Roundup: Historian's Take
This is where we place excerpts by historians writing about the news. On occasion this page also includes political scientists, economists, and law professors who write about history. We may from time to time even include English profs.
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (9-2-08)
There is an obvious relevance to Chicago's future in the three-ring circus (make that five-ring) that just concluded in China. Beijing's Olympic venues, opening ceremony and the like will provide points of comparison not just for London in 2012 but also for the Games that Chicago hopes to host four years later.
But there's also a part of Chicago's past worth revisiting while the Beijing Games are fresh in our minds: the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.
There are, of course, critical differences between the Chicago exposition and the Beijing Games.
But dive into Erik Larson's book "The Devil in the White City" or dip into the Chicago Historical Society's "Grand Illusions: Chicago's World's Fair of 1893," and many interesting parallels emerge.
Start with the flash: The brightly lit "White City" of 1893, like the opening ceremony of 08/08/08, set a new standard for over-the-top displays using state-of-the-art technologies.
Many 1890s reports about Chicago read eerily like recent articles on Beijing. Europeans once viewed America with the same mix of fascination and skepticism that Americans now hold for China. In Europe's eyes, the United States was an upstart land where shoddy goods were made and copyrights ignored. But there was an undeniable energy.
The lingering question as the World's Fair neared was whether the United States could pull off a first-class international event with a hallowed lineage. After all, it was the Universal Exposition of 1889 in Paris for which Eiffel built his famous tower....
Posted on: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 - 21:08
SOURCE: http://johnmckay.blogspot.com (9-1-08)
Q: Are you offended by the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?
A: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.
Let's take this one from the top. None of the founding fathers ever said the pledge. It was written long after they were all dead. The first version was written by the Christian Socialist Francis Bellamy (the brother of utopian novelist Edward Bellamy) in 1892. The words were tinkered with a few times during his lifetime, but never included "Under God." Those were added in 1954 by an act of Congress at the request of the Catholic fraternal organization, the Knights of Columbus. The KC wanted the change to get more God into our public life to highlight the difference between the US and the godless Soviet Union.
This is not a bit of historical trivia. The story of the evolution of the pledge has been told in the press countless times over the last half dozen years while various court cases have kept the pledge, and issues of religion in public schools, in the public eye. Anyone who is well informed on current events or politics--like the governor of a state--should have a passing familiarity with this story.
Posted on: Monday, September 1, 2008 - 19:36