All That Jazz… and Blues – episode 1

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James Reese Europe conducts the 369th Infantry Regiment band as they perform for wounded soldiers outside of a hospital in France, during WWI. (1918) – Library of Congress

As Americans (and people all over the world) push through and do our best to adjust our lives to the new realities that the COVID-19 pandemic is showing us, now more than ever, many could use the healing art that music often provides during times of distress.

Along comes jazz… and blues. While both are considered to be American music, which came first? Much like the chicken and the egg, we may never agree on that, but we can reap the benefits, regardless. With roots in American chattel slavery, both incorporate African rhythms and styles, which along the way have been built upon to give us additional genres such as R&B, rock and roll, and rap.

Bottom line, they each tell a story of the history of America along the way. Watch this video, which gives some of that history, and hopefully afterwards you will feel entertained, educated, and elevated by the brief episode of healing – through music. Don’t forget to #sharetheknowledge, and don’t forget to wash your hands. 😉

Stay tuned. 🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆

Billy Taylor’s take on jazz… and blues.

Statues and History Books: The Legacy of the United Daughters of the Confederacy

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Confederate Monument located in Elmwood Cemetery – Norfolk, Virginia

In light of the recent focus on removing Confederacy-related statues, and monuments of those who supported the transatlantic slave trade and/or the “peculiar institution” of slavery in what is now the United States of America, a deeper look at history can be helpful to understanding the thoughts of people who support leaving the monuments in place, and those who prefer them moved to places that some consider to be more acceptable: cemeteries and museums. It’s obviously a debate that’s being held all over the country right now, and a worthy one. But is there another conversation about where and how history is remembered and presented that is being missed? Let’s look back at who was responsible for much of the history that was presented in the American history textbooks that shaped the conversations and beliefs that we see today.

There is a phrase heard frequently that “history is written by the victors,” but in the case of the Civil War, the Confederacy lost the war but were later able to have a huge influence on how the story of the war, and slavery, is told. Case in point: The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC).

In 1919, 54 years after the end of the war (that surrender at Appomattox), a commission was formed by the United Confederate Veterans (UCV). It consisted of five representative members each, from the UCV, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), and the UDC. The Rutherford Committee, as it was called, was named after Mildred Lewis Rutherford: a well known supporter and storyteller about a particular peculiar institution (“happy” slaves), the South as a victim of North (they were mean and didn’t want to play fair!), and the KKK (well, they protected White women and children, right?).

Mildred Rutherford later went on to publish a pamphlet called “A Measuring Rod to Test Text Books, and Reference Books in Schools, Colleges and Libraries,” which was used to ensure that the history of the “benevolent” and valiant southern war heroes and the “benevolent” southern supporters of slavery were presented with the loudest voices to the public, and not just those in the south. But they lost the war, remember? Who says women didn’t have power before they could vote? Well, that’s another story for another day in this year that we’re celebrating the 100-year anniversary of women gaining that right. Meanwhile, watch this video for some background on history (or her story?).

Whew, right? But wait, there’s more!

Here are some excerpts from an article presented by the magazine, “Facing South,” which show “history” as quoted from textbooks in 1957.

Life among the Negroes of Virginia in slavery times was generally happy. The Negroes went about in a cheerful manner making a living for themselves and for those for whom they worked.

Fourth grade history book, Virginia History

[Slaves]… did not work so hard as the average free laborer, since he did not have to worry about losing his job. In fact, the slave enjoyed what we might call comprehensive social security. Generally speaking, his food was plentiful, his clothing adequate, his cabin warm, his health protected and his leisure carefree.

Virginia high school history book, Cavalier Commonwealth

Raise your hand if you didn’t know that enslaved Africans had it so good: food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, vacation, (okay, maybe staycations) and you got to look down on the lowly “free” laborers who worked harder than you did. Nice work if you can get it, right? (Yeah, no.)

And a last exerpt from the article:

Up until 1980, Mississippi’s public schools used Lost Cause textbooks exclusively — and it took a federal court order to make them stop.

Photo title: “The United Daughters of the Confederacy Reception Room, used as a House of Representatives committee room at the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson”; Created/Published: 2017-11-03; Photographs in the Ben May Charitable Trust Collection of Mississippi Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Notice the date of the photo above: November of 2017. That’s less than three years ago.

The following are photos of the partial removal of the “Johnny Reb” Confederate Monument, which was located literally in the middle of Main Street, in Norfolk VA. The image of the soldier (not pictured) was removed on June 12, with the balance of the removal to be completed later. According to Norfolk Mayor, Kenneth Cooper Alexander, in this 13 News Now article, the “Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans did not oppose the proposed move to Elmwood Cemetery where the monument will stand amongst the graves of Confederate soldiers.”

Maybe it would benefit our united and freshly “woke” selves to pay as much attention to history textbooks and library collections, as we do to statues.

Bonus read: The video mentioned a document called the Confederate Catechism that was taught to schoolchildren. You can (and should!) read it here. You know how we love primary resources, and it’s perfectly okay for you to read it even if it’s been a while since you were young enough to skip history class.

Oh, and don’t forget to read the 23-page pamphlet, A Measuring Rod to Test Text Books, and Reference Books in Schools, Colleges and Libraries, here. Within the link, scroll down and you will see several options for you to be able to read the document, in addition to the option to listen to a choppy (but accurate) audio version.

*****The mission of the Don’t Duck History program is to promote and facilitate the learning and sharing of American history, along with its personal and social implications, and to highlight the history of Americans whose stories are not often presented in traditional American history textbooks. 

Don’t Duck History is a program of United Charitable, a registered public 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

The Tulsa Massacre, 1921: In The News

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If you have followed the Don’t Duck History Facebook page over the past few weeks, you should have noticed several mentions of the Black newspaper, The Richmond Planet, sometimes simply referred to as “The Planet,” based out of Richmond, Virginia. If you haven’t followed our Facebook page, today is a good day to fix that!

Also today, The Planet will be used to tell a story (history) that came to light for many due to recent news, but has also largely been ignored in American history textbooks. The recent news is the recent 99th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, (Oklahoma: May 31, 1921-June 1, 1921), where the area of Greenwood contained a district that was sometimes referred to as “Black Wall Street.” Ironically there were other areas in the country that earned that nickname, and a section in Richmond, Virginia was one of them.

Back to Tulsa, the “riot” is said to have been triggered by a Black male being accused of assaulting a White female, and the end result was the massacre of Blacks in the area, and the physical destruction of the thriving community that they had built. Both people and businesses were displaced, and the following article from The Planet announced a request from the NAACP in December of that year, for clothing items to be donated to survivors in need. (It is followed by a transcription of the article, slightly edited for form.)

N. A. A. C. P. ASKS CLOTHES FOR TULSA SUFFERERS

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 70 Fifth Avenue, New York today asked that donations of clothes be sent to the Tulsa Relief Committee, for riot victims who have to face the rigors of winter with inadequate housing and insufficient clothes to protect them from the cold.

The Association’s statement is as follows:

‘Inquiries have been coming in to the National office as to whom to send clothing to in Tulsa, to help the riot sufferers face the cold of winter. The Association has been made a center in New York for relief funds, having raised $3500 which is being exponded for physical relief and legal defense in Tulsa, but cannot undertake the distribution of clothing.

We are therefore asking that those who have clothes to give to the Tulsa sufferers, send them to

MR. S. D. HOOKER, Chairman TulsaRelief Com., 124 N. Greenwood St., Tulsa Oklahoma.

Needless to say only clothes in good condition should be sent, preferably warm garments.’

For the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

JAMES WELDON JOHNSON, Secretary.

Another resource of information about the massacre is the Library of Congress’ digitized photos, that are available online, which is a good thing because libraries are still closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the photos, below, and follow the links in the captions for more information on each.

Notice that the last photo is captioned as being in “Little Africa.” If you were to Google that phrase, you would get results from several areas in the country that were described as such. Also, notice that most of the Library descriptions use the phrase “race riot,” though a more accurate description is massacre. “Massacre” because not only was the ultimate outcome the slaughter of what may have been hundreds of Blacks, but the killing and destruction was aided by government entities, which are rarely, if ever, accused of “rioting.”

Finally, spend time learning more about the incident from the following articles:

One, from the perspective of Jim Goodwin, publisher of the Black-owned newspaper, Oklahoma Eagle, here.

The second, from this article that calls attention to a manuscript written by Buck Colbert Franklin (1879-1960), which describes Franklin’s first-hand accounts of what he witnessed years before, during, and after the historic massacre, here.

That’s all for now, but stay tuned for more interesting history that you probably didn’t get in history class! 🦆🦆🦆🦆

*****The mission of the Don’t Duck History program is to promote and facilitate the learning and sharing of American history, along with its personal and social implications, and to highlight the history of Americans whose stories are not often presented in traditional American history textbooks.

Don’t Duck History is a program of United Charitable, a registered public 501(c)(3) nonprofit. If you appreciated this writing, follow the blog for more American history, and consider a making a donation. Ducks need to eat, too! DONATE HERE

100 Years Ago, Through Suffering and Suffrage – Women Supported

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#Women2020 #ReadThePaper

There’s a lot going on these days to distract us from our history lessons, while we’re creating history with our experiences with the novel coronavirus. Today we get back to celebrating the fact that back in June of 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment, and the amendment was ratified in August of 2020. That was an experience for the whole country, for sure, but especially for women.

Let’s look back at the experiences of several women of that time period: one, a mother suffering from a physical ailment; one, a business owner who offered a curious treatment for the suffering; and others, who were busy doing the work of achieving the ability to vote in federal, and not just state and/or local elections. Interestingly, all are captured being supportive of other women. A good idea then, and a good idea now.

In the look back, we’re including two old newspaper articles, and the transcriptions are provided below each one.

The Suffering

Evening journal, April 20, 1920, Page 21, Image 21, (Wilmington Delaware)
http://shorturl.at/NUV46

LETTER FROM MRS. BRUCE – Tells Remarkable Story of Sickness and Recovery.

Brooksburg, Indiana – “When I was a young girl I clerked in my father’s store and I lifted heavy boxes which caused displacement and I suffered greatly. I was married at the age of eighteen and went to a doctor about my trouble and he said if I had a child I would be all right.

After three years twins came to us and I did get all right but three years later a baby boy came and I was troubled again. I could scarcely do any work at all and suffered for four years A neighbor told me about Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound and I took it for a year or more. Now I have a baby girl and do not have any female trouble. You can do anything you like with my letter to help others.”

– Mrs. J. M. BRUCE, R, F. D. 3, Brooksburg, Ind.

The makers of Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound have thousands of such letters as that above –  they tell the truth, else they could not have been obtained for love or money. This medicine no stranger-it has stood the test for more than forty years.

If there are any complications you do not understand write to Lydin E. Pinkham Medicine Co. (confidential), Lynn, Mass.]

Mrs. Bruce, with her (likely uterine) displacement, seemed to gladly offer her support to Lydia Pinkham, and suggested that Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound was at least partially responsible for her recovery. Not an easy illness to treat at the time, and one not likely given the deserved attention at a time when most physicians were male.

The Healer

So what about this Lydia Pinkham? According to The Embro Project Encyclopedia, she was a businesswoman who started making her herbal remedies in her home kitchen during an economic downturn in 1873. The ingredients of her vegetable compound initially included black cohosh, fenugreek seed root, life root, pleurisy root, and, you can’t make this up, unicorn root. Raise your hand and giggle if you just learned that unicorn root is a thing. If you’re in a room with someone else and they’re looking at you funny, just share the blog with them and wait for them to raise a hand and giggle. Oh, and the original recipe also included 20% alcohol. She said it was there to preserve the ingredients. Raise your hand and giggle if you question that.

Moving right along, Pinkham’s company advertised in newspapers and magazines, offering relief to women from their “female problems.” Some people called her a quack, but she had the last laugh because a modified, modern version of her original recipe is still on the market today. Of course, this is Don’t Duck History and we actually like quacks, so there’s that. You should read more about Lydia here.

The Suffragettes

Next we have the unidentified woman and shero in the 1920 article below, supporting other women by circulating flyers, and clearly being both proud of and unbothered by the fact that she spent some time in jail for her work supporting women’s right to vote.

Evening journal, April 20, 1920, Page 7
(Wilmington Delaware)
shorturl.at/rMRVX

JAIL! WHAT’S THAT TO SUFFRAGISTS ?

Special to The Evening Journal.

DOVER, Del. April 20 – Just, before the convening of Court here yesterday, two suffragists of the National Women’s party strolled into the courtroom distributing circulars of today’s suffrage meeting. When one of the women stepped into the prisoner’s dock thoughtlessly, she was informed by one of the lawyers in court, that she was in the dock, to which she replied, “Oh that does not hurt me, I have been in a prisoner’s dock before and what is more than that, I have served time in jail, see my badge.”

At this she displayed one of the prison door badges worn by several of the National Party workers who have been here during the session of the Legislature.

As members of the National Woman’s Party, and subsequently, the National American Woman Suffrage Association’s (NAWSA), Congressional Committee and the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, some women took what was considered a more militant method of supporting women, and a few of them are pictured below. Like the “girlfriend on a mission” above, these ladies looked like they did not give a…hoot. Or a rat’s patootie. Whatever. Just look at their facial expressions. “By any means necessary” was in their vocabulary.

Library of Congress photo title:
“Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk, Conn. Serving 3 day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying banner, “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Background:
“Mrs. Helena Hill Weed of Norwalk, Conn., was a graduate of Vassar College and Montana School of Mines. She was a geologist, a daughter of a member of Congress, and a vice-president of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). She was a prominent member of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage and the NWP. She was one of the first pickets arrested, July 4, 1917, and served three days in District Jail. In January 1918, she was arrested for applauding in court and sentenced to 24 hours, and in August 1918 she was arrested for participation in Lafayette Square meeting, and sentenced to 15 days. Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 369.”
Library of Congress photo title:
“Miss [Lucy] Burns in Occoquan Workhouse, Washington”
Background:
“Lucy Burns, of New York City, who with Alice Paul established the first permanent headquarters for suffrage work in Washington, D.C., helped organize the suffrage parade of Mar. 3, 1913, and was one of the editors of The Suffragist. Leader of most of the picket demonstrations, she served more time in jail than any other suffragists in America. Arrested picketing June 1917, sentenced to 3 days; arrested Sept. 1917, sentenced to 60 days; arrested Nov. 10, 1917, sentenced to 6 months; in Jan. 1919 arrested at watchfire demonstrations, for which she served one 3 day and two 5 day sentences. She also served 4 prison terms in England. Burns was one of the speakers on the “Prison Special” tour of Feb-Mar 1919. Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 356.”

Last, but not least, there were the suffragettes who did not identify as white, and often are left out of the conversation of women’s suffrage history. We are all about including the untold stories, and are grateful for institutions like the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Park Service, who are leading the way to not ducking history, in a big way, well, because they’re big. Below is a glimpse from their writings about some of these lesser-known sheroes. You can read more about the next five, here.

Mary Ann Shadd Cary
Founder of an antislavery newspaper in Canada, who later went on to be a lawyer
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Abolitionist and poet
Marry Church Terrell
Co-founder of the the National Association of Colored Women, and its first president
Nannie Helen Burroughs
Educator, founder of the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, DC
Daisy Elizabeth Adams Lampkin
1915 President of the Lucy Stone
Woman Suffrage League

The National Park Service calls attention to Chinese suffragist, Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee. Though she was active in the cause at the age of sixteen, the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1943) made her ineligible for citizenship, and therefore not eligible to vote until 1943.

Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee

In addition, there is Teresa Villarreal in Texas, a Mexican native, who had two publications: La Mujer Moderna (The Modern Woman) and El Obrero (The Worker). Both included women’s suffrage in their writings. The National Park Service has made information about her and many others available in their online resource, The International History of the US Suffrage Movement.

Teresa Villarreal
Publisher, women’s and worker’s rights supporter

Bottom line, we can look at history and see the importance of women supporting women. Support through writing letters (today that may be a favorable online review), purchasing goods and services from woman-owned businesses, providing goods and services to women, etc. What others can you think of? Do your research, and do those, too! Most importantly, celebrate women in 2020 and beyond, and celebrate their right to vote.

*****The mission of the Don’t Duck History program is to promote and facilitate the learning and sharing of American history, along with its personal and social implications, and to highlight the history of Americans whose stories are not often presented in traditional American history textbooks.

Don’t Duck History is a program of United Charitable, a registered public 501(c)(3) nonprofit. If you appreciated this writing, follow the blog for more American history, and consider a making a donation. Ducks need to eat, too! DONATE HERE

Tuberculosis Epidemic and COVID-19 Pandemic: An Old Newspaper and Medical Science to the Rescue

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Photo from the Journal and Guide, February 14, 1942

Old Newspapers To The Rescue

For those of us who are average citizens simply trying to understand the COVID-19 pandemic, from its scale to just little things that we can do or should know, it can be difficult and sometimes overwhelming. I often look to history for understanding, sometimes using old newspapers in the process, and once again, history and old newspaper articles have not disappointed, this time, when I wasn’t exactly looking for what was found.

I was looking for somewhat coronavirus-related material in archives of the Journal and Guide, a 120-year-old, African American newspaper based in Norfolk Virginia, and stumbled upon an article about a tuberculosis epidemic that was active in 1942, during the war. Somewhat related, in that I was researching a topic specific to WWII, and the fight against the new virus has been compared to an actual war. I’ve learned to scan the pages that result from my keyword searches, and this is one example of why.

Journal and Guide, February 14, 1942

From the top heading to the first article, it is clear that attention is on tuberculosis, specifically in the Black population of Virginia. Recent news and evidence has shown that just as in the cases of tuberculosis at the time of the war, cases of COVID-19 are showing a similar trend to past cases of TB. Within the United States today, in certain areas that have documented the race of those who have tested positive and/or died from the infection, higher rates of infection and/or death have sometimes been observed in non-white citizens. This writing is primarily taking a closer look at the African American and white European American populations, as they are the racial groups either primarily or exclusively referred to in the articles used. Within those racial groups as they relate to American history, another observation of past and present comes into play – systemic racism. From an April 14, 2020 opinion (and sourced) article in the New York Times, columnist Jamelle Bouie notes:

…if you look at the full picture of American society, it is clear that the structural position of black Americans isn’t so different than it was at the advent of the industrial age. Race still shapes personhood; it still marks the boundaries of who belongs and who doesn’t; of which groups face the brunt of capitalist inequality (in all its forms) and which get some respite. Race, in other words, still answers the question of “who.” Who will live in crowded, segregated neighborhoods? Who will be exposed to lead-poisoned pipes and toxic waste? Who will live with polluted air and suffer disproportionately from maladies like asthma and heart disease? And when disease comes, who will be the first to succumb in large numbers?

If there was anything you could predict about this pandemic — anything you could be certain about once it reached America’s shores — it was that some communities would weather the storm while others would sink under the waves, and that the distribution of this suffering would have everything to do with patterns inscribed by the past.

What more do we know of the history? A little more digging, and let’s look at the Piedmont Sanatorium, mentioned in the Journal and Guide article that was pictured earlier. By the way, “Sanatorium” was the name used for facilities that treated chronic illnesses, over what would usually be an extended period of time, and ironically, tuberculosis was sometimes referred to as the “white plague.” It’s always complicated.

Piedmont Sanatorium, Burkeville VA
photo courtesy: asylum projects.org

According to AsylumProjects.org, after local residents in both Ivor and Lynchburg refused to have the sanatorium housed within their limits, somehow the Virginia State Board of Health ultimately allowed the 1918 establishment of the facility in Burkeville VA, over protests of residents there, as well. From the start of its operation, education as well as treatment was expected and delivered:

An important goal of the treatment of tubercular blacks was their eventual re-entry into productive society. In 1919, Miss Helen Morris was hired as the sanatorium’s first occupational therapist. She led the patients in handicraft activities. Some patients were taught skills that they would be able to use once returning to the real world. Piedmont patients were also expected to serve as role models for tubercular blacks who could not come to Piedmont. The Piedmont staff taught their patients the proper ways to dispose of sputum and other ways to handle the ills of tuberculosis in hopes that their patients would return to their home communities and teach other African-Americans about tuberculosis. Educating the black population about tuberculosis took place both on and off the Piedmont site. Patients at the sanatorium were required to attend weekly lectures to learn more about tuberculosis. Field clinics were established to diagnose blacks in other areas of Virginia and to give advice on dealing with the disease. By focusing on the black population as a whole, rather than merely the patients who received treatment at the sanatorium, Piedmont provided widespread benefits to society.

Asylum Projects

How what could have been viewed as a progressive stance taken by the state happened, is unclear. Self-preservation (the long-term protection of state funds by spending money on the front end vs. the back end) could have been a motivator, but continued separation of the two races could have been a consideration as well. Were politics at play? That’s also a possibility. Nevertheless, the Piedmont Sanatorium served both patients, students, and society in general.

Shortly after the sanatorium opened, a nursing school for black women was established on the Piedmont site. The Nursing School at Piedmont Sanatorium offered a tuberculosis specific curriculum. The program was only for two years and allowed black women to become certified specifically in tuberculosis nursing. If these women wanted to become registered nurses, they had to complete a third year of training at St. Phillips Hospital in Richmond. The ultimate goal of establishing the nursing school for tuberculosis, it may be assumed, was to have these nurses work with the black population at large to fight tuberculosis.

Asylum Projects
Graduating nurses. Journal and Guide, June 1, 1929

Medical Science to the Rescue

Did the sanatorium make a difference? It did, but according to the following article, the writer suggests that had the states (not just Virginia) leaned more away from the political influences, and more into humanitarian efforts, the drop in tuberculosis rates would have been even greater.

Instead of treating tuberculosis medically at its source, the States have treated it politically in its course, after it was contracted. It provided two white hospital beds for white patients for every one bed provided for colored patients. To have done otherwise would have been a political risk. But while they were following the usual course of political action the scourage [sic] was spreading among both races. While the Negro’s house burned the fire men turned the hose on the white house in the next block, which was not on fire.

Excerpt: “Medical Science to the Rescue of the State,” Journal and Guide, December 11, 1954.
“Medical Science to the Rescue of the State,” Journal and Guide, December 11, 1954.
Related article about improvement of infection numbers in Norfolk VA, “Tuberculosis Fight Showing Results Here,” Journal and Guide, February 7, 1931

What Do We Know Today, Regarding COVID-19?

Regarding the novel coronavirus, at the time of this writing, scientists and medical professionals (especially to include epidemiologists) are still looking at patterns and looking for a cure. Because the information changes and/or is updated frequently, a central place to find current information is the website https://www.coronavirus.gov/. There is, however, some additional information that you may find interesting and/or helpful.

While looking at and explaining the current situation with COVID-19, scientists sometimes compare it to the flu, while acknowledging that the two are not the same. Of course, tuberculosis isn’t the same, either, but they all have the common trait of being respiratory illnesses.

In the category of “nutrients,” a journal entry published on April 2, 2020 in the National Institute of Health publication, PubMed, information is shared that a healthy level of vitamin D may be instrumental in protection against the flu and the coronavirus, as the vitamin can have a positive affect on infections, in general. Here’s an excerpt:

This article reviews the roles of vitamin D in reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections, knowledge about the epidemiology of influenza and COVID-19, and how vitamin D supplementation might be a useful measure to reduce risk. Through several mechanisms, vitamin D can reduce risk of infections. Those mechanisms include inducing cathelicidins and defensins that can lower viral replication rates and reducing concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines that produce the inflammation that injures the lining of the lungs, leading to pneumonia, as well as increasing concentrations of anti-inflammatory cytokines. Several observational studies and clinical trials reported that vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of influenza, whereas others did not. Evidence supporting the role of vitamin D in reducing risk of COVID-19 includes that the outbreak occurred in winter, a time when 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations are lowest; that the number of cases in the Southern Hemisphere near the end of summer are low; that vitamin D deficiency has been found to contribute to acute respiratory distress syndrome; and that case-fatality rates increase with age and with chronic disease comorbidity, both of which are associated with lower 25(OH)D concentration.

Grant WB, Lahore H, McDonnell SL, et al. Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients. 2020;12(4):E988. Published 2020 Apr 2. doi:10.3390/nu12040988
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32252338/

Interestingly, from a different PubMed entry, an additional exerpt:

Vitamin D insufficiency is more prevalent among African Americans (blacks) than other Americans and, in North America, most young, healthy blacks do not achieve optimal 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations at any time of year. This is primarily due to the fact that pigmentation reduces vitamin D production in the skin. Also, from about puberty and onward, median vitamin D intakes of American blacks are below recommended intakes in every age group, with or without the inclusion of vitamin D from supplements.

Harris SS. Vitamin D and African Americans. J Nutr. 2006;136(4):1126–1129. doi:10.1093/jn/136.4.1126
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16549493/

So, maybe this journal down the rabbit hole of history via an old newspaper and medical science, is also a reason to speak with your doctor about your vitamin D level.

Stay safe, and if you find that you have more time on your hands than usual – in addition to washing your hands frequently, use them to read more old newspapers at the link provided below.

Free Newspaper Archive

Library of Congress, “Chronicling America”: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

*****The mission of the Don’t Duck History program is to promote and facilitate the learning and sharing of American history, along with its personal and social implications, and to highlight the history of Americans whose stories are not often presented in traditional American history textbooks.

Don’t Duck History is a program of United Charitable, a registered public 501(c)(3) nonprofit. If you appreciated this writing, follow the blog for more American history, and consider a making a donation. Ducks need to eat, too! DONATE HERE

All That Jazz… and Blues – Episode 2, Lena Horne

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Lena Horne, 1941. Photographer: Carl Van Vechten.
photo: courtesy Library of Congress

FREEDOM, IN A SONG

From dancing at age 16 at the Cotton Club in Harlem, to singing in her one-woman Broadway show, Lena Horne: The Lady and her Music, Lena Horne (1917-2010) paved the way not only for herself, but also for women of color in the entertainment industry who came along in her footsteps.

Lena Horne in Till the Clouds Roll By (1946).
photo: courtesy Wikimedia Commons

As her physical appearance displayed a somewhat racial ambiguity (she was of African, European, and Native heritage), she had to learn to navigate racial complexities throughout her life and career. Complex, and confusing: on one hand it seemed that sometimes she was encouraged to lean towards her “whiteness” for the white audiences in her live musical performances; she was limited in roles in MGM films because of those same audiences; and at the same time, the NAACP encouraged her Hollywood pursuits to help break the color barrier while not taking the stereotypical roles that blacks were normally cast at the time, sometimes angering some of her Black peers who accepted those stereotypical roles in exchange for simply being able to work in the industry. However, later along in her career during the Civil Rights Era, she chose to lean into her “blackness,” participating in marches and losing opportunities to work because of that participation. As the song that she is famously known for singing, it was Stormy Weather in real life.

Lena Horne and Coretta Scott King; Trumpet Awards Foundation gala, Atlanta, Georgia, 1994.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Visual Materials from the Rosa Parks Papers, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-DIG-ppmsca-38464

Later in life she stated:

My identity is very clear to me now. I am a black woman, I’m not alone, I’m free. I no longer have to be a credit, I don’t have to be a symbol to anybody, I don’t have to be a first to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.

At the end of the documentary below, you will see her come into her own using that same song, Stormy Weather, where she had moved away from a more “standard” jazz style (often deemed more acceptable to white audiences early in her career), to a more bluesy delivery towards the end of her journey. She had clearly had freed herself.

The Series-

As Americans (and people all over the world) push through and do our best to adjust our lives to the new realities that the COVID-19 pandemic is showing us, now more than ever, many could use the healing art that music often provides during times of distress. Along comes jazz… and blues, and they each tell a story of the history of America along the way.

The mission of the Don’t Duck History program is to promote and facilitate the learning and sharing of American history, along with its personal and social implications, and to highlight the history of Americans whose stories are not often presented in traditional American history textbooks.

Don’t Duck History is a program of United Charitable, a registered public 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

The Tooth Fairy! (Not): circa 1883

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As reported in the Norfolk Virginia newspaper, The Public Ledger, this female, Philadelphia, fed-up dentist took out an ad as a warning directed at the person responsible for removing her business sign. A pioneer in dentistry she was, and this is an example of an early American “social media” rant! Full article and transcription below.

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THE IRE OF A FEMALE DENTIST

In defense of her business and for the glory of her sex, Mrs. Dr. F. C. Treadwell, dentist, of North Thirteenth street, Philadelphia, has put on her war paint. Her battle cry was printed as an advertisement Thursday. It appears that she recently moved to the house in Thirteenth street, leaving a sign on her old establishment, above Tenth, announcing the fact, as well as the location of her present place of business. The disappearance of the sign is the cause of the trouble, and in her card Mrs. Treadwell offers a reward of $10 “for the detection of the poor, miserable sneak who, under cover of the dark, persists in removing it.” “I’m no woman’s rights agitator, she said, “but I believe in the right of a woman to defend herself. I am the pioneer among the female dentists, and the two-cent creatures, in the guise of men, who have crept into the profession, are eating their hearts out with envy because I live in spite of them. They can feast in that way as long as they like, but if they don’t leave my sign alone I’ll make them think they’re haunted. I’m on the lookout for them, and when I catch one there will be fun.”

Wouldn’t you love to see the follow up ad? Without further research, one can only guess whether the offender kept his teeth.

Until next time, Peace, Squeaks, and Quacks.

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National Dignity: 1865, 2016

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Norfolk VA newspaper, The Norfolk Post, was established shortly after the Civil War. (You knew that already from the last blog, right?) Once again, an article from that newspaper is featured here-this one published on Saturday, June 24, 1865. Once again, it’s also a piece of history that is helpful to be aware of in 2016. Transcribed for easier reading (but honestly, it’s still not the easiest thing to read), it’s well worth the few minutes, and you may find yourself reading it twice. When you finish, don’t forget to click “follow the duck” to receive notification of new blog entries via email, like our facebook page, and/or register for our newsletter and occasional email updates at the end of this entry. Oh, and if you agree that history should not be ducked, please pass this along!

Carry on…

National Dignity

Now that the American people have established their nation as a first-class power, and placed it in a leading position before the world-thus securing a standing at once dignified and unequivocal-we think that national self-respect demands that some alteration should be made in the language of our orators, our people, and the press, when speaking of ourselves as a nation. We have long thought that it sounds very silly in us to be continually singing our own praises. We scarcely take up a paper, or listen to an orator, but we meet with something in regard to our greatness. “we are a great people;” “the greatest the sun ever shone upon;” “the most enterprising, ingenious, industrious, intelligent, warlike, liberal, and free, that now exists, ever did exist, or ever will exist on the face of the earth.” “No nation in ancient times ever equaled us in any respect-no country at present can compare with us in any of the elements of national greatness, social and political grandeur, or in the arts of war and peace. We are the nation par excellence, and we know it and intend to impress the world with the fact by its frequent reiteration. Such wars as we have waged were never waged before; such wisdom as we have displayed in counsel has been hitherto unheard of in the world.” This is the language of the boaster and braggart, a creature laughed at for his folly, and generally detested and shunned by all sensible persons. He is forever prating of his own powers or abilities. In whatever field of knowledge or path of life he may be found, he is eternally boasting of his own superiority, and depreciating the talent and capacities, and actions of his neighbors. His bluster becomes offensive, and although he may really be endowed with all the qualities, the possession of which he so immodestly boasts, good people come at length to hate and avoid him as a public nuisance, and refuse to give him credit for any ability whatever. We many sum it up in one idea: men of sense despise a silly “blower,” and avoid him as they do any other intolerable bore. The practice, besides, is very vulgar, highly indecent, and shows bad breeding. It proves that the individual who indulges in it is not sure of his position, and thinks that by puffing himself, he can convince the world of his worth, when in fact he only succeeds in convincing it of his worthlessness.

In a general way let us apply this theory to our country. We have surely done enough to convince the world that whatever role we may choose to adopt, we have the ability and strength of purpose to carry it through to a successful issue-whether it be in the quiet pursuits of peace, or on the sanguinary fields of war. We have arrived at that period in our national history when we can afford to dispense with such ad captandum as frequent allusions to our national greatness, the invincibility of the American eagle, and the vast superiority of our people over every other people in the known world-and the frequent insults to the sensibilities of our susceptible neighbors in other portions of the world, which we are wont to indulge in. We ought now to be sure of our positon; and we hold it to be a departure from dignity to boast of that fact so frequently as to convey the impression that we have still some lingering doubts as to whether we are a great nation or not. The merchant who has fully established his name and character and attained to wealth and position, never goes forth into the marketplace to bid for custom, nor does he post large handbills at the street corners to tell the world, “I am the great John Jones, the wealthiest, most reliable, ablest, and most honest and upright merchant in the world, and all others are cheats and swindlers.” The established physician or lawyer never heralds his own praise, as the quack and pettifogger are compelled to do. The statesman does not go among the people and say to them, “I alone understand the true principles of government, and all others are but fools and demagogues, and will mislead you.” The great author does not place in the preface of his work, “I am the greatest writer of this or any other age.” The minister of the Gospel, who has established his reputation by his works, does not find it necessary to shout his qualifications each Sabbath from the pulpit; the editors of newspapers, recognized for ability, do not usually occupy half their space with puffs of their prosperous condition. It is an old and true saying that actions spead(sp) louder than words-and this is the fact as well in the case of nations as of individuals. No country or person who has gained a true position in the world has any necessity to become the trumpeter of his own glory and renown. –They feel sure of their position, maintain a dignified reserve, and leave to others who observe their actions and recognize their worth, the work of bestowing praise when found to be well-deserved.

We trust that this evil-this growing disposition on the part of our fellow-countrymen, and especially of our brethren of the Press-may be speedily reformed. Reform it altogether. Modesty, dignity, and self-respect alike demand at least some modification; if not a total abolition of the vulgar and ill-bred practice.

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“Get Over It”: 1865, 2016

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Norfolk Virginia (home of Don’t Duck History), June, 1865. The Civil War had ended a month prior, and a newspaper called The Norfolk Post was born. According to information provided on the National Endowment for Humanities website:

Published by E. M. Brown and edited by John Clark, the four-page paper appeared daily, except Sundays, with subscriptions available at three dollars per one hundred issues, or ten dollars per year. A typical issue included local and national news as well as poetry and short fiction–and a vibrant editorial viewpoint.

In its first issue of June 22, 1865, the Norfolk Post carefully identified itself as politically independent. And yet, each issue in truth presented a decidedly distinct perspective, one that embraced a more diverse city, including its African American constituency. The paper, for example, vigorously supported President Andrew Johnson’s reconstruction efforts and especially saw itself as an “aid in bringing about the ‘era of good feeling’ among the great sections of the nation,” all the better to help “re-establish . . . the Old Union.” Editorial discussions frequently confronted the economic and social issues facing the South–and especially those facing Norfolk. Beginning with its earliest issues, the Norfolk Post reported on news of relevance to its African American readers, particularly coverage of the proceedings of the Convention of Colored Virginians held in Alexandria, Virginia, in August 1865.

Within the first issue, the following writing by Shakespeare was included. As you read it consider the audience of the newspaper, which according to the description above seems to be both the White and Black residents of Norfolk. Who was the poem directed toward? One or the other? Both? Certainly both had experienced the situations described (anger/strife).

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LET IT PASS. Let former grudges pass- Shakespeare. Be not swift to take offence; Let it pass. Anger is a foe to sense; Let pass. Brood not darkly o’er a wrong Which will disappear ere long, Rather sing this cheering song, Let it pass, Let it pass.

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Strife corrodes the purest mind; Let it pass. As the unregarded wind, Let it pass. Any vulgar souls that live May condemn without reprieve; ‘Tis the noble who forgive, Let it pass, Let it pass. Echo not an angry word; Let it pass. Think how often you have erred; Let it pass. Since our joys must pass away, Like the dewdrops on the spray, Wherefore should our sorrows stay? Let it pass. Let it pass.

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If for good you’ve taken ill, Let it pass. Oh! be kind and gentle still; Let it pass. Time at last makes all things straight. Let us not resent but wait, And our triumph shall be great; Let it pass, Let it pass. Bid your anger to depart; Let pass. Lay these homely words to heart, Let it pass. Follow not the giddy throng; Better to be wronged than wrong; Therefore sing this cheery song, Let it pass, Let it pass.

Less than one week ago, the United States held a presidential election that seems to have unleashed anger and strife from supporters of both major parties, both before and after the election. Since the election however, one phrase that has been overheard primarily from the supporters of the new President-elect , is “get over it”.

The purpose of this writing is not to point fingers, but to shed light on the fact that we seem to be revisiting history, and one that for this country caused financial instability, loss of a sense of security, and division of families. It was a war. If we look back to 1865, “let it pass” did not seem to be a helpful suggestion during reconstruction, or at the very least it doesn’t seem to have happened on a large scale, and in 2016, “get over it” doesn’t seem to be a helpful suggestion, either. Imagine the poem if you were to replace “let it pass” with “get over it”. Actually, don’t just imagine it, go back and read it and do it. “Get over it” may be helpful if the issue was that your neighbor cut his grass at 5 a.m. on the Saturday that you planned to sleep in, but in the aftermath of a civil war, was it really helpful? Or reasonable? No, it wasn’t, and it isn’t now. We are once again experiencing financial instability, a loss of a sense of security, and division of families, albeit on a different plane because we are not at war.

“Let it pass.” Could that also simply be an observation that cooler heads prevail? Well, it certainly could. Cooler heads certainly do tend to make better decisions. How can we get to those better decisions? Well, not ducking history might be helpful. There is enough of our history documented that should allow us to use it to help us make better decisions. If you are able to read this blog, you also have access to much of that history, as many institutions have digitized historical documents, books, and other resources, so that if you have internet access, you don’t even need to leave home to view them. For example, the Norfolk Post can be found here. Yes, you can read a newspaper from 1865 from home, with no subscription fee (ha!), as easily as you can watch a useless reality tv show. Just a suggestion. “Let us not resent but wait” does not seem to be working. Waiting for cooler heads to appear without doing the actual work to allow them to be cooler does not work. 

Peace, squeaks, and quacks.

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The Circle of Life-Memorial Day 2016

The mission of the Don’t Duck History program is to promote and facilitate the learning and sharing of American history, along with its personal and social implications, and to highlight the history of Americans whose stories are not often presented in traditional American history textbooks. Here is a story.

Last Memorial Day I blogged about a Memorial Day event that I had attended. It was at a cemetery in Norfolk VA, where Don’t Duck History is based. I had been in the middle of cooking breakfast, checked my Facebook account while I was waiting, and found out about the event shortly before it was to start. Breakfast was ditched, quick change of clothes, and out the door I went. Little did I know at the time that the decision to attend would be part of my circle of life, and the circle of others as well.

Do you remember “arcs” from geometry class? No? Well they are basically a portion of a circle, and I’m choosing to tell the rest of this story using the arcs that made up my recent circle. Stay with me.

Arc One:

I attended the Memorial Day service at Calvary cemetery in Norfolk VA in 2015.  I had no idea at the time that the cemetery was at some point in history the only cemetery where Blacks could be buried in Norfolk. According to the cemetery website, that time period spanned almost 100 years, from 1877 to the mid-1970’s.[i] The event was held in the section of the cemetery where markers have been placed for Veterans who are interred at the facility.

Arc Two:

Fast forward to August of 2015, and my mother informed me that she had been diagnosed with cancer. Within weeks we found that it was late-stage, inoperable, and terminal. She passed away in October.

Arc Three:

While looking through her records, I found that my mother had written down some of the wishes for her final arrangements. She had actually done it years ago and saved it both on her computer and on a disc. What a surprise to find out that she requested to buried in Calvary cemetery! I was both grateful for her planning, and grateful for history lesson that it led me to. (Of course, I’d rather her just be here to tell me more.) While looking for information about the facility online, I came across the aspect of it’s history in the Black community in Norfolk. There is actually a section of the website that shares information about some of the more well known people who were buried there.[ii]

Arc Four:

Fast forward to May 28th, 2016. I attended a tour of a church in Portsmouth VA that is said to have a connection to the Underground Railroad (Stay tuned, there will be more about that in another writing!). Because my trip would put me close to Calvary cemetery, I planned to stop there to visit my mother’s grave, and also to take some time to look at the Veteran’s headstones that are there.

Arc Five:

Simply because of the entrance that I happened to take, I ended up in the Veteran section first. I walked amongst the markers, and noticed there were many who were WWI and WWII Veterans, but there were a few who were identified as Veterans of the Spanish American War. Okay, when is the last time you heard ANYTHING about the Spanish American War? I can totally relate if, in fact, you can’t remember anything about it at all. That’s where I was when I saw those markers. I took a few pictures of individual markers (one of a man named Luther McNeely), and headed off to the area where my mother is buried.

Arc Six:

Because the entrance I took on this day was not the entrance taken on the days of prior visits, I somehow thought I had to drive to another area to get to the area where mom is buried. I had only driven a very short distance when I found out just how wrong I was. As I was driving, I immediately saw the two trees that are my mental marker that she’s nearby. I really could have walked. It’s a distance of about 100 yards. Yes, really. Let me recap. Almost one year to the day of me visiting the cemetery for a Memorial Day event, I was there again visiting with the veterans AND my mother. Let that sink in for a moment (I had to.). Here endeth the circle, but the story does not end here. Maybe I should have titled this blog “Sixty Degrees of Separation”.[iii] Haha! See what I did there? If you’d like to know more about Mr. McNeely and what his experience in the war was like, read on.

The Saga Continues:

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Pictured is the marker of Luther McNeely. Notice it doesn’t state his birth or death dates. After a search, I found that he was born roughly 10 years after the end of the Civil War.[iv] According to the cemetery records, his life spanned from July 15, 1875 through April 11, 1947. I then took some time to look up the military unit he was associated with, and came upon a website that is dedicated to the Spanish American War. Mr. McNeely was part of the 3rd North Carolina Volunteer Infantry, Company G, according to his marker and a listing on a roster on The Spanish American War Centennial website, which also lists him as a Private. The website listing reads:

“McNeely, Luther: Of Statesville, North Carolina. Enlisted on June 23rd, 1898; mustered into service on July 14th, 1898; mustered out of service with the Company on January 31st, 1899, at Macon, Georgia.”[v]

He was mustered into service the day before his 23rd birthday.

HISTORY OF THE WAR REGARDING AFRICAN AMERICANS

“The sinking of the U.S. Navy battleship MAINE, in Havana harbor, February 15, 1898, and the resulting loss of American lives gave all the cause needed to commence the war Americans, both civilian and military, seemed to want. The suddenness of the event, however, revealed a shortcoming in military preparedness for a nation with expansionist intentions.

The army totaled little more than 26,000 men and 2,000 officers. And the mass of experienced combat troops were garrisoned at numerous forts throughout the west. It was no surprise, under the circumstances, that among the first units ordered to Cuba were the four black regiments. They were selected primarily on the basis of recent experience and their record on the Plains, but there was also the judgment of the War Department that blacks were immune to the diseases of the tropics and capable of more activity in high, humid temperatures. This erroneous thinking resulted in a concerted effort to recruit blacks for the formation of more “immune” troops. Whatever the motives for mobilizing black regulars, the soldiers themselves welcomed the opportunity to demonstrate their “soldierly qualities” and win respect for their race.

Black soldiers may have had little hesitation in whole-heartedly joining the Cuban expedition, but a large segment of the black community felt differently. The anti-imperialist element was concerned about the War’s impact on black Americans. Many members of this group were sympathetic with the plight of Cuba and especially with black Cubans. “Talk about fighting and freeing poor Cuba and of Spain’s brutality; of Cuba’s murdered thousands, and starving reconcentradoes. Is America any better than Spain? Has she not subjects in her very midst who are murdered daily without a trial of judge or jury? Has she not subjects in her borders whose children are half-fed and half-clothed, because their father’s skin is black.”

The anti-imperialists envisioned a war that would extend the Jim Crow empire, leaving black Americans as well as the colored population of the Spanish colonies in the same oppressed condition or worse. Only when the American government guaranteed its own minority citizens full constitutional rights, they contended, could it sincerely undertake a crusade to free oppressed people from tyranny.

The advocates of the war maintained that the black man’s participation in the military effort would win respect from whites and therefore enhance his status at home. They also hoped that the islands coming under American influence would open economic opportunities for blacks and bring them into contact with predominately “colored” cultures. “Will Cuba be a Negro republic? Decidedly so, because the greater portion of the insurgents are Negroes and they are politically ambitious. In Cuba the colored man may engage in business and make a great success. Puerto Rico is another field for Negro colonization and they should not fail to grasp this great opportunity.”

The extreme positions of the anti and pro-war leaders did not, however, characterize the response of blacks in general. Their attitude was clearly ambivalent. A majority seemed to consider participation in the military struggle an obligation of citizenship which they would gladly fulfill if they could do so in a way that would enhance rather than degrade their manhood. They hoped that a display of patriotism would help dissipate racial prejudice against them. Unfortunately, they were never free of misgivings about a war launched in the name of humanity and waged in behalf of “little brown brothers” by a nation enamored with Anglo-Saxon supremacy.”[vi]

 

HISTORY OF THE THIRD NORTH CAROLINA VOLUNTEER INFANTRY

The group was comprised of Black soldiers who were led by White officers.

On September 14, 1898, the regiment was, by order of the War Department, moved in three sections to Knoxville, Tennessee, this being the first relocation since the muster in of the regiment. Thus this naturally strengthened hopes that they were being sent to Cuba. En route to Knoxville, the first section was under command of Major Haywood, the second under Major Walker, and the third under Colonel Young, the first and third sections arrived at Knoxville without any accident. The second section had the misfortune to have a coach leave the rail and turn over a few miles from Asheville, injuring two or three men seriously, but killing no one. The regiment pitched camp at Knoxville on the afternoon of its arrival, and for the first time was thrown in contact and association with their fellow comrades of other regiments. The delight and joy of the men cannot be described as being thus associated with their fellow countrymen for one grand and common cause.

By this time the regiment had attained such a degree of proficiency as to place it easily in the first rank of volunteer regiments in the service as in relation to drill and discipline. The officers and men had worked hard to bring about this proficiency second to none in the volunteer service, and they had cause to be proud of their records. While in Knoxville, Colonel Young was Brigade commander from the 1st of October to the 20th, thus showing the confidence and esteem in which the third North Carolina regiment was held by the War Department.

The regiment remained at Knoxville until it became so cold that on November 22, it was ordered to Macon, Georgia, a warmer climate and a more suitable camp for winter. Nothing special of interest happened while en-route to Macon. The regiment arrived at Macon on the same day it was ordered out and found the camp ground already laid off by a detachment that had been sent a few days prior. It was found to be a most desirable place for a winter camp, being on light sandy loam and a little more elevated than the surrounding country, and about three miles from the city of Macon, and connected by electric car line, there, as other places the regiment was in splendid conditions as to health and practice in drills.[vii]

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES RELATED TO THE THIRD NORTH CAROLINA VOLUNTEER INFANTRY

From the Knoxville Journal and Tribune:

October 3, 1898:

It is now almost certain that the camp of this regiment will be removed to the hillside on the Middlebrook pike at the point where the street car track crosses the railroad and it is expected that as soon as the water pipes are laid from the mains of the Knoxville Water company, the camp will be moved.

Yesterday many of the officers and men enjoyed the hospitality of colored residents of the city, who invited them out to dinner.

The regiment yesterday furnished one detail of four hundred men to assist in laying the water pipes to the new camping grounds of the Third brigade on the Middlebrook pike.

October 5, 1898:

The following letter is reported to have been sent to Secretary of War Alger by members of this regiment. The names of those who signed the letter were not given to The Journal and Tribune reporter with the copy of the letter.

Third North Carolina Regiment
(All companies) Sept. 23, 1898,

To the Secretary of War:

Dear Sir:–We the undersigned many soldiers, heard that you had been instructed that we wanted to stay in service as garrison duty, but my dear sir, we are now pleading with mercy and deny any such report as there had been reported and we feel that our superior officers has treated us wrong to hold us in service without we knowing anything about it.

We the undersigned did not join the service for garrison duty. We only sacrificed our lives and left our homes simply for the honor of our flag and the destruction of our country and families as the war was going on at that time, but now the war is over and we do feel that we might be mustered out of service because we are getting letters from our families every day or two stating the suffering condition, and oh my God, the way that we are treated. We have to drill harder than any other regiment on the grounds and after drilling so hard, we have to work so hard. We have to cut ditches, sink holes and fill up gullies, put in water pipes. We, the 3rd N.C. regiment soldiers has not had but one pair of pants, one coat, two undershirts, one top shirt. We are in a box fit. Our food is not fit to eat, and oh my dear sir, we are bound up in a little place about 400 feet long 3 feet wide. Just think of the confinement we are under just because we volunteered freely to fight for our country.

We the undersigned many soldiers did not volunteer for garrison duty and we do not think that our honorable government will take the advantage of willing and faithful men who came to the rescue of the flag, stars and stripes. We have a great deal more to tell you but we can not express ourselves like it ought to be done.

Down at Fort Macon we was misled. The question was asked who wanted to stay in the service and go to the front if necessary, called upon them to raise hands, but the question never was asked if we wanted to do garrison duty. If they had of asked that question we never would have been in Knoxville today. Why don’t you know as a good thinking man that we don’t want to leave our wives and families to go on garrison duty. Why if so you would have had more applications in the white house than the mail box would have helt.

You know that these officers is getting a very good salary and they would go in three miles of hell after that dollar, but we who are brave men did not come for the sake of that $15.60, but we gloried in the flag and come to hold it up by the balls and shells. So as we did not get a chance to do so we hope that you will consider this matter. Look it over, give us the judgment of justice and if you do we will go home to our families who are in a suffering condition, so we will not write any more.

We the undersigned await your earliest reply. Many soldiers of the Third North Carolina regiment. We want to go home.

October 10, 1898:

Since the recent rain the camp is in good condition and yesterday a large number of visitors were in the camp. The health of the regiment remains very good, comparatively few of the men being in the hospital. The hospital of the Third is situated in a pleasant position and the men have all the comforts possible, and a good corps to take care of them. A number of the men were allowed the privilege of going into the city yesterday and many were in attendance at the numerous negro churches.

October 13, 1898:

Pay day is eagerly looked for by the men in the Third and the “man with the coin”[paymaster] will be a welcome guest in camp. The band of the regiment is now getting in some good work and is making a very creditable showing. The men are still hard at work at drills and in a few days will make a practice march of several miles into the surrounding country.”[viii]

Here endeth today’s history lesson. If you would like to learn more about the war, there is a lot more to learn on the Spanish American War Centennial Website. Here’s a link to the home page:  http://www.spanamwar.com/index.htm

Have a safe Memorial Day, give a salute to Luther McNeely, and don’t duck history!

***QUACK***

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[i] http://www.norfolk.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/45

[ii] http://www.historicforrest.com/HSites/NorfolkVA/calvaryCemetery/calvaryBurials.html

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation

[iv] http://www.webcemeteries.com/memorials/Military.asp

[v] http://www.spanamwar.com/3rdnorthcarolinaroster.html#Company G

[vi] http://www.spanamwar.com/AfroAmericans.htm

[vii] http://www.spanamwar.com/3rdnorthcarolina.html