In recounting the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan (“Reagan Reborn,” August 2013), H.W. Brands correctly states, “No other president in American history had recovered from a gunshot wound sustained while in office.” We should recall, however, that former president Theodore Roosevelt, campaigning for a third term in 1912, was shot while on his way to a speaking engagement in Milwaukee. Roosevelt gave his entire speech, more than an hour long, before going to the hospital. Doctors decided not to remove the bullet from his chest, and Roosevelt made a full recovery.
The Need to Secede
I read with interest Gerald Swick’s article about West Virginia seceding from Virginia (“Where Rebels Won,” August 2013). Having been born and educated in West Virginia, I recall from my required state history classes that the Virginia assembly was called to meet so hastily that representatives of the “transmontane” part of the state didn’t make it to Richmond to vote on secession. They believed the vote was not legal and, therefore, not binding.
As a side note, the B&O Railroad spent its entire corporate life trying to tie in with the more lucrative industrial areas in the North, and its failure eventually led to its absorption into the Chessie System.
Clement Vallandigham was not the only Northerner to be incarcerated by Lincoln and his minions (“We’ve Been Here Before,” August 2013). He was joined by 13,352 other poor souls who had the temerity to publicly criticize Lincoln and his war on the South. Opposition newspapers were destroyed by shattering the presses and scattering the lead type in nearby streams. Honest Abe brooked no opposition, the First Amendment be damned. American History apparently sees no irony in the August issue that secession of the South is treason, but seceding from a seceded state is honorable, even though unconstitutional. Your magazine is beautifully done and interesting, but when it comes to issues concerning the War for Southern Independence, you prove the old adage that the winners of a war write its history.
The story about Edward Curtis’ early pictures (“First Step Toward Destiny,” August 2013) is another example of Curtis’ maniacal interest in the American Indian. His discovery of the daughter of Chief Seattle living in such squalid conditions speaks volumes about the abuse inflicted on these people by the industrial invasion. Curtis paying Angeline to pose for him in her rags was so hurtful. He could have at least paid to clean her up and gotten her better living quarters.
Arlene F. Clayton
Originally published in the October 2013 issue of American History. To subscribe, click here.