History Category

A dictionary of the ancient Akkadian language, the language of Assyria and Babylon, has been completed after 90 years and published by the University of Chicago.

"This is a heroic and significant moment in history," beamed Dr Irving Finkel of the British Museum's Middle East department.

As a young man in the 1970s Dr Finkel dedicated three years of his life to The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary Project which is based at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

That makes him something of a spring chicken in the life story of this project, which began in 1921.

Almost 90 experts from around the world took part, diligently recording and cross referencing their work on what ended up being almost two million index cards.

The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary is 21 volumes long and is encyclopaedic in its range. Whole volumes are dedicated to a single letter, and it comes complete with extensive references to original source material throughout.

Once again, we see that human nature has no history:

"It is a miraculous thing," enthuses Dr Finkel.

"We can read the ancient words of poets, philosophers, magicians and astronomers as if they were writing to us in English...."

But what is so striking according to the editor of the dictionary, Prof Martha Roth, is not the differences, but the similarities between then and now.

"Rather than encountering an alien world, we encounter a very, very familiar world," she says, with people concerned about personal relationships, love, emotions, power, and practical things like irrigation and land use.

If you want a copy for the bookshelf, it's only nineteen-ninety-five -- $1,995, that is. If you just want access to the info, the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary is available for free download.

Volume 6 (Het) was the first volume published, back in 1956. Its foreword explains how the entries are ordered and organized. Volume 1 (A, part 1) has an introduction that tells the history of the discovery and study of the Akkadian language, beginning in a small way in the 17th century and blossoming with the discoveries of Ninevah and Babylon in the early 19th century, and recounts the development of the dictionary from its inception in 1921 until the publication of Volume 1 in 1964.

Back in October, my youngest and I joined our homeschool community on a field trip to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art on the University of Oklahoma campus to see a special exhibit from Rome's Capitoline Museum. "Immortales: The Hall of Emperors of the Capitoline Museums, Rome" features 20 ancient busts of Roman emperors and their consorts from the very beginning of the empire through its final century.

The exhibit was originally scheduled to run through December 6, 2015, but I was excited to learn this weekend that it has been extended through February 14, 2016

This is not part of a tour, but the sole showing of these ancient sculptures anywhere in the world beyond Rome, and it's part of a broader collaboration between OU and the Capitoline Museums, bringing ancient Roman artifacts to Oklahoma for study. According to the press release:

The exhibit in Oklahoma is the second phase of the Hidden Treasures of Rome program, which was launched in 2014 by Enel Green Power, in partnership with the world renowned Capitoline Museums of Rome and served as a first-of-its-kind initiative to exchange cultural, educational and technological resources and artifacts between the Capitoline Museums and U.S. universities.

The program's expansion allows EGP-NA to bring the ancient culture of Rome to the state of Oklahoma, creating a distinctive exhibit for the university and innovative way for the company to engage with local residents and communities, Venturini said....

This collaboration also includes the transfer of epigraphs and materials from the
Capitoline museum's Antiquarium to the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History at OU. These artifacts - dating to the period of the Roman Republic (fifth to first centuries B.C.) - are part of 100,000 pieces that were stored for more than 100 years in the Capitoline Museums' Antiquarium but have never shown to the public, creating the opportunity for undergraduate students from the university's department of Classics and Letters to catalog and analyze these artifacts for inclusion in the Digital Latin Library project.

We were fascinated by the realism and detail of these ancient marble sculptures, which showed hair texture, brow furrows, and smile lines, and even scars and double chins. Perhaps the most impressive were the portraits of Vespasian and Livia, both of which used several different types and colors of marble. Vespasian, founder of a new dynasty in the wake of the chaotic "Year of Four Emperors," looked like someone you might see around town, with his broad face and nose, large ears, and receding hairline. Our guide said one visitor thought he resembled Lyndon Johnson. One of our group thought he looked like an old football coach.

It was interesting to compare the marble portraits of Octavian and Augustus -- the same man, but depicted first as ordinary politician and then as deified emperor. In the transition, the sculptor gave Augustus a civic wreath, a svelter nose, and smaller ears than his civilian portrait.

We noticed the addition of carved pupils, beginning with Antoninus Pius, and increasing in sophistication through the years. The exhibit caption noted the emergence of beards after the Greek fashion beginning with Hadrian. The bust of Alexander Severus, showed him with a beard, but a rather insubstantial one, reflecting his youth -- he ascended to the principate as a 14-year-old.

Elsewhere in the museum, we enjoyed the permanent exhibit of French impressionists, were drawn in trying to decipher the Greek and Slavonic captions on the McGhee Collection of Orthodox icons, and were fascinated by a temporary exhibition of works on paper from 18th and 19th century Europe, which included satirical engravings by Goya and Hogarth, a landscape engraving by J. M. W. Turner, and a page from William Blake's Book of Job.

Later in the day, after a picnic lunch at Reaves Park (where the fort-like play structure was the perfect setting for a battle with foam-rubber swords and axes), we visited the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. The dinosaur exhibit is the star of the museum, but we also enjoyed playing mancala in the hands-on Discovery Room and viewing a special exhibit on Galileo and the publishing society of which he was a member, which rescued a book on the birds of North America from oblivion.

OU is celebrating Galileo this year of its 125th anniversary with a series of exhibits around campus. Please note that "Through the Eyes of the Lynx: Galileo, Natural History and the Americas" will close on January 17 to make way for another exhibit on Galileo and Microscopy at the Sam Noble Museum. The exhibit "Galileo and the Scientific Revolution, currently on display on the OU-Tulsa campus in Schusterman Library, will close on December 18.

streiff, a contributing writer at RedState, has written a detailed and stirring account of the days leading up to and following Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Courthouse to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865.

April 7, 1865. Prelude to Appomattox

April 8, 1865. On the eve of surrender

April 9, 1865. The Surrender at Appomattox

In the final installment, he cites the surrender as one of three "critical points in American history: points after Independence was a done deal but where the very fate of the Republic teetered on razor's edge." Washington's handling of the Newburgh Conspiracy at the end of the Revolutionary War and his willingness to step aside after two terms as president were the other two he mentioned.

One of Lee's aides proposed that soldiers steal away in small groups, return to their states and report for further duty, effectively calling for a protracted guerrilla war. Lee immediately shut down the idea. Streiff quotes John Daniel Davidson, writing at The Federalist:

Lee gently rebuked Alexander, reminding him, "We must consider its effect on the country as a whole." The men, he said, "would be without rations and under no control of officers. They would be compelled to rob and steal in order to live. They would become mere bands of marauders, and the enemy's cavalry would pursue them and overrun many sections that may never have occasion to visit. We would bring on a state of affairs it would take the country years to recover from." Alexander would later write: "I had not a single word to say in reply. He had answered my suggestion from a plane so far above it that I was ashamed of having made it."

Grant handled the surrender with leniency and respect for the troops who had valiantly fought on the other side. He allowed the officers to retain their sidearms and all the troops to keep their horses and mules; Lee had told him that the animals were owned by their riders and would be needed for planting crops to feed their families. Grant stifled loud celebrations by his troops: "The war is over; the rebels are our countrymen again, and the best sight of rejoicing after the victory will be to abstain from all demonstrations." Three days later, General Joshua Chamberlain formally received the arms and flags of the Confederates, and he had his troops offer a salute of honor. "These enemies in many a bloody battle ended the war not with the shame on one side and exultation on the other but with a soldier's 'mutual salutation and farewell.'"

Had the defeated and victorious generals not acted magnanimously, the country might have suffered "a prolonged and bloody insurgency in the South that would have caused a permanent rift in the nation."

On October 27, 1964, Ronald Reagan gave this televised speech in support of Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater.

Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to." And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.

And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I'd like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down--[up] man's old--old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course....

Meanwhile, back in the city, under urban renewal the assault on freedom carries on. Private property rights [are] so diluted that public interest is almost anything a few government planners decide it should be. In a program that takes from the needy and gives to the greedy, we see such spectacles as in Cleveland, Ohio, a million-and-a-half-dollar building completed only three years ago must be destroyed to make way for what government officials call a "more compatible use of the land." The President tells us he's now going to start building public housing units in the thousands, where heretofore we've only built them in the hundreds. But FHA [Federal Housing Authority] and the Veterans Administration tell us they have 120,000 housing units they've taken back through mortgage foreclosure. For three decades, we've sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan.

Read the whole thing. It's as relevant as it ever was.

An excerpt from President Calvin Coolidge's speech on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence:

A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if its roots be destroyed. In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.

We are too prone to overlook another conclusion. Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. Of course the government can help to sustain ideals and can create institutions through which they can be the better observed, but their source by their very nature is in the people. The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great chapter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.


121 years ago today, Katharine Lee Bates was on a train through Kansas, watching the amber waves of grain, en route to the purple mountain majesty of Pikes Peak. Eleven years earlier on a boat from Coney Island to Manhattan, Samuel Ward wrote down a melody on a friend's starched cuff. Mark Steyn tells the story of the words and tune of "America the Beautiful" and how they came together.

English philosopher Jeremy Bentham didn't think much of the Declaration. He wrote a critique of the document, published as the final chapter of John Lind's Answer to the Declaration of the American Congress.

Some links of interest to me and possibly no one else within a 500 mile radius:

(Remember, "blog" is short for "weblog," a log of things found on the World Wide Web.)

Scottish historic counties game: See the name, click on Clackmannanshire.

1859 Encyclopaedia Britannica article on Ross and Cromarty: "two shires of Scotland, so curiously mixed up in geographical position, and so closely united politically, as to render their description under one head a matter not merely of convenience, but even of necessity." So the article begins. The county of Cromarty "is divided into eleven portions, which are whimsically inserted into various parts of the larger county of Ross, like fragments of a more ancient rock in some newer geological formation." When the George Mackenzie, Viscount Tarbat, acquired the original county of Cromarty (mainly the port of that name and environs), he convinced the government of Scotland to annex to the county all of the other bits of land he owned, between 1685 and 1698. The article goes on to say that Mackenzie's Royston House (later called Caroline Park), near Edinburgh, was annexed to Cromartyshire, and that "many of the houses in the Canongate of Edinburgh belong to different counties in Scotland, from their having been the town residences of Scottish noblemen whose estates lay in those different shires. The total land area of Cromartyshire was estimated at 345 sq. mi.

To deal with the impracticalities of this sort of situation, the Parliamentary Boundaries Act 1832 reassigned detached parts of English and Welsh counties to the constituencies of the counties in which they were geographically located. A companion bill, the Reform Act of 1832 also eliminated representation (for "rotten boroughs") or halved it for some boroughs while creating new constituencies where there had been no representation. (Prior to the act, Old Sarum, an uninhabited hill in Wiltshire, elected two members of parliament.) In 1839, law enforcement and courts were reassigned to the county in which the detached part was locally situate. The Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844 formally made these odd bits part of the counties which surrounded them, leaving only seven counties in England and Wales with exclaves.

County-Wise is the new website for the Association of British Counties, which "exists to promote the use of the historic counties as a standard geography for the UK." The historic counties movement is a reaction to the frequent reorganization of local government in Britain over the last half-century. Historic counties provide a permanent geographical framework and "fixed popular geography," even as local government boundaries continue to shift at the whim of the national government of the day.The site has a page for each historic county in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The National Library of Scotland's Georeferenced Maps allows you to overlay historic maps going back to the 18th century onto a choice of modern satellite imagery and maps. It covers Britain, Ireland, and Belgium. A slider control allows you to make the historic layer more or less transparent for comparing present-day features to historic maps.

The map at Wikishire overlays historic county boundaries on OpenStreetMap data. It shows the 20-odd exclaves of Cromarty. The map is based on the work of the Historic County Borders Project, which is creating a digital database for use in mapping and GIS. The current boundaries available are based on including small detached parts in the county in which they are situate, but a future dataset will provide boundaries including small detached parts as they existed prior to the 1844 act.


In 1986, the BBC attempted to create a new digital version of the Domesday Book on the 900th anniversary of William the Conqueror's comprehensive survey of his new realm. Participants submitted photographs and descriptive text to document everyday life. The collected materials, which were organized by 4 km x 3 km grid cells, called D-Blocks, were archived on a special type of Laser Disc which required special computer equipment. The data was rescued from digital oblivion, and in 2011, the BBC solicited updated information from around the country. The National Archives now curates the collected BBC Domesday material. In the story of the project, there is a cautionary tale -- make provision for your digital legacy!

In a private venture in 2001, Adrian Pearce set out to 'reverse engineer' the original Domesday data and make it available to any Windows PC - instead of emulating it. In 2004 he succeeded and published the data online, the first instance of a Domesday website. However, on January 27th 2008, Adrian Pearce sadly died and the website was taken off line.

("Sadly died" is an odd formulation. "Sadly" doesn't really modify "died," as it isn't meant to tell us of Mr. Pearce's countenance upon his own demise. It's sloppy shorthand for "we are sad to say" or "we sadly report." Americans use "happily" or "fortunately" in this way, but this misuse of "sadly" seems peculiarly British.)

And then there's this, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" for the 2011 project. It's no longer enough to cringe at the nouns and adjectives used by Mark Twain or Rudyard Kipling; behold the speed of Newspeak's evolution:

The language in 1986 is inappropriate these days

The articles were submitted in 1986 and the language used may differ from what we feel is acceptable today. However, this is now a historic record and therefore we have republished it intact.


Voices from the Dawn has an interactive map of Ireland's ancient monuments. Click a hotspot and read an article about the folklore surrounding standing stones, dolmens, and the like, and view a virtual reality photo of the monument and its surroundings. It turns out a place we stayed 20 years ago this June, Holestone House, near Doagh, Antrim, Northern Ireland, was named for a famed 4 1/2 foot-high slab of rock with a hole through it. Engaged couples clasp hands through the waist-high hole as a symbol of betrothal, a custom that goes back for centuries.

We saw another of the monuments on the next year's trip, the Kilclooney Dolmen near Portnoo, County Donegal. I remember my wife's consternation when I told her we were going to see a dolmen, but couldn't (wouldn't, she thought) tell her what it was. No one really knows, although they're also called "portal tombs."

Thursday I took the students in my Ancient Greek class at Augustine Christian Academy. We went to Philbrook to see a special exhibit of ancient artifacts -- statues, inscriptions, coins, jewelry, household items, and vessels having something to do with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love (known to the Romans as Venus), and her most famous child, Eros (aka Cupid).

I had the students spend a good deal of time looking at a Greek inscription from the Roman period, from a public bath in the Greek town of Assos in Asia Minor. We're accustomed to seeing ancient texts set mainly in minuscule letters, with spaces between words and accent marks. It was interesting to try to decipher words in all caps with no spaces or accents, with part of the inscription missing and words sometimes wrapping around the end of a line.

Here is an image of the inscription, from Papers of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens: 1882-1883, published shortly after the inscription's discovery as part of the "first collection of Greek inscriptions ever made by an American expedition in classic lands."


Many artifacts depicted Aphrodite's role in the abduction of Helen and the disastrous war it sparked. Paris, prince of Troy, was asked to judge which of the goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite which one was the fairest. Aphrodite bribed Paris with Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, who happened to be the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. Menelaus rallied the Greeks to get her back, the Trojans refused, and the Trojan War ensued, ending in the destruction of Troy. Aphrodite's mortal Trojan lover, Anchises, escaped the flames on the back of their son Aeneas, whose treacherous travels to the future site of Rome are told in Vergil's epic poem Aeneid. At least one coin in the collection depicts Aeneas giving Anchises a piggy-back ride.

I was fascinated by a vessel depicting the elopement of Helen and her return to Menelaus. There were names in tiny letters scratched into the pot above most of the characters. Some of them were written left-to-right and some right-to-left. There were phis and thetas, but there were Ls instead of lambdas, and they seemed to use X for the xi sound.

The exhibit has a roped-off "mature audiences only" section; we steered clear of it. There were a few items near the end of the exhibit (relating to drinking parties and a Greek practice that I'll euphemistically call "mentorship with depraved benefits") that should have been in the roped-off area.

After seeing the exhibit the students all decided to color a picture of an amphora (one student turned hers into an ιχθυς τανκ). We toured the gardens and marveled at a magnificent display of tulips on the south allee. On the rotunda's mezzannine, there's an exhibit of glamorous black-and-white photos of Hollywood stars of the 1930s, and next to it an intriguing display of art made from books.

We topped off the field trip with lunch, appropriately at Helen of Troy restaurant, 6670 S. Lewis Ave. We had gyros, tawook, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, falafel, and spanakopita. It was all delicious, and the students enjoyed trying new foods. The portions for the lunch sandwiches were larger than we expected.

It was a delightful day. If you have an interest in ancient Greece and archaeology, I'd encourage you to catch the Aphrodite exhibit; it's at Philbrook through May 26, 2013. And if you love the food of the eastern Mediterranean, I encourage you to dine at Helen of Troy.

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher at the White House

A world-changer has left this world for a better one. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died today at age 87.

I don't remember when I started paying attention to British politics; sometime in the mid-'70s, I imagine. I had a shortwave radio, and I loved tuning in to hear the BBC World Service.

I remember news stories about strikes paralyzing the country and the inevitable decline of Britain from superpower to third-rate backwater. Britain's decline was part of a broader sense of decline and malaise throughout the western world. Communism was on the march abroad, and the socialist ratchet was at work at home, moving us toward a "new normal" -- less prosperous, less free, less secure.

The Conservative Party's victory in 1979, under Margaret Thatcher's leadership, was a harbinger of hope. Here was a leader unafraid to challenge the status quo of decline and despair in her own country and around the world. If Thatcher could win and govern successfully in Britain, there was hope of a conservative resurgence in America, too.

Pondering Thatcher's resolve to dispel the gloom of the 1970s with the light of liberty ought to encourage us that it can happen again, if we will persevere as she did.

Thatcher and President Reagan were willing to identify the Soviet Union as the Evil Empire and oppose it as such. Just a bit more than 10 years after Thatcher's first election, the Berlin Wall fell and European Communism collapsed. They were not ashamed of Anglo-American exceptionalism. The world needed the principles of liberty under law that were rooted at Runnymede.

There are many tributes to Thatcher on the web, beginning with the obituary from the Margaret Thatcher Foundation. Last January, when the Hollywood movie about her life came out, I put together a collection of videos and quotations of the real Margaret Thatcher. Conservative Home's Tory Diary has a running collection of tributes to Thatcher as does the Telegraph.

Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan does a fine job of summing up Thatcher's transformational achievements, contrasting them with his own childhood memories of pre-Thatcher Britain:

I'm not sure you can appreciate the magnitude of Margaret Thatcher's achievement without some knowledge of the calamity that immediately preceded it.... What I do recall, though, was the sense of despair. Again and again, I would hear adults casually say "Britain is finished"....

These were the years of the three-day week, of prices and incomes policies, of double-digit inflation, of constant strikes, of power cuts. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the United Kingdom had been outperformed by every European economy. "Britain is a tragedy - it has sunk to borrowing, begging, stealing until North Sea oil comes in," said Henry Kissinger. The Wall Street Journal was blunter: "Goodbye, Great Britain: it was nice knowing you".

Margaret Thatcher, almost alone, refused to accept the inevitability of decline. She was determined to turn the country around, and she succeeded. Inflation fell, strikes stopped, the latent enterprise of a free people was awakened. Having lagged behind for a generation, we outgrew every European country in the 1980s except Spain (which was bouncing back from an even lower place). As revenues flowed in, taxes were cut and debt was repaid, while public spending - contrary to almost universal belief - rose.

In the Falklands, Margaret Thatcher showed the world that a great country doesn't retreat forever. And, by ending the wretched policy of one-sided détente that had allowed the Soviets to march into Europe, Korea and Afghanistan, she set in train the events that would free hundreds of millions of people from what, in crude mathematical terms, must be reckoned the most murderous ideology humanity has known.

Hannan notes, too, the prescience of the principled stand that led to her ouster:

Still, it can't be repeated too often: the immediate cause of Margaret Thatcher's toppling was that she opposed Britain's membership of the euro. Who called that one right?

Historian Paul Johnson, writing in the Wall Street Journal, focuses on Thatcher's effect on British business:

The 1970s marked the climax of Britain's postwar decline, in which "the English disease"--overweening trade-union power--was undermining the economy by strikes and inflationary wage settlements. The Boilermakers Union had already smashed the shipbuilding industry. The Amalgamated Engineers Union was crushing what was left of the car industry. The print unions were imposing growing censorship on the press. Not least, the miners union, under the Stalinist Arthur Scargill, had invented new picketing strategies that enabled them to paralyze the country wherever they chose.

Attempts at reform had led to the overthrow of the Harold Wilson Labour government in 1970, and an anti-union bill put through by Heath led to the destruction of his majority in 1974 and its replacement by another weak Wilson government that tipped the balance of power still further in the direction of the unions. The general view was that Britain was "ungovernable."...

Johnson describes the legislation Thatcher passed to rein in the unions' destructive behavior, simplify the tax code and reduce tax rates, and returning inefficient state-owned industries to the private sector, reforms that echoed around the world.

More important than all these specific changes, however, was the feeling Thatcher engendered that Britain was again a country where enterprise was welcomed and rewarded, where businesses small and large had the benign blessing of government, and where investors would make money.


Andrew Roberts draws lessons from Thatcher's legacy for today

The Telegraph has a video reel of Thatcher's most memorable House of Commons appearances.

Thatcher's Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, remembers his old adversary and her role in ending the Cold War.

The Tablet notes Thatcher's support for the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, a relationship that began when she was 12, working with her older sister raise money to help a Jewish girl escape Austria in 1938 and continued through her 33 years representing the Jewish entrepreneurs of Finchley.

Via Jim Geraghty, video of Thatcher in 1984 with actors Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne, stars of the political series, "Yes, Minister," performing a sketch she wrote.

At a Conservative party conference in 1989, Thatcher compares the Liberal Democrats' new bird-like symbol to... a dead parrot:

Columnist Mark Steyn writes Thatcher thought Britain was worth fighting for, but worries that her time in office was only "a magnificent but temporary interlude in a great nation's bizarre, remorseless self-dissolution."

In Britain in the Seventies, everything that could be nationalized had been nationalized, into a phalanx of lumpen government monopolies all flying the moth-eaten flag: British Steel, British Coal, British Airways, British Rail ... . The government owned every industry - or, if you prefer, "the British people" owned every industry. And, as a consequence, the unions owned the British people. The top income tax rate was 83 percent, and on investment income, 98 percent. No electorally viable politician now thinks the government should run airlines and car plants and that workers should live their entire lives in government housing. But what seems obvious[ly wrong] to all in 2013 was the bipartisan consensus four decades ago, and it required an extraordinary political will for one woman to drag her own party, then the nation, and, subsequently, much of the rest of the world, back from the cliff edge.

Michelle Malkin remembers Margaret Thatcher with some lengthy excerpts from her 1975 speech to the Conservative Party conference, following her selection as leader of the party.

The Hope for America blog has eight great moments from Margaret Thatcher's career from which modern American conservatives should learn. Here she is in 1987, after her third general election victory, recalling those who said in 1975 that such a feat was impossible for a conservative.

Mr. President, 12 years ago, I first stood on this platform as leader of the Conservative Party. Now one or two things have changed since 1975. In that year, we were still groaning under Labour's so-called social contract. People said we should never be able to govern again. Remember how we'd all been lectured about political impossibility. You couldn't be a conservative and sound like a conservative and win an election, they said. And you certainly couldn't win an election and act like a conservative and win another election. And this was absolutely beyond dispute: You couldn't win two elections and go on acting like a conservative and yet win a third election.


Oleg Atbashian, proprietor of the People's Cube, tells his personal story of encountering Thatcher's words as a young man in Ukraine, listening to the BBC and Voice of America on his shortwave set -- when the Soviets weren't jamming the broadcasts. He explains how news of Thatcher's reforms shattered his state-sponsored illusions about the west.

Gradually, the news sank in: if Britain was indeed a socialist state, then everything we were told about the outside world was a lie. And not just any lie -- it was an inconceivably monstrous, colossal lie, which our Communist Party and the media thoroughly maintained, apparently, to prevent us from asking these logical questions: if the Brits also had free, cradle-to-grave entitlements like we did, then why were we still fighting the Cold War? And what was the purpose of the Iron Curtain? Was it to stop us from collectively surrendering to the Brits, so that their socialist government could establish the same welfare state on our territory -- only with more freedom and prosperity minus the Communist Party?

The next logical question would be this: if Great Britain wasn't yet as socialist as the Soviet Union, then didn't it mean that whatever freedom, prosperity, and working economy it had left were directly related to having less socialism? And if less socialism meant a freer, more productive, and more prosperous nation, then wouldn't it be beneficial to have as little socialism as possible? Or perhaps -- here's a scary thought -- to just get rid of socialism altogether?

And wasn't it exactly what Margaret Thatcher was doing as a prime minister?

Atbashian designed an "IRON" poster with Thatcher's photo (a parody of the Obama Hope poster); the museum in her hometown of Grantham, Lincolnshire, is using it now to raise funds to build a statue of Thatcher. He notes that Thatcher succeeded in politics without the benefit of the kind of cult of personality that President Obama enjoys:

And yet she exerted great influence over people. She did it merely by being who she was: informed, unwavering in the face of adversity, brave in defending the truth, and confident in her belief that the free markets are a force for good, while socialism is a force for evil. A few Western leaders may have agreed with her in private, but they didn't have the courage to say it openly in the twisted moral climate brought on their countries by the false promise of socialism.

What Thatcher showed to these men is that when one has no fear of speaking the truth and possesses enough moral conviction to push back, miracles happen. Britain's resurrection as an economic powerhouse was one of them.

Her message came through despite all the hostile efforts to jam it around the world, shattering not just the Western establishment's media filters, but the Iron Curtain itself.

It still resonates; if only today's leaders could listen.

UPDATE 2013/04/17:

The Telegraph reports that Thatcher planned her funeral service to be an expression of her Christian faith, choosing the readings and hymns and excluding a political eulogy:

Cynical detractors who expect Lady Thatcher's funeral to be used for the Conservatives' political gain may be surprised (and perhaps disappointed privately) to learn that there will be no political eulogy. Although the occasion has been code-named Operation True Blue, the sole object of worship will be God, not free market ideology. Lady Thatcher is said to have been concerned that her funeral would become the subject of political debate. The woman who relished an opportunity for confrontation was, for once, resolved to avoid it. Her funeral would not be Conservative; it would be Christian.

The service included the hymns "To Be a Pilgrim" and "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," the anthem, "Thou Knowest, Lord, the Secrets of Our Hearts," by Henry Purcell, and the patriotic hymn, "I Vow to Thee, My Country." Prime Minister David Cameron read from John 14 ("In my Father's house there are many mansions") and granddaughter Amanda Thatcher read from Ephesians 6 ("Put on the whole armor of God").

George_Washington_19.JPGThis is the final week to see a piece of George Washington's Mount Vernon right here in Tulsa. The traveling exhibition "Discover the Real George Washington: New Views from Mount Vernon" at Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum. The exhibition's final day is September 23, 2012.

The exhibit goes beyond the familiar basic facts of Washington as our 1st President and the Father of Our Country to help you get to know Washington the surveyor, young officer, churchman, and agricultural innovator, among many other roles.

Earlier this summer my family visited Mount Vernon and saw the new Donald W. Reynolds Educational Center there. The exhibit you will see here in Tulsa is a near-duplicate of the permanent exhibit in Mount Vernon, including three life-size figures depicting Washington at different ages -- as a young surveyor, as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, and as President of the United States. The figures were developed using forensic analysis of a life mask, paintings, clothing, and other artifacts. Short videos from the History Channel accompany interactive exhibits.

My youngest son said he liked the exhibit at Gilcrease better, because you could look in through the side of the Fort Necessity diorama to see the battle from the perspective of those hiding in the forest.

One thing we saw at Gilcrease that we did not see at Mount Vernon: George Washington's dentures and the story of how they were made.

Unless you travel to Mount Vernon, you won't be able to see George Washington's repository for dung, see the "rustication" used to make the wooden mansion appear to be made of stone, or admire the vistas from the back of the mansion to the Potomac River, but you'll be able to learn about these things right here in Tulsa at Gilcrease Museum through Sunday or at the exhibit's companion website, Discover the Real George Washington, where you can explore an interactive timeline and see the same History Channel videos on display in the exhibit.

Gilcrease Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, children 18 and under are free, and there are discounts for seniors, groups, and active duty military. Gilcrease Museum is owned by the City of Tulsa and curated by the University of Tulsa.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the History category.

Global News is the previous category.

Journalism is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]