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American History: December 96 Letters

8/11/1996 • American History Archives

I am very disappointed that American History chose to print “Declassified” by Roger S. Peterson, regarding the investigation of the JFK assassination [July/August 1996 issue]. Mr. Peterson claims that new information has come to light from recently released documents but actually presents a rehash of tired and discredited conspiracy theories and “suggestions” with no credible evidence whatsoever. In more than thirty years of trying, no one has come up with any credible evidence of a conspiracy or anything to refute the ironclad evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald did it and acted alone. But the conspiracy mongers, helped greatly by Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, have perpetrated a “big lie” and convinced a huge majority of the public that there must be something to it. To me the JFK assassination is the litmus test of intellectual honesty for historians, journalists, investigators, and all serious-minded people. If you buy into the “suggestions” of Mr. Peterson and the conspiracy theorists he quotes or the idea that the assassination hasn’t been solved, you fail the test.

Donald R. Beveridge
Evanston, Illinois

American History is to be congratulated for publishing Roger Peterson’s excellent article on new evidence in the JFK assassination. I have spent many hours poring over newly released documents at the National Archives, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that the evidence for a conspiracy and a government orchestrated cover-up has been established beyond a reasonable doubt. Myself and several colleagues have found documented proof of FBI tampering with evidence.

Sadly, the vast majority of Americans will never gain access to this information because the mainstream media has simply decided to ignore it. Mr. Peterson correctly pointed out one of the reasons for this–the too-cozy relationship that sometime sexists between editors, journalists, and the intelligence agencies. It is amazing that no major newspaper, magazine, or television network has devoted any resources to pursuing these new leads. Instead the media prefer to fawn all over dishonest writers who claim prematurely that the case is closed. Steven G. Jones
Landisville, Pennsylvania

The interesting article by Michael Haydock in your September/October issue stressed the enormous numbers of returning veterans availing themselves of the GI Bill. But there were other implications as well, some of which changed the nature of college life forever.

Most returning GIs were quite serious about their education. We can imagine the reaction of a battle-hardened veteran, who had frozen in a foxhole in Belgium or slogged through the jungles of the South Pacific, when a 4F upperclassman told him thathe had to wear a freshman beanie, or that he was forbidden to sit on a certain bench on campus. Here at the University of California, there were several fistfights over issues such as these, all of them reportedly resolved in favor of the veterans. The pre-war trappings of many trivial college traditions were to cease immediately, never to reappear.

Dr. John I. Thornton
Berkeley, California

There was no Riverside Park in Chicago, as mentioned in “Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower” [July/August 1996 issue]. Your author was referring to the city’s Riverview Park on Western Avenue. I grew up within walking distance of Riverview, and as children and young adults, we all visited the park and enjoyed its many attractions. I recall standing on the ground looking up at the”Pair-O-Chutes” ride, as the people drifted downward to earth. I wasn’t brave enough myself to try it and was much too young. It was the tallest ride in the park.

Riverview Park was torn down many years ago, but those of us who remember her enjoyed a bit of nostalgia in reading your article.

Betty Lans Kahn
Exton, Pennsylvania

In the excellent article “‘The West’ Revisited” in the September/October 1996 issue, the author made the point that many newly freed slaves sought opportunity in the westward expansion. The photograph on page 34, captioned “would-be emigrants . . .waiting for a steamer,” may be a tad misleading, however.

The photograph of a group of African Americans on a piece of ground surrounded by water is in fact a photo of refugees from the 1897 Mississippi River flood. They are waiting for a relief boat, not a steamer to take them west. The meager pile of belongings would seem to support an emergency situation.

The photograph was taken by J. C. Coovert, who lived and worked in Greenville, Mississippi, in the 1890s. His collected works are held in the library of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. There is of course more than sufficient historical room to suggest that the group would have much preferred to head west rather than rejoin their difficult life in the Mississippi Delta at the turn of the century.

William Jeanes
Troy, Michigan

© 1996, World History Group, a division of World History Group. All

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