BEAM ME UP
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Bones, who is pictured on Captain Kirk’s left (“Almanac,” October 2006), wouldn’t be wearing a red blouse. Bones, a Star Fleet doctor, is a science officer, and he wears a blue blouse, the same as Mr. Spock on Captain Kirk’s right.
If your illustrator wanted the different colors for contrast, he should have included Scotty, the engineering officer, who does wear a red blouse.
I’ll be surprised if you get by with only 50 or 60 letters on this.
Soda Springs, Idaho
The editors reply: On behalf of our illustrator, who grew up with only a black-and-white TV, we apologize. To date, the letter count stands at two.
Your article in the October issue “When America Sent Her Own Packing” makes it sound like a strictly racist policy of California to send Mexicans and Mexican Americans to Mexico during the Depression. My parents, second-generation children of Eastern European immigrants, told me that during the Depression they traveled to California from St. Louis to find work. When they were not very successful, the state paid their train fare back to Missouri. California apparently had a problem with an influx of unemployed people from everywhere. My impression was that my parents were not ungrateful for the ticket back.
SEEDS OF CHANGE
In “The Hurricane That Saved America” (October 2006), author Nick D’Alto states, “A barrel of seed-potatoes, salvaged from Sea Venture’s flooded hold, produced the first crop of that staple in English America.” Please explain how this tuber native to South America found its way to England after 1492, and then to the hold of Sea Venture “leaving Plymouth Harbor on June 2, 1609.”
Nick D’Alto replies: The potato was known to Spanish explorers by 1537, and definitely grown in Europe by the 1580s. Sir Francis Drake carried potatoes back to England from South America in 1586, while also rescuing early Virginia colonists at Roanoke. The English mistakenly believed that the potatoes were also from the Virginia area—and included them as a cultivable crop when sending out future colonists.
The provenance of one of these barrels proves fascinating. In 1613 the now “accidental” colony at Bermuda specifically requested seed potatoes from England. A batch (presumably from Peruvian stock) was sent out. On arriving, these spuds grew so well that some were later presented to the governor of Virginia, introducing potatoes to the future U.S. mainland. Thus the humble potato completed a double crossing of the Atlantic, from the New World to the Old World and back again!
Coincidence? Irony? Or were the editors of American History simply having some fun by following the breathless, tabloidlike exclusive “The President Is Coming!” with an article on the “mastermind of liberty” in the October issue?
George Mason fought for guarantees of a trial by jury, freedom of the press and religious tolerance. In his post–September 11 presidency, George Bush has worked to centralize power and erode those very freedoms.
The first names may be the same; the contrast couldn’t be greater.
Let us hope that Becky Akers didn’t strain anything in her attempt to interject her personal opinion regarding a certain aspect of current world affairs in her review of Thomas Desjardin’s Through a Howling Wilderness (August 2006).
By her own account, and presumably also that of author Desjardin, the American participants in the 1775 march to Quebec had no intent to “compel” their Canadian neighbors to adopt any government. Rather, it seems the Americans aimed to set their Canadian neighbors free to exercise their own collective desires as to how and by whom they wished to be governed.
Contrary to Akers’ misrepresentation, present-day Americans do not wish to “compel” citizens of other countries to adopt a form of government that we might prescribe for them.
A nice try, though.
Leonard C. Johnson
My compliments to Erik Peter Axelson for his marvelous cover story detailing New York City’s Evacuation Day (August 2006). Just two small corrections to highlight.
It was General William Howe, not Sir Henry Clinton, who failed to move up the Hudson to meet with Burgoyne’s forces around Albany, N.Y., and cut off New England. Howe had actually left Clinton in charge of forces remaining in occupied New York City while he, Howe, changed his plans and decided to capture Philadelphia instead of a rendezvous with Burgoyne.
Also, Cornwallis surrendered his army on October 19, 1781, as a British band, not an American band, played “The World Turned Upside Down.” In fact, there is some dispute over just what tune was played, but the custom was for the vanquished army, not the defeating army, to play its tune of choice.