True story of how a woman won Texas’s independence

April 21, 2011

This is mostly an encore post, for the 175th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto.

After suffering crushing defeats in previous battles, and while many Texian rebels were running away from Santa Anna’s massive army — the largest and best trained in North America — Sam Houston’s ragtag band of rebels got the drop on Santa Anna at San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836. Most accounts say the routing of Santa Anna’s fighting machine took just 18 minutes.

San Jacinto Day is April 21. Texas history classes at Texas middle schools should be leading ceremonies marking the occasion — but probably won’t since it’s coming at the end of a week of federally-requested, state required testing.

Surrender of Santa Anna, Texas State Preservation Board Surrender of Santa Anna, painting by William Henry Huddle (1890); property of Texas State Preservation Board. The painting depicts Santa Anna being brought before a wounded Sam Houston, to surrender.

How could Houston’s group have been so effective against a general who modeled himself after Napolean, with a large, well-running army? In the 1950s a story came out that Santa Anna was distracted from battle. Even as he aged he regarded himself as a great ladies’ man — and it was a woman who detained the Mexican general in his tent, until it was too late to do anything but steal an enlisted man’s uniform and run.

The San Jacinto Monument is 15 feet taller than the Washington Monument. Texas tourism brochure photo

The San Jacinto Monument is 15 feet taller than the Washington Monument. Texas tourism brochure photo

That woman was mulatto, a “yellow rose,” and about whom the song, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” was written, according story pieced together in the 1950s.

Could such a story be true? Many historians in the 1950s scoffed at the idea. (More below the fold.) Read the rest of this entry »


Abigail Powers Fillmore (Women’s History Month)

March 18, 2009

Millard Fillmore’s life was shaped by the women he loved.  His first wife, Abigail Powers, probably was the chief spur for his drive which took him to the presidency.  In the White House, she stood for education and improvement of American culture — she founded the White House Library in 1851.  A remarkable woman you should know more about.

Abigail Fillmore, Library of Congress image

Abigail Fillmore, Library of Congress image

Short bio of Abigail Powers Fillmore, and her tragic death, at LynnSpirit.  Several other women are profiled — few you’ve heard of, most you should know.

(Oops – her birthday was yesterday, March 17.)


McCain sticks it to the PUMAs

August 29, 2008

Ya gotta feel for the die-hard PUMAs, the people who were so much for Hillary Clinton that they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Obama, so they defected to George Bush’s party and hope to sign on with John McCain. (PUMA is an acronym:  “Party Unity My [mild profanity dealing with gluteal muscles]”)

“That will show Obama he can’t trample a good woman in an election race,” they were muttering until about 11:00 a.m. Central Time today.

Then, John McCain picked one of those classic Republican women office holders, one who is female in gender only, who looks at the good politics and wisdom of genuine feminism and instead does her best to act like Attila the Hun with a streak of intolerance, though occasionally acting rational enough to hold on to the few rational conservatives who vote.  John McCain is so certain of their support that he can spit on their issues and kick dust in their faces. Or worse.

McCains boys and former supporter of Hillary Clinton?

McCain's boys and former supporter of Hillary Clinton?

McCain must figure the PUMAs will only love him more for it.

Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska.  That’s about as far from Hillary Clinton as Vladimir Putin is from Harry Truman.

What will the PUMAs do? Maybe they should follow Hillary’s example, and endorse Obama.

What do you think?


Ladies’ choice: Happy birthday, women’s suffrage!

August 18, 2008

Ouch! Almost missed it: Today is the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, on August 18, 1920. Tennessee was the 36th state to ratify, pushing the total to three-fourths of the 48 states.  (12 more states ratified later, including North Carolina in 1971, and Mississippi in 1984.)

The Amendment reads:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

One of the better moves our nation ever made, in my opinion. Abigail Adams was right; John should have listened to her.

Abigail Adams who urged the vote for women in 1776, by Benjamin Blythe, 1766 (Wikimedia and Millsaps College)

Abigail Adams who urged the vote for women in the late 18th century; portrait by Benjamin Blythe, 1766 (Wikimedia and Millsaps College)

And “Vox Day” and Ann Coulter are both idiots.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Reed Cartwright at De Rerum Natura.


Vox Day, the goad goes on forever*

November 5, 2007

You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. The Right Wing is working hard to make sure that every parody of them comes true. Vox Day said this today, in a comment about serial plagiarizer and general garden-party skunk Ann Coulter:

What Ann understands and so many nominal conservatives do not is that women’s suffrage is completely incompatible with human liberty or a republic as described in the U.S. Constitution. The two cannot co-exist. One cannot defend freedom on the basis of emotion, as fear always runs to promises of security, however nebulous.

It’s interesting to note that since women received the right to vote, no bald politician has been elected in either the United States or the UK with the exception of Eisenhower and Churchill. (Atlee was bald too, but he was running against Churchill so there was no hair option in 1945.) And being bona fide war heroes, both Churchill and Eisenhower represented security even more than the archtypical tall politician with executive hair; neither one of them were capable of winning in less extraordinary times.

So, Vox thinks we should take the vote away from women to elect bald men again? That will make one heck of a campaign button, and I can’t wait to see how it’s phrased in the Texas Republican Party platform.

Isn’t that roughly the same sort of thinking that got us into Iraq — same quality of reasoning, same clear connections, and of course, same sorts of historical error in blind ignorance of the facts and amazingly tin ear on what people think.

Is Vox balding that much? He’s that sensitive about it?

Historical error? Well, yeah — who among the presidents prior to Eisenhower was bald? (You can check pictures of the presidents here.) John Quincy Adams certainly had a lot of shiny pate visible. Martin Van Buren was bald, if we don’t count the copious hair he had around his receding hairline. But if we count receding hairline as bald, then we’d have to count Coolidge, Hoover, Truman and Nixon (whose bald spot was rarely photographed).  The bald and balding presidents:  John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren (with qualifications), Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford.

In fact, if we just look at the follicularly challenged, and not wholly bald, we find that the men with the least hair were all elected AFTER women’s suffrage. Vox Day rarely lets fact or reason get in the way of his thinking. Only Quincy Adams and Van Buren before women’s suffrage, and six baldies starting with Coolidge after.

But the question is, who is focusing on baldness here? Vox Day makes an implicit assumption that women do. It’s a wholly unevidenced, and in the light of history that shows the contrary, unreasonable assumption. He’s making hysterical error, with all the irony that drags along with it.

That anyone would argue for depriving women of the vote, hanging it on such flimsy evidence and bizarre reasoning, shows why women are justified in voting for Democrats. No one in the Democratic party is advancing arguments against women’s suffrage, on any basis.

You know what else? The mainstream media will “hide” Vox’s bizarre comments, not covering them at all, thereby protecting him and Republicans from the howls of justifiable outrage. Why do the media always protect conservatives who have taken leave of their senses?

* Apologies are probably due to Robert Earl Keen, composer of “The Road Goes On Forever.

Voting for cancer, against prevention

May 31, 2007

Yeah, it was a bit tacky of Merck to create a campaign to get government officials to require inoculations against human papilloma viruses that cause cancer — but, people!, we’re talking about preventing cancer here.

The Texas legislature voted for cancer, overturning Gov. Rick Perry’s ill-considered good idea to require vaccinations for school kids in Texas. In a state with top-notch anti-cancer research at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and UT’s Southwest Medical Center in Dallas, it was an odd, odd thing to witness.

The debates are skewed by a general distrust and dislike of big pharmaceutical companies, and by the religious right’s view that it’s better that a young mother die of cancer than she should get even the faintest idea that might in only the most perverse mind promote pre-marital sex. Still, we shouldn’t fall victim to voodoo science claims against vaccines.

Are my views, tempered by years of work promoting public health and fighting disease, clear enough for you?

Owlhaven wins popularity contests among mothers who read blogs, and it often is tender and touching — hey, I read it from time to time. But recently Mary, Owlhaven’s author, fell victim to a propaganda campaign from Judicial Watch, a far-right-wing bunch that campaigns against the U.S. justice system and generally makes a conservative-gratuitous-poke-in-the-butt out of itself. Judicial Watch claims to have some secrets from having filed a Freedom of Information Act Request with FDA to get Merck’s reports to FDA of adverse events known about Gardasil, Merck’s proprietary anti-cancer vaccine.

I responded, of course — but my response didn’t show on Owlhaven’s comments. Blackballed? Spam filtered due to the number or length of links? I can’t tell. Mary said she emptied the spam filter without checking. So, I repost my response, below the fold, for your benefit. Read the rest of this entry »


Who was the first woman in the U.S. Senate?

May 25, 2007

If you answered “Margaret Chase Smith, the Senator from Maine,” you’d be close, but not close enough. Can you tell when she served, even?

David Parker is back from his vacation; in merely noting that he’s back, he pointed to this article about the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. Having spent so much time prowling those halls, and having lived with so many people who are so steeped in Senate history, the information caught me a little off guard. Rebecca Latimer Felton, the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate

Who is it, if it’s not Smith? Read the rest of this entry »


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