King Arthur Flour

Shopping at Publix just now I noticed that King Arthur Flour, perhaps the most medievalist company in the United States,* has gotten a little less medieval. Here is what their logo looked like until July:

prweb.com

And here’s what it looks like now:

An article in Adweek (which features some great animation) indicates that the makeover is, in part:

“The image of a white knight astride a horse felt very masculine, European and old fashioned. Though intended to symbolize King Arthur, the figure actually felt more like a medieval crusader… The cross on the flag further emphasized this religious crusader symbol and would alienate many consumers.” In contrast, the new brand removes hints of militarism or religious affiliation, while retaining the connection to the company’s heritage and the name King Arthur.

Be that as it may, it’s a shame that they couldn’t have found something a little more Arthurian – a sword in the stone, a Round Table, or the Holy Grail all come to mind…

* As it happens Canada also has a medievalist brand of flour:

Wikipedia.

UPDATE

An update to the post below on local electioneering. In the final week of this year’s presidential race I have started to notice a few more Biden/Harris signs here and there, along with signs for Democrats Dana Barrett (running for the House), Raphael Warnock (Senate), and Jon Ossoff (Senate). But a lot of these are at crossroads and not on anyone’s private property, i.e. probably placed there by outside agitators. 

Although I got a good chuckle out of this display, on a lawn on Waleska’s Land Road (thanks to my colleague Mason Conklin for telling me about it). It does show that the Trump campaign is not the only one indulging in scatological imagery! Along these lines, in my subdivision I saw a sign reading “Dump Trump 2020,” and in Cartersville there is another one reading “Alexa, Change the President” – indicating that few people are really voting “for” Biden, but that the election is largely a referendum on Trump. Either you love him or you hate him!

Seems that the next door neighbors to the “flush the turd” people certainly love him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone defacing his lawn like this in favor of a political candidate. 

I’m Henry the Eighth I Am

Although King Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547) is the ultimate reason why the Church of England is no longer in communion with the Church of Rome, and can thus be considered the founder of the Anglican faith, he is not celebrated as such. The only defense that Anglicans can possibly offer is that he’s an example, like Judas, of God working good things through human malevolence. From the Guardian (hat tip: Paul Halsall):

Chilling find shows how Henry VIII planned every detail of Boleyn beheading

Archives discovery shows the calculated nature of the execution and reinforces the image of the king as a ‘pathological monster’

It is a Tudor warrant book, one of many in the National Archives, filled with bureaucratic minutiae relating to 16th-century crimes. But this one has an extraordinary passage, overlooked until now, which bears instructions from Henry VIII explaining precisely how he wanted his second wife, Anne Boleyn, to be executed.

In this document, the king stipulated that, although his queen had been “adjudged to death… by burning of fire… or decapitation”, he had been “moved by pity” to spare her the more painful death of being “burned by fire”. But he continued: “We, however, command that… the head of the same Anne shall be… cut off.”

Tracy Borman, a leading Tudor historian, described the warrant book as an astonishing discovery, reinforcing the image of Henry VIII as a “pathological monster”. She told the Observer: “As a previously unknown document about one of the most famous events in history, it really is golddust, one of the most exciting finds in recent years. What it shows is Henry’s premeditated, calculating manner. He knows exactly how and where he wants it to happen.” The instructions laid out by Henry are for Sir William Kingston, constable of the Tower, detailing how the king would rid himself of the “late queen of England, lately our wife, lately attainted and convicted of high treason”.

Boleyn was incarcerated in the Tower of London on 2 May 1536 for adultery. At her trial, she was depicted as unable to control her “carnal lusts”. She refuted the charges but was found guilty of treason and condemned to be burned or beheaded at “the King’s pleasure”.

Most historians agree the charges were bogus – her only crime had been her failure to give Henry a son. The most famous king in English history married six times in his relentless quest for a male heir. He divorced his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to marry Boleyn – the marriage led him to break with the Catholic church and brought about the English Reformation. Boleyn did bear him a daughter, who became Elizabeth I.

More at the link

This is Trump Country

This post is not historical as such, but it does constitute a record of a particular time and place, that being Georgia’s Bartow and Cherokee counties on the eve of the 2020 presidential election. If campaign signs are anything to go by, it looks like the president will take these counties in landslide. All of the photographs below were snapped on my commute between my residence and Reinhardt, with a short loop once I got to Waleska. I am not lying when I say that, as of Tuesday, October 20, 2020, there are no signs for Biden/Harris, or any other Democratic candidate for office, anywhere on this route. By contrast, it seems that about every fifth house has a Trump sign, often more than one, and with many Trump flags as well. I have never before seen this level of support for a political candidate in any election. 

This is the basic sign: “Trump Pence Keep America Great! 2020” in a white sans serif font on a blue background. The small type reads “Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.,” so I assume this one is official. “Keep America Great” is the obvious (and somewhat lame) followup slogan to 2016’s “Make America Great Again!”, often shortened to “MAGA!”* 

Here is a version of the sign rendered as a flag. Back in 2016 Scott Adams was praising Trump’s genius for marketing, and I think Trump’s use of flags is part of this (the red “MAGA” hat was also part of this, although there don’t seem to be any “KAG” hats this time around). Some people in my subdivision have flown Trump flags ever since he was elected the first time – people might display signs during election campaigns, but flags can be flown all year round! (Again, I don’t remember Bush ever getting this treatment.) And now that a campaign is upon us again, many more flags have appeared. 

You can get a large sign if you wish (note that this one recycles the old slogan)…

…and there are a variety of other sign designs to choose from, although I’m not sure whether all of these are official. (But if they aren’t official, it suggests that enthusiasm for Trump runs quite deep – see below.) 

Here’s a reused MAGA sign, with a handwritten “20” replacing “16”! 

Here’s a sign, mounted to a tall tripod, with a light to illuminate it at nighttime. Who does this!?

A couple of affinity signs. The women’s sign seems official. The gun owners’ sign is from an outfit called Trump Store America – i.e. not official, and thus the product of either cynics or True Believers.

The great thing about flags is that they can function as signs too, if you attach them to a fence. Note that the last one also has a solar light for nighttime illumination.

Different types of flags are also available. The last one also appears to be from Trump Store America. Note that it’s accompanied by the former flag of Georgia, two-thirds of which consists of the now verboten battle flag of the CSA – I assume exposing the motives of your average Trump supporter. 

Although here is one with the current Georgia flag…

…and here is one accompanied by the flag of everyone’s favorite local college football team. Go Dawgs! (Note another tripod-sign-and-night-light combination in front.) 

These five flags illustrate something rather strange. All of them feature the expression “No More Bullshit” as the tagline. Are these official? I certainly hope not. To my mind they’re about as classy as Truck Nuts, and I wonder whether the campaign actually approves of it (although it would not surprise me at all if it does, surreptitiously, as a way of appealing to Trump’s proletarian base). Furthermore, what is this “bullshit” to which the flags refer? A lot of people would ascribe that word to everything that comes out of Trump’s mouth! 

I suppose it’s a reference to accusations of Russian collusion, impeachment, media bias, and all other alleged efforts of the “Deep State” to undo the results of the 2016 election. 

I see on Trump’s official website that he is claiming “Promises Made, Promises Kept!” This is a much better slogan for a reelection campaign. Why it doesn’t appear on any signs I have no idea. 

Another novelty: the Trump garden banner. More discreet than a flag, and classier than a sign!

Most telling of all, I think, are all the houses with multiple signs and flags on display (although my camera cannot do justice to some of them). You can’t buy that sort of enthusiasm.

Some of the photos above are from the same residences, but I am not trying to exaggerate Trump’s support. There are many more flags and signs to be seen on my route from home to work that were not included in this post. 

And if all that wasn’t enough, on Saturday I encountered a couple of Trump souvenir vendors selling their wares at a disused gas station in Cartersville. Available for purchase were flags, signs, hats, t-shirts, pins, patches, can holders, COVID masks, and much else besides, all bearing graphics in favor of Trump or of other things that Trump supporters tend to be in favor of, such as the USA, the military, the police, gun rights, and Christianity (there was nothing Confederate, however).

One of the vendors’ vehicles was a coach owned by Star Coaches, Inc. of Atlanta, with a bus wrap by Andormous Graphics. Note that the operation is not connected to the official Trump campaign. On the bottom right we read this disclaimer:

So who is sponsoring it? At the rear of the vehicle we read:

This appears to be an Internet radio station. From the website:

COWBOY LOGIC was created in 2008 as Don Neuen’s diatribes on social media. Throughout the next few years, Neuen’s rants and raves became popular, especially on Facebook, with debates continuing for days, sometimes weeks on particular subjects such as Obama and his failed policies, the GOP Establishment, RINOs, Socialists, Maxists [sic], and Corrupt Politicians.

Damn those Maxists!

To the right of the back wheel we see another affinity:

From its website:

The #WalkAway Campaign is a true grassroots movement, founded by former liberal, Brandon Straka on May 26th, 2018. The #WalkAway Campaign encourages and supports those on the Left to walk away from the divisive tenets endorsed and mandated by the Democratic Party of today. We are walking away from the lies, the false narratives, the fake news, the race-baiting, the victim narrative, the violence, the vandalism, the vitriol. We are walking away from a party driven by hate. We are walking toward patriotism and a new, unified America! We are the future of this great nation!

Note though that Wikipedia claims:

News sources have debated the extent to which WalkAway is an example of astroturfing rather than a genuine grassroots movement. David A. Love of CNN condemned the campaign as “pure propaganda [and] a psychological operation.” The website Hamilton 68, which tracks Russia’s interference on U.S. elections, reported that WalkAway was “connected to Kremlin-linked Russian bots to manipulate voters into thinking the movement was more popular and active that it actually was.”

Be that as it may, it is clear that there is a market for all the Trump stuff. Lots of people had stopped and were browsing the wares, and lots of passing drivers honked their horns in support. So even if the people behind it were just trying to make a quick buck, the fact that they can do so indicates that in some parts of this country, people loooove the president. 

So the question is: where does all this come from? What is Trump’s appeal? This is especially baffling given that so many other people hate his guts, with a viciousness I have never previously witnessed. (I thought that Bush was polarizing, but he’s got nothing on Trump.) Perhaps a better question is: why is the countryside so seemingly full of Trump supporters? You would think that there would be some Bidenites mixed in. (Or are they simply quiet about it, intimidated into keeping their opinions to themselves?) The answer that a lot of my colleagues would give is that rural America is full of ignorant, racist rednecks, bitterly clinging to their guns and religion in the face of inevitable social and cultural change. The countryside tends to be white and “backward,” whereas cities are ethnically diverse, economically dynamic, and more receptive to the latest ideas. That would be the “city mouse” interpretation of what I see on my way to work. 

Of course, there is a “country mouse” interpretation too. According to this way of knowing, the countryside represents the religious and patriotic American “heartland,” and Trump appeals to that. Cities, by contrast, are cesspits of corruption, decadence, and social unrest (as graphically illustrated this past summer) – thus might other candidates do better there. Furthermore, one could also say that flyover America has some genuine grievances, given that its jobs have been exported to China, its wages depressed by undocumented labor, and its communities ripped apart by meth and opioids. In 2016 Trump successfully cast himself as the champion of these people, who are so often condescended to (when not completely ignored) by the elites of both parties and urban dwellers on the coasts.** Whether or not Trump actually believes what he says, or is actually willing to do much about it, is an open question, but the relentless attacks on his presidency by Democrats and Never-Trumpers (and academia, the media, the judiciary, the federal bureaucracy, etc.) over the past four years have apparently allowed him to maintain the outsider cred that brought him to power in the first place (“No More Bullshit”). 

I guess it needs to be said that nothing in this post should be construed as an endorsement of Trump. It is simply an attempt at examining a situation I find myself in. In the interest of fairness I will include one Biden sign I happened to see. It’s on GA-20, but not on my way to work. The owner has taken the liberty of adding two small American flags, and given the fading it has clearly been out for a while, indicating a certain enthusiasm on his part. But it’s a very rare sight around here. Whoever put it up, I admire his courage.

* I was curious to discover that Trump actually swiped this slogan from Ronald Reagan (with the laconic elimination of “Let’s”). This poster was on display at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas when we visited in 2016:

Of course, the slogan probably meant more in 1980, when “great” referenced a time before the Iran hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, stagflation, and Jimmy Carter daring to use the word “malaise.” What was it supposed to mean in 2016? Was Barack Obama that bad? One suspects that, to the narcissist Trump, “great again” simply means “benefit me.” Thus we must keep America “great” by keeping Trump in power. 

** This is not the typical Republican script of riling up the base with cultural issues like abortion and gay marriage, which they have no intention of delivering on (see Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? [2004] for more on this strategy) – Trump tried to address their economic concerns as well. That he pissed off the right people with his abrasive boorishness was gravy. 

The Cassville Affair

Bartow County’s former seat, Cassville, was the site of some activity during the Atlanta Campaign of the Civil War in May of 1864. The general outline is this: on May 18, 1864, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston retreated from Adairsville, and tricked Union General William T. Sherman into dividing his troops in pursuit. Johnston made it look like the Confederates had retreated to Kingston, when in fact most of them had retreated to Cassville. Sherman thus sent the bulk of his troops to Kingston, while sending a smaller force toward Cassville. The Confederates were hoping to ambush the weakened force at Cassville and annihilate it before Sherman realized what was going on, but they were accidentally discovered on the morning of May 19. Their cover blown, they retreated south of the Etowah River in order to make another defensive stand.

That is the general outline. But every account that one reads about this incident is slightly different, like the accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry in the different Gospels. Here is the account given at Cassville’s WPA “Pocket Park”:

So in this version, we’ve got Union Brig. Gen. John Schofield leading the XXIII Corps from Adairsville to face Polk head-on and Hood from the east, with Edward McCook’s division of Union Cavalry blowing Hood’s cover. The Pocket Park also includes a map:

I think this map is more schematic than geographically accurate. There is a local Spring Place Road and it may have once linked up with what is now the Cassville-White Road (White being founded after the Civil War). But it does not make sense that Hood’s troops would be hiding behind this road while Polk was just across Two Run Creek. (No roads around here are that straight anyway.)

Here is what the town looks like today, according to Google Maps:

Google Maps.

The Pocket Park is at 4. Points 1, 2, 3, and 5 on the map mark the locations of the following Georgia Historical Commission markers. They provide more detail, but leave some things unexplained. 

Where is McDow’s? Where is the Hawkins Price House? 

I guess the idea is that Daniel Butterfield’s Third Division of the XX Corps was coming from Adairsville to Cassville, and was to then turn towards Kingston to attack the Confederates in the rear? So according to this sign, it was Butterfield who discovered the Confederates in wait. Why wouldn’t the Confederates then simply attack Butterfield?

This sign acknowledges McCook’s attack.

This one indicates that Polk retreated in the face of an attack by Butterfield.

And this one shows the regretful aftermath for the Confederates. 

Albert Castel, Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 (University Press of Kansas, 1992), 199.

Here is a map from a long and thorough book on the Atlanta Campaign. It shows no Spring Place Rd. What is now the Cassville-White Road is designated the Canton Road, which makes sense. Instead of a Spring Place Road heading north, we have a “Road to Martseller’s Mill (Sallacoa),” which also makes sense. According to the map, Hood’s men were supposed to be on this road, waiting for troops to come from Adairsville on the Adairsville Road. Was Butterfield’s division of the XX Corps also marching along this road, accompanying Schofield’s XXIII Corps, in order to make the fateful discovery? The map also has McCook, along with George Stoneman, approaching along the Canton Road. 

And Is “Cox (XIII Corps)” an error? Jacob Cox commanded the third division of the XXIII Corps. 

A marker at Adairsville indicates that Moesteller’s Mills, a “notable plantation and manufacturing center of the 1860s,” may be found five miles to the east of Adairsville on GA-140. I’ve looked for it but apart from “Moestellers Mill Road” there is no indication that it ever existed (Sallacoa, as the name of a settlement, is also completely mysterious). The marker does indicate that both the XXIII Corps and Butterfield’s division both passed through Moesteller’s Mills. 

Jim Miles, Fields of Glory: A History and Tour Guide of the Atlanta Campaign (Rutledge Hill Press, 1995), 52.

This map, from a driving guide to Atlanta Campaign battlefields, is a lot less useful. If nothing else, there is no railroad between Cassville and Adairsville. The tributary to the Etowah River that is labeled “Etowah River” is in fact the Euharlee River.

Russell W. Blount, Jr., The Battles of New Hope Church (Pelican Publishing Co., 2010), 16.

This one is better. It shows Schofield heading south from where Moesteller’s Mills would have been. But there’s no road connecting Adairsville and Cassville, or any indication of who might have traveled on this route.  

I assume that many other people have written about the Atlanta Campaign. If I read those accounts, would a consensus emerge – or at least would I be able to piece together What Actually Happened in detail? I assume that all the primary sources don’t agree – otherwise there would be a lot less ambiguity in the secondary ones. This whole thing surely stands as an illustration of the “fog of war.” In that context, events happen quickly and often under conditions of great stress, with multiple participants who don’t have the time to write anything down until later, and who often want to make themselves heroes when they do – producing a major headache for anyone trying to discover the truth, if we can even speak of such a thing. 

Long Live our Soviet Motherland!

From History Today (hat tip: Ron Good):

Could the Soviet Union Have Survived?

We ask four historians whether the demise of one of the 20th century’s superpowers was as inevitable as it now seems.

Rodric Braithwaite, British Ambassador to the Soviet Union (1988-91) and author of Armageddon and Paranoia: the Nuclear Confrontation (Profile, 2017).

People still argue about the fall of the Roman Empire. They are not going to agree quickly on why the Soviet Union collapsed when it did. Some think it could have lasted for many years, others that the collapse was unforeseeable. Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet dissident scientist, foresaw it decades before it happened.

Victory in war took the Soviet armies to the centre of Europe, where they stayed. The Soviet Union’s seductive ideology had already given it influence across the world. But after Stalin’s death in 1953 the ideology started looking threadbare, even at home. In Eastern Europe, inside the Soviet Union itself, the subject peoples were increasingly restless for freedom. Soviet scientists were the equal of any in the world, but their country was too poor to afford both guns and butter and their skills were directed towards matching the American military machine, rather than improving the people’s welfare. It worked for a while. But in 1983 the Soviet Chief of Staff admitted that ‘We will never be able to catch up with [the Americans] in modern arms until we have an economic revolution. And the question is whether we can have an economic revolution without a political revolution’. 

The Soviet leaders were not stupid. They knew something had to be done. In 1985, after three decrepit leaders died in succession, they picked Mikhail Gorbachev to run the country: young, experienced, competent and – they wrongly thought – orthodox. But Gorbachev believed that change was inescapable. He curbed the KGB, freed the press and introduced a kind of democracy. He was defeated by a conservative establishment, an intractable economy and an unsustainable imperial burden. It was the fatal moment, identified by the 19th-century French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville, when a decaying regime tries to reform – and disintegrates.

Russians call Gorbachev a traitor for failing to prevent the collapse by force. Foreigners dismiss him as an inadequate bungler. No one has suggested a convincing alternative scenario. 

The other participants reference Gorbachev’s attempts to curb drinking on the job (“Did he understand who he was getting into a fight with?”), anti-Soviet demonstrations in the Kazakh SSR in 1986 (did you know about these? I didn’t!), and Glasnost, i.e. Gorbachev’s policy of press freedom, which undermined the “key to the survival of any dictatorship, [which] is strict control of the media, which shapes public opinion and promotes tacit acceptance of a regime.” I seem to remember Christopher Hitchens once offered a similar answer. 

Read ’em all

Pine Log Creek

Enjoyed a hike today at Pine Log Creek Trail, on GA-140 east of Rydal. There are two loops for a total distance of 4.5 miles. The highlight is the CCC quarry that you arrive at at the top of the second loop, which is now filled with water. 

The trail is maintained by Bartow County. I appreciate their bridges, and it’s nice to see inspirational graffiti on them!

I thought some of the tree labels could have been slightly better done, however.

Not too far away is a historical marker from the elusive Pine Log Historical Society, which contains interesting information about the Pine Log Indian Town.

It’s nice how large the sign is, and how the authors make use of both sides. I thought the bibliography could havre been better formatted, though. 

The graphic at the top is an emblem of the Seven Clans

Murdoch Mysteries

Historical characters I have learned about from watching Murdoch Mysteries:

Florence Nightingale Graham (1881-1966), who went by the business name Elizabeth Arden, was a Canadian-American businesswoman who founded what is now Elizabeth Arden, Inc. and built a cosmetics empire in the United States. By 1929, she owned 150 salons in Europe and the United States. Her 1,000 products were being sold in 22 countries. She was the sole owner, and at the peak of her career she was one of the wealthiest women in the world.

Dan Seavey, also known as “Roaring” Dan Seavey (1865-1949), was a sailor, fisherman, farmer, saloon keeper, prospector, U.S. marshal, thief, poacher, smuggler, hijacker, human trafficker, and timber pirate in Wisconsin and Michigan and on the Great Lakes in the late-19th to early-20th century.

John Joseph Kelso (1864-1935) was a newspaper reporter and social crusader who immigrated to Canada from Ireland with his family in 1874 when he was ten years old. They suffered hardships of hunger and cold in their early years in Toronto and, throughout his life, this motivated Kelso’s compassion towards the poor and unfortunate. While a reporter for the World and the Globe, Kelso founded the Toronto Humane Society in 1887 for the prevention of cruelty to children and animals, the Fresh Air Fund and the Santa Claus Fund in 1888 to provide excursions and cheer for poor women and children, and the Children’s Aid Society (Canada) in 1891.

John Ross Robertson (1841-1918) was a Canadian newspaper publisher, politician, and philanthropist. He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons for the electoral district of Toronto East in the 1896 federal election defeating the incumbent. The world of sports was also a focus for Robertson’s public-spiritedness. A fervent advocate of amateur sport, he served as president of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1899 to 1905, which was a critical time period in the history of the sport. His battle to protect hockey from the influence of professionalism caused him to be called the “father of Amateur Hockey in Ontario.”

Cassie L. Chadwick (1857-1907) was the most well-known pseudonym used by Canadian con artist Elizabeth Bigley, who defrauded several American banks out of millions of dollars during the late 1800s and early 1900s by claiming to be an illegitimate daughter and heiress of the Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Newspaper accounts of the time described her as one of the greatest con artists in American history. She pulled off the heist in the Gilded Age of American history, during which time women were not allowed to vote or get loans from the banks, leading some historians to refer to her bank heist as one of the greatest in American history.

Margaret Haile was a Canadian socialist in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a teacher and journalist by profession. She was active in the socialist movements in both Canada and the United States. Frederic Heath’s “Socialism in America,” published in January 1900 in the Social Democracy Red Book, lists her, along with Corinne Stubbs Brown and Eugene V. Debs, among “One Hundred Well-known Social Democrats”.

Clara Brett Martin (1874-1923), born to Abram and Elizabeth Martin, a well-to-do Anglican-Irish family, opened the way for women to become lawyers in Canada by being the first in the British Empire in 1897. In 1888, Martin was accepted to Trinity College in Toronto. And in 1890, Martin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics at the age of sixteen, which was almost unheard of because of the masculinity associated with that field. In 1891, Martin submitted a petition to the Law Society of Upper Canada to permit her to become a student member, a prerequisite to articling as a clerk, attending lectures and sitting the exams required to receive a certificate of fitness to practice as a solicitor. Her petition was rejected by the Law Society after contentious debate, with the Special Committee reviewing the petition interpreting the statute which incorporated the Law Society as permitting only men to be admitted to the practice of law. W.D. Balfour sponsored a bill that provided that the word “person” in the Law Society’s statute should be interpreted to include females as well as males. Martin’s cause was also supported by prominent women of the day including Emily Stowe and Lady Aberdeen. With the support of the Premier, Oliver Mowat, legislation was passed on April 13, 1892, and permitted the admission of women as solicitors.

(Quotations from Wikipedia and Murdoch Mysteries Fandom)