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Letters from Readers - April 2011 American History

Originally published by American History magazine. Published Online: January 27, 2011 
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Choose Your Weapons
I was fascinated to learn in "Pistols at Dawn" (February 2011) that dueling to settle petty disputes was so pervasive in the early republic. Great article, but I must take issue with writer Peter Carlson's assertion that "Americans remain a violent people." In the America I know, most of us favor civil discourse to settle squabbles—through legal counsel, of course.
Mitch Anderson
Sarasota, Fla.

Follow the Money
Supreme Court gadfly David Gans ("Should Corporations Have the Same Free Speech Rights as Individuals?" February 2011) notes that "corporations aren't mentioned in the Constitution." Neither are labor unions. They, too, have the potential to overwhelm the political process, using funds generated by the special privilege of coercing membership dues as a condition of employment.
Leonard C. Johnson
Moscow, Idaho

Follow the Leader
Here's a statistic that adds perspective to Richard Brookhiser's "We've Been Here Before" column ("Do Eggheads Make Great Presidents?" February 2011): The United States has had 12 presidents who were generals, but only one Ph.D. Perhaps this is a reflection of the public willingness to trust a man who has proven leadership skills in war—the ultimate test of leadership. It is ironic that Woodrow Wilson, the Ph.D., was elected during the same decade that gave us the business of advertising.
Joe Roberts
Jackson, Miss.

Remember the Marquis
Our ties with the Marquis de Lafayette did not end in the 1820s ("Hail Lafayette," February 2011). During World War II, there was one place in occupied Europe where the U.S. flag flew 24 hours a day: Lafayette's grave!
Carroll Arnold
Birdsboro, Pa.

Make Your Voice Heard
As the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War gets underway, Stephanie McCurry's December 2010 cover story for American History, "Did the Confederacy Get What It Deserved?" continues to provoke lively online discussion. Join in at


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