I had a major battle on Amazon about a book I said was racist. A lot of people said “No, it isn’t. The author is an avowed Boston liberal.” I’m sure he said he was and he probably believes it’s true, but he wrote like a racist. Every time he mentioned someone of color, he referred to his or her color.


Tears never ran down their cheeks. The tears ran down their black cheeks. The didn’t have hands. They had brown hands or black hands. Not once were the Natives of the region — somewhere in or around Guiana, I think — ever mentioned without in indicating their race. Their name might be forgotten, but never their race.

That is racism. Call it whatever you like. It is what it is.

Passive? Probably insofar as those who feel that way rarely attend racist rallies or carry fascist flags. But these are the friends who would never visit us when we lived in a Black neighborhood because they were sure they would be mugged or shot by our neighbors — most of whom were police officers, one of whom was a guard at a city prison, and two of whom were Sheriffs.

We had less crime there than we had while living on Beacon Hill. Far less. No one broke into our house or vandalized our cars. No one stole our cars (both of which were stolen while we lived on Beacon Hill) or tried to swipe things from our deliverers. Racism isn’t only the white-hooded, marching and shouting kind. It’s an attitude. A belief that says that dark-skinned people are more violent, predatory, and criminal. Different in bad ways. Dangerous. Gun-toting. The kind of “passive ‘I’m really a liberal’ ” racism that’s so easy to pretend doesn’t exist.

Without significant attitudinal changes, it will never go away.


Racism runs deep in this country. North, south, east and west and without regard for ethnicity or political agenda. You’ll find it in your household, your neighborhood, your church. Your “liberal friends” who won’t go anywhere that isn’t known as a “white” neighborhood. These are the people who prevent non-white people from being promoted at work, from getting scholarships, from getting into management positions.

The ones who are constantly complaining about “equal opportunity” ruining their work are because dark-skinned people are stealing their jobs. The same morons who never consider they don’t get promoted because they don’t work hard enough and aren’t very good, either. The same people who bitch that “political correctness” is keeping them from calling people “n#gg#rs.” Who would use that word — with or without political correctness as a measure?

Red lights in Roxbury

These folks are cops and judges. Office managers. Parole officers. Social workers. Teachers. They are your drinking buddies, the barkeeper, and the kids your kids play with. The first step to making this problem begin to go away is to figure out where you stand on this matter. Are you a racist? A nice, quiet, suburban racist? Are you? Think about it. There has never been a better time to take a good hard look at who you are and where you really stand.

Get back to me on it.


The phone rang. The caller ID flashed, showing one of Boston’s two major newspapers. I figured it was the sales department. I handed the phone to Marilyn. I heard Marilyn respond “yes” several times and was puzzled. We didn’t need and couldn’t afford expensive home delivery of newspapers. Then Marilyn said “He’s right here. Why don’t you speak to him?” She had a broad smile on her face. I was even more puzzled.

Long story short. The caller was a reporter working on a series about Boston schools and the history of court-ordered school desegregation. She was looking for people who had covered the story in 1974.

forced busing Boston
Photo: Associated Press

Apparently my name came up in her research. I confirmed I had indeed covered the story and shared a few anecdotes about the first day of what some called “forced busing.” I also shared some stories about my coverage of Boston schools over the following 25 plus years before I retired. To give some context, I mentioned that I’d also covered the civil rights movement for ABC Network before coming to Boston.

The reporter seemed impressed. We agreed to meet again for a more detailed interview. I hung up the phone and smiled. I looked at the Duke who was sitting next to me. He was grinning and obviously understood. I could read his mind. He’s not just any old fart who feeds and plays with me. He’s a legend. 

I looked at Marilyn with satisfaction. I wondered what she had said to the reporter when she took the call.

Marilyn smiled and recounted the conversation. “She asked if you were alive. Then she asked if you actually remembered what you used to do. I bit my tongue and didn’t say ‘That’s a matter of opinion.’ ”

I looked back at the Duke. He was still grinning. How fleeting is fame.


Initially, it was just a quick run to our local supermarket for a few items. It turned out to be one of the nicest afternoons I’ve had in a long time. An impromptu photo session turned into a brief lesson for this pilgrim who’s learned to appreciate our Valley’s place in this nation’s history. I was intoxicated by the weather – a lovely, comfortable day. Sunny, warm, minimal humidity with just enough breeze to tilt the grass, leaves and flowers still in bloom as we say farewell to August. Our town common could be out of Hollywood’s central casting. The town common that could have inspired Thornton Wilder’s romantic little town and other idealized small town in your favorite old movies, books, music, and paintings. On this day, you could even smell the fragrance of the flowers flowing gently over the green grass.

Uxbridge, America’s first free public library

I encountered a small group of senior citizens (look in the mirror, Garry!) sitting and chatting quietly under one of the biggest and oldest trees in our Valley.   I paused to tell them I’d snapped a few “wide shots” that would not invade their privacy.  A few grunts and snorts and their conversations continued. I persisted, asking how everyone was doing in these crazy pandemic times. They nodded “okays.”

One woman told me “We’ve been coming out here almost every day during the pandemic unless the weather was bad. We won’t let our lives be dictated by this “thing.” We are very careful, very safe, and know our responsibility to one another. No silly stuff here, young man/” That made me smile.

She continued: “It’s so peaceful and quiet. We can hear each other talk. You know that’s important, young man. You have to listen to what people are telling you. No one listens anymore.”  I nodded. Listening was the “secret” of my success.

I received a flurry of ‘where do you live?’ and ‘how long have you lived here?’ as well as other queries about my presence on the Common and in the Valley. Standard stuff from long-time residents. The questions turned into an impromptu history lesson, probably to find out if I was a resident or just a nosy outsider looking for local color. I blurted out a quick response about my old professional life and the history lessons continued.

No one was impressed about who I used to be. I noticed the sun was getting brighter and everyone seemed more relaxed among my inquisitors. The history lesson came to a quick jolt for me. We were on politics and I had briefly faded. The feisty lady looked at me sharply, “YOUNG man, did you know about Robert and Lydia Taft, two of our most distinguished predecessors”? I nodded yes.

Feisty lady wasn’t convinced. “Well, young man, did you know that Lydia Taft was the first woman to vote in the continental United States on October 30, 1756.”?  I looked blank.  “No, I didn’t think you knew that, Young Man”.  No, I didn’t. It was a jaw dropping piece of historical trivia for me. I smiled. Feisty lady smiled. The history lesson continued until I begged off, saying I had to get home with my groceries.  I thanked everyone for their time and courtesy.

I looked around at the Common, trees, statues, flags, and the small group of wonderful senior citizens who had absolutely made this young fella’s day.

As I drove home, I looked at the beauty all around me.  I could hear, amid the toys in my attic, my “Uncle” Louie Armstrong singing, ” … and I think to myself, what a wonderful world, oh yeahhhhh!”


In Colonial America, women were not allowed to vote.

The Town of Uxbridge allowed Lydia, “the widow Josiah Taft,” to vote, because of the landowner and taxpayer status of Josiah’s estate and that Bazaleel, Caleb’s younger brother, was a minor. On receiving his proxy, Lydia Taft became the first recorded legal woman voter in colonial America when she cast a vote on October 30, 1756 in an official New England Open Town Meeting in Uxbridge, Massachusetts as noted in the records of the Uxbridge Town Meeting. 

Her vote was in favor of appropriating funds for the regiments engaged in the French and Indian War. Taft’s historic vote preceded the constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage by 164 years. She appeared at and may have voted at two other official Uxbridge Town meetings, in 1758 and 1765.

Taft died at Uxbridge on November 9, 1778, at the age of 66, during the American Revolution.

Via a mutual ancestor, Captain Seth Chapin, Lydia Chapin Taft was the great-great-great grand-aunt of the 27th United States President William Howard Taft, also his first cousin, four times removed, by marriage to Josiah Taft. By their mutual ancestor, Samuel Chapin, she was a second cousin, seven times removed, to celebrated songwriters and musicians Harry Chapin and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Taft’s role in the history of women’s suffrage was recognized by the Massachusetts legislature in 2004, when it named Massachusetts Route 146A, from Uxbridge to the Rhode Island border, in her honor.


Once upon a time so many years ago, Americans had national fit of self-righteousness.We decided alcohol was the root of all evil. To rectify the perceived problem, the nation rose up on its collective hind legs and passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. and amendment which established a legal prohibition of the manufacture and consumption of recreational alcoholic beverages in the United States. The separate (but closely related)  Volstead Act specified how authorities would enforce Prohibition, including the definition of “intoxicating liquor” — for anyone who needed an explanation.


The folks who needed an explanation were not your average Jill or Joe. Jill and Joe knew how to get drunk just fine, but apparently lawmakers, politicians and gangsters-to-be needed clarification. The gangsters needed to know what they had to do to cash in on this opportunity and the others, how to persecute people in the name of the law. Many beverages were excluded for medical and religious purposes. It was okay to get drunk as long it was accompanied by an appropriate degree of religious fervor. Or a doctor’s note.

That left a lot of room through which an entire generation strolled. Many people began drinking during Prohibition. Those who had never imbibed before were so titillated by the idea, they had their first alcoholic beverage while it was illegal. This, no doubt, made it more fun Whereas previously, alcoholism had no social cachet, during prohibition it became fashionable. As with most things, making it more difficult, expensive, and illegal made it more desirable and sexy. Regular folks, society leaders, and criminals all basked in the glow of illegality. A whole criminal class was born from prohibition. If that isn’t clear proof that legislating morality doesn’t work, I don’t know what is. It didn’t work then. It won’t work now. Whether the issue is booze, drugs, abortion, prayer, same-sex marriage, or term limits … law and morality don’t mix.


Passing a law limiting how many times you can elect a candidate rather than voting for a better (or at least different) candidate won’t improve the quality of legislators. You’ll just wind up voting for a bunch of clowns and opportunists who don’t give a rat’s ass about government while dedicated potential candidates won’t bother to run because there’s no future in it. Take a look at our current GOP and you can see the results in full color with flashing lights. Making drugs illegal, especially marijuana, has created an entire drug culture — exactly the way making booze illegal created the underworld of crime. Now that it’s (mostly) legal, the prices have dropped and it’s not such a big deal after all, though it’s a great calmer downer for dogs. The knee-jerk “lets solve social issues by making bad laws” causes considerable pain and suffering. As often as not, you end up legislating your way into a vast sea of exciting new problems you didn’t have before and quite possibly never imagined.

Throughout history, “morality” laws have failed. Monumentally and spectacularly. You’d think we’d have already noticed this, but ignorance being bliss, we don’t.

If you never drank before, bet this picture could change your mind.

We haven’t learned anything, maybe it’s because no one recognized that history is repeating itself. Many people don’t know any history, so why would they notice?The 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919 and took effect a year later, on January 17, 1920. Immediately, the demand for liquor increased. Producers, suppliers and transporters were turned into criminals, but drinkers were not prosecuted. What could go wrong with that? The entire justice system — courts, cops and prisons — was buried under a landslide of booze-related busts. Organized crime went from a minor issue to a major social force. Now that is progress!

Having achieved results way beyond the wildest dreams of the amendment’s creators, prohibition was repealed in 1933 via the Twenty-first Amendment, the only time in American history an amendment has been repealed. Today, whenever I hear someone declare how we need a constitutional amendment to solve a political or social problem, I contemplate how successfully we got rid of booze in 1919.

No one has had a drink since.


I’m not so much a news junkie as I am an election junkie. I’m fascinated by elections. I have been since I watched my first election which was Kennedy-Nixon. It was 1960 and I had just turned 14. Little did I know that two years later, in my freshman year at college, he would be assassinated.

I keep reminding people that the craziness we are experiencing now didn’t begin with Trump’s nomination or election. We’ve been working our way up to this since the country became a country. Since we decided that slavery was a better choice than risking our negligible economy with no slavery. I always accepted the belief that forming a country was more important than denying slavery, but I’ve come a long way since then. I think, in the end, when you make a poisonous decision, the whole tree is poisonous. Very much like in a courtroom, the fruit of the poisonous tree must be discarded because it too is poisonous.

So here we are. Somehow, we managed to elect … I don’t even know what to call him anymore … as our president and the price we are paying is high. So far, 170,000 lives too high. That’s just the pandemic. Which is not over and doesn’t appear to be close to “over.” We are watching and listening and worrying. Because four years of Trump has been horrendous. Devastating. Four more years would put an end to the soul of the U.S.A. I do not think we would recover from four more years of this madness.

Now, back to the convention, already in progress.


Definitely worth a reblog!

Seeking Serendipity


Location: A campfire in Vietnam near Saigon.

Year: 1967.

1967 and 1968 were very intense years for me. I had jumped directly from college and small time commercial radio, to ABC Network News. The time was right and the opportunity was there, but I was a kid thrust suddenly into the big leagues. My journalistic baptism started with the 6-day war in the Middle East which began on my first day at ABC. My professional life continued with the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, the volatile 1968 Presidential campaigns and a long visit to Vietnam, the first of several.

At headquarters in New York, my assignment was to receive reports from ABC’s field correspondents. I’d speak with them over static-riddled phone lines. Difficult to hear for anyone, harder for me. The daily MACV — or war front reports — were often significantly different from what the Pentagon reported. It was disturbing, worrying. Then, they sent me to Vietnam.

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Today (August 9) is a historical anniversary that, while I’m sure won’t go un-noticed, may well go unappreciated. Forty-six years ago today, on August 9, 1974, Richard M. Nixon resigned as President of the United States, the only president (thus far) to do so. Gerald Ford took over as the nation’s 37th President that afternoon. This was a pivotal event in U.S. political and social history. Nothing was ever quite the same, but perhaps for reasons that are under-appreciated or outright misunderstood.

Nixon, of course, resigned because of the Watergate scandal. In 1972, as he was running for re-election, a group of political spies paid by the White House broke into some Democratic Party offices to snoop around, and they got caught. This wasn’t really what got Nixon into trouble. What happened was, three days later, he told an aide, Bob Haldeman, to call the FBI and tell them to stop investigating the case. With those words, Nixon committed a crime–obstruction of justice–and the crime was caught on tape. In 1973 it was revealed Nixon recorded many of his conversations in the White House. He fought a year-long battle to keep the tapes, and especially this one, from coming out, but the Supreme Court ruled he had to turn them over. His political support drained away. To forestall impeachment and conviction, you might say Nixon “ragequit.”

I think the emotion he was feeling was more sorrow and shame than rage. Look at this, the full recording of his farewell speech to the White House staff. It’s 21 minutes long, but I’ve cued it up to 19:06 so you can hear his interesting advice to those who want to continue in government.

“Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty, always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”

The rest of the story: “Those who hate you don’t win”: thoughts on Nixon’s resignation.


Every nation revises history. They leave out the bad bits  — slaughters of the innocent, unjust wars against minorities and civilians. They invent heroes, turn defeats into victories.

Landing of Negroes at Jamestown from a Dutch Man-of-war, 1619. In this image, the Dutch sailors, who have captured slaves from a Spanish ship, are negotiating a trade with the Jamestown settlers for food. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

American history is no different. It’s relatively easy to make our history match our myths when such a large percentage of U.S. citizens haven’t learned any history since third grade. There’s some question about how well third-grade lessons were absorbed. Recent studies show a troubling pattern of ignorance in which even the basics of history are unknown to most of our natural-born citizens.

Ironically, naturalized citizens are far better educated. They had to pass a test to become citizens. The rest of us got a free pass.

Battle of Lexington & Concord

College students don’t know when we fought the Revolution, much less why. They can’t name our first president (George Washington, just in case you aren’t sure). Many aren’t clear about what happened on 9/11.  I’ve been asked which came first, World Wars I or II — indicating more than ignorance. More like deep stupidity. All over Facebook, morons gather to impress each other with the vigor of their uninformed opinions. They proclaim we fought the Revolution to not pay taxes and keep our guns. Saying that’s not how it happened is insufficient. I lack the words to say how untrue that is.

Why did we have a Revolution? How come we rebelled against England rather than peaceably settling our differences? Wouldn’t it have been easier to make a deal?

The Tea Party wharf

Yes, it would have been easier to make a deal and we tried. Unfortunately, it turned out to be impossible. We fought a revolution when we exhausted every peaceful option. Petitions and negotiations failed, but we kept trying, even after shots had been fired and independence declared.

We didn’t want a war with England. There were lots of excellent reasons. Our economy was entirely dependent on trade with England. Through English merchants, we could trade with the rest of the world. Without them, we were stuck with no trading partners or ships. We were ill-equipped to fight a war. We had no navy, no commanders. No trained army. We barely had guns. Our population was too small to sustain an army. We had no factories, mills or shipyards. We relied on England for finished goods other than those we could make in our own homes, including furniture, guns, clothing, cutlery, dishes, porcelain. We needed Britain to supply us with anything we ate or drank (think tea) unless we could grow it in North America.

All luxury goods and many necessities came from or through England. We had some nascent industries, but they were not ready for prime time. It wasn’t until 1789 we built our first cotton-spinning mill — made possible by an Englishman named Slater who immigrated from England and showed us how to do it.

Our American colonies didn’t want to be Americans. First of all, there was no America to be part of … and secondly, we wanted to be British. We wanted the right to vote in parliamentary elections as equals with other British citizens. The cry “no taxation without representation” (remember that?) didn’t mean we weren’t willing to pay taxes. It meant we wanted the right to vote on which taxes we paid. And how much. We wanted to be heard, to participate in government. Whether or not we would or would not pay a particular tax was not at issue. Everyone pays taxes. We wanted seats in Parliament and British citizenship.

King George was a Royal asshole. His counselors strongly recommended he make a deal with the colonists. Most Americans considered themselves Englishmen. If the British king had been a more flexible, savvy or intelligent monarch, war could have been averted. We would be, as the Canadians are, part of the British Commonwealth. There would have been no war. A bone-headed monarch thought a war was better than compromise. He was a fool, but it worked out okay.

British surrender at Yorktown

We declared war which many folks here and abroad thought was folly. We almost lost it. We would have lost were it not for three critical things: British unwillingness to pursue the war aggressively, French ships and troops, and European mercenaries. Without French assistance and hired mercenaries from central Europe, we would have been squashed by the British who were better armed, better trained. They had battleships with guns and trained seamen to man them.

We didn’t.

Just as we considered ourselves English, albeit living abroad in a colony rather than in England, British soldiers and commanders were not overly eager to slaughter people they considered fellow Englishmen. They didn’t pursue the war with the deadly determination they could have … and if they had? Who knows how it would have worked out?

Did we really win because the British were inept and couldn’t beat an untrained ragtag rabble army? That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. I side with those who think that the British found it distasteful to shoot people with whom a short time before they had been friends and with whom they hoped to be friends again. Many British soldiers had family in “the colonies” and vice-versa. It was a painful fight, not unlike a civil war. Many British citizens sympathized with the colonists including a goodly percentage of troops. Sympathy ran high even in the upper echelons of the British government. Many important people in England were none too happy with King George. So they did as they were ordered but without enthusiasm.

Getting the people excited enough to take up arms is hard work.

Then there was a huge miscalculation. The British did not expect the French to show up. As soon as the French fleet arrived, a few more battles were fought and the British went home. Had they pursued the war with vigor from the start, we wouldn’t have lasted long enough for the French to get here, much less save our butts.

The mythology surrounding the American Revolution is natural. Every nation needs heroes and myths and we are no exception. But as grown-ups, we can apply a bit of healthy skepticism, read a couple of books. Learn there’s more to the story than the stuff we learned when we were eight. Like, the second part of the Revolutionary war known as “The War of 1812.” Part two of the Revolution which we lost fair and square when the British burned Washington D.C.

We did not win the Revolution. We survived it. Barely.

Revolutionary tea party crate-dumping

This is why our current government is more than a mere miscalculation, a bad election. It’s not something we’ll “pull out of” after which everything will go back to normal. I’m not sure we have a normal to go back to. It’s not only how the evil underbelly of America has been exposed for all to see. It’s also that the planet is under attack. Americans — and everyone else — need to fix it if we want to continue to live here. We need to be very careful about how we move “forward.” We have to tread carefully. We have to work with our allies and our non-allies because everyone needs to put their shoulders to the wheel to keep our world livable.

World War 2 tank

We used to have the good fortune to live in a nation of laws but I’m not sure this is a nation of laws anymore. I’m not sure what we are. I’m not sure what the world is or whether there will be a world in another 100 years. Or for that matter, in another thirty.

Ignorance is the enemy of freedom. And our current government is the enemy of education, learning, and truth.

Blood in the water? Are the sharks coming for Donald J. Trump? – THE SHINBONE STAR

Last Wednesday was the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the U.S.S Indianapolis, a U.S. Navy heavy cruiser sunk by a Japanese submarine on July 30, 1945 after delivering the first U.S. atomic bomb to an isolated Pacific island air base. It is a grim story, a primer for abject failure.

Among the engaging legends told by superstitious sailors of the time is one claiming the good ship “Indy” was gobsmacked by Poseidon himself for delivering the “Little Boy” atomic bomb to the glamor boys of the Army Air Force, so they alone could claim facilitating the end World War II. What else could explain why the Indianapolis’ shipwrecked crew suffered so horribly for four days before anyone noticed the ship was missing?

The Navy says 1,151 sailors manned the ship, but only 316 survived the sinking. The captain endured, only to be disgraced by court-martial before committing suicide. About 150 crewmen were eaten by sharks. Included in their history is a footnote explaining that the horrific incident included the greatest massacre of humans by sharks in recorded history. By any measure, the tragedy perfectly illustrates the meaning of total failure.

Donald Trump, however, has surpassed even that level of failure. Almost daily he provides another illustration of his stunning ineptitude. His latest stunt, suggesting the November presidential election should be set aside until the atmosphere is more conducive to voting, has a sinister tone. Is it real or is it Memorex?

Source: Blood in the water? Are the sharks coming for Donald J. Trump? – THE SHINBONE STAR


I don’t usually post straight history right out of the books but we recently signed up for Disney + and found ourselves watching “Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier.” Interestingly, at the begiinning, there was a note that said the speech given by Crockett to the House of Representatives was an accurate rendition of what he said. This is a long, more third person rendition.

Crockett was America’s first media star. The press followed him around everywhere. But that speech in Congress was, as he knew it would be, the end of his political career. He already hated Jackson for his treatment of the Creek Indians and this bill appalled him. He felt we had no right to move Natives unless they were in agreement. They were a sovereign nation and deserved to be treated as such. So now you can rewatch “Davy Crockett” again, ignore Jackson (always worth doing) and remember that Crockett hated the nickname “Davy.” He was David, thank you.

Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 10

From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker,

This description was included in a book titled “Speeches on the Passage of the Bill for the Removal of the Indians,” published by Perkins and Marvin in 1830. The speech was given by Rep. David Crockett of Tennessee on May 19, 1830, in opposition to the Indian Removal Act. Unfortunately, the Congress disregarded Crockett’s objections and passed the bill, which was then signed into law by President Jackson. This is a sketch of the remarks of the Hon. David Crockett, Representative From Tennessee, on the Bill for the Removal of the Indians, Made in the House of Representatives, Wednesday, May 19, 1830.

Mr. Crockett said that considering his very humble abilities, it might be expected that he should content himself with a silent vote; but, situated as he was, in relation to his colleagues, he felt it to be a duty to himself to explain the motives which governed him in the vote he should give on this bill. Gentlemen had already discussed the treaty-making power; and had done it much more ably than he could pretend to do. He should not therefore enter on that subject, but would merely make an explanation as to the reasons of his vote,

He did not know whether a man (that is, a member of Congress) within 500 miles of his residence would give a similar vote; but he knew, at the same time, that he should give that vote with a clear conscience. He had his constituents to settle with, he was aware; and should like to please them as well as other gentlemen; but he had also a settlement to make at the bar of his God; and what his conscience dictated to be just and right he would do, be the consequences what they might.

He believed that the people who had been kind enough to give him their suffrages, supposed him to be an honest man, or they would not have chosen him. If so, they could not but expect that he should act in the way he thought honest and right. He had always viewed the native Indian tribes of this country as a sovereign people.

He believed they had been recognised as such from the very foundation of this government, and the United States were bound by treaty to protect them; it was their duty to do so. And as to giving to giving the money of the American people for the purpose of removing them in the manner proposed, he would not do it. He would do that only for which he could answer to his God. Whether he could answer it before the people was comparatively nothing, though it was a great satisfaction to him to have the approbation of his constituents.

Mr. Crockett said he had served for seven years in a legislative body. From the first hour he had entered a legislative hall, he had never known what party was in legislation; and God forbid he ever should. He went for the good of the country, and for that only. What he did as a legislator, he did conscientiously. He should love to go with his colleagues, and with the West and the South generally, if he could; but he never would let party govern him in a question of this great consequence.

Red Jacket, Native Chief

He had many objections to the bill — some of them of a very serious character. One was that he did not like to put half a million of money into the hands of the Executive, to be used in a manner which nobody could foresee, and which Congress was not to control. Another objection was, he did not wish to depart from from the foundation of the government. He considered the present application as the last alternative for these poor remnants of a once powerful people. Their only chance of aid was at the hands of Congress. Should its members turn a deaf ear to their cries, misery must be their fate.

That was his candid opinion. Mr. Crockett said he was often forcibly reminded of the remark made by the famous Red Jacket in the rotunda of this building, where he was shown the panel which represented in sculpture the first landing of the Pilgrims, with an Indian chief presenting to them an ear of corn, in token of friendly welcome. The aged Indian said “That was good.” The Indian said, he knew that they came from the Great Spirit, and he was willing to share the soil with his brothers from over the great water.

But when he turned around to another panel representing Penn’s treaty, he said “Ah! all’s gone now.”

There was a great deal of truth in this short saying; and the present bill was a strong commentary upon it. Mr. Crockett said that four counties of his district bordered on the Chickasaw country. He knew many of their tribe. Nothing should ever induce him to vote to drive them west of the Mississippi. He did not know what sort of a country it was in which they were to be settled. He would willingly appropriate money in order to send proper persons to examine the country. And when this had been done, and a fair and free treaty had been made with the tribes if they were desirous of removing, he would vote an appropriation of any sum necessary. But until this had been done, he would not vote one cent.

He could not clearly understand the extent of this bill. It seemed to go to the removal of all the Indians in any State east of the Mississippi river, in which the United States owned any land. Now, there was a considerable number of them still neglected. There was a considerable number of them in Tennessee, and the United States’ government owned no land in that State, north and east of the congressional reservation line.

No man could be more willing to see them removed than he was if it could be done in a manner agreeable to themselves; but not otherwise. He knew personally that a part of the tribe of the Cherokees were unwilling to go. When the proposal was made to them, they said, “No; we will take death here at our homes. Let them come and tomahawk us here at home: we are willing to die, but never to remove.”

He had heard them use this language. Many different constructions might be put upon this bill. One of the first things which had set him against the bill, was the letter from the secretary of war to colonel Montgomery — from which it appeared that the Indians had been intruded upon. Orders had been issued to turn them all off except the heads of the Indian families, or such as possessed improvements which the Government had taken measures to purchase from the Indians who had gone to Arkansas.

If this bill should pass, the same plan would be carried further; they would send and buy them out, and put white men upon their land. It had never been known that white men and Indians could live together; and in this case, the Indians were to have no privileges allowed them, while the white men were to have all. Now, if this was not oppression with a vengeance, he did not know what was. It was the language of the bill, and of its friends, that the Indians were not to be driven off against their will.

He knew the Indians were unwilling to go: and therefore he could not consent to place them in a situation where they would be obliged to go. He could not stand that. He knew that he stood alone, having, perhaps, none of his colleagues from his state agreeing in sentiment. He could not help that. He knew that he should return to his home glad and light in heart, if he voted against the bill. He felt that it was his wish and purpose to serve his constituents honestly, according to the light of his conscience. The moment he should exchange his conscience for mere party views, he hoped his Maker would no longer suffer him to exist.

David Crockett

He spoke the truth in saying so. If he should be the only member of that House who voted against the bill, and the only man in the United States who disapproved it, he would still vote against it. It would be matter of rejoicing to him until the day he died that he had given the vote. He had been told that he should be prostrated; but if so, he would have the consolation of conscience.

He would obey that power, and gloried in the deed. He cared not for popularity, unless it could be obtained by upright means. He had seen much to disgust him here; and he did not wish to represent his fellow citizens, unless he could be permitted to act conscientiously. He had been told that he did not understand English grammar. That was very true. He had never been six months at school in his life; he had raised himself by the labor of his hands. But he did not, on that account, yield upon his privilege as the representative of freemen on this floor.

Humble as he was, he meant to exercise his privilege. He had been charged with not representing his constituents. If the fact was so, the error (said Mr. Crpckett) is here, (touching his head) not here (laying his hand upon his heart). He never had possessed wealth or education, but he had ever been animated by an independent spirit; and he trusted to prove it on the present occasion.


You might say the Blackstone Valley was Alexander Hamilton’s dream come true. He wanted the U.S. to grow into an industrial and international powerhouse. This was the subject on which he and Thomas Jefferson fought. Jefferson wanted democracy and a more rural environment. Also, Jefferson had slaves. He liked his slaves, some of them very much indeed. Hamilton, while not an ardent abolitionist, didn’t believe that plantations and slavery were going to push this nation forward. And that is, of course, what the show “Hamilton” is all about.
The thing is, Hamilton’s idea of our future was born on the Blackstone River. Right here as it runs down from the Worcester Hills, through Uxbridge, and down into Rhode Island. This is where America’s Industrial Revolution was born.
We’re still cleaning up the pollution 233 years later.

Born Bankrupt

America was born bankrupt. We won the revolution, but lost everything else. Our economy was dependent on Great Britain. We produced raw material, but Great Britain turned those materials into goods for the world’s markets.

Battle of Lexington and Concord revolution

Not merely did we depend on the British to supply us with finished goods we could not produce ourselves, we depended on British banks, British shipping, and British trade routes.

Everything has a price and we had no money. We had hoped we could reach an agreement with England short of war and had there been a less intransigent monarch on the throne at the time, we might have been able to do so. Despite the Massachusetts “Sam Adams faction” who were hellbent for battle, most colonists felt at least some allegiance to England.

We had no “American identity” because there was no America with which to identify. Nor was the yearning to breathe free burning in every heart. What the colonists of North America wanted were the rights of free Englishmen. We wanted seats in Parliament. We wanted to vote on taxes and other policies that affected colonial life. A deal could have been reached, but George III was not that kind of king.

The result? A war, the staggering loss to England of its wealthiest colony, and the birth of a new nation.

Winning the war was remarkable. We had no army or navy. We were sparsely populated. Existing militias were untrained, undisciplined, little better than rabble. That George Washington could turn this into an army was no small feat. No wonder they wanted him to be the first President.

And then, there were the French whose military support enabled us to beat the British. It was a loan, not a gift. We agreed to pay it back. The French revolution was an unexpected but gratifying development. It was like having the bank that holds your mortgage disappear taking your mortgage with it. It vastly improved our debt to income ratio. When Napoleon came to power and suggested we repay our war debt, we said “What debt?”

Our shipping industry was in its infancy. We had very few ships or sailors and minimal access to world trade. The British ruled the seas and being soreheads, refused to share it with us. It would take years before we could challenge their ascendancy on the seas.

What Did We Have?

Slaves and land. Sugar and rum.

If you who think slavery was an entirely southern institution, you’re wrong. Although slaves lived mostly in the southern colonies, they were brought to these shores by New England sea captains, held in New York, Boston, and other northern cities, sold to slavers at markets in the north, then sent south to be sold again to individual owners. The entire economy of the nascent country was based on slaves and their labor. The institution of slavery could not have persisted had it not been supported by business interests in the north.

The new-born United States had, for all practical purposes, no economy. We were pre-industrial when European countries were well into the modern industrial period. We had no factories. We had no national bank, currency, credit, courts, laws or central government. Our only thriving industry were slaves.

Although there was an abolitionist movement, it was more sentimental than real.

North and south, slaves made people rich. Not the slaves, of course, but other people. North and south, fortunes were made selling human beings, then profiting from their labor. When it came time to write the Constitution, to turn a bunch of individual colonies into one country, the Devil’s compromise was needed. Abolishing slavery would doom any attempt to pass the constitution … so slavery became law and the groundwork was laid for the bloodiest war America would ever fight.

It would twist and distort American history, shape our politics, society, culture, and social alignments. Its legacy remains with us today and probably always will.

Why Didn’t We Find a Better Way?

Question: If our Founding Fathers were so smart, how come they didn’t see that slavery would come back to bite us in the ass?

Answer: They knew it was wrong and knew that it would result in civil war. In other words, they did knew it would bite us in the ass. They could keep slavery and form a strong nation — or eliminate slavery and end up with two weak countries, one slave, one free. They chose what they thought was the lesser of the two evils.

Was it the lesser evil? It’s a bit late to second guess the decision. It was clear from the get-go there was no way we were going to form a nation if slavery was illegal. From private writings by members of the continental congress, it was also clear they knew the issue of slavery would be resolved by civil war and were glad they’d all be dead by then. Long before 1776, slavery was the polarizing issue in the colonies.

“The Great Compromise” was put into place. The Constitution was approved. Ninety years later, the war without end was fought. More than 630,000 lives was the butcher’s bill. An ocean of blood would be the cost of ending America’s traffic in human lives. Many more years would pass before this country’s non-white population would see anything resembling justice, much less equality. When you dine with the Devil, bring a long spoon.

Was it worth it? I used to be sure I knew the answer. Now, I’m not so sure.


Slaves, rum, and sugar — the triangle of trade that kept America’s economy alive — was profitable for plantation owners, sea captains, and other slave traders, but it didn’t generate a whole lot of entry-level job opportunities for average working people. A lot of people needed work, even more needed trade goods. Dependable sources of income were slow in coming and the U.S. stayed in the preindustrial world 100 years longer than England.

Most people didn’t own ships. If they did, they might be disinclined to take up slaving. Regarded as an economic necessity by many, it was never anyone’s idea of a good way to make a living. Decent people might live off the labor of slaves, but the actual process of buying and selling human beings was more than they could stomach.

Slaterville Mill -- oldest mill in the Blackstone Valley

As great political and legal minds gathered in Philadelphia to draft the document to build a nation, other great minds were seeking ways to make money. That’s the American way.

In one of the stranger coincidences of history, the Constitution went into effect on March 4, 1789 while simultaneously, the American Industrial Revolution was born on the Blackstone River.

Moses Brown had been fighting his own war. He was battling the Blackstone. With a 450 foot drop over a 46-mile course — an average drop of about 10 feet per mile — the Blackstone River is a powerhouse. Not a wide river, its sharp drop combined with its narrowness and meandering path give it much more energy than a river of this size would normally generate.

It invited development. The question was how.

Through 1789, as the Constitution was gaining approval throughout the former British colonies, Brown wrangled the river, trying to build a cotton thread factory in Pawtucket, RI at the falls on the Blackstone River. He was sure he could harness the river to power his mill, but as the end of the 1789 approached, the score stood at Blackstone River – 1, Moses Brown – 0.

America had her welcome mat out in those days. We needed people, especially people with industrial skills. We weren’t picky. All immigrants were welcome. This turned out to be a stroke of luck for Moses Brown.

In December 1789, Samuel Slater — a new immigrant from England — began working for Brown. Slater had spent years working at an English textile mill. He recognized that Brown’s machinery was never going to work. Slater had fine engineering skills. In under a year, he’d redesigned and built a working mill on the Blackstone River.

By 1790, Slater’s Mill was up and running, the first successful water-powered cotton-spinning factory in the United States. Slater’s Mill proved you could make money in New England doing something other than whaling, fishing, or running rum and slaves. Entrepreneurs hopped on the idea like fleas on a dog. Mills were an immediate success. New England was inhospitable to agriculture, but fertile for factories.

Mills grew along the Blackstone from Worcester to Providence, then sprouted by the Merrimack in Lowell, and eventually, throughout New England. Wherever the rivers ran, mills and factories followed.

The Blackstone Canal

On the Blackstone, mill owners urgently sought a better way to move their goods.

The features that made the Blackstone a natural for generating power made it useless for shipping. The only other choice — horse-drawn wagons — was slow and expensive. The trip took between 2 and 3 days over dirt roads from Worcester to Providence. In heavy snow, it was impossible.

All of which led to the building of the Blackstone Canal. Meant as a long-term solution, it actually turned out to be no more than a short-term temporary fix … but it was an impressive undertaking.

What Does This Have To Do With Slavery?

Mills brought employment to the north. It created a real industrial base that would give the north the ability to fight the civil war … and win. It started with a river, continued with a canal, expanded with the railroads. Which is why the Blackstone Valley is a National Historic Corridor and known as the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution … a revolution that brought the U.S. into the modern world and positioned us to become a top dog on the international scene.

Building the Canal

The Blackstone Canal took 4 years to build, from 1824 to 1828. The main canal runs alongside the Blackstone. In some places, the canal and the river are one. There is an extensive network of small canals, many on tributary rivers like the Mumford. The main canal was designed to handle large barges. It travels in a relatively straight line from Worcester to Providence. Smaller canals, built between the river and the big canal, could move cargo in towns and between mill.

Big barges were faster and cheaper than horse-drawn wagons. A single barge could haul as much as 35 tons of cargo and only needed two horses going downstream.

The canal system remains largely intact. Trails along the canals where horses towed barges have become walking paths. The barges are gone, but small boats can enjoy the open stretches of canal and river.


Ultimately, railroads were the game-changer. As soon as rails from Worcester to Boston, and Worcester to Providence were built, the canals were abandoned. Business boomed. The Blackstone River was lined with mills and factories at the end of the 1800s. The Blackstone supplied the hydro power and in return, the river was used to dispose of industrial waste and sewage.

By the early 1900s, the Blackstone River in Massachusetts was grossly polluted. Fortunately for the river, though not necessarily for the valley’s residents, this was also the beginning of the end of the textile industry in the northeast.

As of 1923, the majority of nation’s cotton was grown, spun and woven down south. Without its mills and factories, the valley’s population began to shrink.


In 1971, the Blackstone River was labeled “one of America’s most polluted rivers” by Audubon magazine. It was a low point for the region. It was time to clean up the mess.

We’re still cleaning up. Although not as polluted as it was, the watershed has a long way to go. The river’s tributaries are less polluted than the Blackstone itself because against all logic and reason, waste-water is still being discharged from a sewage treatment plant in Millbury. It’s hard to fathom what reasoning, if any, those who favor pouring sewage into our river are using. The fight never ends.

Good news? The birds and fish are back. American eagles nest in the woods. Herons and egrets wade in the shallows. Fishing is legal and in some places, even swimming is allowed. The river is alive despite man’s best efforts to kill it.


I don’t consider myself a mean spirited or a vindictive person. I avoid conflicts with others and I don’t think about revenge when someone slights me. My friends and family consider me a nice, decent, even sweet person. I even stayed friendly with my ex-husband after our divorce for many years.

But suddenly, I’m finding myself positively gleeful at the sudden and dramatic downturn in Trump’s (and all Republicans’) fortunes. I not only cheered, but gloated when I saw only one third of the seats filled at Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Especially after his people bragged about the huge number of tickets requested. They even created a second rally venue outside the stadium and planned additional speeches by Trump and Pence for these anticipated overflow crowds. That made their failure more gratifying when only 6,200 people showed up in a building that had 19,000 seats.

I was so happy imagining Trump’s shock and horror as he looked out on the sea of empty blue seats. I was chuckling and fist pumping as I watched Trump’s dejected walk of shame later that night, morosely slouching back from his plane with his tie undone and his crumbled MAGA hat in his hand.

I am elated as I watch Trump’s poll numbers drop so far that even his people have to admit that he’s trailing Biden pretty much everywhere. But I feel more than the usual relief and hope that I would feel in normal times when my candidate is ahead in the polls. I feel vindication knowing that Republicans may have to face the reality that their years in the sun may be over – hopefully for a very long time.

Trump also created a problem for himself by stating that if he loses the election, it will be because of massive election ‘fraud’ or ‘rigging.’ So now anti-Trumpers can’t just be happy beating him by a respectable but small margin. We need to win in a landslide that he can’t possibly contest. We have to crush him like a bug.

I gather that others feel the same way I do because I’ve heard the phrase “Democrats will crawl over broken glass to get to the polls to defeat Trump,” even in a global pandemic.

I’m feeling some of the same glee and vindication watching Confederate Statues come down all over the country. The fact that Trump is livid about this makes the trend that much sweeter to watch. But I never understood the concept of honoring generals and other confederates who not only committed treason by trying to break away from the United States of America, but lost a war trying to do so. No one puts up statues to the people who lose the wars! We don’t have German or Japanese names on anything that I’m aware of.

Confederate Statue pulled down by protesters

Even in Germany, there are many monuments to WWII, but none are of Nazis! They are for the VICTIMS of the Holocaust, not the perpetrators! And the Holocaust is taught in German schools as the horror it was so it will never happen there again.

Statue in Germany to concentration camp victims

So when Trump (hopefully) loses big in November, I will not only be cheering for Biden’s win, but for Trump’s loss. I will also be hoping for the total humiliation and despair of Trump’s supporters and enablers, who always claim to be the ‘real’ Americans. I want them to feel the range of horrific feelings much of the country has been feeling for almost four years. I will be ecstatic as they watch in horror as the country repudiates them, their horrible values and their disgusting, shameful leader.

If that makes me a mean person, I can live with it.