Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Prostitution Banned During Obama Events, But in Lincoln’s Time….

January 19, 2009

You invite a couple of million of your closest friends to the biggest bash your town has ever thrown. You extend bar hours nearly till dawn. You import thousands of cops to keep the streets safe. You commandeer every bit of paved surface you can think of to accommodate innumerable buses packed with visitors.

And then you plaster the street lamp poles in a central part of the city with big red signs “WARNING” all that “This area has been declared a PROSTITUTION FREE ZONE.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

By Marc Fisher
The Washington Post

Now, maybe I’m not reading this the way your average tourist or Obama supporter would, but to me, this sign–one of a whole bunch D.C. police have posted between 4th and 5th streets NW from Eye to L streets–means that everywhere the signs aren’t, prostitution is just fine and dandy.

Read the rest:
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/
2009/01/welcome_to_inauguration_island.html

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In The Lincoln Presidency, House Of Ill Repute Stood on the Mall

By John E. Carey

Millions of Americans are in Washington DC to participate in the events of the New Obama Presidency.

May have enjoyed comparisons to Lincoln, and walked over the site of the finest Washington DC whore house ever.
Mary Ann Hall catered to the nation’s elite in Washington as the proprietor of the capital’s best brothel during the Civil War.

Located just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol on Maryland Avenue on what now is part of the Mall, her house, a three-story structure nearly the size of a city block, included parlors, an elegant dining room and, almost assuredly, the most attractive of the city’s estimated 5,000 “soiled doves.”

Prostitution was not a crime in the 19th century, and any concentration of troops during the Civil War attracted flocks of “camp followers” who were available for a price. Women often would show up after battles and offer their services to the generals as nurses. The “nursing,” however, frequently became an open door to those less honest and caring, and when armies experienced theft, prostitution and other less traditional forms of nursing, generals sometimes rejected offers of female help.

Houses of prostitution were fairly common in America’s larger cities, and Washington had as many as 450 entertainment venues on the “wilder side.” The presence of affluent politicians, lobbyists and the hierarchy of the government departments helped make Washington a man’s home away from home.

Elected representatives in those years did not routinely bring wives and families to Washington. Service in Congress was not necessarily even a full-time job. The city was hot and steamy. Nights could be filled with drinking, smoking, gambling and frolicking with willing companions of the gentler sex, far from the eyes of the electorate at home.

Mary Ann Hall took every opportunity to provide such indulgences. The throngs of men willing and able to pay her comparatively exorbitant rates deserved the best. Imported hats, dresses and perfume enhanced her staff. Magnums of champaign added an air of dignity, gentility and grace. Fine food filled the supper tables. Her real goal as hostess, however, was to supply attractive women.

The fashion of the time was an hourglass shape – an ample bosom and tiny waist – which not all women could achieve without corsets reinforced with steel belts called busks. Busks, champagne corks, fine china and combs to hold spectacular hair creations all have been excavated from the site where Hall’s house once stood. Historians and archaeologists believe the quality of these items shows the elegance Hall brought to her entertainment trade. Several of them, including rusted busks, have been preserved by the Smithsonian Institution.

Hall insisted on certain standards of decorum, and her house, which opened around 1837, flourished until it closed in 1878. She was never raided by police, was not the subject of public disgrace or even controversy and was never discussed in newspapers. Editors in those days believed that what was private should stay private. Unless a public figure disgraced himself so thoroughly that prosecution was in order, private excesses remained unreported.

Rep. Daniel E. Sickles of New York learned the limits the hard way. Rumors abounded in the late 1850s that he maintained close personal relationships with a variety of women. Though tongues wagged, his private pleasures never merited newspaper interest. Then, when he murdered his much-younger wife’s lover, Barton Key, the son of Francis Scott Key, who wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner”- detailed accounts of the court proceedings made newspaper sales soar.

Sickles shoots Key in 1859 
Sickles shoots Key in 1859; from a newspaper

The 1859 trial and associated juicy details sold newspapers and became for a time the talk of Washington and New York. Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper printed 200,000 copies as the trial opened. Demand forced a second printing of 300,000. (During the Civil War, then-Gen. Sickles’ private indiscretions returned to the realm of private matters. After the war, despite routine and well-documented misbehavior, his private life remained taboo to journalists.)

Mary Ann Hall became a wealthy woman. She died in 1886 and was buried in Congressional Cemetery beneath a carved stone statue of herself.

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Ladies’ general

The slang word for prostitute, hooker, is generally thought to have originated during the Civil War. For generations, rumors claimed that Union Gen. “Fighting Joe” Hooker had inspired the nickname by his amorous relationships.


General Joe Hooker

There is, however, a recorded use of the word before the war, according to the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins. The dictionary’s authors queried historian Bruce Catton, who agreed that the term came into use before the Civil War but that it became popular during the conflict. An area south of Constitution Avenue was known for its extracurricular activities and was referred to as “Hooker’s Division.” A Civil War officer, Charles Francis Adams Jr., referred to Hooker’s headquarters as “as place to which no self-respecting man likes to go, and no decent woman could go – a combination of barroom and brothel.”

Hooker should be remembered, however, for more than his moral laxities. He was wounded at Antietam and fought at Second Bull Run, and Lincoln made him commander of the Army of the Potomac after Ambrose Burnside’s disastrous defeat at Fredericksburg.

The Battle of Chancellorsville began well and ended badly for the 48-year-old West Point graduate, and just days before Gettysburg, Hooker asked to be relieved. The president appointed George Gordon Meade his successor as commander of the Army of the Potomac.

John E. Carey is a frequent contributor to the Civil War page and The Washington Times.

http://civilwarstoriesofinspiration.wordpress.com/

“Worst president in American history?”

January 15, 2009

The American lady who called to see if I would appear on her radio programme was specific. “We’re setting up a debate,” she said sweetly, “and we want to know from your perspective as a historian whether George W Bush was the worst president of the 20th century, or might he be the worst president in American history?”

By Andrew Roberts
The Telegraph (UK)
.
“I think he’s a good president,” I told her, which seemed to dumbfound her, and wreck my chances of appearing on her show.

In the avalanche of abuse and ridicule that we are witnessing in the media assessments of President Bush’s legacy, there are factors that need to be borne in mind if we are to come to a judgment that is not warped by the kind of partisan hysteria that has characterised this issue on both sides of the Atlantic.

Related:
 Lessons for Obama … From George W. Bush (And Bob Woodward)

George W Bush

George W Bush’s supposed lack of intellect will be seen to be a myth Photo: AP

The first is that history, by looking at the key facts rather than being distracted by the loud ambient noise of the
24-hour news cycle, will probably hand down a far more positive judgment on Mr Bush’s presidency than the immediate, knee-jerk loathing of the American and European elites.

At the time of 9/11, which will forever rightly be regarded as the defining moment of the presidency, history will look in vain for anyone predicting that the Americans murdered that day would be the very last ones to die at the hands of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in the US from that day to this.

The decisions taken by Mr Bush in the immediate aftermath of that ghastly moment will be pored over by historians for the rest of our lifetimes. One thing they will doubtless conclude is that the measures he took to lock down America’s borders, scrutinise travellers to and from the United States, eavesdrop upon terrorist suspects, work closely with international intelligence agencies and take the war to the enemy has foiled dozens, perhaps scores of would-be murderous attacks on America. There are Americans alive today who would not be if it had not been for the passing of the Patriot Act. There are 3,000 people who would have died in the August 2005 airline conspiracy if it had not been for the superb inter-agency co-operation demanded by Bush after 9/11.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal
-view/4241865/History-will-show-that-George-
W-Bush-was-right.html

Bush Terribly Unpopular Now, But History May Still “Vindicate” Him

December 23, 2008

The argument for his eventual vindication is stronger than many might expect.

On foreign policy, Bush emphasizes that he pursued a “freedom agenda” and spread freedom to Iraq. While the Iraqi future is far from clear, it is possible that the country becomes a democracy and a reliable ally of the U.S. If that transformation is completed, then it could well be viewed as a turning point in the war on terror.

On the home front, to virtually everyone’s surprise, we’ve avoided a terrorist attack since Sept. 11.

Hard to Argue

So it is hard to argue that Bush’s policies were a failure. The unpopular war may have trashed his party, but it didn’t have the same effect on the country.

Turning to the economy, the pro-Bush argument becomes more of a stretch. First, his accomplishments were few. He passed a relatively small tax cut and was unable to hold the line on government spending.

By Kevin Hassett
Bloomberg

Read the rest:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pi
d=washingtonstory&sid=acJBjLS7oKAc

Obama and Lincoln: Historians Mixed (As Usual)

December 23, 2008

We’ve listened to dozens of high sounding speeches and we’ve heard the media gush while comparing President-elect Obama to the likes of Franlin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

The President-elect himself has not been shy about adopting the comparison to Lincoln — one might think Abraham Lincoln was Mr. Obama’s role model and mentor and teacher and friend.

This news Just Today:  “President-elect Obama is deeply honored that the Library of Congress has made the Lincoln Bible available for use during his swearing-in,” Presidential Inaugural Committee Executive Director Emmett Beliveau said.

The 1861 Lincoln Inaugural Bible against the backdrop of the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.

The 1861 Lincoln Inaugural Bible against the backdrop of the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.

Now CNN is asking what is Mr. Obama’s favorite bible passage?
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/24
/inauguration.scripture/index.html

Obama is also tracing the train route that Lincoln took to Washington and holding a welcome event at the Lincoln memorial ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

And, at least here at Peace and Freedom we’ve said to ourselves, let’s please allow for some miracles before we bestow saintood status upon the President-elect.  Let’s allow a bit of time for governing….

FDR had accomplishments of the Great Depression and World War II to guide historians.  Lincoln battled to keep the Union together during years of Civil War.

So we are somewhat reluctant to compare the President-elect to other great men until and unless he establishes himself as –  another great man.  As it stands now, he is a and the President-elect.

And that is an historic accomplishment all its own.

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Bt Matt Carey
CNN

Much has been made of Barack Obama’s interest in “Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s best-selling book on President Lincoln and his cabinet.

But the president-elect may want to put a new Lincoln book on his nightstand, “Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief” (Penguin).

The work by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson explores how the Illinois lawyer and self-taught military strategist managed to successfully prosecute the nation’s bloodiest war.

Like Lincoln, Obama enters office without any military experience of his own, yet he becomes commander in chief during a time of not one but two wars. What can Obama learn from Lincoln’s example? CNN put that question to McPherson, but first we discussed how the 16th president developed into arguably the country’s greatest commander in chief. The following is an edited version of the interview.

Read the entire interview:
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/boo
ks/12/23/mcpherson.lincoln/index.html

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By Alexander Burns and John F. Harris
Politico

In Barack Obama’s appearance last month on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” the conversation turned to the president-elect’s long-time love of Lincoln.

“There is a wisdom there,” Obama told interviewer Steve Kroft, “and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful.”

Humility? Obama’s frequent invocations of Abraham Lincoln — a man enshrined in myth and marble with his own temple on the National Mall — would not at first blush say much about his own instincts for modesty or self-effacement.

Abraham Lincoln

And now there are early rumblings of a backlash to Obama’s ostentatious embrace of all things Lincoln, with his not-so-subtle invitations to compare the 44th president to the 16th, the “Savior of the Union.”

Simply put, some scholars think the comparisons have gone a bit over the top hat.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081215/pl_politico/16569

Historians say Obama is no Lincoln

December 15, 2008

We’ve listened to dozens of high sounding speeches and we’ve heard the media gush while comparing President-elect Obama to the likes of Franlin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

The President-elect himself has not been shy about adopting the comparison to Lincoln — one might think Abraham Lincoln was Mr. Obama’s role model and mentor and teacher and friend.

And, at least here at Peace and Freedom we’ve said to ourselves, let’s please allow for some miracles before we bestow saintood status upon the President-elect.  Let’s allow a bit of time for governing….

FDR had accomplishments of the Great Depression and World War II to guide historians.  Lincoln battled to keep the Union together during years of Civil War.

So we are somewhat reluctant to compare the President-elect to other great men until and unless he establishes himself as —  another great man.  As it stands now, he is a and the President-elect.

And that is an historic accomplishment all its own.

*********************

By Alexander Burns and John F. Harris
Politico

In Barack Obama‘s appearance last month on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” the conversation turned to the president-elect’s long-time love of Lincoln.

“There is a wisdom there,” Obama told interviewer Steve Kroft, “and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful.”

Humility? Obama’s frequent invocations of Abraham Lincoln — a man enshrined in myth and marble with his own temple on the National Mall — would not at first blush say much about his own instincts for modesty or self-effacement.

Abraham Lincoln

And now there are early rumblings of a backlash to Obama’s ostentatious embrace of all things Lincoln, with his not-so-subtle invitations to compare the 44th president to the 16th, the “Savior of the Union.”

Simply put, some scholars think the comparisons have gone a bit over the top hat.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/2008
1215/pl_politico/16569

Related:
The Obama-Lincoln Parallel: A Closer Look

Obama Reaching Too Much Toward Lincoln?
.
Obama’s “Lincoln Obsession”

For Obama, Media Can’t Wait, Can’t Criticize

Obama And The Press: What’s The Future?

Obama and Lincoln: Historians Mixed (As Usual)
.
Prostitution Banned During Obama Events, But in Lincoln’s Time….
.
Lincoln’s Top African American Advisor Recalled on Martin Luther King, Obama Days