Millard Fillmore and March 8: Hurrah! and R.I.P.

March 8, 2009

Commodore Matthew C. Perrys squadron in Japan, 1854 - CSSVirginia.org image

The Black Ships — Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s squadron in Japan, 1854 – CSSVirginia.org image from Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion, Boston, May 15, 1852 (also, see BaxleyStamps.com); obviously the drawing was published prior to the expedition’s sailing.

On March 8, 1854, Commodore Matthew C. Perry landed for the second time in Japan, having been sent on a mission a year earlier by President Millard Fillmore.  On this trip, within 30 days he concluded a treaty with Japan which opened Japan to trade with the U.S. (the Convention of Kanagawa), and which began a cascade of events that opened Japan to trade with the world.

Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1852 photograph, Library of Congress via WikiMedia

Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1852 photograph, Library of Congress via WikiMedia

Within 50 years Japan would come to dominate the seas of the the Western Pacific, and would become a major world power.

1854 japanese woodblock print of U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew C. Perry. Peabody Museum: The characters located across the top read from right to left, A North American Figure and Portrait of Perry. According to the Peabody Essex Museum, this print may be one of the first depictions of westerners in Japanese art, and exaggerates Perrys western features (oblong face, down-turned eyes, bushy brown eyebrows, and large nose).  But compare with photo above, right.  Peabody Museum holding, image from Library of Congress via WikiMedia

1854 japanese woodblock print of U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew C. Perry. Peabody Museum: “The characters located across the top read from right to left, ‘A North American Figure’ and ‘Portrait of Perry.’ According to the Peabody Essex Museum, ‘this print may be one of the first depictions of westerners in Japanese art, and exaggerates Perry’s western features (oblong face, down-turned eyes, bushy brown eyebrows, and large nose).'” But compare with photo above, right. Peabody Museum holding, image from Library of Congress via WikiMedia

Then, 20 years later, on March 8, 1874, Millard Fillmore died in Buffalo, New York.

The Perry expedition to Japan was the most famous, and perhaps the greatest recognized achievement of Fillmore’s presidency.  Fillmore had started the U.S. on a course of imperialistic exploitation and exploration of the world, with other expeditions of much less success to Africa and South America, according to the story of his death in The New York Times:

The general policy of his Administration was wise and liberal, and he left the country at peace with all the world and enjoying a high degree of prosperity. His Administration was distinguished by the Lopez fillibustering expeditions to Cuba, which were discountenanced by the Government, and by several important expeditions to distant lands. The expedition to Japan under Commodore Perry resulted in a favorable treaty with that country, but that dispatched under Lieut. Lynch, in search of gold in the interior of Africa, failed of its object. Exploring expeditions were also sent to the Chinese seas, and to the Valley of the Amazon.

Here we are in 2013, 160 years after the end of Millard Fillmore’s presidency, 159 years after Commodore Perry’s success on the mission to Japan Fillmore sent him on, 139 years after Millard Fillmore’s death, and not yet have we come to grips with Fillmore’s real legacy in U.S. history. Most of that legacy, we don’t even acknowledge in public. Santayana’s Ghost paces nervously.


Trail of Tears film debut at UT-Dallas, Tuesday March 10

March 8, 2009

Extra credit or field experience for your history students: Viewing of a coming PBS program on the Trail of Tears, and a panel discussion featuring R. David Edmunds, one of the advisors to the PBS American Experience crew that made the film.

The story of Saturday, May 26, 1838, a day which began an event the Cherokees would call Nu-No-Du-Na-Tlo-Hi-Lu, “The Trail Where They Cried,” will be told from a new perspective at the premiere of “Trail of Tears” at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 10, in the Davidson Auditorium at the School of Management.

We Shall Remain logo
Production background information is available on the PBS We Shall Remain site.

The third film in the five-part We Shall Remain series produced by PBS’ American Experience, “Trail of Tears” takes a new look at the United States government’s forced removal of thousands of Cherokees from their homes in the Southeastern United States, driving them toward Indian Territory in Eastern Oklahoma.

Admission is free; seating is first come, first served. The film premiere will be followed by a panel discussion with We Shall Remain executive producer Sharon Grimberg; Native American filmmaker Chris Eyre; and series adviser Dr. R. David Edmunds, the UT Dallas Anne and Chester Watson Professor in American History.

Especially for AP history students, this panel should provide a lot of grist for the thinking mills on questions about civil rights, genocidal actions, duties of citizens, and migration, immigration and settlement of the U.S.

North Texas high school teachers and students have great luck living in an area that includes the University of North Texas, Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the University of Dallas.   This film premiere is one more piece of that luck.

University of Texas at Dallas history professor, Dr. R. David Edmunds will take part in a panel discussion following the premiere of Trail of Tears.

University of Texas at Dallas history professor, Dr. R. David Edmunds will take part in a panel discussion following the premiere of Trail of Tears.

It’s a compelling story that is often mistold.  According to UTD’s press office:

For years, the Cherokee had resisted removal from their land in every way they knew. Convinced that white America rejected Native Americans because they were “savages,” Cherokee leaders established a republic with a Euro-American style legislature and legal system.

Many Cherokees became Christians and adopted Westernized education for their children. Their visionary principal chief, John Ross, would even take the Cherokees’ case to the Supreme Court, where he won a crucial recognition of tribal sovereignty that still resonates.

Though in the end the Cherokees’ embrace of “civilization” and their landmark legal victory proved no match for white land hunger and military power, the Cherokee people were able to build a new life in Oklahoma, far from the land that had sustained them for generations.

Edmunds, who is of Cherokee descent, is proud to be a part of the We Shall Remain crew because the series breaks with typical portrayals of Native Americans.

“The thing that sets the We Shall Remain series apart is its ability to get away from two of the biggest stereotypes of Native Americans: the Indian as a warrior and the Indian as a victim,” said Edmunds. “The portrayal of warfare between Native Americans and whites is abandoned for a view of the very civilized, very adaptive ways of the Cherokees, as they try to assimilate to imported culture in order to remain on their lands.

“Additionally, when you see ‘Trail of Tears,’ you’ll see Native Americans as actors in their own destiny. You’ll see them make decisions, which sometimes work and sometimes don’t, but it’s all part of the American experience.”


Do America’s political cartoonists have it in for Rush Limbaugh?

March 8, 2009

You be the judge, at Daryl Cagle’s Political Cartoonist Index.

Then come back here and tell us your opinion.


Eating DDT: Where did it get them?

March 8, 2009

From Time Magazine, August 1, 1971:

Instead of a vitamin a day, Pest Control Executive Robert Loibl and his wife Louise start breakfast with a 10-mg. capsule of DDT. After 93 days on DDT, the North Hollywood, Calif., couple figured they had ingested as much of the pesticide (some 300 times more than the average daily intake) as persons consuming food dusted with the chemical would get in 83 years. “We feel better than we used to,” crows Loibl. “In fact, I think my appetite has increased since I began taking DDT.”

The Loibls’ experiment is designed to prove that DDT, which they claim is the most maligned of pesticides, is “harmless.” They believe that the environment is better served with spraying. On the surface, their consumption of DDT appears to have caused them no harm. Blood tests and urinalysis conducted by Government physicians, says Loibl, “showed nothing out of the ordinary.” But while the Loibls seem safe enough now, they could become ill in the future. More important, even if DDT is not immediately harmful to man, it is destructive to many beneficial insects and to some fish and birds.

Whatever happened to these people?  My internet searches have not turned up any significant further information on either of the Loibls.  Does anyone know?

Associated Press caption, presumably to an AP photo: Robert Loibl and his wife, Louise, hold 10-milligram capsules of DDT which they took in front of witnesses for 93 days at lunch time, June 10, 1971. Loibl said their total dosage was more than the average person consumes in 83 years. He said his wife’s dandruff disappeared, their appetites perked up and they feel better. Loibl said they just wanted to call attention to the public that DDT was safe. Image via Gizmodo

Associated Press caption, presumably to an AP photo: Robert Loibl and his wife, Louise, hold 10-milligram capsules of DDT which they took in front of witnesses for 93 days at lunch time, June 10, 1971. Loibl said their total dosage was more than the average person consumes in 83 years. He said his wife’s dandruff disappeared, their appetites perked up and they feel better. Loibl said they just wanted to call attention to the public that DDT was safe. Image via Gizmodo.

 

I believe they lived in or near San Diego, perhaps in retirement, and I believe he owned or operated a pest control company there as well as farther north.  Can anyone tell us what happened to the intrepid DDT eaters, the Loibls?

(This is an uncontrolled experiment, and probably dangerous.  Kids, do not try this at home.)

What do you think? Was this a good idea? Does anyone know what happened to them?

More:


National History Day film on DDT

March 8, 2009

Student production from 2008:

The film’s credits say it was done by Michael Seltzer — it’s rather obviously a student production, but there is also a Dr. Michael Seltzer active in environmental protection.  Are they related?

Best I can tell is that this documentary didn’t win any national awards If the non-winners are this good, I wonder what the winners look like?

Why aren’t all the winners posted on the website of the National History Day organization, or on YouTube?


%d bloggers like this: