Waiting for Stand
Thanks so much for the long-overdue article on Stand Watie (“Stand Watie’s War,” April 2015). It was great to see a colorized picture of Watie on the cover. For Cherokee history scholars/buffs, he’s a key figure that few talk about. As author Theda Perdue pointed out, the Cherokee Nation suffered enough as it was without the problems added by Watie and his compatriots. Chief John Ross dedicated his life to the Nation, trying to retain Cherokee lands and rights via “the system,” but Watie felt he knew better. It took Chief Ross and those who survived the Trail of Tears decades to rebuild in Oklahoma, only to suffer great setbacks during the Civil War—again thanks to those like Watie—who eschewed Ross’ wise initial plan to remain neutral. Ross knew that taking sides would end in yet another disaster for the Cherokee people, and he was right.
I have always loved history, and I really enjoy American History magazine. To my surprise, in “The First Whistleblowers” (April 2015), I found myself reading about the brother-in-law of my seventh great-grand aunt! Sarah Scott was married to Rhode Island governor Stephen Hopkins, whose brother was Commodore Esek Hopkins, head of the Continental Navy. I never knew Esek’s history and am thrilled with this story about him. Thank you, American History, for adding facts about my ancestors to my knowledge of history.
Linda Scott Rogers
While We Were Sleeping
A gremlin crept into the caption of a Puck magazine cartoon in the April issue (“What Fools These Mortals Be”). Tree-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan served two terms in the U.S. House and later as secretary of state, but he never was a “Nebraska senator.”
Going Up—or Not
The story on Elisha Otis (Here is Where, April 2015) was fascinating, but you omitted one bit of trivia that has amused people for years. In Dayton, Ohio, the Otis Elevator Company is at 321 South Main Street—a one-story building.
What Goes Around
I recently finished the article on Andrew Carnegie in your February 2015 issue (“Robber Baron Turned Robin Hood”) and was immediately, and sadly, struck by the fact that history does repeat itself. Unfortunately, many Americans do not grasp that history has, indeed, come full circle. In 1889 Carnegie and Frick broke the Edgar Tomson Union. In 1892 they brought about the debacle at the Homestead plant. Both anti-labor actions resulted in reduced wages and increased work hours. In 1987 the movie-going public was treated to the spectacle of Gordon Gekko’s “Greed is good” ethos in Wall Street. In 2009 the real Wall Street tycoons (read “robber barons”) derailed the American economy in the name of greed. Wages were reduced, millions were thrown out of work and those who remained on the job were forced to do the work of two or three people who had been laid of. Thousands of better-paying middle-class jobs disappeared and were replaced by low-wage jobs and touted as “recovery.” In 2009, as in 1889, nobody responsible for issuing orders ever went to jail. One hundred twenty years after Carnegie’s actions, we find ourselves right back where we started—in a plutocracy owned by the rich and worked by the poor. You may speak with scorn of the Russian oligarchs, but my guess is that the American oligarchy has far greater numbers.
Originally published in the June 2015 issue of American History. To subscribe, click here.