Don’t Know Much About® Helen Keller

 

Helen Keller, circa 1920
Photo: Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive (UCLA Library)

(Reposted from original published in 2012)

Born on June 27, 1880. Helen Keller.

You probably know the story of her childhood from The Miracle Worker. But her life was much more than that. And they certainly didn’t tell you that she was a Socialist. And a feminist. And a pacifist.

This is from a letter she wrote to Eugene V. Debs, labor leader and presidential candidate, while he was in jail for advocating draft resistance during World War I, and whom she addressed as “Dear Comrade”  (March 11, 1919). {Excerpted in Don’t Know Much About History.}

I write because I want you to now that I should be proud if the Supreme Court convicted me of abhorring war, and doing all in my power to oppose it. When I think of the millions who have suffered in all the wicked wars of the past, I am shaken with the anguish of a great impatience. I want to fling myself against all brute powers that destroy the life, and break the spirit of man.
. . .  We were driven onto war for liberty, democracy and humanity. Behold what is happening all over the world today! Oh where is the swift vengeance of Jehovah that it does not fall upon the hosts of those who are marshalling machine-guns against hungry-stricken peoples? It is the complacency of madness to call such acts “preserving law and order.” What oceans of blood and tears are shed in their name! I have come to loathe traditions and institutions that take away the rights of the poor and protect the wicked against judgment.

What most people know of Helen Keller (1880-1968) comes from the play and film The Miracle Worker which tells the remarkable story of the relationship between Helen Keller, who became blind and deaf at the age of two, and her teacher Anne Sullivan. That story stops with Keller’s triumph in learning to sign. With Sullivan as her companion, Keller went on to Radcliffe, then Harvard’s female counterpart, from which she graduated in 1904 with honors. Born into a conservative Alabama family, Keller eventually became both an outspoken feminist and pacifist. In 1909, she joined the Socialist Party and became friends with party leader Eugene V. Debs, who had been imprisoned for expressing his antiwar views at the time Keller’s letter was written.

Helen Keller died on June 1 1968 In Connecticut.

And here’s a quick quiz about Keller from Don’t Know Much About Anything:

She was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama on June 27, 1880. After an illness destroyed Helen Keller’s sight and hearing as an infant, she lived for the next five years as a kicking, screaming wild child. In 1887,  Anne Sullivan (1866-1936), child of poor Irish immigrants and nearly blind herself, was hired to tutor the uncontrollable Helen. Through touch, Sullivan was able to reach Keller. Using a manual alphabet in which words were spelled out in her hand, Keller gradually learned to read and write Braille, eventually learned to speak and went on to college. As a writer and speaker, she crusaded to improve conditions for the blind and deaf-blind until her death in 1968. What do you know about this heroic conqueror of physical disabilities? Take this quick quiz.

1.  What famous American inventor advised Helen’s father to seek help at Boston’s Perkins Institution for the Blind?
2. What college did Helen Keller attend ?
3.  How did Helen Keller “listen” to people?
4.   In the 1962 film of Helen’s story, The Miracle Worker, Helen was played by Patty Duke, who won an Oscar, and Anne Bancroft portrayed Anne Sullivan. Who played the Sullivan role in a 1979 television remake?

Answers
1.  Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, whose wife was also hearing impaired.
2. She went to Radcliffe in Cambridge, Mass., and graduated in 1904 with honors. Sullivan assisted her through her college years, interpreting lectures.
3. She “read” lips by touching the lips and throat of people as they spoke.
4. Patty Duke. The role of Helen was taken by Melissa Gilbert.

Whatever Became of 56 Signers? (4th in a series)

Fair Copy of the Draft of the Declaration of Independence (Source New York Public Library)

Fair Copy of the Draft of the Declaration of Independence (Source New York Public Library)

…We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes , and our Sacred Honor.

Part 4 in a series that begins here.

Father and grandfather of presidents. A simple farmer.  A workaholic.  The next five signers, in alphabetical order:

-Benjamin Harrison (Virginia) A member of the Virginia aristocracy, he was a well-to-do planter, around 50 at the the signing. Although his famed Berkeley Plantation on the James River was supposedly destroyed during the Revolution, it clearly survived. So did Harrison, who went on to serve three terms as governor of Virginia before hs death  in 1791 at age 65. Besides his role in the July  2 and 4 votes in Philadelphia, he is mostly distinctive as the father of 9th president William Henry Harrison and grandfather of namesake Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president. YES

-John Hart (New Jersey) Described as a well-meaning “Jersey” farmer with little education, Hart was a 65 year old planter at the time of the signing, and devoted to the patriot cause. Although supposedly hounded by the British during the war, he was later able to entertain General Washington and allow 12,00 troops to camp in his fields in 1778. He died of kidney stones in 1779, aged 68. YES

-Joseph Hewes (North Carolina) Born in New Jersey, he moved to North Carolina and was a 46 year old Quaker merchant at the signing. At first a reluctant patriot, he broke with the Quakers over the possibility  of a violent rebellion and was considered a key influence in Congress by John Adams. His shipping experience was significant enough for him to be described as the first “secretary of the Navy,”  responsible for getting his friend John Paul Jones a commission. Working relentlessly for the Congress, Hewes fell sick and died in 1779 at age 49 and was deeply mourned by his Congressional colleagues. YES

-Thomas Heyward, Jr. (South Carolina) Son of a wealthy planter, he was a 30 year old lawyer at the signing. Heyward counts as one of the few signers actually captured by the British, who then took his enslaved people, apparently shipping them to bondage in the West Indies. Initially paroled (released under an agreement),  he was later taken aboard a prison ship and then held in St. Augustine, Florida under a form of house arrest until released in a prisoner exchange. While a hostage, he is credited with writing verses to a song called “God Save the Thirteen States.” He dabbled in politics after the war, but focused on rebuilding his family plantation where he died at 63 in 1809. YES

-William Hooper (North Carolina) Born in Boston, he was a 34 year old attorney who had moved South at the signing. He missed the key July vote but returned to sign the Declaration in August. Hooper was one of the signers who suffered losses during the war when the British invaders evacuating the Wilmington, North Carolina area and destroyed his home. He later pressed for ratification of the Constitution but lacked popularity in his adopted state and, suffering from a variety of illnesses, including malaria, died in 1790 at age 48. YES

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

America's Hidden History, includes tales of "Forgotten Founders"

America’s Hidden History, includes tales of “Forgotten Founders”

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Whatever Became Of…56 Signers? (3d in series)

Fair Copy of the Draft of the Declaration of Independence (Source New York Public Library)

Fair Copy of the Draft of the Declaration of Independence (Source New York Public Library)

Part 3 of a series of posts about the fates of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  A printer, a politician, a duelist, a Connecticut Yankee and the most famous signature in U.S. history. The next five in alphabetical order (A Yes after their names means they owned slaves; No  means they did not.):

-Benjamin Franklin  (Pennsylvania) America’s most famous man in 1776, Franklin was 70 years old at the time of the signing. Printer, publisher, writer, scientist, diplomat, philosopher –he was the embodiment of the Enlightenment ideal. A member of the draft committee that produced the Declaration, Franklin was a central figure in the independence vote and then helped the war effort by winning crucial French support for the America cause. But he lost no Fortune, reportedly tripling his wealth during the conflict. Franklin returned to the scene of the Declaration’s passage in 1787 to help draft the Constitution.. When he died at age 84 in 1790, his funeral was attended by a crowd equal to Philadelphia’s population at the time. Read more on Franklin at this National Park Service site. YES

-Elbridge Gerry (Massachusetts) A 32 year old merchant from Marblehead, Gerry (pronounced with a hard G like Gary) is much more famous for later dividing Massachusetts into oddly-shaped voting districts as the state’s governor. A cartoonist compared the districts to a salamander and the word “gerry-mandering” was born. Though he voted for independence, Gerry was not present to sign in August, signing later in the fall of 1776, He profited from the war and later joined the Massachusetts delegation to the Constitutional convention in 1787, although he refused to sign the Constitution. He became James Madison’s second vice president in 1812, but died in office in 1814 at age 70. NO

-Button Gwinnett (Georgia) An English-born plantation owner and merchant, he was 41 at the time of the signing. And didn’t last much longer. A political argument with a Georgia general led to a duel in which Gwinnett was mortally wounded. He died in 1777 at age 42, the second of the signers to die. (John Morton of Pennsylvania was first.) YES

-Lyman Hall ( Georgia) A Connecticut Yankee physician transplanted to Georgia plantation owner, Hall  was 52 years old at the signing. A vocal patriot when Georgia was far more hesitant about independence, he first came to Philadelphia as a nonvoting delegate. Hall’s plantation was destroyed during the war when the British made their punishing attacks on the South. He later served as Georgia’s governor, dying at age 66 in 1790. YES

-John Hancock (Massachusetts) Born into a poor parson’s family in Lexington (National Parks Service site) , Hancock was sent to live with a wealthy uncle when his father died. He inherited his uncle’s shipping business and was one of America’s wealthiest men by the time he was thirty. A patriot leader in Boston, it was Hancock and Samuel Adams who the British sought to capture on that April 1775 night when the war began. President of the Continental Congress when independence was declared, he was 39 at the time of the signing. The outsized signature on the document cemented his fame in American lore. After the war, Hancock was governor of Massachusetts at the time of his death in 1793 at age 56. YES

 

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

America's Hidden History, includes tales of "Forgotten Founders"

America’s Hidden History, includes tales of “Forgotten Founders”

 

 

 

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

 

Whatever Became Of…56 Signers? (2d in a series)

Fair Copy of the Draft of the Declaration of Independence (Source New York Public Library)

Fair Copy of the Draft of the Declaration of Independence (Source New York Public Library)

…We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes , and our Sacred Honor.

Part of a series that begins here. (A YES denotes slaveowner; NO means no slaves.)

Here are the next five Signers of the Declaration, continuing in alphabetical order:

-Samuel Chase (Maryland) A 35 year old attorney, Chase has the distinction of being among those signers who didn’t vote on July 4; he signed the later printed version in August. Accused of wartime profiteering but never tried or convicted, he later went broke from speculation and settled into law practice. George Washington appointed him to the Supreme Court, where the became the first justice to be impeached –although he was acquitted. He died in 1811 at age 70. YES

-Abraham Clark (New Jersey) An attorney, 50 years old at the signing, Clark had two sons who were captured and imprisoned during the war; one on on the notorious British prison ship Jersey and the other in a New York jail cell. Clark served in Congress on and off and opposed the Constitution’s ratification until the Bill of Rights was added. He died in 1794 at age 68. YES

-George Clymer (Pennsylvania) A 37 year old merchant the time of the signing, Clymer was a well-heeled patriot leader who helped fund the American war effort. He was also elected to Congress after the July 2 independence vote, signing the Declaration on August 2. He belongs to an elite group who signed both the Declaration and the Constitution.  (The others were Roger Sherman of Conn,; George Read of Del.; and Franklin, Robert Morris and  James Wilson, all of PA.) He continued to prosper after the war and died in 1813 at age 74. NO

-William Ellery (Rhode Island) A modestly successful merchant turned attorney aged 48 at the signing,, Ellery replaced an earlier Rhode Island delegate who died of small pox in Philadelphia. (Smallpox killed more Americans than the war did during the Revolution.) A dedicated member of Congress during the war years, Ellery saw his home burned by the British although it is thought unlikely they knew it was the home of a signer.  He was rewarded after the war by President Washington with the lucrative post of collector for the port of Newport which he held for three decades. He died in 1829, aged 92, second in longevity among signers after Carroll.  (See previous post.) NO

-William Floyd (New York) A 41 year old land speculator born on Long Island, New York, Floyd abstained from the July 2 independence vote with the rest of the New York delegation, but is thought to be the first New Yorker to sign the Declaration on August 2. Reports that his home on Fire Island was destroyed by the British were exaggerated, although it was used as a stable and barracks by the occupying Redcoats. (It is now part of a Fire Island National Park.)  Floyd served in the first Congress before moving to western New York where he owned massive land tracts and where he died at age 86 in 1821. YES

Read more about the Revolution, Declaration and “Forgotten Founders” in these books:

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

America's Hidden History, includes tales of "Forgotten Founders"

America’s Hidden History, includes tales of “Forgotten Founders”

 

Whatever Became Of…56 Signers? (One in a series)

The Grand Flag of the Union, first raised in 1775 and by George Washington in early 1776 in Boston. The Stars and Stripes did not become the "American flag" until June 14, 1777. (Author photo © Kenneth C. Davis)

The Grand Flag of the Union, the “first American flag,” originally raised in 1775 and later by George Washington in early 1776 in Boston. The Stars and Stripes did not become the “American flag” until June 14, 1777. (Author photo © Kenneth C. Davis)

TODAY, June 25, 2015, I will begin reposting this series about the 56 signers of the Declaration. Included in this list is a simple guide to those signers who owned slaves. A Yes (they did) or No (they did not) has been added to the biographies.

 

…We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes , and our Sacred Honor.

Strong words that conclude the Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

There is little question that men who signed that document were putting their lives at risk. The identity and fates of a handful of those signers is well-known. Two future presidents –Adams and Jefferson– and America’s most famous man, Benjamin Franklin, were on the Committee that drafted the document.

But the names and fortunes of many of the  other signers, including the most visible, John Hancock, are more obscure. In the days leading up to Independence Day, I will offer a thumbnail sketch of each of the signers in alphabetical order. Some prospered and thrived; some did not: How many of those signers actually paid with their lives, fortunes and sacred honor?

-John Adams (Massachusetts) Aged 40 when he signed, he went on to become the first vice president and second president of the United States. Adams died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration in 1826 at age 90. (Jefferson died that same day) NO

-Samuel Adams (Mass.) Older cousin to John, Samuel Adams was 53 at the signing. He went on to a career in state politics, initially refused to sign the Constitution because it lacked a Bill of Rights, and was governor of Massachusetts. He died in 1803 at 81. NO

-Josiah Bartlett (New Hampshire) Inspiring the name of the fictional president of West Wing  fame on TV, Bartlett was a physician, aged 46 at the time of the signing. He helped ratify the Constitution in his home state, giving the document the necessary nine states to become the law of the land. Elected senator he chose to remain in New Hampshire as governor. Three of his sons and other descendants also became physicians. He died in 1795 at age 65. YES

-Carter Braxton (Virginia) A 39-year-old plantation owner, Braxton was looking to invest in the slave trade before the Revolution. Initially reluctant about independence, he helped fund the rebellion and lost a considerable  fortune  during the war –not because he was a signer, but because of shipping losses during the war itself. He later served in the Virginia legislature and died in 1797 at age 61, far less wealthy than he had been, but also far from impoverished. YES

-Charles Carroll of Carrollton (Maryland) A plantation owner, 38 years old and one of America’s wealthiest men at the signing, Carroll was the only Roman Catholic signer and the last signer to die. Owner of hundreds of slaves, Carroll considered freeing some of them before his death and later introduced a bill for gradual abolition in Maryland, which had no chance of passage.  At age ninety-one, he laid the cornerstone of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as a member of its board of directors. He died in 1832 at age 95. YES

And read more about the Declaration and the signers in:

DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT® THE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS (HYPERION PAPERBACK APRIL 15, 2014)

DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT® THE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS (HYPERION PAPERBACK APRIL 15, 2014)

Don't Know Much ABout® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much ABout® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Kirkus Review-The Hidden History of America At War

KIRKUS REVIEW

Six turning points in military history and American democracy.

Don’t Know Much About… series author Davis (America’s Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women, and Forgotten Founders Who Shaped a Nation, 2008, etc.) begins with the 1781 battle that decided the American Revolution. In Yorktown and its aftermath, we learn that George Washington favored a large standing army, despite the insistence of many that a diffuse corps of “citizen soldiers” would be a better safeguard of democracy. From Yorktown, the author moves to the 1864 Battle of Petersburg, Virginia. Davis defines specific moments when the U.S. military’s role and self-image changed significantly. His stories are always analytically rigorous, and thus he describes at length the so-called “water cure” as it was employed as a method of torture by Americans during the Spanish-American War. Throughout the book, the author is careful to emphasize the critical role of African-Americans, both in the acknowledged triumphs of groups like the U.S. Colored Troops and in the disgraces visited upon black servicemen. Davis also makes sure to give voice to the fact that the actions of the Greatest Generation were not always so valiant. Russians were not the only soldiers who left a swath of brutalized women in their wake. While the Americans were not given the same license as Soviet troops avenging more than 25 million casualties, they still committed crimes. Davis’ chapter on Vietnam offers a damning view of a military beset by those more interested in “management” than “leadership”—e.g., Gen. William Westmoreland. In the final chapter, on Fallujah, the author discusses the sickening scene of charred American mercenaries hanging from a bridge, failures of military policy, and a sense that the best military in the world is only as good as its civilian leadership.

Complete Text of Review

The Hidden History of America At War-May 5,2015 (Hachette Books/Random House Audio)

The Hidden History of America At War-May 5, 2015 (Hachette Books/Random House Audio)

“Did you know?” from THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF AMERICA AT WAR

1920px-Surrender_of_Lord_Cornwallis

War stories. They help shape a nation’s identity.

But if these stories sweep facts under the rug, they are ‘foundation legends,’ not history. I tell the stories our schoolbooks often leave out, the stories that don’t fit the tidy patriotic version that makes us feel proud but are not always complete or true. The real story – the “warts-and-all-version”—is always more interesting and more instructive.

Here are some “Did-you-know” facts from my newly published The Hidden History of America At War  –from the American Revolution to the War in Iraq.

THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

  • George Washington gets credit for winning the American Revolution. But without the French Navy, foreign loans and sacrifices by black patriots, the cause might have been lost. Washington, a slaveholder, didn’t want black men in his army. But when he got desperate for troops he opened his ranks to black soldiers and he was impressed at how bravely they fought.
  • John Laurens isn’t a household name like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. But this “forgotten founder” helped lead the fight at the decisive battle of the American Revolution at Yorktown, Virginia, and was a voice of conscience who tried to convince George Washington, a slaveholder– to embrace abolition.
  • The son of a major slave trader, John Laurens was so intent on enlisting blacks in the military that he designed a uniform for African Americans.
  • It’s inspiring to think that patriotic “Minutemen” grabbed their trusty muskets and left their farms to whip the mighty British redcoats in the American Revolution. But that is not how the Revolution was won. George Washington was wary of the militias who often wanted and needed to get back to their shops and farms. Washington insisted on a trained, disciplined, standing army. Irish and German immigrants, out of work teenagers and African Americans filled the ranks of his Continental Army. But these “rabble” frightened the founding generation. The Minutemen and other militiamen come down in lore as patriots ready to take up arms and defend freedom. But Washington thought militias were undependable, calling them a “broken staff.”
  • Heroic images of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” don’t hint at what happened later in New Jersey when his drunken troops mutinied –he had the ringleaders executed by firing squad. Washington was a strict disciplinarian who once built high gallows and threatened to hang American deserters.
  • American troops fought bravely in securing victory over the British at Yorktown. But two overlooked factors helped defeat the British: ­disease and the burden of harboring refuges, slaves who flocked to the British in hopes of being emancipated.

    Recreation go the Redoubt # 10 at Yorktown (U.S Army War College-Army Heritage and Education Center)

    Recreation of  Redoubt # 10 at Yorktown (U.S Army War College-Army Heritage and Education Center)

  • Fear of leaving slaves in charge of the homestead kept men in Virginia and other slaveholding from joining the militia during the Revolution.
  • Washington and Jefferson made sure to collect their runaway slaves when the Revolution ended. The American Revolution was fought to protect “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” But insuring the continuation of slavery was high on the list of priorities for the new nation.
  • After the Revolution, Marquis de Lafayette had a plan to buy land where Washington could free his slaves and set an example of abolition. But Washington never took up the offer.
Civil War Commissary Cabin (Source U.S. Army War College/Heritage and Education Center)

Civil War Commissary Cabin (Source U.S. Army War College/Heritage and Education Center)

 THE CIVIL WAR

  • Military casualties in the Civil War are well documented. But also horrific are the civilian tolls in places like Petersburg, Virginia, which was the scene of a nearly yearlong siege. The situation in Petersburg got so dire for the civilians that some held macabre “Starvation Parties” with no refreshments served. Flocks of local birds disappeared and local butchers sold “mystery meat.”
  • Lincoln initially resisted letting blacks join the army during the CivilWar.  But by the end of the war, “Colored Troops” made up 10% of the Union Army.  When U.S. Colored Troops” were admitted to the Union ranks during the Civil War, they often got the dirty work such as collecting the dead bodies and were paid less than white soldiers.

THE SPANISH AMERICAN WAR

  • President William McKinley couldn’t  locate the Philippines after annexing them during the Spanish American War.
  • Water torture didn’t begain in Iraq. Americans used the “water cure,” a form of torture, in the Spanish American War. At Senate Hearings in 1902, William Taft testified about use of the “water cure” on people in the Philippines by Americans, a national scandal that reached all the way to Theodore Roosevelt’s White House.

    Theodore Roosevelt (Photo Source: NobelPrize.org)

    Theodore Roosevelt (Photo Source: NobelPrize.org)

  • Anti-­Catholic venom is an overlooked reason why WASP America wanted to liberate Cuba from Spain during the Spanish American War.
  • Black soldiers were mistakenly thought to be immune from tropical diseases. That was one reason they were sent to fight in Cuba during the Spanish American war.
  • The “Buffalo Soldiers,” who were black men, fought bravely in Cuba during the Spanish American War. But Teddy Roosevelt who led the Rough Riders got the headlines and glory‹and later revised the story of what really happened to reap self-aggrandizing benefits.
  • President William McKinley professed to have been divinely inspired to annex the Philippines and “Christianize” this largely Catholic country during the Spanish American War.
  • The great American writer Mark Twain opposed American imperialism and wrote about replacing the American flag with one featuring black stripes and skull and crossbones.
  • Racist policies surrounded Teddy Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet.” Black sailors who had served and fought on American ships since the Revolution, were kept from service except in the boiler rooms.

WORLD WAR II

  • Widespread sexual violence was inflicted on women during the Battle of Berlin. Among the causes: the practice of issuing vodka to the Red Army. The number of women raped by the Soviet troops in Berlin is estimated between 95,000 and 133,000, with as many as 10,000 deaths as a result—many from suicide; altogether two million German women are thought to have been raped by the Soviet Red Army troops.
  • The Red Army crushed the Nazis at the close of World War II but Cold War animosities kept their crucial role out of America’s “Good War” narrative.
  • General Dwight Eisenhower didn’t know the Germans had been developing atomic weapons or about the Manhattan Project when he agreed to let Stalin take Berlin.

 

vietnam

Vietnam Fire Support Base (Model) at the US Army War College- Army Heritage and Education Center

THE VIETNAM WAR

  • As President, Eisenhower weighed and then dismissed using atomic weapons in Vietnam. Seeing what devastation the atomic bombs had wreaked on Japan influenced Eisenhower to not use these weapons again, especially against an Asian country.
  • When television news reports brought the “Living Room War” of Vietnam into American homes and showed how the U.S. Government was lying, reporters became as significant as the troops.  The media let the public in on what was really going on– America was not winning the war.
  • Vietnam wasn’t only about Communism and “falling dominoes.” It was about Catholic versus Buddhist, government corruption and longstanding class differences inside Vietnam.
  • The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave President Johnson authority to widen America’s role in the Vietnam conflict, was drafted weeks before the questionable attack on American ships– which triggered the resolution.
  • The My Lai Massacre received wide media attention but purported atrocities and the killing of as many as 3,000 Vietnamese in the city of Hue got little notice.

THE WAR IN IRAQ

  • The battle for Fallujah exposed how little Americans knew about who was fighting the war in Iraq. “Handsome Johnny” had been replaced as a fighter as the war was being outsourced to private, for-profit contractors in Iraq in an unprecedented way. The American troops were once referred to as a “junior partner” in the war effort.

 

© 2015 Kenneth C. Davis All rights reserved

The Hidden History of America At War (Hachette Books Random House Audio)

The Hidden History of America At War (Hachette Books Random House Audio)

“Juneteenth Is for Everyone” (New York Times Opinion)

This article recounting the history of “Juneteenth” was published in the New York Times online edition n Friday June 19, 2015.

SOME two months after Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger steamed into the port of Galveston, Tex. With 1,800 Union soldiers, including a contingent of United States Colored Troops, Granger was there to establish martial law over the westernmost state in the defeated Confederacy.

On June 19, two days after his arrival and 150 years ago today, Granger stood on the balcony of a building in downtown Galveston and read General Order No. 3 to the assembled crowd below. “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” he pronounced.

That was the beginning of a celebration of emancipation that would come to be called “Juneteenth.” Read the complete article, “Juneteenth is for Everyone” here.

Don't Know Much About the Civil War (Harper paperback, Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About the Civil War (Harper paperback, Random House Audio)

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

The Hidden History of America At War-May 5, 2015 (Hachette Books/Random House Audio)

The Hidden History of America At War-May 5, 2015 (Hachette Books/Random House Audio)

Who Said It? (6/21/2015)

 President Harry S. Truman, “Statement on the Situation in Korea” (June 27, 1950)

President Harry S. Truman (Photo: Truman Library)

President Harry S. Truman
(Photo: Truman Library)

 

IN KOREA the Government forces, which were armed to prevent border raids and to preserve internal security, were attacked by invading forces from North Korea. The Security Council of the United Nations called upon the invading troops to cease hostilities and to withdraw to the 38th parallel. This they have not done, but on the contrary have pressed the attack. The Security Council called upon all members of the United Nations to render every assistance to the United Nations in the execution of this resolution. In these circumstances I have ordered United States air and sea forces to give the Korean Government troops cover and support.

The attack upon Korea makes it plain beyond all doubt that communism has passed beyond the use of subversion to conquer independent nations and will now use armed invasion and war. It has defied the orders of the Security Council of the United Nations issued to preserve international peace and security.

Source and Complete Text:Harry S. Truman: “Statement by the President on the Situation in Korea,” June 27, 1950. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF AMERICA AT WAR-Speaking Calendar

 

 

List of Upcoming Speaking Engagements:

 

September 5  The Atlanta Journal Constitution Decatur Book Festival Time/Date TBA

 

Statue of President James Monroe in the Garden at Ash Lawn-Highland

Statue of President James Monroe in the Garden at Ash Lawn-Highland

IMG_0614

Ash Lawn-Highland Home of President James Monroe

 

September 13 Ash Lawn-Highland (Home of President James Monroe) 1-3 PM

THIS IS A FAMILY FRIENDLY EVENT CELEBRATING NATIONAL LITERACY MONTH. Ash Lawn-Highland is located a short distance from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

 

THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF AMERICA AT WAR: Untold Tales from Yorktown to Fallujah (May 5-Hachette Books?Random House Audio)

THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF AMERICA AT WAR: Untold Tales from Yorktown to Fallujah (May 5-Hachette Books/Random House Audio)