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Letters from Readers - June 2009 American History

Originally published by American History magazine. Published Online: April 07, 2009 
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Banking Mess
The idea that Thomas Jefferson is to blame for the United States' his­tory of financial panics is truly absurd ("The Founding Father of American Financial Disaster," April 2009). It's been 200 years since Jefferson left office. That's 200 years for government to apply effective regulation, and 200 years for the banking industry and other moneyed interests to fight off any regulation that might constrain profits. Financial catastrophe occurs because greed overcomes caution in a reckless pursuit of profit, which results in an unsustainable bubble. The financial industry and human nature itself are responsible for financial panics, not anything else.
Douglas Miller
Bellevue, Wash.

I am truly amazed at the magic of Thomas Jefferson. He caused Jackson to veto the National Bank. He controlled the attitudes of Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. I knew he was great, but that great? A giant bank and greed on Wall Street are what's causing the problem today.
Dick Diamond
Bay City, Ore.

Family Ties
I enjoyed Ernest Furgurson's article on Patrick Ferguson ("The British Marksman Who Refused to Shoot Washington," April 2009). A grave reported to contain his remains can be seen at the King's Mountain National Military Park in South Carolina. Some authorities feel that even though a skeleton found buried in a beef hide (along with a second skel­eton) was identified as Ferguson and reinterred with honors in the 1930s, the grave may not be his final resting place. Is there a family connection between the author and his subject?
Theodore Kuhlmeier
San Antonio, Texas

Ernest "Pat" Furgurson replies: I've been to King's Mountain and seen Patrick Ferguson's gravesite, if it is such. Whether it is may be as hard to prove as whether I am related to Patrick Ferguson. My father's family's name was Ferguson until one of our ancestors settled on Furgurson a couple of hundred years ago, and my mother's maiden name was Ferguson. So I'm Ferguson through and through. I once read that all of us descended from Fergus, the first king of Scotland; if so, Patrick may have been my long-lost uncle. I doubt that I'll live long enough to check that out.

Shared Glory
In "Glory Regiment Strides Again" (Publick Occurrences, April 2009), the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment is identified as "the first to allow men of color to fight together for their country." Actually, the first was Rhode Island's "Black" Regiment, which fought in the Revolution under Maj. Gen. John Sullivan at the Battle of Rhode Island on Aug. 29, 1778. It was made up of black slaves who had enlisted as a means of winning their freedom. During the battle, attacking Hessians found that the Black Regiment put up "more obstinate resistance than [we] had expected," and after the battle, their white officers felt "that regiment entitled to a proper share of the honor of the day."
Karl F. Stephens
Barrington, R.I.

The 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry was the first African-American volunteer regiment raised by a Northern state during the Civil War. It was organized in Fort Scott, Kan., on Aug. 5, 1862, and fought its first battle at Island Mound, Mo., on Oct. 29, 1862. It was mustered into Federal service on Jan. 13, 1863. The 54th Massachusetts was organized on March 30, 1863, and mustered into service on May 13, 1863.
Lt. Cmdr. Orvis N. Fitts, USNR (Ret)
Overland Park, Kan.

Correction
A news item in the April 2009 issue about the September 1862 Battle of Antietam ("Geologists Study Bloody Terrain") should have read that there were 23,000 killed and wounded during the battle, not 23,000 killed.

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