Archives for category: History

Standing in front of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives, Trump denounced the teaching of history in U.S. schools as leftist “indoctrination” and pledged to create a “1776 Commission” to restore “patriotic” American history. He is especially vitriolic about the “1619 Project,” which revised the role of African-Americans in U.S. history. He thinks that any effort to think critically about history or to include nonwhites is “leftist” propaganda.

This is not as difficult as it might seem. He could just resurrect the U.S. history textbooks used in the 1950s, which presented a homogenized and triumphalist version of history, centered on white heroes. Then add a last chapter about the Reign of Trump. Whitewashed is the right word.

Do you think he has ever read either of the nation’s founding documents? Remember that he repeatedly claimed that Article II of the Constitution allows the president to do whatever he wants. Clearly he has never read Article II.

Do you think he knows that federal law prohibits any federal official from interfering with curriculum or instruction in the schools? Obviously not, but if he knew, he wouldn’t care since he is convinced that he is above the law.

Federal law 20 USC 1232a prohibits “any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…”

Michael Crowley writes in the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — President Trump escalated his attacks on “left-wing demonstrators” and “far-left mobs” on Thursday, portraying himself as a defender of American heritage against revolutionary fanatics and arguing for a new “pro-American” curriculum in the nation’s schools.

Speaking at the National Archives Museum, Mr. Trump vowed to counter what he called an emerging classroom narrative that “America is a wicked and racist nation,” and he said he would create a new “1776 Commission” to help “restore patriotic education to our schools.” The president reiterated his condemnations of demonstrators who tear down monuments to historical American figures, and he even sought to link the Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., to the removal of a founding father’s statue in Mr. Biden’s home state, Delaware.

“Our heroes will never be forgotten,” Mr. Trump said. “Our youth will be taught to love America.”

Since the killing of a Black man, George Floyd, in police custody in May in Minneapolis, and the protests that followed nationwide, the president has seized on cultural issues and has sounded many of the same themes — notably including at a showy Independence Day celebration at Mount Rushmore.

Since then, his vision of a Democratic Party hijacked by anti-American Marxists has become a core theme of his campaign. But he elevated the concepts on Thursday by delivering them in the august setting of the National Archives Museum, standing before the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in what was billed as the first “White House Conference on American History.”

The event was held on Constitution Day, the anniversary of the document’s signing in 1787. Mr. Trump said it reflected “centuries of tradition, wisdom and experience.”

“Yet as we gather this afternoon, a radical movement is attempting to demolish this treasured and precious inheritance,” he added.

The president focused much of his speech on his claim that American schools have become infected with revisionist ideas about the nation’s founding and history, producing a new generation of “Marxist” activists and adherents of “critical race theory” who believe American society to be fundamentally racist and wicked — and who have taken to the streets in recent months.

Mr. Trump said that “left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools,” adding that “it’s gone on far too long.” He boasted that the National Endowment for the Humanities “has awarded a grant to support the development of a pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history.”

Douglas Brinkley, a historian at Rice University, said that conservatives have long been angry at what they see as a growing emphasis in American public schools on themes of civil rights at the expense of more traditional historical narratives, mainly those revolving around white men.

“I think Donald Trump sees the cultural wars as a pathway to victory,” Mr. Brinkley added. But, he said, “what he sees as a cultural war is just trying to open up the narrative to other peoples’ experiences — not just white males.”

Mr. Trump gave his remarks a campaign twist when he promised to include a statue of Caesar Rodney, who rode 70 miles to Philadelphia in 1776 to cast a tiebreaking vote to declare independence, in a national statuary garden to honor “American heroes” whose creation he ordered in July. Mr. Biden, he charged, “said nothing as to his home state’s history and the fact that it was dismantled and dismembered.

“And a founding father’s statue was removed,” the president added.

Denouncing “propaganda tracts” that “try to make students ashamed of their own history,” Mr. Trump singled out The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project, named for the year the first enslaved Africans arrived in the Virginia colony, and which reframes American history around the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans. The project, whose lead author, Nikole Hannah-Jones, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, has been incorporated into a curriculum and is taught in many schools across the United States.

Mr. Trump said the project in fact “rewrites American history to teach our children that we were founded on the principle of oppression, not freedom.”

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Mr. Trump continued, saying that the United States’ founding “set in motion the unstoppable chain of events that abolished slavery, secured civil rights, defeated communism and fascism, and built the most fair, equal and prosperous nation in human history.”

A Times spokeswoman, Danielle Rhoades Ha, described the 1619 Project as “landmark, groundbreaking journalism.”

“It deepened many readers’ understanding of the nation’s past and forced an important conversation about the lingering effects of slavery, and its centrality to America’s story,” she said in a statement. “We are proud of it and will continue this vital journalism.”

Seemingly as a counterpoint, Mr. Trump said that he would soon sign an executive order to create the 1776 Commission, named after the year the American colonies declared their independence. He said the commission would promote a “patriotic eduction” and “encourage our educators to teach our children about the miracle of American history and make plans to honor the 250th anniversary of our founding.”

William R. Ferris, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina and a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, criticized Mr. Trump for “treating historians just as he treats scientists — by disregarding our very best voices who have written on American history and race.”

Mr. Ferris said that creating a new commission to promote American history makes little sense. “We already have institutions like the National Archives and others that preserve and promote our nation’s history,” he said. “I would encourage him to request congressional support for the existing programs at the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and the National Endowment for the Humanities.”

“They do a good job with very little funding, and I know they would welcome his strong support to expand those budgets,” Mr. Ferris said.

Mr. Trump’s speech also singled out the doctrine of critical race theory, the view that the law and other societal institutions are based on socially constructed theories of race that benefit white people. He called the theory “a Marxist doctrine holding that America is a wicked and racist nation, that even young children are complicit in oppression, and that our entire society must be radically transformed.”

“Critical race theory is being forced into our children’s schools, it’s being imposed into workplace trainings, and it’s being deployed to rip apart friends, neighbors and families,” Mr. Trump said.

In what he called an example of critical race theory in action, the president condemned the Smithsonian Institution for publishing online a description of “whiteness” that included the concepts of rational thinking, hard work and the nuclear family.

“This is offensive and outrageous to Americans of every ethnicity, and it is especially harmful to children of minority backgrounds who should be uplifted, not disparaged,” Mr. Trump said. “Teaching this horrible doctrine to our children is a form of child abuse in the truest sense of those words.”

The president did not offer more detail, but he appeared to be referring to a graphic removed from the website of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture last month after criticism from conservatives, including Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son.

“Our ‘Talking About Race’ website was designed to help people talk about racial identity, racism and the way these forces shape every aspect of society,” said Linda St. Thomas, the chief spokesperson for the Smithsonian Institution. “We removed a graphic that did not contribute to productive discussions.”

This month, Mr. Trump directed administration officials to halt or revise racial sensitivity training programs that he deemed “divisive” and “un-American propaganda,” and he threatened on Twitter to cut off federal education funding to California over the state’s incorporation of the 1619 Project in its public school curriculum.

Hours after extolling the United States’ iconic heroes, Mr. Trump missed a ceremony honoring a major one. He was absent from the dedication of a new memorial to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington. That was unusual: President Bill Clinton dedicated a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt, President George W. Bush dedicated one to World War II, and President Barack Obama dedicated one to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mr. Trump instead left town for a campaign rally in Wisconsin.

Please sign up and join the discussion between Steve Suitts and me on Zoom on Wednesday September 16. We will be talking about Steve’s new book Overturning Brown: The Segregationist Legacy of the Modern School Choice Movement. You will be amazed to learn of the true history of school choice. It is definitely not the “civil rights issue of our time,” as Trump and DeVos claim.

Steve has been involved in civil rights work throughout his career. He was founding director of the Alabama Civil Liberties Union; executive director of the Southern Regional Council; and vice president of the Southern Education Foundation. He is also the author of a biography of Hugo Black, a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice who played a large role in history.

You can sign up here.

Steve and I will talk for an hour, and then we will open the floor for your questions.

Paul Horton is a history teacher at the University of Chicago Lab School, one of the few private schools in the nation that has a teachers’ union. He has studied the history of the Confederacy, and he wrote four posts for Anthony Cody’s blog called Living in Dialogue. Anthony is a co-founder with me of the Network for Public Education.

Here is Paul’s first article, “Historians and the ‘Lost Cause.'”

He begins:

In town squares and public parks across the nation, monuments and memorials commemorating the heroes of the Confederacy are being questioned and even pulled down. Most Confederate monuments and memorials were constructed between 1890 and 1920. It is important to understand the context surrounding the construction of Southern monuments for many reasons.

The effort to unite the nation involved smoothing the edges away from the rebellion. Historians helped by revising the story told about the Civil War, making it sympathetic to the South and the Confederacy.

Horton writes:

As the country was reunited symbolically in the 1890s and early twentieth century, a new school of southern history won the Civil War in academia. The so-called Dunning School based at Columbia University rewrote Southern history to describe the Reconstruction period as a catastrophe for the South. William A. Dunning and his graduate students wrote a series of histories of southern states during reconstruction that essentially downplayed the intelligence and agency of freedmen and southern unionists and sympathized with and underestimated the violence perpetrated by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Knights of the White Camellia.

At the time that most southern monuments were being constructed, popular histories written by members of the Dunning School were read and discussed by members of groups that shaped southern memory. These perspectives are also reflected in Thomas Dixon Jr.’s novel, The Clansman, and in the subsequent film, “The Birth of a Nation” that premiered in early 1915 and was shown, despite protests from the NAACP, at Woodrow Wilson’s White House. Sociologist and historian W.E.B. DuBois would author the first full scale scholarly critique of the Dunning School in 1935 in his Black Reconstruction which raised serious questions and supplied convincing evidence to challenge the Dunning School’s paradigm of Reconstruction history. In the 1950s, historians Kenneth Stamp and C. Vann Woodward extended DuBois’s critique of the Dunning school and, in 1988, Eric Foner, using primary sources never before used in his, “Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution” finally blew up the Dunning School’s perspective by placing the agency of freedmen at the center of the dissolution of slavery during the Civil War and at the fulcrum of the push for civil rights during Reconstruction.

Horton’s second post in the series tells the story of Southern women and their dedication to restoring the “glory” of the Confederacy.

He begins this post:

The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and other groups played a central role in the push to erect Confederate monuments between 1890 and 1920. They read Dunning School histories sympathetic to the South that downplayed the political violence of the Klan in the South during Reconstruction, embracing and promoting the view that the Klan was an honorable organization that defended Southern womanhood. “The Birth of a Nation,” when released, bolstered this perspective. By attacking the image of Black men, many, if not most, Southern middle and upper class Southern women strengthened the Southern white patriarchy and their own power. Their path to power and influence stood in stark contrast to women in the labor movement during the same period.

From 1870-1920, northern women asserted themselves into the public sphere in the women’s suffrage, temperance, social gospel, and settlement house movements. Some women joined unions and advocated for labor causes like Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman, and Mother Jones. Thousands of women took to the streets during strikes for the eight-hour day, fair wages, and better working conditions. Garment workers, in particular, were active supporters of unions. In the early twentieth century, Margaret Sanger led a campaign to educate women and men about effective birth control.

In the postbellum and early twentieth century South, however, where the bonds of patriarchy held firmer, public sphere outlets for feminist activism were more restricted. Some women did write and speak for southern populists and the Knights of Labor, but the numbers of women who took part in political and social protests was relatively small. Several historians, Anne Firor Scott, Drew Gilpin Faust, and Jane Turner Censer to name a sampling, have all commented on the persistence of the “domestic sphere” for women in the South before and after the Civil War; while Stephanie McCurry in her book, Masters of Small Households, explained and analyzed the strength of male patriarchy in southern yeoman families that represented seventy-five percent of all southern families on the eve of the Civil War. When Southern women did become more active in the suffrage movement in the South during the Progressive movement, they insisted that only white women should be qualified to vote in an effort to preserve white supremacy, according to Yale historian Glenda Gilmore in her book, Gender and Jim Crow.

In part 3 of the series, Horton writes about one Confederate general in particular, Joseph Wheeler, whose name is widely memorialized:

As calls are made to remove monuments devoted to those who fought against the Union during the Civil War are being made, increasing attention is being focused on learning history from differing narratives. As Yale historian David Blight contends, in most of the South today, the Confederate narrative dominates discussions of monuments, memorials, and Southern memory; but two other major narratives and multiple variations of these narratives are excluded: Freedman’s and Southern Unionist histories.

Large areas of the South did not vote for secession or were not allowed to vote for secession and Union regiments were raised from these areas late in the war. Likewise, escaped slaves were given the opportunity to form after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863.

Moreover, many Southerners refused to enlist in the Confederate army until the passage of a Conscription Act in early 1862, when thousands of Confederates joined “Home Guard” units because they could only be motivated to defend local property rather than fight in other theaters of combat. “Home Guard” units were led by local officers who typically resisted secession.

Loyalty for Confederate nationalism was thus much more complicated than most white Southerners who claim that their “heritage” is being destroyed claim. Most Southern white farmers did not own slaves, but large numbers either neither fully committed to the Confederate cause or joined Unionist regiments when the situation permitted in many areas.

All of the controversy surrounding Confederate monuments today raises some big questions: Do we get rid of current monuments, or do we build monuments and memorials to remember the narratives that have been whitewashed by the “Lost Cause”

The following lesson will focus on the case of Confederate General Joseph Wheeler who makes an interesting case because he was recommissioned as a general officer in the United States army during the Spanish American war after serving several terms as a U.S. congressman from Alabama during the 1880s and 1890s.

Horton’s fourth post brings the story of Southern heritage to the present, noting how it is distorted by Southern Republicans who were nurtured on the romance of the “Lost Cause” history:

When Alabama state Rep. William Dismukes proudly shared on social media that he had attended a birthday celebration for the first grand wizard of the KKK, Nathan Bedford Forrest, at the same time that the passing of John Lewis was being commemorated with a solemn last walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, many across Alabama, the South, and the country were outraged.

Similarly, when Arkansas senator Tom Cotton declared that slavery was a “necessary evil,” many reacted in shock.

Many of the supporters of southern politicians like Dismukes and Cotton are quick to label the angry responses to what they said as “political correctness” or the “cancel culture” that characterizes what they think is the strident moral absolutism of the Black Lives Matter agenda.

But the reactions of those who are disgusted with the utterances of Dismukes and Cotton also fail to make important historical connections beyond the simple fact that Forrest was the founding leader of the Klan.

Dismukes and Cotton grew up learning a very narrow construction of Southern “heritage” that is based on one narrative: the narrative of history as Southern white nationalism as preserved in the “Lost Cause” created by the Dunning School and organizations like the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

They grew up reading versions of their state histories that systematically ignored the stories of slaves, freedmen, and Southern Unionists.

To be sure, there is some awareness today of the raising of the United States “Colored Troops” (USCT) in the South that stems in part from the popularity of the 1989 film, “Glory” and its depiction of the heroics of the 54th Mass. USCT. And African American descendants of USCT have recently mustered into “reenactment” regiments. But most Southern school children learn little about the bravery of those who fought in over 100 regiments who escaped slavery in the deep South to fight for their freedom, and who knew that they would receive, to use Tom Cotton’s phrase, “no quarter.”

Likewise, many doubtless know about localities that seceded from the Confederacy because local citizens did not want to fight to keep slavery in a “rich man’s war.” Some have heard about the “free state” of Jones in Mississippi and the “free state” of Winston in Alabama where an historical drama reenacts the vote not to secede led by C.C. Sheets who was elected to congress during Reconstruction. But few Southerners learn of the true extent of Unionist disaffection and persecution of Unionists during the war by Confederate Conscription Cavalry, although they might have seen or read about this persecution in the movie or the book, “Cold Mountain.”

Huge areas of the South resisted secession and resisted cooperation with the Confederate army and were brutally pacified, but never completely subdued. These areas include eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, portions of eastern North Carolina, western Virginia, northwestern Tennessee, northern and eastern Alabama, northern Georgia, northeastern and southwestern Mississippi, northern Louisiana, northwest Arkansas, parts of the Red River Valley of Texas, and the Hill Country of Texas, where most settlers were liberal 48ers who escaped Germany after a failed revolution in many cities in what eventually become Germany.

Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas is currently promoting legislation in Congress to ban the reading of “The 1619 Project” in public schools. It was published by the New York Times, to tell the story of slavery. The “Lost Cause” fights on to rewrite history.

Trump has been on a rant about teaching history, despite the fact that his own knowledge of American and world history is limited, possibly non-existent. He wants history to remain as it was taught in textbooks sixty years ago, when he was a student. This would be a white-centered, triumphal story of the American past, where the only blacks ever mentioned were George Washington Carver and (maybe) Booker T. Washington. White men did everything important, and everyone else was subservient and missing.

Like Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, Trump is outraged by the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, which begins with the arrival of the first African slaves on the shores of what was eventually to become the United States. Senator Cotton has proposed withdrawing federal funds for the teaching of this revisionist view of American history.

Trump wants to go farther and threatens to withdraw federal funding from any school or district that teaches the history described in the 1619 Project. Trump and Attorney General Barr insist that there is no systemic racism in the United States.

Trump read a tweet warning that the schools of California were using the 1619 Project and he said the Department of Education would investigate and suspend federal funding if it were true. He undoubtedly doesn’t know that the State Board of Education in Texas approved an African-American studies course last April

Trump is abysmally ignorant and hopelessly racist. We already knew that. In addition, he is threatening to break the law. There is a federal law specifically prohibiting any interference by any federal official in curriculum or instruction in any school. As we know, Trump believes he is above the law and can do “whatever he wants.”But 20 USC 1232a prohibits “any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…”

From Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac”:

The Blitz began on this date in 1940. “Blitz” comes from the German word “Blitzkrieg,” which means “lightning war.” Germany had successfully invaded France, and now Hitler was determined to conquer Britain as well. The German Luftwaffe, or air force, had been engaging the Royal Air Force for a few months, but without much success. Hitler changed his strategy: rather than focusing on military targets, he set out to crush the morale of the British people through relentless attacks on its major cities.

The first wave of bombers — 348 in all — hit London at around 4:00 in the afternoon. The Luftwaffe primarily targeted London’s docks on this first attack, but many bombs fell in civilian areas as well. Four hundred and thirty people died, and 1,600 were seriously injured. The fires that had started as a result of the first wave of attacks served as beacons for a second wave that hit after dark and lasted until 4:30 the next morning. But Hitler’s attempt to crush the British spirit had the opposite effect. Winston Churchill said: “[Hitler] has lighted a fire which will burn with a steady and consuming flame until the last vestiges of Nazi tyranny have been burnt out of Europe.”

Journalist Ernie Pyle reported from London during the Blitz. He wrote: “It was a night when London was ringed and stabbed with fire. […] The greatest of all the fires was directly in front of us. Flames seemed to whip hundreds of feet into the air. Pinkish-white smoke ballooned upward in a great cloud, and out of this cloud there gradually took shape — so faintly at first that we weren’t sure we saw correctly — the gigantic dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

“St. Paul’s was surrounded by fire, but it came through. It stood there in its enormous proportions — growing slowly clearer and clearer, the way objects take shape at dawn. It was like a picture of some miraculous figure that appears before peace-hungry soldiers on a battlefield.”

The attacks of September 7 were only the beginning. The Blitz continued for 76 consecutive nights, with the exception of a single night of bad weather. Bombs fell on London, Liverpool, Manchester, and several other cities in England and Wales. All told, some 43,000 British civilians died by the time Hitler called off the Blitz in May 1941, and more than a million homes were damaged or destroyed. The Blitz cost the Germans most of their air force, however: they lost most of their airmen and hundreds of planes.

Imagine having a leader like Churchill in a crisis, who could rally the American people to stand together for a common purpose.

People who work for a living count on the fact that when they retire, they will have Social Security. They pay taxes to fund the Social Security fund, and they deserve what they have paid for to protect them from living in poverty after they stop working. But Trump is threatening to eliminate the tax we all pay into the Social Security fund.

Trump recently issued an executive order deferring the payroll tax, which would temporarily boost workers’ pay checks. For the balance of this year, workers would see a fatter pay check. But every cent is deferred, and workers would have to repay that amount before April 15, 2021, meaning smaller pay checks after the election.

Trump said that if re-elected, he would abolish the payroll tax. If he did, the Social Security program would be bankrupt by 2023. Does he know that the payroll tax funds Social Security? Maybe not. If that secure funding were eliminated, Social Security would be at the mercy of politicians every year.

Historian Robert explains the opposition to Social Security. He wrote the following for the AARP about Social Security:


More than 80 years after its birth in the depths of the Great Depression, Social Security is deeply woven into the nation’s fabric. But Americans were initially skeptical of a program that seemed contrary to their faith in rugged individualism. “It is difficult now to understand fully the doubts and confusions in which we were planning this great new enterprise,” FDR’s Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins wrote later.

In a conversation with Supreme Court Justice Harlan Stone, Perkins, whom Roosevelt had tasked with designing what then seemed like a radical departure from traditional ideas about the role of government in American life, confided her uncertainty about how to make this work within constitutional bounds. Stone in reply whispered, “The taxing power of the federal government, my dear; the taxing power is sufficient for everything you want and need.”

In 1935, a time when British and German systems of support were easing the perils of old age, left and right in America saw reasons to contest Roosevelt’s reform. Liberals objected to withholding taxes from current wages to fund pension payments. Instead of expanding the economy through federal largess in a time of continuing depression, the plan reduced employees’ take-home pay by pouring millions of dollars into a fund that would not put money into circulation until workers retired. Moreover, it made no provisions for farm workers or domestics or workers in small businesses with fewer than 10 employees. And those who were already past age 65 were also left out of the mix.

Conservatives were even more vocal. Industry leaders objected to a major expansion of the federal government and forecast financial collapse and “the inevitable abandonment of private capitalism.” The head of General Motors predicted that it would destroy “initiative,” discourage “thrift” and stifle “individual responsibility.”

Republicans in the House foresaw the enslavement of workers: “The lash of the dictator will be felt,” one said. Another saw calamity ahead: “This bill opens the door and invites the entrance into the political field of a power so vast, so powerful as to threaten the integrity of our institutions and to pull the pillars of the temple down upon the heads of our descendants.”

Roosevelt understood the opposition to the program, especially the objections from both ends of the political spectrum over taxes. But he believed that they were essential to preserve whatever was put in place. “We put those payroll contributions there,” he said, “so as to give the contributors a legal, moral and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program.”

But “after all the howls and squawks,” Roosevelt pointed out, most Republicans, reluctant to oppose majority opinion, joined Democrats in both chambers in voting for the measure.

To the surprise of most outspoken critics, none of their worries materialized. When the law was signed by Roosevelt on Aug. 14, 1935, it joined his other social reforms, such as Federal Deposit Insurance to protect bank accounts, and reforms by subsequent presidents, such as Lyndon Johnson’s 1965 Medicare bill, to save older Americans from financial ruin. The law was not set in concrete but rather was an expandable program that, by the mid-1950s, covered almost all employees and the self-employed as well. Nor were these changes strictly owned by Democratic administrations. During Richard Nixon’s presidency, Social Security benefits increased by 50 percent.

By the 21st century, Social Security had become universally popular and helped foster the view in the U.S. that federal social welfare programs are not a threat to free enterprise but a means of preserving it in a more humane industrial system. Proposals to privatize the program have repeatedly fallen by the wayside and it seems clear that, whatever the deficiencies of the system, no politician — as FDR predicted — is in a position to take it away.

Robert Dallek is the author of books on John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and of an upcoming biography of Franklin Roosevelt.

Got that? FDR predicted that “no damn politician” could ever scrap Social Security because it was funded by a payroll tax. Everyone paid for it. No one would dare take it away.

But FDR never imagined a politician as craven as Trump, who would falsely claim that cutting the payroll tax would put money in the hands of working people (and defund Social Security).

Today is an important day in the history of education in the United States. Federal courts had ordered the schools of Little Rock to admit nine black students. Crowds of white supremacists gathered to block their entry. On this day, Governor Orval Faunus called up the National Guard to prevent the black students from entering Little Rock’s Central High School.

From Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac”:

It was on this day in 1957 that Arkansas governor Orval Faubus called out the National Guard to bar nine black students from entering Central High School in Little Rock. In response, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne Division to make sure they could enroll. A few days later, Eisenhower made a prime-time, live televised speech to the nation in which he said, “Mob rule cannot be allowed to override the decisions of our courts.

President Eisenhower proceeded to nationalize the Arkansas National Guard and directed them to protect the nine black students.

From Wikipedia:

By 1957, the NAACP had registered nine black students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High, selected on the criteria of excellent grades and attendance.[2] Called the “Little Rock Nine”, they were Ernest Green (b. 1941), Elizabeth Eckford (b. 1941), Jefferson Thomas (1942–2010), Terrence Roberts (b. 1941), Carlotta Walls LaNier (b. 1942), Minnijean Brown (b. 1941), Gloria Ray Karlmark (b. 1942), Thelma Mothershed (b. 1940), and Melba Pattillo Beals (b. 1941). Ernest Green was the first African American to graduate from Central High School.

When integration began in September 4, 1957, the Arkansas National Guard was called in to “preserve the peace”. Originally at orders of the governor, they were meant to prevent the black students from entering due to claims that there was “imminent danger of tumult, riot and breach of peace” at the integration. However, President Eisenhower issued Executive order 10730, which federalized the Arkansas National Guard and ordered them to support the integration on September 23 of that year, after which they protected the African American students.

The students endured mobs of hateful whites, screaming at them and shouting curses and insults.

White racists soon realized they had lost in the courts, but got their wishes by abandoning public schools and moving to the suburbs.

In time, the Little Rock School District became majority black. Now it is under state control, a fate that is often imposed on majority nonwhite districts, crippling local control and removing a path to political power for those who are not white.

Little Rock will forever be a symbol of white racism and of the courage and political will required to combat racism.

CNN published a very good article about what happened to the schools and their students during the so-called “Spanish Flu” pandemic of 1917-18. Many schools closed. Three large urban districts stayed open because officials believed that children were better off in schools than in their crowded tenements.

The striking point in the article is that the schools were well-supplied with nurses and doctors. The progressive reforms of the era had made schools a healthier place than many of the children’s homes. By contrast, about 25% of our schools today have no nurse, and even more have only a part-time nurse.

While the vast majority of cities closed their schools, three opted to keep them open — New York, Chicago and New Haven, according to historians.

The decisions of health officials in those cities was based largely on the hypothesis of public health officials that students were safer and better off at school. It was, after all, the height of the Progressive Era, with its emphasis on hygiene in schools and more nurses for each student than is thinkable now.

New York had almost 1 million school children in 1918 and about 75% of them lived in tenements, in crowded, often unsanitary conditions, according to a 2010 article in Public Health Reports, the official journal of the US Surgeon General and the US Public Health Service.

“For students from the tenement districts, school offered a clean, well-ventilated environment where teachers, nurses, and doctors already practiced — and documented — thorough, routine medical inspections,” according to the Public Health Reports article.

The city was one of the hardest and earliest hit by the flu, said Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian and director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. He was a co-author of the 2010 Public Health Reports article.

“(Children) leave their often unsanitary homes for large, clean, airy school buildings, where there is always a system of inspection and examination enforced,” New York’s health commissioner at the time, Dr. Royal S. Copeland, told the New York Times after the pandemic had peaked there.

The “Spanish flu” did not start in Spain. It very likely started in Kansas at Fort Riley. Spain was the first country not to censor news of the pandemic, so it was called the Spanish flu.

I’ve seen the Broadway play “Annie, Get Your Gun” twice, and I saw the movie as well. I never knew how much was truth, how much was fiction. I was happy to read the following in today’s edition of Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac.”

It’s the birthday of American sharpshooter Annie Oakley (1860), born Phoebe Ann Mosey in a log cabin just north of what is now Willowdell, in Darke County, Ohio. Her parents were Quakers from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.

Oakley had been trapping animals since she was seven and was shooting and hunting animals to support her family by the time she was eight. She sold her game to local shopkeepers, who shipped it to cities like Cincinnati. Oakley’s shooting prowess became well known in Darke County and greater Ohio.

On Thanksgiving Day of 1875, the Baughman & Butler shooting act came to Cincinnati. Frank Butler, a charming Irish immigrant, bet $100 that no local could best him in a shooting match. Local shopkeepers presented Annie Oakley. Frank Butler said: “I almost dropped dead when a slim girl in a short dress stepped out to the mark with me. I was a beaten man the moment she appeared.” Oakley won and she married Butler a year later.

For more than 50 years, Annie Oakley and Frank Butler traveled the world, wowing audiences with Oakley’s marksmanship. From 30 paces, she could split a playing card held edge-on, hit dimes tossed into the air, and split cigarettes from between her husband’s lips. When she joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West traveling show (1885), she was the star attraction, earning $100 a week, more than any man in the troupe. Buffalo Bill’s troupe crossed the United States and did several European tours. Oakley met King Umberto of Italy and the Queen of England, who told her, “You are a very clever little girl.” Lakota leader Sitting Bull nicknamed her “Little Miss Sure Shot.”

Oakley campaigned for women’s rights and even volunteered to train 50 women sharpshooters for the Spanish War and World War I, though she was turned down both times. She said, “I would like to see every woman know how to handle guns as naturally as they handle babies.”

Thomas Edison filmed Oakley and the Buffalo Bill troupe at his studio in West Orange, New Jersey, turning the film into nickelodeons. People paid five cents apiece to see Annie Oakley. She was the most famous woman in the world for a time.

This story was posted in Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac.”

Dr. Michael Shadid established the first cooperatively owned and operated hospital in the United States on this date in 1931. Shadid had been born in a mountain village in Lebanon, and knew firsthand how hard it was for the poor to get good health care. He was one of 12 kids, and only three of them survived infancy. The only medical care that the village received was the occasional visit from a Beirut doctor. Shadid was inspired to get medical training himself. He went to New York when he was 16, working as a peddler to save money for his education. Ten years later, after earning his medical degree at Washington University in Saint Louis, Shadid settled in Elk City, Oklahoma.

As medical technology advanced, the cost of medical care rose, and few people felt the hardship more than Oklahoma farmers. “There must exist some unknown germ, some filterable virus unknown to man, that bites certain persons in this world and turns them into reformers,” Shadid later wrote. “I’m willing to admit that I must have been bitten early and hard.” Using as his model the established Oklahoma tradition of farm cooperatives, Shadid envisioned a cooperative hospital that would be supported by the farmers’ annual membership fees. Doctors would be paid a salary out of those fees, and in return they would provide basic preventive care that poor farmers were not usually able to afford. But other local doctors were worried about losing their business. They wrote in to the newspapers accusing Shadid of fraud, and calling him a foreigner who was trying to tell Americans how to manage their health care system, even though by now he’d been in the country for 30 years. He almost lost his medical license for the unethical solicitation of patients. Doctors were reluctant to work for the Community Hospital if it meant defying the medical establishment. But the farmers who relied on the hospital rallied behind Shadid. “We think more of the few dollars invested in the Community Hospital than any investment we have ever made,” said one farmer. “I think this bunch fighting [Shadid] should be sat down so hard it would jar their ancestors for four generations.”