Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Power Game, Part Four

"In my opinion it is a lunatic book... There is a type of unstable mind which cannot rest without morbid imaginings, and the conception of a single cause simplifies thought.  With this good woman it is the Jews, with some people it is the Jesuits, with others Freemasons, and so on.  The world is more complex than that."-- Hilaire Belloc, commenting on Nesta Webster's Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, 1924


Nesta Webster saw conspiracies everywhere...

Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, published in 1924 and her masterwork, sought to alert the English-speaking world to the dangers posed by Jews, Bolsheviks, Freemasons, the Illuminati, the Knights Templar, ad infinitum et ad nauseum...
Nesta Webster remains one of the most cited
"authorities" among contemporary conspiracy
theorists.  At the request of the British Army's
leadership, Webster provided lectures to commanders
on the "true nature" of the Bolshevik threat.

Why Mrs Webster believed such things should be something of a mystery.  Born to a well-connected family in comfortable circumstances and raised in a stately home, she took a degree from respectable Westfield College in London and married rather well, becoming the wife of England's Superintendent of Police after she toured the world to complete her education.  Yet, despite this (or perhaps because of it), Nesta Helen Bevan Webster-- granddaughter of an Anglican Bishop of Chichester-- was publishing pamphlets with titles like "The need for Fascism in Britain" by the mid-1920s...

Our mystery may be solved in part by Webster's comment about the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic hoax fabricated between 1897 and 1903 by agents of the Russian Secret Police and subsequently widely distributed in the United States by auto maker Henry Ford.  It didn't matter, Webster said, if the Protocols were authentic or a clever forgery: what was important was they told the truth.  And that truth was simple for her.  She knew Jews were up to no good.  Plain and simple.  They toiled like moles, she said, in dark corners of finance and publishing to achieve world-wide domination...
Two French editions of the The Protocols of the Learned Elders
of Zion, a forgery created by Russian Secret Police who aimed to
bolster support for the Czar by appealing to Jew hatred.

[Henry Ford reportedly spent $5 million of his personal fortune to print 500,000 copies of the Protocols and to purchase the Dearborn Independent newspaper to spread his Jew hating nonsense.  Copies of the paper and the Protocols were distributed throughout his vast network of automobile dealerships where they were handed out free of charge to customers.  As early as 1922, Ford began providing financial aid to Adolph Hitler's Nazi movement out of sympathy for its anti-Semitic platform.  The German dictator admired Ford greatly, keeping a life-size portrait of the car maker in his office and honoring him in 1938 with The Grand Cross of the German Eagle, to celebrate Ford's 75th birthday.]

Anti-Semitism was fashionable among the better classes of Europe during Nesta's day just as that equally repulsive myth of Negro Inferiority guided the racial theories of the Deep South in the United States.  (Notions of White European superiority were fueled by the claims of Phrenology, a 19th Century pseudoscience which measured skulls for factors like thickness and bumps that could be used to determine intelligence levels or personality type of an individual or ethnic group).  Among Webster's early admirers, we may count Winston Churchill who enthusiastically and lavishly praised her fourth book, The French Revolution: A Study in Democracy, published in 1919...

It was the French Revolution, in point of fact, that got the intellectually complicated Nesta Webster into the Conspiracy Theory business...
Liberty Leading The People by Eugene Delacroix romantacized
the French Revolution whose leaders aimed to dethrone both King
and Pope and create a secular state based on Reason.

After she returned to England following her marriage to Captain Arthur Webster in India, Nesta devoted three years to researching the topic of the origins of the French Revolution.  She began with a suspicion that Jews and Freemasons were somehow to blame for the overthrow of good order in Europe.  Not surprisingly, she found evidence to prove her notions.  Historians question the actual value of her research since she tended to using unsubstantiated allegations from a single source or, alternatively, citing multiple authors who made similar unproven charges as proof that the charge had to be true...

Part of Webster's elaborate theory that sinister elements devoted to spreading atheism spawned the French Revolution involved the dark hand of the Illuminati who sprang into being on May 1, 1776, through the machinations of Adam Weishaupt.  Despite his training in the classrooms of Jesuits and his position as a lay professor of Canon Law at the University of Ingolstadt, Weishaupt became ensnared by freethinkers who held that one should base conclusions on the basis of facts, reason and logic as opposed to tradition or religious dogma...
The pseudoscience of Phrenology was used to scientifically
prove Caucasion superiority over other racial groups throughout
the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries.  Its advocates
further used it to demonstrate English or German or French
superiority over other European groups.

Adam Weishaupt and his Order of the Illuminated Ones failed to find much favor with either Church or State.  Within a year of its founding, the Order was suppressed by Karl Theodore, the Elector of Bavaria.  Weishaupt went into exile.  The remaining members of the Illuminati panicked and scattered to the four winds...

Or did they?

It was the considered opinion of John Robison, a Scottish scientist, the secretive Order had not only remained intact but also continued to foment revolution and rebellion against God and legitimate authority throughout the Christianized world.  He shared his thoughts on the subject in his Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe carried on in the Secret Meetings of the Freemasons, Illuminati, and Reading Rooms, collected from Good Authorities...
Contemporary conspiracy theorists find proof of a Masonic
or Illuminati plot against Christianity in the "All-Seeing Eye"
above an unfinished pyramid and a Latin phrase proclaiming
a New Order of The Ages.  How, they ask, can we support a
government whose very founders brazenly announced their
godless agenda on the nation's currency?

Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy appeared in the United States in 1798, a year after its European publication...

The Proofs crystallized suspicions among reactionaries about the true loyalties of their political opponents and set in motion a dynamic which still plays a significant role in American government two hundred years later.  To a very large extent, we can argue the fear of the Illuminati in their various guises continues to dominate conspiratorial fears on the political right in the United States...

Asked about Thomas Jefferson, the average American today may cite him as author of the Declaration of Independence or as the visionary who purchased the vast Louisiana Territory.  However, to the politically conservative Federalists of the late 1790s, old Tom was a hated and dangerous man, an agent of both French Atheism and the freethinking Illuminati. 
An issue of auto manufacturer Henry Ford's
Dearborn Independent, part of his multi-
million dollar campaign to alert America to
the threat posed by Jews in her midst

It took little time for preachers to jump on the anti-Illuminati bandwagon. Ink had barely dried on the first copy of Robison's Proofs printed in the US when Reverend Jedediah Morse preached two sermons on the topic to his Boston congregation.  A month after the Reverend Morse inveighed against the Illuminated Ones and their agents, the President of Yale University, Timothy Dwight, delivered an impassioned Fourth of July tirade, demanding to know if "our sons (shall) become disciples of Voltaire and our daughters concubines of the Illuminati?"  Dwight's fiery speech cemented Federalist fears of Jefferson and his godless ways...

Fear of the illuminati helped secure passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 by the Federalists.  These four acts came close to causing the fledgling United States to split apart as both Jefferson and James Madison, the key figure in drafting the nation's Constitution, authored resolutions denouncing them, and America's Navy fought an undeclared war on the high seas with ships flying the flag of the French Republic...
Title page of The Jefferson Bible, a cut-and-paste account
of the life of Jesus compiled by Thomas Jefferson.  A deist,
Jefferson had the highest regard for the moral teachings of
Jesus but believed stories of his miracles and resurrection
were fictions appended onto his biography by his followers.

The crisis engendered by the Alien and Seditions Act died down but the fear of secret societies remained strong.  What has been labeled as the first "Third Party" political movement in the United States was formed in upstate New York in 1828 to oppose the influence of Freemasons in American government. 

The Anti-Masonic Party, by way of trivia, gave our system of government the practices of nominating conventions and an official party platform.  To a large extent, organizers of the Anti-Masonic Party had a hidden agenda: defeating Andrew Jackson and his vigorous view of democracy.  Old Hickory was a Mason (one of 14 US Presidents who attained the degree of Master Mason) and frequently praised the society.  His opponents cleverly tapped into an existing distrust of Freemasonry to achieve their goal of defeating a larger political philosophy that had little to do with secret societies...

Originating in western New York, the Anti-Masonic Party began with a suspicion that Freemasons in the town of Batavia kidnaped and murdered William Morgan, a Mason who became dissatisfied with the order and threatened to publish its secrets...
Andrew Jackson mortally wounds Charles Dickinson in
an 1806 duel after Dickinson repeatedly asserted Jackson's
wife was an adultress who knowingly had sexual relations
in a bigamous marriage.  One of fourteen Presidents known
to be a Master Mason, Jackson's political opponents
unsuccessfully used his connection to Freemasonry against

Class resentment may have had something to do with anti-Masonic sentiment.  Masons were often among the more financially and socially successful members of society in the early days of the American Republic.  George Washington was a Mason.  Extensive research by Masonic historian Ronald Heaton indicates at least eight of the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence were Masons-- Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock being among them.  Unverified claims also link another five or six of the signers to the brotherhood.  It is generally acknowledged the Boston Tea Party was the child of Freemasons...

In the case of Andrew Jackson and the Anti-Masonic opposition to him, we should look past his reputation as champion of the common man and steadily growing middle class to remember he was a rich man.  Historians estimate his fortune in 2010 dollars would come close to $120 million.  [By way of comparison, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had resources equivalent to $525 million and $212 million respectively].  And we should also realize the opposition to Jackson (and Jefferson) was also led by fairly rich men who rallied ordinary folk against the "dangerous" policies of these Presidents...
The Mysteries of the Freemasons by Leo Taxil was a 19th century hoax which
asserted, among other ludicrous claims, that Masons worshipped the mysterious
Baphomet of the Knights Templar.  New Testament scholar Hugh Schonfeld has
argued that "Baphomet" is a cypher translating into "Sophia" ("Wisdom"), the
feminine aspect of God

The struggle against Jackson and Jefferson (as well as many other Presidents) had much to do with a sense of political displacement.  In simplest terms, those who were once the elite and in charge find themselves in subordinate roles with minimal ability to make the rules for others... 

We humans seek explanations for why things change.  In the case of white southerners facing court-ordered integration of schools during the tumultuous1960s, the explanation often had to do with a conspiracy led by Jews and Communists who used their stooges on the "liberal" Supreme Court to weaken America to "mongrelize" the white race.  The Federalist Party of the late 1790s and early 1800s, formed around business and trade ideas promoted by Andrew Hamilton, saw opponents as hell-bent on visiting the horrors of the French Revolution upon the United States... 

Sometimes, a sense of displacement affects the internal direction of a political party.  Feeling core Republican Party conservative values were being ignored, midwestern lawyer Phyllis Schlafly led a revolt against "Eastern Liberals" like New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller then dominating the party.  This successful uprising resulted in Senator Barry Goldwater's disastrous 1964 nomination for the Presidency...
Mid-1960s advertisement for the John Birch Society, a
staunchly anti-Communist conservative organization whose
founder charged President Dwight Eisenhower was willing
tool of the Red Conspiracy.

Those who see sinister purposes behind associations of the rich and powerful will not find merit in political scientist C Wright Mill's assertion in his 1956 study, The Power Elite, that "social origin and formal education in common tend to make the members of the power elite more readily understood and trusted by each other, their continued association further cements what they feel they have in common"... 

Why should we believe two rich men who attended the same university see that as a bond when we can just as easily believe they are bent on enslaving humanity through currency manipulation or stock market frauds?  The former is too simple an answer...

Bogeymen like Illuminati and Freemasons do not appear magically out of nowhere.  We can trace the fear of them back much farther than the 1700s, to lingering suspicions the Knights Templar survived their brutal suppression engineered by France's King Philip IV and Pope Clement V in the early 1300s.  Those who profited financially from the judicial executions justified by confessions extracted through torture feared the Templars who'd escaped were biding their time, patiently waiting to destroy Church and State...
George Washington in Masonic regalia

[Mainstream historians tend to be skeptical of claims linking the Templars and Masons directly.  Certain Masonic traditions assert the connection (as do many if not most anti-Masonic groups) but documentation to prove this is lacking.  Readers interested in one of the better works on the subject may find John J Robinson's Born in Blood useful.  A non-Mason when he began researching the English Peasant's Revolt of 1381, Robinson found what he believed to be subtle hints of an organized Templar survival in the events which took place during the uprising.  Robinson's theories are considered speculative but other historians often recommend Born in Blood as well-written and interesting with a proviso they do see his case as proven.]
Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren was a frequent target of hatred by
groups who simultaneously opposed racial integration and supported the
practice of saying Christian prayers in publicly funded schools.

Returning to Nesta Webster, we note her interest in the French Revolution began with an attempt to understand the rise of Communism in Russia.  She repeatedly argued in her writing that Bolshevism sprang from a much older conspiracy.  As for the roots of this older conspiracy, she saw three possibilities: Zionism, pan-Germanism, or an evil "occult power."  Her personal preference was to blame the Jews, noting "Jews have never been more Jews than when we tried to make them men and citizens"...

Hilaire Belloc described Webster as delusional.  I suspect he was right...
Banner of the Anti-Masonic Party, the first "Third Party"
political movement in the United States.  Its agenda was to
free the United States of the doleful effects of Freemasonry.
Its largely Protestant membership also kept a wary eye on
Catholic immigrants.

[Skeptical readers may view some of Nesta's thoughts as ignorant racism, asking how we could automatically link Zionist-inspired conspiracies to Freemasonry and bands of Bolsheviks.  These readers may be unaware at least one connection was addressed in 1869 by Gougenot de Mousseaux in a work whose title translates to Jews, Judaism, and the Judaization of Christian People.  de Mousseaux warned that Freemasonry was "an audacious work of Judaism, an artificial Judaism to recruit strange men-- and especially Christians-- to the Jewish race" with Masonic Lodges acting as synagogues where duped Gentiles worked to advance Zionist agendas.]    

Of course, one man's lunatic is another man's clear thinking citizen.  What do we make of the John Birch Society, founded in 1958 by candy manufacturer Robert Welch, Jr?  Are they the right-wing extremists many claim them to be?  Or is there truth to JBS allegations that the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s was infiltrated by Communists?  Why would our government put fluoride in our drinking water if not to poison and weaken us so Reds can march in, take over, and fly the Hammer and Sickle flag high above Kansas' state capitol?  What did George Herbert Walker Bush mean with his remarks about a New World Order?  Can there be any real doubt among loyal and true American patriots that President Eisenhower was a tool of Moscow and its collectivist monsters?...     

Technological advances in the 1920s and 1930s made
Phrenology available and affordable to all.  These
improvements unfortunately did little to improve the
intelligence of people who used the pseudoscience to
generate theories of racial superiority.



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Caliche and Desert Grasses

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Note: All photographs for this essay were located through Google Images or Wikipedia, without authoritative source or ownership information except as noted: French editions of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion from; Robot Phrenologist devices from; Phrenology Chart illustrating the Natural Language of the faculties from; George Washington Freemason from; title page from the Jefferson Bible from; C Wright Mills quote from The Power Elite (Mills, New York, 1956); de Mousseaux quoted by Daniel Pipes in Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where it Comes From (New York, 1997);

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Journey To The Desert's Edge, Part 8

Note: this is the eighth in a series of occasionally appearing entries focusing on deserts in general and the drylands of West Texas in particular

Western Texas hasn't always been dry...

Geologists say it was covered by a huge inland sea during the Cretaceous Period which lasted from roughly 145 million years ago until 65 million years ago.  A good chunk of modern North America also lay underwater while dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops caused drier ground to rumble when they walked.  Pterosaurs likely glided through the skies in search of aquatic meals along the edges of this inland sea which stretched from the North Pole through the heartlands of modern Canada and the United States, flowing into the current Gulf of Mexico...
A University of Michigan diorama envisioning the Permian Sea
of 300 million years ago

This sea quietly laid down limy sediment on the ocean floor, century after century, and slowly eroded the Ouachita Mountains which rose 300 million years ago to cross what is now central Texas.  Then, 10 million years ago, comparatively recently in geologic time, the Earth shuddered and pushed what had been a limestone covered Cretaceous sea bed upward until it was a plateau in central and western Texas nearly 2000 feet above sea level...

[One way to get a rough idea of the path followed by the ancient Cretaceous sea would be to glance at a modern soil map and look at the flow of ustolls across the Great Plains of North America.  (Ustolls are a suborder of mollisols, a soil order that generally form under grassland cover in semi-arid or semi-humid climates.  Parent material for these soils is usually calcareous with limestone as an important component.)  Many mollisols have strong agricultural potential but occur in areas of limited rainfall.  Taking advantage of their potential, sadly, often requires crop irrigation in locations where water for human consumption is already in limited supply.]
USDA soil map showing distribution of Mollisols in the
United States.  The Ustoll sub-order (in orange) roughly
follows a path taken by an inland sea during the Cretaceous
Period some 65 million to 145 years ago

Nowadays, the plateau pushed up 10 million years ago is called the Edwards Plateau.  Most authorities say it (and an aquifer in the region) took its name from Edwards County which was organized in 1883 and named after Hayden (or Haden) Edwards, a land empresario who lived in the East Texas town of Nacogdoches before Texas won its independence from Mexico.  Edwards held huge grants for land in the western part of Texas but likely never even saw the area...

Edwards County is desolate country for those who wonder.  It sits a couple hours south of the despoblados surrounding San Angelo and occupies 2120 square miles of Texas with a population of 2002 during the 2010 census.  Very few blacks or Asians live there and approximately 45% of the people in Edwards County call themselves Hispanic.  The Lipan Apaches hunted and gathered the region when Spaniards decided to Christianize them by way of the Mission of San Lorenzo in 1762.  Neither Spain nor Mexico had any real desire to settle the empty land.  Anglos came a century later, seeking opportunity...
Sparsely populated Edwards County, Texas, takes its name from
the Edwards Plateau.  This is a view south of the town of Rock Springs.

Its earliest settlers of European descent were smart enough to realize that country with an annual average rainfall of 22 inches does not make for good farming but can support a few goats and sheep.  Accordingly, Edwards County became (along with the rest of the western Edwards Plateau and adjacent Trans-Pecos) the nation's wool and mohair center.  In 1940, Edwards County boasted 376,322 angora goats, 331,970 sheep, and 2993 humans at the zenith of its mammalian population...

Hayden Edwards played an even more significant role in Texas history than giving his name to a desert country county in 1883, thirty-four years after his death...

This role had a name: the Republic of Fredonia...
Flag of the Republic of Fredonia

Fredonia, admittedly a short-lived republic (from December 21, 1826 until January 31, 1827), was the first attempt by Anglo settlers in Texas to secede from Mexico.  The George Washington of Fredonia was Hayden Edwards who came into the area near Nacogdoches in 1825, lured by promises of great wealth in the form of land grants from the Mexican government.  His contract called for him to bring 800 families to eastern Texas.  Edwards made two really big mistakes in building his colony: showing favoritism to already rich southern planters (he was one himself) who wanted more land at the expense of  poor white or brown "peasants" (whom he looked down upon) and taking sides in a hotly contested local election.  Mistakes of this sort generated enough friction to convince the Mexican government to revoke his land grants...

Edwards had no intention of giving up and returning to his plantation near Jackson, Mississippi.  He'd invested more than $50,000 in the project.  (In simple purchasing power terms, an 1825 dollar translates to about $24 today.  An1825 dollar, however, translates to $660 now in terms of measuring "wealth" for social status or economic "clout" purposes.)  Few people today would simply walk away from a $33,000,000 investment today and Edwards had no desire to do so when it came to its equivalent back in 1826...

Declaring their independence from Mexico, Edwards and his supporters proclaimed the Republic of Fredonia and attempted to forge an alliance with local Cherokee Indians.  This did not work out well.  Nor did it help Edwards' cause that his fellow empresario, Stephen F Austin, then had no quarrel with Mexico and agreed to supply men to fight alongside Mexican troops to end the rebellion...
Hayden Edwards and his wife

The Republic of Fredonia collapsed as its leaders fled, not even attempting to engage in battle when lightly armed soldiers arrived to quash independence.  Edwards crossed the Sabine River into Louisiana to avoid a trial and a firing squad.  He came back to Texas a decade later to join the fight for Texas independence and to reclaim his role as one of Nacogdoches' leading citizens until his death in 1849...

[Austin (whose own contract called for him to receive 67,000 acres of land per every 200 families settled) provided 250 men to end the rebellion after informing his colonists "infatuated madmen at Nacogdoches have declared independence."  His contingent numbered 150 men more than the troops sent by the Mexican government.]

Long before Hayden Edwards bit at the hand that fed him and long before Cretaceous sea beds were covered with limy sediment, the world was literally one...

Dimetrodon prowled the steamy forests of Pangaea

About 300 million years ago, the world's land masses coalesced into a single continent which modern scientists call Pangaea ("entire earth" in classical Greek) surrounded by a world ocean now known as Panthalassa.  These land masses began to rift a hundred million years later.  [A German named Alfred Wegener, a man who would die exploring the icy wastelands of Greenland at age 50 and son-in-law of the climatologist Wladimir Koeppen, first proposed the idea of an "urkontinent" in 1915.  The notion was too radical to be immediately accepted and it took several decades for mainstream geology to take kindly to Wegener's theories. ]  This time of global unity took place during the Permian Period...

The Permian gave its name to the Permian Basin of western Texas and eastern New Mexico.  This area of drylands has one of the world's thickest deposits of rocks dating back to the Permian Period, including the spectacular Guadalupe Mountains with the highest point in Texas-- the eponymous Guadalupe Peak which rises 8749 feet above sea level.  The mountains are also home to El Capitan, another hill towering above the Chihuahuan Desert landscape...

El Capitan served as a landmark along the Butterfield Overland Mail route from 1858 until 1861.  Connecting Memphis and St Louis with San Francisco, the Butterfield stagecoaches crossed into the drylands in the Concho Valley of Texas before there was a settlement first called Santa Angela and then San Angelo.  It continued on to the Pecos River and the eerily named Horsehead Crossing (where the skeletons of animals trapped in quicksand or poisoned by briny river water lay scattered along the banks of a once rapid and treacherous stream).  From there it was on to El Paso and Tucson...
Guadelupe Mountains National Park: home to some of the Earth's
oldest rocks

Likely, there would have been little or no interest in the passenger and mail services provided by the Butterfield Overland Mail if a carpenter named James Marshall hadn't been building a mill for John Sutter near Coloma, California, on January 24, 1848.  Marshall realized some shiny flakes he found in the American River were gold.  His discovery set off a nation-changing rush for quick riches.  Ironically, neither Marshall nor his friend John Sutter, a Swiss immigrant, staked producing claims.  Both men died in poverty, their businesses ruined by trampling hordes of greedy men...

Gold in California in 1848 meant Statehood for California in 1850.  It also meant roughly 300,000 new residents pouring in to search for gold.  Many came from East of the Mississippi, leaving Atlantic ports on ships forced to round the southernmost tip of South America because there was no canal dividing Panama... 

By 1856, California, still new to the Union, threatened to secede if Congress failed to build a transcontinental railroad.  Our legislators dickered costs (then as now) and a frustrated U S Postal Service let bids for a $600,000 contract-- won by a 56 year old New Yorker named John Butterfield who was also a founder of current day American Express-- for an overland mail coach service which would guarantee 25 day coast to coast service until Congress agreed to build a railroad...       

Guaranteed trans-continental mail delivery and passenger service
in the United States began with the Butterfield Overland Mail.  Its
route crossed much of the Southwest Desert country from West
Texas through New Mexico, Arizona, and California.



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Note: All photographs for this essay were located through Google Images or Wikipedia, without authoritative source or ownership information except as noted: Edwards County south of Rock Springs photographed by Billy Hathorn 2011;Permian Sea diorama from the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History; soil map from United States Department of Agriculture; Guadalupe Mountains National Park from National Geographic.  Readers interested in a more detailed account of Tom Green County soils can find the 1976 soil survey online at  Roadside Geology of Texas by Darwin Spearing (Mountain Press, 1991) provides a useful and layman friendly survey of Lone Star State landforms.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Postcards From Marcie


Ninety-nine years ago, on Saint John's Day (or Midsummer's Day to those more inclined to pagan ways), a young woman named Marcie sent word to a gentleman living in central Louisiana that she was spending her last full day in Munich.  Her intention was to travel on to Innsbruck...

Marcie was enjoying herself, she wrote Robert, but had tired of almost constant rain.  She hoped Austria offered sunnier skies.  She informed him (somewhat boldly) that she'd gone to a public bath in Munich.  And there she swam without "a single stitch of clothing" in deference to local custom!  I suspect Marcie wore a devilish smile as she penned her comments, expecting they might drive Robert to the brink of madness he thought about Marcie swimming nude.  She confessed she'd probably sinned but had never before felt quite so free...
Friedensdenkmal Peace Monument, Munich

The postcard Marcie sent from Munich on June 24, 1913, is labeled Friedensdenkmal.  It depicts the Angel of Peace rising above Maximilian Park in a suburb of Munich known as Bogenhausen.  Begun in 1896 but not unveiled until 1899, the statue celebrates a quarter century peace following the Franco-Prussian war.  A brief conflict (1870-1871), the war dramatically altered Europe's political dynamics by making a unified German Empire possible.  Its architect was Otto von Bismarck, an aristocrat and Prime Minister of Prussia, whose goal was to forge a nation from the scattered Teutonic states using "blood and iron" if necessary.  The result of the Franco-Prussian War was to essentially shatter France as a military power capable of balancing German expansionism.  Its settlement provided for German annexation of the formerly French province of Alsace-Lorraine...

[One wonders if Marcie ever encountered an itinerant water-colorist who had moved to Munich roughly a month before she sent the postcard to Robert.  He'd fled his native Hapsburg Austria to avoid arrest for evading military service obligations.  Ironically, when the peace celebrated by the Angel in Maximilian Park died in 1914 thanks to the First World War, the artist enlisted in the German Army.  After hostilities ended, he continued his work for the military, infiltrating meetings held by radical nationalists.  He found their insane and hate-filled rants answered his own insane, hate-filled questions.  The failed artist would go on to become dictator of Germany and start his own World War.]
Was Mueller's Public Bathhouse, Munich, completed in 1901,
the locale of Marcie's nude aquatic frolicking?

Marcie had traveled through New Orleans on her way to Europe.  A postcard to Robert from the Crescent City shows the famous Margaret Statue at the park located at Camp and Prytania.  Her brief note tells him it is the first statue ever to a woman anywhere in the United States...

[Historians, sometimes a humorless and dry lot, dispute this popular Louisiana article of faith.  They say a monument to Hannah Dustin in the town of Haverhill, Massachusetts, predates Alexander Doyle's sculpture to NOLA's Margaret Gaffney Haughery, erstwhile laundress who died a wealthy baker and philanthropist despite being born into poverty in Ireland and orphaned by a yellow fever epidemic.
Margaret Statue, New Orleans

The statue to Hannah Dustin first graced Haverhill in 1879 and commemorates her 1679 actions in response to an attack on the settlement by Abenaki Indians.  Taken prisoner along with roughly a dozen other people, Dustin formulated an escape plan that left most of her captors dead.  She scalped as many Indians as she could since Massachusetts' General Court offered a bounty for proof an Indian had been killed.  Hannah received a £25 reward for killing nine Native Americans, two of whom were women and six of whom were children.  Dustin, regarded by some as a folk hero, has been called "the mother of the American tradition of scalp hunting".
Hannah Dustin and companions slaying their captors: an 1846
vision of the scalphunter at work by artist Junius Brutus Stearns

Our Puritan forefathers, as industrious as they were ignorant, took a generally dim view of Native Americans.  The roots of their attitudes are complex and had to do in part with a suspicion that Nature herself is under the dominion of Satan.  Since Native Americans were particularly close to the natural world, it followed they were prone to devil worship and sorceries.  Many Puritans believed the Prince of Evil had led the ancestors of North America's aboriginal people to the New World to prevent them from hearing the Gospel of Christ.  Sin was seen as so ingrained in the Indians that attempts to "save their souls" were usually considered a waste of time.  Sadly, too, many Puritans viewed epidemics among native peoples as a gift from God-- His way of cleansing the New World to make it worthy for the labors of His new Chosen People.]  

Margaret used most of the profits of her business to build and finance poor houses and orphanages during her lifetime.  When she left this life in 1882, she still had a fortune of $30,000 left-- a figure equating in today's dollars to an "economic status value" of about $6,280,000.  Mrs Haughery was greatly loved by her adopted city.  Her many charitable works included feeding those who couldn't afford to buy the bread she sold.  The mayor of New Orleans led her funeral procession...
Marcie's postcard to Robert from Chicago:
perhaps a hint that he would enjoy some good
luck when he next saw her?

For readers who are curious, I know what little I do about Robert and Marcie thanks to coming across her postcards in a collection of postal memorabilia I acquired several years back.  He (and possibly she) lived in a small town in Avoyelles Parish called Bunkie.  Avoyelles Parish adjoins Rapides Parish where I grew up in the Red River city of Alexandria.  In yet another of those odd coincidences life has to offer, an early Avoyelles settlement was a now defunct town, Irion-- a name given to the county along the western border of Tom Green County in Texas where I now live...
Artist Junius Brutus Stearns, illustrator of Hannah Dustin's bloody
but financial rewarding escape from the Abenaki, is best known
today for his patriotic illustrations such as the 1856 heroic rendering
of George Washington at the Constitutional Convention

Bunkie, according to The Jewish Almanac (Richard Siegel and Carl Rheins, 1980), is one of 87 locations in the United States named for a connection to the Jewish people... 

In this case, the link would be the father of Mary Maccie Haas.  Born in Alsace when it was still a part of France, he crossed the Atlantic and came to the United States about 1845.  Local lore has it that Mr Haas returned from a business trip to New Orleans and brought with him a toy monkey for the amusement of his young daughter.  Maccie adorably called it a "bunkie".  Haas reportedly granted a right of way across his family's plantation to the Texas and Pacific Railroad, reserving the right to name the settlement growing up around the depot.  Maccie being the apple of his eye...
Bunkie native Zutty Singleton (on drums) with his Creole Band

Bunkie, to the serious jazz buff, stands out as the birthplace of drummer Zutty Singleton who was born there in 1898.  Singleton can be heard working his percussive magic on Louis Armstrong's "Hot Five" recordings-- considered to be essential listening for a true appreciation of early jazz.  He did sessions and toured with the likes of Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, and Fats Waller...

Returning to Marcie and Robert, we have another postcard.  It was mailed from Chicago where she had a grand time shopping and promised to be home soon.  It is a rather interesting card with its gambler's paraphernalia and hint of vice.  Perhaps it was Marcie's way of telling Robert he just might find himself a rather lucky chap when she returned from her travels...

The Puritans would likely not have approved of this
Native American themed publicity photo of actress
Alix Talton, co-star of 1957's The Deadly Mantis



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Note: All photographs for this essay were located through Google Images or Wikipedia, without authoritative source or ownership information except as noted: Friedensdenkmal Margaret Statue and Good Luck postcards from the author's collection