With fondness, wishing it were true in 2015: Remembering “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving” by Thomas Nast, 1869

November 25, 2015

November 1869, in the first year of the Grant administration — and Nast put aside his own prejudices enough to invite the Irish guy to dinner, along with many others.

With a nation whose emotions are raw from events in Ferguson, Missouri, and Paris, France, and rejections of desperate refugees from was being rejected in their calls for asylum, could there be a better, more timely reminder of what we’re supposed to be doing?

(Click for a larger image — it’s well worth it.)

Thomas Nast's "Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving," 1869 - Ohio State University's cartoon collection

Thomas Nast’s “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving,” 1869 – Ohio State University’s cartoon collection, and HarpWeek

As described at the Ohio State site:

“Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner” marks the highpoint of Nast’s Reconstruction-era idealism. By November 1869 the Fourteenth Amendment, which secures equal rights and citizenship to all Americans, was ratified. Congress had sent the Fifteenth Amendment, which forbade racial discrimination in voting rights, to the states and its ratification appeared certain. Although the Republican Party had absorbed a strong nativist element in the 1850s, its commitment to equality seemed to overshadow lingering nativism, a policy of protecting the interests of indigenous residents against immigrants. Two national symbols, Uncle Sam and Columbia, host all the peoples of the world who have been attracted to the United States by its promise of self-government and democracy. Germans, African Americans, Chinese, Native Americans, Germans, French, Spaniards: “Come one, come all,” Nast cheers at the lower left corner.

One of my Chinese students identified the Oriental woman as Japanese, saying it was “obvious.” Other friends say both are Chinese.  Regional differences.  The figure at the farthest right is a slightly cleaned-up version of the near-ape portrayal Nast typically gave Irishmen.

If Nast could put aside his biases to celebrate the potential of unbiased immigration to the U.S. and the society that emerges, maybe we can, too.

Hope your day is good; hope you have good company and good cheer, turkey or not. Happy Thanksgiving.  And of course, remember to fly your flag!

More: Earlier posts from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

And in 2013:

Yes, if you’re a faithful reader here, you’ve seen it before.

Muslims carrying special IDs challenge Trump to show his

November 22, 2015

Tweet showing several Muslims serving in U.S. military, in response to calls for Muslims to get "special ID" or be tracked on a "special registry."

Tweet showing several Muslims serving in U.S. military, in response to calls for Muslims to get “special ID” or be tracked on a “special registry.”

Donald Trump keeps talking about a “registry” of Muslims, and forcing them to carry “special identification.”

Several Muslims have taken to Twitter and other social media to note they ALREADY DO carry special ID, and wondering, where is Trump’s?

According to Trump, he performed his military service at a special facility along the Hudson River, before he was 18 — pranking people.


See also:

And be sure you see this:

Strange crossings: Booth asked the president for an umbrella

November 17, 2015

This is just so odd that it merits our attention, something I found a while ago researching about presidents and umbrellas.

On November 17, 1864, John Wilkes Booth wrote to President Abraham Lincoln asking for money to purchase an umbrella.

Yes, Booth, the man who would eventually assassinate that same Abraham Lincoln.

Page 1 of John Wilkes Booth's 1864 letter to President Abraham Lincoln

Page 1 of John Wilkes Booth’s 1864 letter to President Abraham Lincoln

Booth to Lincoln, page 2

Booth to Lincoln, page 2

Booth to Lincoln, page 3

Booth to Lincoln, page 3

Booth to Lincoln, page 4

Booth to Lincoln, page 4

Booth to Lincoln, page 5

Booth to Lincoln, page 5

Booth to Lincoln, page 6

Booth to Lincoln, page 6

The letter is in the collection of Lincoln papers at the Library of Congress, described as “John Wilkes to Abraham Lincoln, Thursday, November 17, 1864 (Congratulations; request that Lincoln send him money to buy an umbrella).”

I have found no official transcript of the letter.

Of all the richochets of umbrellas in the history of the American presidency, this must be the strangest.

Tinfoil hatters, conspiracy nuts, historical psychanalyzers, and the rest of us, might wonder if this played any role in the sad crossing of these two people almost exactly six months later, in Ford’s Theatre.


Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

President Obama’s Veterans Day Proclamation, 2015

November 11, 2015

A message written by First Lady is seen on a U.S. Marine Corps flag at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., April 4, 2012.

A message written by First Lady is seen on a U.S. Marine Corps flag at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., April 4, 2012. From a White House blog post, “5 Ways You Can Thank a Veteran.”


From the office of the Press Secretary of the White House:

November 05, 2015

Presidential Proclamation — Veterans Day, 2015


– – – – – – –



The United States military is the strongest, most capable fighting force the world has ever known.  The brave men and women of our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard demonstrate a resolute spirit and unmatched selflessness, and their service reminds us there are few things more American than giving of ourselves to make a difference in the lives of others.  On Veterans Day, we reflect on the immeasurable burdens borne by so few in the name of so many, and we rededicate ourselves to supporting those who have worn America’s uniform and the families who stand alongside them.

Our true strength as a Nation is measured by how we take care of our veterans when they return home, and my Administration is committed to ensuring our heroes and their loved ones have every chance to share in the promise they risked their lives to defend.  We have made it easier for veterans to convert their military skills to the civilian workforce, enabled more veterans and their family members to attain Federal education benefits, and expanded access to timely, quality health care for all veterans.  Just as every veteran deserves the support and benefits they have earned, those who have given everything to defend our homeland deserve a place of their own to call home.  To uphold this ideal, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative has forged partnerships with local leaders across America to uphold the dignity of every veteran and work to end veterans’ homelessness.  No one who fights for our country should have to fight for the care they deserve.  Earlier this year, I was proud to sign the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which fills critical gaps in mental health care by raising awareness and taking steps to improve access to care for those suffering from the invisible wounds of war.

Our veterans left everything they knew and loved and served with exemplary dedication and courage so we could all know a safer America and a more just world.  They have been tested in ways the rest of us may never fully understand, and it is our duty to fulfill our sacred obligation to our veterans and their families.  On Veterans Day, and every day, let us show them the extraordinary gratitude they so rightly deserve, and let us recommit to pledging our full support for them in all they do.

With respect for, and in recognition of, the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation’s veterans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2015, as Veterans Day.  I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers.  I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities.  I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.


First Lady Michelle Obama, in support of the Joining Forces initiative, greets members of the military following remarks at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, Nov. 3, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

First Lady Michelle Obama, in support of the Joining Forces initiative, greets members of the military following remarks at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, Nov. 3, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Tearing down historic Chipman’s Department Store, American Fork Utah, 1992

November 11, 2015

Caption on photo from American Fork Public Library:

Caption on photo from American Fork Public Library: “This photo was taken February, 1992, just before final demolition of the Chipman store. The last thing to fall was the front part, with the C H I P M A N name still intact.”

In 1962, a position for my father heading the furniture department at Chipman’s Mercantile in American Fork, Utah, prompted our family’s move from Burley, Idaho. We found a home in Pleasant Grove, about five miles south and east of American Fork.

I was rather surprised to find this photo in digital collections I was searching through the Provo, Utah, public library.

Description of the photo:

Title Partial demolition of Chipman’s, formerly Chipman’s Mercantile, on the corner of Main Street, Merchant Street and Center Street. Built in 1884, demolished in 1992.
Description Partial demolition of Chipman’s, formerly Chipman’s Mercantile, on the corner of Main Street, Merchant Street and Center Street. Built in 1884 by James and Stephen L. Chipman. The store was once the biggest department store in Utah County. It was demolished in 1992.
Subject American Fork, (Utah); Business enterprises; Department stores; Wrecking;
Date 1992-02-01
Photographer Peterson, Wanda S.
Rights Copyright 1992 American Fork City. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Publisher Published by American Fork Public Library; Digitized and hosted by Utah Valley University

It’s symbolic of the history of places we lose all too easily.

Plus, it brings back so many memories of the small towns in which I grew up.

Chipman’s played a big role in the development of American Fork, and northern Utah County. The store was an early success, and the Chipman family became locally prominent, and played an interesting role in the development of science education at two Utah universities.

Two Chipman sisters (daughters of James or Stephen Chipman?) married scientists. One married the great chemist, Henry Eyring, who took a position at the University of Utah to stay close to his wife’s family. The other married the great physicist Harvey Fletcher, who took a position at Brigham Young University, again to stay close to his wife’s family.  Harvey Fletcher served on the board of Chipman’s for a time, and bought furniture there. My father asked me to accompany him on a delivery to the Fletcher’s Provo home, probably trying to prompt an interest in science in me. A few years later in Chipman’s store, my father introduced me to the Fletchers’ son, James C. Fletcher, who would later become president of the University of Utah, and then twice head NASA.

Mrs. Fletcher made great cookies. I wasn’t prescient enough to get even autographs from any of them.

On a July day, probably about 1968, during a street fair, the band I played in performed from the back of a flatbed truck on the street to the right of the photo. We discovered Dick Gardiner’s Farfisa organ lost its tuning in the sun.

The site of the store was turned into a parking lot. The Bank of American Fork put up some drive-up tellers on the site later.

Poster for Veterans Day 2015

November 10, 2015

2015’s poster from the Veterans Administration, for Veterans Day — tomorrow!

2015 Veterans Day poster from the Veterans Administration. Veterans Day always falls on November 11, this year on a Wednesday.

2015 Veterans Day poster from the Veterans Administration. Veterans Day always falls on November 11, this year on a Wednesday.

Both high-res and low-res versions are available from the VA’s poster site.

Teachers, several good sites with a history of Veterans Day, and suggested ways of honoring veterans, have material for your classrooms and students. VA’s history of Veterans Day is below:

History of Veterans Day

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France.

Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities. This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” which stated: “In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.”

President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. From left: Alvin J. King, Wayne Richards, Arthur J. Connell, John T. Nation, Edward Rees, Richard L. Trombla, Howard W. Watts

On that same day, President Eisenhower sent a letter to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee.

In 1958, the White House advised VA’s General Counsel that the 1954 designation of the VA Administrator as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee applied to all subsequent VA Administrators. Since March 1989 when VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee’s chairman.

The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Remember to fly your U.S. flag tomorrow, to honor veterans.

Kristallnacht survivor begs us to remember

November 10, 2015

USHMM: Shattered storefront of a Jewish-owned shop destroyed during Kristallnacht (the

USHMM: Shattered storefront of a Jewish-owned shop destroyed during Kristallnacht (the “Night of Broken Glass”). Berlin, Germany, November 10, 1938. — National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.

I get e-mail from time to time from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C.

Tonight, November 9, is the anniversary of Kristallnacht in 1938. Jill Pauly lived through it. She tells her story so that we will remember, that we will never forget. “Kristallnacht” is German for “night of crystal.” But in this case, the crystal was broken glass, the broken windows of Jewish shops and homes.  Kristallnacht was the “Night of Broken Glass.”

Dear friend,

I’ll never forget how scared I was 77 years ago on Kristallnacht.

This wave of antisemitic attacks throughout Germany and Austria caused my family to flee our small German town. We drove to a relative’s apartment in Cologne, and my grandparents forced my sister and me to sit on the car floor so we wouldn’t see the violence on the streets.

That evening and for many following it, the men in my family drove all night to evade German officers and avoid becoming some of the 30,000 men who were arrested just for being Jewish.

This was a major turning point for my family, when our lives became dangerous and our future uncertain. Learn more about experiences of families like mine, as well as the origins and aftermath of Kristallnacht.


Jill Pauly speaks with Museum visitors. US Holocaust Memorial Museum


Kristallnacht was a watershed moment in Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews, indicating an increase in radical, violent antisemitism. Many Jews tried to emigrate as soon as possible after the pogroms.

Today, Kristallnacht is seen as a warning sign of the Holocaust—an indicator of the horrors to come that far too many people ignored.

The Museum strives to learn from this history in order to prevent atrocities in the future. This is why we recently launched, in partnership with Dartmouth College, the Early Warning Project. It aims to give leaders from around the world more reliable information on the risk of mass atrocities to inspire action and help save lives.

On this anniversary, I encourage you to learn more about Kristallnacht and reflect on how we can respond to threats of genocide today.


Jill Pauly
Holocaust Survivor and Museum Volunteer

Photo: Jill Pauly speaks with Museum visitors. US Holocaust Memorial Museum

“Never again” starts now, if we start it.


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