family members to conspiracy theory rhetoric to watch an excellent documentary on Netflix called “Social Dilemma” which describes how people are sucked into these groups.

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I agree, attempts at ‘reasoning’ only tightens the conviction.

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I share Heather’s posts with my two sisters who both have birthdays in April. My plan is to gift them their own subscription.

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This is what I love about history: it’s not about facts and dates; it’s people just like us. They fought with their wives, loved on their children, and put their pants on one leg at a time. But something they said or did changed the course of the future. ❤️❤️

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What a fascinating, informative and inspiring recounting of this pivotal period in our nation’s history. That it was well-told could go without being said, given the author, but that clarity was an essential part of tonight’s lesson.

Once again we see how central the issue of denying freedom for some, in an ostensibly liberty-loving country, has been the steel wedge driven into America’s soul, separating citizen from citizen, and region from region. This—the issue of race and humanity—is the fulcrum for the pry bar that has relegated the United States to its actual condition as the Untied States (with deep appreciation to the late Mr. William Sears for this concept).

For a while I thought of the slogan, “No Justice, No peace”, as a catchy but lightweight tool—with the veiled threat of disorder—of the movement for equity and morality in this country. But then I read new material and arrived at the realization that justice is indeed a prerequisite for the establishment of peace...on any level.

We have no chance of rebuilding this nation into a true beacon for freedom, justice and—yes—peace, unless and until we rectify that seminal and continuing transgression of the arc of the moral universe. We have no choice. If we truly want a country that embodies the elevated principles found in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, we must create ways to unite around the reality of the wholeness of the human race and create a just and welcoming land.

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"the steel wedge driven into America’s soul"

Thank you Bill, we'll remember that.

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I was just going to copy/paste that phrase and give it the same accolade.

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love your comments... concerned that the current GOP is ignoring justice and using every underhanded method to be in power except to appeal to what the people's needs are

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Dear HCR -- My wife and I were both born and raised in Maine, both of us spending lots of time hiking and canoeing around the state. I knew some of what you wrote about tonight, but love the more complete history you always provide to me and ALL your readers. -- I would tease my dad (born in MA) that my growing teen independence mirrored our interlocking state histories. -- Maine has had an outsized influence on national politics in my lifetime (Margaret Chase Smith, Ed Muskie, William Cohen, George Mitchell, and (sorry to say) Susan Collins). There are too many famous writers to name them all, but among the favorite children's books I read to my daughters were the stories of EB White and Robert McClosky. Very proud of my Maine heritage (we can overlook Benedict Arnold... OK?). For those wanting a more complete list, check out https://www.maine.gov/msl/maine/notables.shtml. -- And I can't end without an appreciation for your Shakespearean malapropism. Maine humor is often understated and underappreciated (especially by my now-groan daughters).

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It's possible to respect Benedict Arnold's northern service: leading an army through the Maine wilds to assault Quebec; stopping the British in 1776; and winning at Saratoga in 1777. On balance, his contributions to independence outweighed his failed treachery, though his less-known ravages in CT and VA made him doubly execrable. Tragically, we now have a whole new perspective on him. The dishonor of America's Worst Traitor Ever now goes to the Worst President Ever, responsible for far more death and destruction than even Benedict Arnold.

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Absolutely true that Trump is "America's Worst Traitor Ever" (and he is actively trying to secure that place in the record books with his continuing efforts to undermine Democracy in our country).

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