Jimmy Carter

I do enjoy some local tourism from time to time. Yesterday we had a fun day in Atlanta, where we saw the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum (logo from Wikipedia).

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I had last visited the Museum in 2004 in my first semester at Reinhardt. Since then it has been renovated and looks nice, although I’m afraid it didn’t really compare to the ones we saw this summer. The biggest difference? The lack of friendly volunteers who could answer questions about Jimmy and his legacy. This made the whole place seem like it was suffering from a certain… malaise. You did, however, get to understand why he was elected in the first place: after Viet Nam and Watergate, such an earnest, honest outsider had a great deal of appeal to your average voter. The big room dealing with his achievements (like SALT II, the Panama Canal, the Camp David Accords, etc.) was interesting, especially as also contained references to contemporary events that form some of my earliest memories (e.g. the original Star Wars, the explosion of Mount St. Helens, “Who Shot J.R.?”, and the Miracle on Ice.)

Presidents get a lot of gifts in the course of doing their jobs. Here’s one from Mexico, a portrait of Carter in a “metaphoric style” by artist Octavio Ocampo.

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The pamphlet below was on display in the museum, but I actually took this picture last year at the Lake Acworth Antique and Flea Market. I thought that material from the 1976 election and a 8-track tape (featuring Bob Seger, natch) formed a nice combination.

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This photo, featuring Amy Carter and a ’76 election exercise, brought a smile to my face.

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Unfortunately, there wasn’t much on Billy and his beer.

The post-presidency section (including the Carter Center, numerous books, and the Nobel Prize) was nicely done.

Historical Newspapers

From Michael Gagnon at Georgia Gwinnett College:

I’ve recently edited and updated my collection of links for historical newspapers… In addition to reorganizing the main page for improved ease of use, I’ve added a significant collection of links to external websites…. I also added another page of links to google books scanned versions of The Missionary Herald (Boston) 1806-1861. 

Check it out at: https://earlyushistory.net/newspapers/

Goliad

Via the most recent Reinhardt Recap, notice of an article by Funk Heritage Center Director Joseph Kitchens, in SaportaReport:

“Remember Goliad:” Georgians in a desperate land
By Joseph H. Kitchens

We ascended the monument aboard an elevator that was still new when Franklin Roosevelt was elected president for the third time, in 1940. The door opened upon a panorama that included the battleship Texas, looking no bigger than a canoe from our vantage point 567 feet above it. During our descent, and much to Karen’s surprise, I suggested we visit Goliad, a small town more than 150 miles to the southwest in the flat prairies of the cattle kingdom along the lower San Antonio River. I explained to her that it was where the “Georgia Battalion” had fought in the Texas Revolution. I overcame her slight reluctance by promising a stopover on Galveston Island to feel the gulf breezes and walk in the surf.

Last summer, Jamil Zainaldin wrote a column, “Our shared story — are those things that make us New Englanders or southerners more connected than we may think?,” that triggered a “memory debate” between my wife, Karen, and me. It centered on the question of when our visit to the remote town of Goliad in south Texas occurred. It was 2012, we decided. Karen’s brother was ill, and we drove that interminable stretch of I-10 across the Louisiana bayous to Houston to see him in high summer. Towering over the busy port and its oil refineries is the San Jacinto Monument, a tribute to the revolutionaries who created the Republic of Texas in 1836 and to their enigmatic commander, Sam Houston. The Mexican army was defeated when Houston’s own raw and restless men acted without orders and attacked. Their cry was “Remember the Alamo; remember Goliad.”

We spent the next night in Victoria, a bustling little city with a shopping center and the usual fast food restaurants. We left for Goliad Sunday morning and found it a sleepy town of 2,000, looking unchanged for the past 75 years. Church parking lots were filled with cars, and businesses were closed for the Sabbath. Leaving Galveston behind the next morning, we were met by a wall of fierce heat and drought — the driest summer in anyone’s memory. The grazing was meager, and white-faced steers were being shipped out to market, far short of their usual weight. Newspaper reports told of horses and cattle being put down because feed and water were both expensive and scarce. We were in search of history in a desperate land.

Signs directed us out to Presidio La Bahia, a fort built by the Spanish in the 18th century, a lonely sentinel guarding the Spanish frontier from the Rio Grande to the Mississippi. Here, volunteers, including about 30 Georgians, gathered under the command of Georgian James Walker Fannin Jr., a West Point dropout turned slave trader (and the namesake of Fannin County). Hopelessly posted to stop an enormous Mexican army, they waited on reinforcements from the Alamo that never came. When the Alamo fell, General Sam Houston ordered Fannin to move his forces north to Victoria.

A few escaped to tell the story,  but more than 200 men were killed. A great cry of angry revulsion swept across the plains and bayous back to the United States and beyond. Santa Anna’s reputation as a pompous, petty tyrant was transformed into that of a cruel monster, and support for Texas and its revolutionaries swelled. Independence was won when Santa Anna was defeated and captured at San Jacinto. Fannin hesitated for days, then began a withdrawal across open ground toward Coleto Creek and its covering trees. His little army was overtaken by an overwhelming Mexican army, and after a brief but determined resistance, Fannin surrendered. The able and wounded were taken back to the Presidio La Bahia under promise of fair treatment, expecting to be paroled at New Orleans. Instead, they were marched out the next morning and shot by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s troops. Fannin was accorded an officer’s death, shot as he was seated in a chair in the courtyard.

We ended our visit to Goliad and La Bahia by walking the steps up to the great monument erected near the site of Fannin’s defeat at Coleto Creek. It bears the names of those who died nearby. Far away from the famous Alamo, the much less visited La Bahia stands, restored by a generous benefactor. It includes the beautiful original Spanish chapel where Fannin’s men spent their last night in this world. It is still used by the local Catholic congregation. In a great show of pride, Texans celebrated their centennial in 1936, erecting monuments and markers and organizing reenactments. Georgia had given weapons to the “cause of ’36” and never sought repayment, the story goes. The Texas governor offered to ask the Texas legislature to appropriate money for that purpose, but was told instead to honor the dead, including the Georgia volunteers. A monument was erected at Goliad bearing the names of the Georgians and their fellow volunteers.

Panel at the Funk

I was pleased to attend an interdisciplinary panel last night in the Funk Heritage Center entitled “The Etowah River: History, Ecology, Literature.” Organized by Donna Little, professor of English at Reinhardt, it also served as a kick-off event for Reinhardt’s new low-residency Master of Fine Arts program, currently organized around the theme of “Story and Place in the New South.”

The Etowah River begins near Dahlonega, Georgia, flows southwards and then eastwards, passes through Canton (the seat of Cherokee County and seven miles south of Reinhardt), and then joins the Oostanaula at Rome. The resulting river is named the Coosa; this becomes the Alabama River near Montgomery, and empties into the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile.

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Donna Little speaks at the Funk Heritage Center, 4/20/16.

Dr. Little opened the night’s proceedings by showing a map of the area. Nowadays we are used to thinking in terms of I-75 and I-575, the north-south freeways leading to Atlanta, but the Etowah and the Oostanaula run east-west, and that’s the direction that Indians would have been familiar with: thus the Mississippian Etowah Mounds in Cartersville, and New Echota, the capital of the Cherokee Nation, which was not in the middle of nowhere in north Georgia, but on the Oostanaula, which was a major thoroughfare.

Speaking of the Cherokee (who, it must be said, were only resident in north Georgia from the 1780s or thereabouts), Dr. Little publicly unveiled a discovery of hers: that during the expulsion of the Cherokee Indians during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, a group of Cherokee actually encamped on what was to become Reinhardt’s campus. Lloyd Marlin’s History of Cherokee County (1932) quotes the now-lost journal of Nathaniel Reinhardt (the father brother of Augustus Reinhardt, who was the co-founder of RU on his family’s land). It reads:

In 1835, Father [i.e. Nathaniel’s father Lewis Reinhardt] bought a tract of land on the old Pinelog Road [i.e. today’s GA-140] some two miles from his mill-place, improved it and in the latter part of 1835 he moved on it.

1838… In the spring many U.S. soldiers were passing through the country for the purpose of collecting and removing the Cherokee Indians to the West. They frequently lodged at night at Father’s Saw old Foekiller, a neighbor Indian, just after he had been arrested by the soldiers, who were carrying him to Fort Buffington. They treated him rather cruelly, which excited my sympathies very much in his favor. The old Indian desired to see father, who solicited better treatment in his behalf. He left all his keys with Father. After the Indians had been collected by the soldiers and started on their final march off, they came near our house the first night and camped, I caught the measles from a soldier who lodged with us that night, and had them severely. One of the neighbors came and stayed the night at Father’s from fear of injury by the Indians.

[Emphasis added. Fort Buffington was thirteen miles from Waleska and the distance is certainly walkable in a day.]

The need for a Trail of Tears monument on Reinhardt’s campus (not just an exhibit at the Funk) is very great.

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Ken Wheeler.

Reinhardt History Professor Kenneth Wheeler followed with a talk on the human relationships along the Etowah River, particularly the gold rush of the 1820s and the antebellum iron industry, both of which were ecologically disastrous. He also mentioned how Reinhardt co-founder John Sharp had promoted a steamboat service between Canton and Rome, and how William Nickerson attempted to dredge the Etowah for gold – although the attempt proved uneconomical, and Nickerson later opened a sawmill. Presumably all these characters will appear in Dr. Wheeler’s upcoming book.

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Keith Ray and Diane Minick.

Keith Ray, adjunct professor of biology at Reinhardt (a Reinhardt graduate and Ph.D. candidate at Auburn), mentioned how the Etowah valley is one of about five or six places in the world which, for the past 100 million years or so, has neither been under water, nor under glaciers. This remarkable stability has produced a vast abundance of plant and animal species. (I had no idea this area was so ecologically diverse.) Environmentalists Joe Cook of the Coosa River Basin Initiative and Diane Minick of the Upper Etowah River Alliance spoke of the importance of maintaining this diversity.

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Laurence Stacey.

Laurence Stacey, adjunct professor of English at Reinhardt, ended the evening by reading some haiku.

Adairsville

Some more local tourism: the town of Adairsville, Georgia, through which Andrews’ Raiders passed in 1862 in the commandeered General.

The historic downtown looks nice.

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adairsville2The old station is now a museum, temporarily closed.

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The mural on the side depicts the Locomotive Chase, with the Texas in pursuit, running backwards.

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The Chase is immortalized in the city seal. It only depicts the Texas though.

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The city sponsors a Great Locomotive Chase Arts and Crafts festival in September and October.

UPDATE: I have discovered that the City of Kennesaw also has a train-seal, featuring the General!

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“Confederate History and Heritage Month”

A great article from David Parker on Like the Dew: A Journal of Southern Culture and Politics:

Governor Phil Bryant caused something of a stir in February when he signed a proclamation declaring April to be “Confederate Heritage Month” in Mississippi.

Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal made no such proclamation, but he didn’t need to. The Georgia General Assembly already took care of this back in 2009, when it legislated that “the month of April of each year is hereby designated as Confederate History and Heritage Month and shall be set aside to honor, observe, and celebrate the Confederate States of America, its history, those who served in its armed forces and government, and all those millions of its citizens of various races and ethnic groups and religions who contributed in sundry and myriad ways to the cause which they held so dear.”

“The cause which they held so dear” had as its cornerstone the institution of slavery. This is according to Alexander Stephens, a Georgian and vice-president of the Confederate States of America, who said exactly that in a speech in Savannah in March 1861.

But forget for a while that the resolution calls on Georgians to honor and celebrate a nation built on slavery. As a historian, I have another problem with it: “All those millions of its citizens of various races and ethnic groups and religions who contributed in sundry and myriad ways to the cause which they held so dear.”

Georgia’s resolution assumes a unity of support for the Confederacy and the war effort that simply did not exist. African slaves had little enthusiasm for the Confederate cause, of course, but here’s something we seem to have forgotten, or perhaps never knew: A lot of white Georgians did not support the war.

On January 2, 1860, when Georgia’s (white male) voters went to the polls to elect delegates for a statewide convention to decide on the secession question, the secessionists won—by a vote of 42,744 to 41,717. Hardly overwhelming support! Once the convention voted for secession, and especially after the shooting started, white support shifted a bit, but there was always a tremendous amount of white disaffection.

We have forgotten that a lot of white folks thought of the war as “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.” White disaffection was not confined to the lower class, but it was strong there.

There’s more at the link. White opposition to the Confederacy deserves to be remembered. The same impulse that created West Virginia was found in pockets throughout Appalachia, and beyond.

 

Phi Alpha Theta Georgia Regional Conference

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Spelman College in Atlanta yesterday hosted the Georgia Regional Phi Alpha Theta conference (the same one hosted by Reinhardt last year). Thanks to Charissa Threat for organizing such a good one. 

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In addition to several excellent student papers (there were thirty-five all told, from students at nine different schools), attendees also enjoyed a tour of Spelman’s Museum of Fine Art by Mora Beachamp-Byrd, visiting scholar of art and art history at Spelman.

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Mora Beauchamp-Byrd and Charissa Threat outside Spelman’s Museum of Fine Art.

The current exhibit, Black Chronicles II, explores the black presence in late nineteenth century Victorian Britain through studio portraiture, including some thirty portraits of The African Choir, which toured Britain between 1891 and 1893, and a selection of popular cartes-de-visite. (One of these made me smile: a Zulu warrior from “Farini’s Friendly Zulus.” “The Great Farini,” né William Leonard Hunt, hails from my hometown of Port Hope, Ontario. He first gained fame as a tightrope walker and later became an African explorer and entertainment promoter. Shane Peacock’s book about him has more detail.)

The keynote address, entitled “Women and Violence in the Grassroots Anti-Abortion Movement in the United States,” was delivered by Karissa Haugeberg of Tulane University. Based on her forthcoming book, it was a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of 1980s-era pro-life activism and the women who participated in it. (We’ve been conditioned to think of abortion opponents as men trying to keep women down, but according to Haugeberg women have always made up a majority of the movement, often for feminist reasons – widespread abortion, they believe, frees men from their responsibilities to the women they impregnate. This fundamental divide over the significance of the sexual revolution – is it empowering, or degrading? – is still not resolved, as one can see in the debate over hook-up culture on campus today.)

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Karissa Haugeberg.

Reinhardt was represented by recent graduate Alex Bryant, whose paper “The New American Revolution: A Brief History of the Internet” sparked quite a bit of discussion afterwards.

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Alexander Bryant.

This is the seventh PAT annual conference I’ve been to. It is always fun, and this one was one of the best.

Local Tourism

Hosting guests this weekend took me to the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, Georgia. It has been a while since I last visited and I’m pleased to say it remains great. The showpiece is the General, the locomotive hijacked by Union troops under the command of James Andrews on April 12, 1862, thereby inaugurating the Great Locomotive Chase: the rightful conductor, William Fuller, first pursued on foot, then by handcar, and then using successively the engines Yonah, William R. Smith, and Texas (which will be put on display at the Atlanta History Center later this year).

IMG_2246The chase itself began quite close to the where the Museum now is, although Lacy Motel is no longer there.

Something else we saw: Cooper’s Furnace, one of the best preserved of the Etowah Iron Furnaces which Ken Wheeler has become an expert on.

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The GAH

Congratulations to Prof. Ken Wheeler on his paper delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Georgia Association of Historians this past weekend at Georgia Highlands College in Rome, entitled: “Racial Expulsion and a Myth of Whiteness: Why Reinhardt Normal College Abandoned the New South and Became a Mountain School.” This is based on an article forthcoming in the Appalachian Journal, which I have had the privilege to read, and which begins:

Founded in 1883 at the edge of southern Appalachia in northern Georgia, Reinhardt Normal College initially reflected a New South ideology of its German-American founders, who saw the school as part of a larger vision that included mining, business development, and transportation improvements. By 1900, however, a second generation articulated a different story of the college, in which they presented Reinhardt as a missionary outpost among an isolated and ignorant, though promising, population that required moral uplift. For the founding generation, the hilly, even mountainous, topography surrounding their school signified the waterpower that could be harnessed to power mills and factories, but for the second generation the landscape signified a geographically and culturally remote locale in which the school operated. What stayed constant was a racial outlook in which the first generation advocated ridding the area of people of African descent, and the second generation either echoed that aspiration or presented the school as though racial purification had already happened and Reinhardt existed in an all-white setting.

(Cf. VPAA Mark Roberts’s talk last fall, wherein he argued that the Appalachian “hillbilly” was the valued repository of an unsullied original “Anglo-Saxon” culture.)

Given this history, one can see why the admission of James T. Jordan was such a significant event, and worth remembering.

Congratulations are also due to Prof. Wheeler on being awarded a sabbatical leave next spring to work on his book, Creation and Destruction in the Cherokee Country: Georgia’s Etowah Valley 1829-1865.

The GMG

Pleased to note that another great meeting of the Georgia Medievalists’ Group occurred today at Clayton State University in Morrow, Ga. Thanks to Andrew Kurt for volunteering this venue, to everyone who came out, and especially to our presenters:

Christina Heckman, Augusta University: “Music as Metaphor in the Anglo-Saxon Phoenix”

Adam Oberlin, Atlanta International School: “Phraseological Lacunae in Middle High German and Old Norse-Icelandic”

Tom MacMaster, Morehouse College: “Wars and Rumors of Whores: Oral sources in the Chronicle of Fredegar”

John Terry, Westminster Schools: “Thinking with Swamps in Early Medieval Europe”

Barbara Goodman, Clayton State: “The Pilgrim as Other: the End of the Journey”