Letters from Readers – June 2010 American History

Twain’s New Deal
Joe McElwee of Drexel Hill, Pa., uncovered a surprising link between our April features on Mark Twain’s America and presidential poker: “In his 1889 novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Twain’s fictional character, Hank Morgan, rails against the oppression of the ‘freemen’ of Camelot and cites their need for a ‘new deal.’” According to the December 5, 1933, edition of the New York Times, McElwee adds, President Franklin D. Roosevelt acknowledged Twain’s early use of the phrase “new deal” when he received a gold medal from the International Mark Twain Society.

War Rules Revisited
No wonder George Washington included a warning about treating prisoners kindly in the instructions to patriot troops cited in “5 Rules for Waging War With Honor” (February 2010). His earlier failure to control a native Indian ally, known as Half-King, resulted in the death of the French Colonel Jumonville and helped spark the French and Indian War. Washington was subsequently branded as an “assassin” by the French media and even signed a surrender document after the 1754 Battle of Fort Necessity admitting to the deed. Unfortunately, Washington did not speak French and blamed the translator. Maybe Rule No. 6 should be “Make sure you understand what you are signing!”

Name Withheld
Via E-Mail

Obama’s Distant Kin
Your April “Gazette” reveals that Warren Buffett and Barack Obama are related to Mareen Duvall the Emigrant (1625-94), an early settler of Maryland. Their other Duvall kin include: Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor; Dick Cheney; and Gabriel Duvall, a Supreme Court justice from 1811 until 1835.

Clifford B. Heann Jr.
Middletown, Del.

Mark Twain died in April 1910 in Redding, Conn., not Hartford. In “By the Numbers” (April 2010), Susan B. Anthony’s 1872 fine for attempting to vote was levied in Canandaigua, N.Y., not Rochester. Also, the amount of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center that was used in the USS New York is 7.5 tons, not 7.5 million tons.

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