This page includes, in addition to news about historians, news about political scientists, economists, law professors, and others who write about history. For a comprehensive list of historians' obituaries, go here.
SOURCE: Jonathan Zimmerman in the Chicago Tribune (3-2-07)
"Dr. Schlesinger, you're not wearing your bow tie!" I exclaimed.
Schlesinger laughed. The tie was a central part of this great historian's public persona: On television or in the newspaper, he never appeared without it. Look at any obituary for Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who died of a heart attack Wednesday, and you'll probably see his bow tie.
To many people, I suspect, the tie marked Schlesinger as the classic bumbling professor: kind and avuncular, to be sure, but also isolated and irrelevant. But it symbolized exactly the opposite. Whereas most academic historians today write only for each other, Schlesinger pitched his work at lay readers. That's why the public recognized him, bow tie and all.
Schlesinger's death, at age 89, also marks the passing of a certain kind of publicly oriented historian. Once upon a time, the leading members of our guild wrote books for general readers. But all of that has changed in the past three decades, with disastrous consequences for our profession--and, I think, for the public as well.
Schlesinger imbibed his public spirit from his father, a distinguished historian in his own right who produced books for the general citizenry. So did mid-century scholars like Henry Steele Commager and Richard Hofstadter, author of best-selling paperbacks about America's political culture and leadership.
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. joined this tradition in his late 20s with his first Pulitzer Prize winner,"The Age of Jackson," which won accolades from specialists and lay readers alike. Schlesinger's next Pulitzer came 20 years later for"A Thousand Days," his insider's look at the brief presidency of John F. Kennedy. In 1966, it became the fifth best-selling book in the United States.
By the 1970s, however, most professional historians had stopped writing for a general audience. As the academic job market dried up, younger scholars were afraid to take big chances with broad themes. Better to produce a narrow case study, which might appeal to a like-minded historian on a hiring committee.
Most of this work fell into the category of"social history," focusing especially on laborers, women, immigrants and racial minorities. Often brilliant and insightful, this scholarship typically lacked a narrative structure--that is, a story--that lay readers could recognize or enjoy. For the most part, then, they ignored it. So American readers turned to a new generation of so-called amateur- and journalist-historians like David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin, who continued to produce vast, sprawling narratives about great men (or, less often, great women). So did Ken Burns and other documentary filmmakers, crowding public and cable television with a prodigious array of historical offerings.
Most professional historians turn up their noses at this type of popular history, if they notice it at all. Indeed, they sneer at the handful of fellow academics--like Arthur Schlesinger Jr.--who have managed to find a general audience for their work. These poor souls are dismissed as mere"popularizers," which tells you all you need to know.
If you can engage the lay reader, you can't be much of a thinker. To be fair, much of popular history is shallow, superficial and blandly patriotic. Schlesinger's book on Kennedy, especially, came under fire for its glowing portrait of the so-called Camelot Era. But he also produced sharp critiques of White House power, especially in his final book,"War and the American Presidency." Calling the war in Iraq a"ghastly mess," Schlesinger condemned President Bush for curbing domestic civil liberties.
And that broadside, in turn, led Bush loyalists to slough off Schlesinger as a Democratic lackey. But as Schlesinger learned from his own father, the price of public engagement was a certain amount of public criticism.
That's what drew me to Schlesinger's door in the first place. Researching popular controversies over history, I discovered that Arthur Schlesinger Sr. had come under attack in the 1920s for allegedly demeaning the founding fathers. One mob in Chicago burned his books; and a teacher suggested that he"should be filling a cell in a federal prison."
I couldn't find much else about the controversy, so I contacted Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Graciously, he offered to let me look at his family's personal papers. And when I mentioned my interest in the Chicago episode, he smiled.
"Ah, book burning," he mused."As American as apple pie."
Lest I get the wrong idea, however, Schlesinger went on to insist that all historians should write for the general public. He said some readers won't like what we say, but at least they'll sit up and take notice."Give it your best shot," he said,"and let the chips fall where they may." Sadly, as Schlesinger's death reminds us, that's not a chance that too many other historians are willing to take.
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (3-2-07)
SOURCE: Lee White in the newsletter of the National Coalition for History (3-2-07)
In the 1980s, Senator Byrd wrote and delivered a lengthy series of speeches on the history of the United States Senate that was later published in four volumes as “The Senate, 1789––1989: Addresses on the History of the Senate.”
SOURCE: Lee White in the newsletter of the National Coalition for History (3-2-07)
On March 1, 2007, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and the National Archives held a hearing to consider presidential records, specifically the impact Executive Order (E.O.) 13233 has had on the disposition of those materials. The E.O. was issued in November 2001 by President George W. Bush, and gives not only current and former presidents, but also vice presidents and a former president's family, the authority to withhold presidential records or delay their release indefinitely.
Concurrently with the hearing, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), along with Information Policy, Census, and the National Archives Subcommittee Chair William Lacy Clay (D-MO) as cosponsor, introduced legislation (H.R. 1255) that would nullify the Bush E.O.; establish a 40-day records review period for presidents and former presidents to raise objections to the Archivist on the release of records; limit the reach of claims of executive privilege to the sitting and former president personally and not their heirs or designees; and eliminate claims of executive privilege by former vice presidents.
At the hearing, Chairman Waxman said that the Bush E.O. had eviscerated the Presidential Records Act turning it into “the Presidential Secrecy Act.” Waxman went on to say, “History is not partisan,” and that “Historians and scholars need access to our nation’s history as it happened, not as a former president wished it had happened.” The bill is expected to move quickly and markup by both the subcommittee and the full committee may occur as early as next week.
Four NCH member organizations testified at the hearing: Steven L. Hensen, Past President of the Society of American Archivists; Dr. Anna K. Nelson representing the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations; Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive; and Dr. Robert Dallek representing the American Historical Association. Also testifying was Scott Nelson of the Public Citizen Litigation Group, who is the counsel handling AHA’s lawsuit in federal district court (American Historical Association, et. al., v. The National Archives and Records Administration) to overturn E.O. 13233.
Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein and Dr. Harold Relyea of the Congressional Research Service were on the first panel of witnesses. Dr. Relyea provided the subcommittee with a historical perspective on the handling of presidential records. Archivist Weinstein stated that, “The most important measure in evaluating, E.O. 13233 is whether presidential records are being made available to the public. In that regard, I can report to you that, since E.O. 13233 went into effect in November 2001, NARA has opened over 2.1 million pages of presidential records. During this time there has been only one occasion when presidential records were kept closed from the public by an assertion of Executive Privilege under the order. . .Thus, there should be no question that, to date, E.O.13233 has not been used by former Presidents or the incumbent President to prevent the opening of records to the public.”
The public witnesses on the second panel, however, were united in their opposition to E.O.13233.
Dr. Nelson said that, “Supporters of the E.O. argue that it is merely a procedural addition to the Presidential Records Act, but it negates important parts of that Act. While the purpose of the Act was to provide greater and rapid access, the E.O. encourages delay since the incumbent and past president are not bound by the time restrictions as they peruse documents. Finally, broadening the definition of the president’s constitutional privileges and allowing their closure will remove most of the records of the confidential advice a president receives. In other words, it will have the potential to remove the core policy-making documents from the president’s collection.”
Mr. Hensen representing the Society of American Archivists said, “On behalf of the nation’s archivists, I ask your consideration in overturning this six-year old Executive Order that has seriously compromised the basic principles of government accountability, which are underpinned by the people’s right of access to the records of their government. In the case of the records of the office of the President of the United States, it is a right that took a long time for the nation to claim fully, but just a quick stroke of the pen to destroy.”
Dr. Dallek said, “President Bush’s order carries the potential for incomplete and distorted understanding of past presidential decisions, especially about controversial actions with significant consequences. Consider what difference the release of the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon tapes has made in our understanding of the decision-making on Vietnam.” He went on to say, “Access to the fullest possible record in the service of reconstructing the most substantial and honest history of presidencies is not some academic exercise confined to history departments. Rather, it can make a significant difference in shaping the national well-being.” Dallek said that every president, regardless of party, wants the public to think they walk on water, but in his research he has always found both a public and a private face to a president. His fear is that a president’s heirs will attempt to sanitize material that reflects badly on the former president. He concluded that the public is well-served by seeing the whole person.
In his testimony, Mr. Blanton said that the release of presidential records was in crisis. Using the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library as an example, Blanton showed that since the E.O. had been issued in 2001, the average response time to Freedom of Information Act and Mandatory Declassification Review requests had gone from 18 months to 6.5 years. Blanton stated, "We are only six years down the road from the initial White House decision in early 2001 to intervene in the Presidential Records Act process, and five years of that turns out to be pure delay.”
Copies of all of the testimony should be available shortly the website below. A copy of the legislation is already accessible at that site. http://oversight.house.gov
SOURCE: Daniel Johnson at the blog Contentions (Commentary Mag.) (3-2-07)
Yet the accusation is even less warranted in his case than it was in Reagan’s. Last Wednesday the British historian Andrew Roberts was a lunch guest at the White House. The President had already read Roberts’s History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900—a chunky volume of over 700 pages—over Christmas, months before it was published in the United States. (It had appeared in Britain last fall.) His first instinct was to arrange to meet the author, a long-standing habit of his.
According to Roberts, he and his wife Susan “spent 45 minutes alone with the President in the Oval Office” before they were joined at lunch by Vice President Cheney and other senior officials. Then Mr. Bush proudly showed his guests the desk at which Churchill and Roosevelt were sitting when the latter broke the news of the British defeat at Tobruk—the opening scene of Roberts’s next book. In other words, the President had not only read the current book but had taken the trouble to inform himself about Roberts’s next one, too.
So how does this distinguished historian think President Bush compares to his predecessors? “He’s an amazingly well-read man, contrary to the way he’s portrayed in the media,” Roberts told the Daily Telegraph.
This chimes with the experience of my father, Paul Johnson, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Mr. Bush last December. In his eulogy, the President listed a few of my father’s many books and added, with typically self-deprecating irony, “I’ve read them all, of course.” The audience laughed, but it emerged in conversation that he actually had read some of them. Like Reagan, whose reading—including Modern Times, my father’s history of the world since 1917—encouraged him to persevere in his mission to win the cold war, George W. Bush has been strengthened by books in his determination not to give up in the war on terror.
Is it only the natural modesty of this President that leads him to wear his erudition so lightly that a cynical intelligentsia assumes that he has never opened a book? Or is it native cunning? Far better to be “misunderestimated” by your enemies than to flaunt your academic prowess and then—like the former president of France, Valery Giscard d’Estaing—find your admission to the Académie Française publicly ridiculed. The only possible motive for President Bush to read big books by historians like Andrew Roberts and Paul Johnson is that he thinks history has important lessons to teach him. Whether he draws the correct conclusions from what he reads is another matter—but he can be sure that future historians of the early 21st century will at least judge him without the insufferable condescension of his contemporaries.
SOURCE: Elizabeth Redden at the website of Inside Higher Ed (3-2-07)
The Presidential Records Act Amendment of 2007 would largely restore the 1978 Presidential Records Act to its form under President Reagan, limit executive privilege to current and former presidents, and set firm deadlines for the review of documents before their public release. A similar bill never made it out of Congress back in 2004.
“History is not partisan,” said Waxman, a sponsor of the bill and chair of the House’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a subcommittee of which held the hearing on presidential records Thursday. “Historians and scholars need access to our nation’s history as it happened, not as a former president wished that it happened.”...
“Any presidential library created under this executive order will be a mockery,” said Steven L. Hensen, a past president of the Society of American Archivists and director of technical services for Duke University’s rare books library. “There are records, but they could be embargoed by Laura Bush or Jeb or whoever.”
In defense of the order, Allen Weinstein, archivist of the United States, testified that “there should be no question that, to date, Executive Order 13233 has not been used by former presidents or the incumbent president to prevent the opening of records to the public.”
More than 2.1 million pages of presidential records have been opened since November 2001, when the order went into effect, Weinstein said, and on “only one occasion” did the order restrict the release of documents. A total of 64 pages, 30 of which were duplicates, were kept closed at the Reagan Library, Weinstein said.
Thomas S. Blanton, for one, was not impressed.
Blanton, director of the non-governmental National Security Archive at George Washington University, said that from 1994 to 2001, the Reagan Library alone opened more than 5 million pages — more than twice the total number of pages opened by the entire presidential system since that time. And while the number of pages actively restricted may be low, Blanton says the lack of a time limit on a presidential review of documents before their release has contributed to a delay in response time that grew from 24 months in November 2001 to 78 months in February of this year....
“We need to think of presidential papers as raw material, like iron,” said Anna K. Nelson, a distinguished historian in residence at American University who represented the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Thursday. The research, done by a few, trickles down through books, articles and, ultimately, textbooks, to the many, she said — “from iron to steel.”
SOURCE: http://www.mysanantonio.com (2-18-07)
There's also a chance you won't find much about the contributions of Texans, the Spanish or Bernardo de Gálvez to the success of the colonial American troops.
Fresh from Laredo's celebration of George Washington's birthday, two groups of historians gathered Sunday to talk about advances they are making in raising the awareness of the Hispanic contribution to all aspects of this country's history.
"Latinos have no presence in history books — they don't know that we exist," said Mimi Lozano, author and editor of Somos Primos, an online newsletter dedicated to Hispanic heritage. "So 20 years ago, I started looking into promoting our history in a positive way."
Lozano, a Canary Island descendant who lives in California, is a board member of the Texas Connection to the American Revolution Association, a local group dedicated to honoring the heritage of people who contributed to the formation of America, particularly that of Gálvez, Galveston's namesake.
"Historians are starting to realize that without the Spanish we wouldn't have become the country we are," Lozano said.
Gálvez was the Spanish governor of the Louisiana province during the American Revolution. Before Spain's official declaration of war on the British in 1779, Gálvez helped the American troops by securing the port of New Orleans so French, American and Spanish boats could have exclusive use of the Mississippi River.
When it was time for Gálvez to amass troops to fight the British along the Gulf Coast, he enlisted free and enslaved African Americans, Creoles, American Indians and his own Spanish troops. Realizing he would need to feed the men, he sent a messenger to Texas Gov. Domingo Cabello y Robles requesting longhorn cattle.
This is Texas' biggest link to the Revolution, said Joel Escamilla, governor of Granaderos y Damas de Gálvez, an organization founded in 1975 with a mission parallel to that of TCARA....
SOURCE: WaPo (2-22-07)
As a black man, Dr. Snowden was a rarity in classics, but ancient history consumed him since his youth as a prize-winning student at the Boston Latin School and later at Harvard University. His body of work led to a National Humanities Medal in 2003, a top government honor for scholars, writers, actors and artists.
Much of his scholarship centered on one point: that blacks in the ancient world seemed to have been spared the virulent racism common to later Western civilization. "The onus of intense color prejudice cannot be placed upon the shoulders of the ancients," he wrote.
Dr. Snowden's most notable books are "Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience" (1970), which took him 15 years to research, and "Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks" (1983). Both were published by Harvard University Press.
Using evidence he found in literature and art, he showed that blacks were able not only to coexist with Greeks and Romans but also were often revered as charioteers, fighters and actors.
Because Romans and Greeks first encountered blacks as soldiers and mercenaries and not slaves or "savages," they did not classify them as inferior and seek ways to rationalize their enslavement, he said....
SOURCE: Providence Journal (2-27-07)
Instead, Silverstein said he would soon appoint a special master to oversee the removal of lead paint from houses in Rhode Island — a job the state has estimated could cost $1.37 billion to $3.74 billion.
The paint companies will appeal Silverstein’s ruling to the state Supreme Court. “We believe there have been a number of basic legal errors throughout these proceedings. These errors were not corrected in today’s ruling,” said spokeswoman Bonnie J. Campbell, adding that she hopes the Supreme Court will review the issues with a fresh set of eyes.
But the ruling, released at noon, was a joyous development for child advocates and lawyers who have supported the lawsuit....
The companies argued repeatedly that the lawyers for the state and for Motley Rice failed to show that their products were sold in Rhode Island. But Silverstein wrote that he had already rejected those arguments during the trial. The state only had to show that each defendant, “engaged in activities which were a substantial factor” in creating the public nuisance, he wrote.
Silverstein also noted that historian David Rosner testified during the trial that all three defendants sold and promoted their lead paints in Rhode Island. What’s more, Rosner’s conclusions were supported by national advertisements and promotional campaigns that were entered as evidence, the judge wrote.
“The defendants had an adequate opportunity through cross-examination to discredit Dr. Rosner’s testimony on substantiality and the sale of goods in Rhode Island, but they failed to convince the jury,” Silverstein wrote...
HNN'S EXCERPT FROM THE JUDGE'S DECISION ...
Evidence that the Defendants Substantially Participated
in the Promotion and Sale of Lead Pigment in Rhode Island
On the second day of Dr. Rosner’s testimony, the State elicited the following testimony as to each Defendant:
“Q. And in your review of the hundreds of thousands of documents that you talked about, were there documents from each of these company's corporate files as well?
A. Yes, there were.
Q. And within the corporate documents of each of the defendants, did you find business records that details activities of any of the defendants within the state of Rhode Island?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. Do you have an opinion after that review, Professor Rosner, to a reasonable degree of professional certainty as to whether any of the defendants sold, distributed, advertised, and/or promoted lead products within the state of Rhode Island?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. And what is that opinion as to NL Industries – National Lead?
A. They sold and promoted in the state of Rhode Island.
. . . .
Q. And as to Millennium Holding's predecessor, Glidden?
MR. NILAN: Objection. Lack of foundation.
Q. As to the Glidden Company?
MR. NILAN: Same objection.
MR. NILAN: Lack of foundation.
THE COURT: Overruled.
A. Yes. They promoted and sold in the state of Rhode Island.
Q. And as to Sherwin-Williams?
A. They also sold and promoted in the state of Rhode Island.
Q. And was this at a time when each of them had actual knowledge about childhood lead poisoning?
A. Yes, it is.” (Off. Dr. Tr. 76:21–78:5, Jan. 13, 2006 AM Session.)
Dr. Rosner’s opinion, if properly admitted, clearly provides a basis for which the jury could find that the three Defendants sold and promoted lead products within Rhode Island.
Certain Defendants contend that the reference to “lead products”—as opposed to lead pigment—which was made by State’s counsel and adopted by the witness, is too vague to support the conclusion that the various Defendants sold and promoted lead pigment in Rhode Island. (Off. Dr. Tr. 76: 8, 13, 24, 78:2, Jan. 13, 2006 Morning Session.) (reprinted above.) The State responds that, taken in its proper context, the testimony means lead pigment.
The reference to both “lead products” and “lead pigment” in Dr. Rosner’s testimony is an ambiguity. However, in his later testimony, counsel for Millennium elicited the following testimony:
“Q Now, let me talk about what you've said in regard to Rhode Island. You said in your direct testimony, again with the reasonable degree of professional -- a reasonable degree of professional certainty that each of the defendants, and you said specifically Glidden, based on your review of the hundreds of thousands of documents, sold and promotedlead pigment in the state of Rhode Island. That was your testimony; was it not?
A Yes.” (Off. Dr. Tr. 45:12–20, Jan. 19, 2006 AM Session.) (Emphasis added.)
Perhaps counsel’s reference to “lead products” as opposed to “lead pigment” was inadvertent, or perhaps there was significance to the distinction. However, as finder of fact, the jury was entitled to conclude, based upon the later testimony on cross-examination, that the meaning of Dr. Rosner’s testimony as a whole was that the Defendants sold and promoted lead pigment in Rhode Island. Therefore, even if the context of Dr. Rosner’s statement on direct did not clear up the ambiguity, his cross-examination was adequate to do so.
Of course, it is possible and perhaps probable that many entities also sold and promoted lead pigment in Rhode Island in addition to the Defendants. Therefore, in order to impose liability on these Defendants, their sale and promotion activity must be “substantial.” Restatement (Second) of Torts § 834, com. d (stating that when a person “is only one of several persons participating in carrying on an activity, his participation must be substantial before he can be held liable”).
The Defendants contend that Dr. Rosner’s opinion, quoted above, provides no basis for the jury to find that each Defendant’s sale and promotion in Rhode Island was “substantial.” However, the State introduced other evidence through Dr. Rosner, which not only attempted to provide an evidentiary foundation for the testimony, but which, if believed, would have provided a basis for the jury to find that the Defendant’s activities were substantial. As noted above, where there is reasonable doubt, substantiality is a question for the trier of fact, which in this case was the jury. Id.
Dr. Rosner testified that each Defendant advertised their lead pigment in the various national media during the 1920’s and 1930’s, and presented examples of such advertisements from each company. (Off. Dr. Tr. 20:16–25:17, Jan. 13, 2006.) (describing Plaintiff’s Exhibits 178–181.) Seealso Pl’s Ex. 198 (containing a 1950 NL advertisement).
He then testified about various joint promotion campaigns among lead pigment producers. For example, NL and SW “participated and funded” the “Forest Products Better Paint Campaign” in 1934 to 1941 which was designed to promote lead pigment. (Off. Dr. Tr. 43:16–44:11, 45:6–46:2, Jan. 13, 2006.) Dr. Rosner testified that the goals of the campaign were to increase the sale of lead paint in lumberyards, encourage consumers to use more lead paint in new construction, and to encourage manufacturers of non-leaded paint to begin using lead in their products. Id. 46:24–47:13. To accomplish that goal, representatives traveled
“to different states’ conventions and fairs with trailers that they would use as kind of evidence of the values of lead --leaded products. They have, of course, an advertising campaign. They also tried to get lumber associations to put labels on their products that it recommended white lead products.” Id. at 48:1–8.
Moreover, this advertising campaign included parts of New England and was considered successful. Id. at 51:8–14.
NL similarly participated in the “White Lead Promotion Campaign” from 1939 to 1942. Id. at 55:5–11. This campaign was targeted to consumers through national magazine advertisements, and also involved salesmen traveling with model homes on trailers. Id. at 60:14–62:21. Dr. Rosner specifically testified as to NL that this campaign took place in Rhode Island, and had quite a broad reach nationally and in New England. Id. at 65:23–25, 69:17–70:6, 71:7–72:22.
In 1950, a second White Lead Promotion Campaign was undertaken in which SW and Glidden (Millennium’s predecessor) joined NL as participants, although they believed that campaign to be unsuccessful. Id. at 96:7–18, 100:14–18. As to Millennium, the State elicited further testimony with respect to their sale and promotion activity in Rhode Island in 1952.
“Q. Professor Rosner, did Glidden promote lead products in Rhode Island?
A. Yes, it did.
Q. And did Glidden sell lead products in Rhode Island?
A. Yes, it did.
Q. Did Glidden have branch stores here in Rhode Island?
A. Yes, it did.
Q. And did Glidden have independent dealers selling Glidden paint here in Rhode Island?
A. Yes, it did.
Q. And in your investigation, did you discover agreements between various distributors and Glidden that covered the sale of lead pigments?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. And did these agreements include distributors that covered the State of Rhode Island?
. . . .
Q. Professor Rosner, can you identify that document for the record, please?
A. Yes, this is a memo from the Glidden Company in Cleveland to sales agency -- it's a sales agency agreement, and it's dated 15th day of March, 1952.
MR. McCONNELL: Your Honor, at this time plaintiff moves Exhibit 206 against Millennium Holdings Industries only.
. . . .
MR. McCONNELL: Your Honor, I -- 206 is a full exhibit against Millennium Holdings only?
THE COURT: Yes.
. . . .
Q. It's a sales agency agreement by the Glidden Company?
. . . .
Q. Did Glidden Company have a sales agreement to sell lead pigment to the Oliver Johnson and Company here in Providence, Rhode Island?
A. Yes, it did.
. . . .
Q. And did they have a sales agreement to sell lead pigment to Voit Paint Products, Inc. in Central Falls, Rhode Island?
Q. And that Oliver Johnson and Company, is that the company that Mr. Pohl asked you about on cross-examination?
A. That's right.
Q. And did this agreement cover the sale of Euston White Lead?
Q. And Euston was owned by Glidden?
Q. Did Glidden's advertising campaign include Rhode Island?
Q. Glidden advertised lead products here in Rhode Island?
. . . .
Q. Did Glidden Company have a sales agreement to sell lead pigment to the Oliver Johnson and Company here in Providence, Rhode Island?
A. Yes, it did.
Q. And did they have a sales agreement to sell lead pigment to Voit Paint Products, Inc. in Central Falls, Rhode Island?
A. Yes.” (U. Tr. 14:23–17:23.) Seealso Pl’s Ex. 206.
The following evidence further supports the jury’s finding that each Defendant’s participation in the sale and promotion of lead pigment in Rhode Island was substantial:
“Q. Professor Rosner, in connection with your historic review of documents we -- have you been able to determine the market share of these four defendants during the 1930's and 1940's for dry white lead?
A. Yes, I have.
Q. What is that information?
A. The market share was approximately 50 to 75 percent of the market for dry white lead.
Q. And in connection with your investigation, were you able to determine what the market share for these four defendants was during the 1930's and 1940's with regard to lead-in-oil?
A. Yes, I can.
Q. And what is that information?
A. It's between 70 and 80 percent.” (Off. Dr. Tr. 24:22–25:11, Jan. 12, 2006.)
While perhaps, on the basis of this “market share” evidence alone, the most that a jury could infer was that the four Defendants collectively held 50 to 75 percent of the national market for dry white lead, and 70 to 80 percent of the market for lead-in oil. This of course does not reveal any particular Defendant’s individual market share, and the Defendants strenuously object on this basis. However, the testimony continued:
“Q. Now, in the 1930's and 1940's, Professor Rosner, how many manufacturers of paint were there in this country?
A. I have seen reference to at least a thousand; between a thousand and two thousand, I would assume.
Q. Now, compared to paint manufacturers, how many manufacturers of lead pigment for use in paint were there in this country during the 30's and 40's?
A. Very, very few. Just a handful.
Q. And were each of the defendants that are in this case a manufacturer of lead pigment?
Q. And did the manufacturers of the lead pigment supply the lead for the thousands of manufacturers of paint that you just talked about?
A. Yes, they did.
Q. And did each of these defendants own a lead mine?
Q. And were each of these defendants -- strike that, I have already asked you that. Was Sherwin-Williams, National Lead, and Glidden manufacturers of lead paint as well?
A. Yes, they were.
Q. And was ARCO's predecessor also a manufacturer of lead paint?
A. Um, no. ARCO produced a white lead in oil which was sometimes used as -- as paint.
Q. But all four of them are lead pigment manufacturers?
A. Yes, that's correct.
Q. And all four own mines?
A. Yes, that's correct.” (Off. Dr. Tr. 25:12–26:16, Jan. 12, 2006.)
This testimony indicates that while there were many manufacturers of paint in the 1930’s and 1940’s, there were “only a handful” of lead pigment manufacturers. Id. at 25:12–19. Further, each of the defendants separately owned a lead mine, and each was one of a handful of lead pigment manufacturers which supplied lead pigment to the many manufacturers of paint, and collectively held over 50 percent of the market for dry white lead and lead-in-oil.
The jury could properly have concluded from this testimony that the Defendants’ substantially participated in the sale and promotion of lead pigment nationally. Then, in combination with Dr. Rosner’s testimony on each Defendant’s individual promotion efforts in Rhode Island, and his opinion that each Defendant sold and promoted lead pigment in Rhode Island, the jury could have inferred (though it was not required to so infer) that each Defendant’s participation in Rhode Island was similarly substantial. It is also undisputed that lead pigment became illegal on or near 1978, so that any lead-containing paint that still exists on buildings in Rhode Island today has been there for almost thirty years. Therefore, although each Defendant stopped manufacturing some time ago, the jury could still have concluded that the Defendants’ lead pigment is still on Rhode Island buildings in substantial amounts. On the basis of the foregoing, the Court concludes that the evidence was sufficient to make a prima facie case that the Defendants substantially participated in activities which proximately caused the public nuisance. Therefore, it is sufficient under Rule 50.
As noted above, the Court is required to assess credibility under Rule 59. Therefore, the Court will look to Dr. Rosner’s cross-examination, where the Defendants attempted to test the basis of Dr. Rosner’s opinion. For example, NL elicited testimony that the promotional campaigns were actually performed as part of the Lead Industries Association’s (LIA) activities. (Off. Dr. Tr. 58:11–24, Jan. 18, 2006.) Although the Court ruled that acts of the LIA are not attributable to the Defendants, this is still relevant circumstantial evidence to show the extent that the lead-pigment products of LIA members were marketed nationally and in Rhode Island. See Off. Dr. Tr. 2:14–6:7, Dec. 12, 2006 (ruling that agency has not been shown). Such evidence permitted the jury to infer that the LIA was marketing the products of its members—the Defendants—who admittedly were in the business of manufacturing and selling lead-pigment. See U. Tr. 43–46, Nov. 16, 2005 PM Session (containing stipulations to the manufacturing activities of each Defendant, and their predecessors, during various time periods). So while the LIA’s activities are not attributable to any Defendant, the evidence is still competent to demonstrate that the Defendants products reached Rhode Island.
SW also attempted to undercut the basis for Dr. Rosner’s “sold and promoted” opinion. When asked about the basis for his opinion as to SW, the following exchange took place:
“Q. In fact, you do not have any evidence or information that any lead ingredient that was made, sold or promoted by Sherwin Williams is present today in a building in Rhode Island in an area accessible to children, you don't have any evidence or information of that point, do you?
A. Well, you -- again, I don't want to sound redundant, but you advertised it here, had stores here, you sold it here, and I would assume that people bought it here and, hence, I would assume that they used it.
Q. You're saying that's your assumption as you sit here today. Is that what you just said?
A. Well, it's -- it's more than an assumption. I know you had stores here. You had one over on Traverse Street, you had a warehouse, you had salesmen here. You had outlets for ACME paint and other paints here. You had a representative who lived in Pawtucket who was here selling something, and I would assume it's various products of Sherwin Williams, or I know was various products of Sherwin Williams. And I must assume that you were selling what you usually advertised in throughout the nation, you were selling the same products here. So, therefore, I would assume that they're here.” (U. Tr. 59:19–60:18, Jan. 19, 2006 PM Session.)
Millennium and ARCO engaged in similar cross-examinations. See Off. Dr. Tr. 34:25–45:25, Jan. 17, 2006 AM Session (ARCO cross-examination); Off. Dr. Tr. 40:21–47:4, Jan. 19, 2006 AM Session (Millennium cross-examination). These cross-examinations were sufficient to illustrate what was not the basis for the opinion—specific sales of goods in specific Rhode Island stores. However, the Court finds that Dr. Rosner’s testimony; the evidence of national advertisements of lead-containing paint for each Defendant; SW and NL’s participation in the Forest Products campaign which included Rhode Island; NL’s participation in the first White Lead Promotion Campaign, the three Defendants’ participation in the unsuccessful second White Lead Promotion Campaign; Millennium’s contracts referring to Rhode Island and its participation in the second White Lead Promotion campaign; the national composition of the lead-pigment market; and the Defendants’ participation in that national market, formed a sufficient basis to find substantial contribution.
This Court has had opportunity in another context to remark that the evidence of Rhode Island conduct was “thin at best” for purposes of imposing punitive damages. (Off. Dr. Tr. 10:18–20, Feb. 28, 2006 PM Session.) Surely, the jury was free to reach an opposite conclusion, especially if it felt that Dr. Rosner’s testimony was not credible. However, the evidence on the nexus issue was sufficient to make a prima facie case, and was not contradicted. The Defendants had an adequate opportunity through cross-examination to attempt to discredit Dr. Rosner’s testimony on substantiality and the sale of goods in Rhode Island, but they failed to convince the jury. Perhaps if the Defendants had introduced conflicting evidence, which would tend to discredit the proposition that the Defendants substantially promoted and sold lead pigment in Rhode Island, then another result would have obtained. However, even if the Court might have reached a different conclusion, it will not substitute such conclusion for the jury’s verdict. SeeTurgeon v. Davis, 120 R.I. at 590, 388 A.2d at 1175; seealso Restatement (Second) of Torts § 834 com. d (noting that where reasonable doubt exists, substantiality is a question for the trier of fact). Therefore, the Court finds that a sufficient mosaic of circumstantial evidence exists on this record to support a Rhode Island nexus, and will not order a new trial on this basis.
There were apparently thirteen companies participating in that campaign. (U. Tr. 9:2–4, Jan. 17, 2006.)
In addition, Millennium’s re-cross-examination was designed to show that the sales agency agreement, Plaintiff’s Exhibit 206, only provided the Massachusetts company with a right to sell goods in Rhode Island—but did not directly prove that such sales took place. (U. Tr. 65:3–68:8, Jan. 20, 2006.) However, Dr. Rosner was entitled to infer, as was the jury, that a sales agreement to sell goods in Rhode Island actually resulted in sales in Rhode Island.
Millennium has objected to the evidentiary foundation for Dr. Rosner’s testimony and argues that its admission requires a new trial. For the same reasons, the Court finds that his opinions were admissible and that no new trial is warranted.
However, the Court also noted that for purposes of imposing liability, as opposed to punishment, it is proper to consider out-of-state conduct if that conduct causes harm within the state. SeeYoung v. Masci, 289 U.S. 253, 258 (U.S. 1933) (Brandeis, J.) (“A person who sets in motion in one State the means by which injury is inflicted in another may, consistently with the due process clause, be made liable for that injury whether the means employed be a responsible agent or an irresponsible instrument.”)
SOURCE: Email sent by the AHA to members (3-1-07)
Members of the Council reviewed carefully the options for dealing with the resolution as defined in the AHA constitution, considering particularly the appropriateness of the Association's taking a position on the particular issue addressed by the resolution as well as the fact that the resolution had not been transmitted to the AHA in time for publication in Perspectives prior to the Business Meeting. Ultimately a majority of the Council agreed that it should accept the resolution but should also take the further step of requesting its ratification by a majority of those voting in an electronic ballot.
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TEXT OF THE RESOLUTION
Resolution on Government Practices Inimical to the Values of the Historical Profession
Whereas, The American Historical Association’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct emphasizes the importance of open inquiry to the pursuit of historical knowledge;
Whereas, the American Historical Association adopted a resolution in January 2004 re-affirming the principles of free speech, open debate of foreign policy, and open access to government records in furthering the work of the historical profession;
Whereas, during the war in Iraq and the so-called war on terror, the current Administration has violated the above-mentioned standards and principles through the following practices:
excluding well-recognized foreign scholars; condemning as "revisionism" the search for truth about pre-war intelligence; re-classifying previously unclassified government documents; suspending in certain cases the centuries-old writ of habeas corpus and substituting indefinite administrative detention without specified criminal charges or access to a court of law; using interrogation techniques at Guantanamo, Abu-Ghraib, Bagram, and other locations incompatible with respect for the dignity of all persons required by a civilized society;
Whereas, a free society and the unfettered intellectual inquiry essential to the practice of historical research, writing, and teaching are imperiled by the practices described above; and
Whereas, the foregoing practices are inextricably linked to the war in which the United States is presently engaged in Iraq; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the American Historical Association urges its members through publication of this resolution in Perspectives and other appropriate outlets:
To take a public stand as citizens on behalf of the values necessary to the practice of our profession; and
To do whatever they can to bring the Iraq war to a speedy conclusion.
SOURCE: Bob Herbert in the NYT (3-1-07)
The sheer size of the phenomenon of slavery, which was woven into the very being of the early Americas, is not well known today. The historian David Brion Davis, in his book “Inhuman Bondage,” tells us:
“By 1820 nearly 8.7 million slaves had departed from Africa for the New World, as opposed to only 2.6 million whites, many of them convicts or indentured servants, who had left Europe. Thus by 1820 African slaves constituted almost 77 percent of the enormous population that had sailed toward the Americas, and from 1760 to 1820 this emigrating flow included 5.6 African slaves for every European.”
For most of the time between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the United States was governed by presidents who owned slaves.
One of the points Mr. Davis stressed was that the commodities produced in such tremendous volume by slaves — sugar, tobacco, coffee, chocolate, cotton — were crucial to the formation of the world’s first global mass market.
“From the very beginnings,” wrote Mr. Davis, “America was part black, and indebted to the appalling sacrifices of millions of individual blacks who cleared the forests and tilled the soil. Yet even the ardent opponents of slaveholding could seldom if ever acknowledge this basic fact.”
SOURCE: NYT (3-1-07)
The cause was a heart attack, said Mr. Schlesinger’s son Stephen. He died at New York Downtown Hospital after being stricken in a restaurant.
Twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Mr. Schlesinger exhaustively examined the administrations of two prominent presidents, Andrew Jackson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, against a vast background of regional and economic rivalries. He strongly argued that strong individuals like Jackson and Roosevelt could bend history.
The notes he took for President John F. Kennedy to use in writing his own history, became, after the president’s assassination, grist for Mr. Schlesinger’s own “A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House,” winner of both the Pulitzer and a National Book Award in 1966.
His 1978 book on the president’s brother, “Robert Kennedy and His Times,” lauded the subject as the most politically creative man of his time but acknowledged that Robert had played a larger role in trying to overthrow President Fidel Castro of Cuba than the author had acknowledged in “A Thousand Days.”
Mr. Schlesinger worked on both brothers’ presidential campaigns, and some critics suggested he had trouble separating history from sentiment. Gore Vidal called “A Thousand Days” a political novel, and many noted that the book ignored the president’s sexual wanderings. Others were unhappy he told so much, particularly taking the unusual step of asserting that the president was unhappy with his secretary of state, Dean Rusk.
Mr. Schlesinger saw life as a walk through history. He wrote that he could not stroll down Fifth Avenue without wondering how the street and the people on it would have looked a hundred years ago.
“He is willing to argue that the search for an understanding of the past is not simply an aesthetic exercise but a path to the understanding of our own time,” Alan Brinkley, the historian, wrote....