Posts Tagged ‘Richmond’

 

Down to Your Last Nerve

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – The weather is hot and the political atmosphere is even hotter as the national holiday celebrating “American Independence” approaches. COVID-19 cases are going UP and not DOWN in many parts of the country, as people clamor for businesses to re-open and defiantly refuse to “mask up” in public places. Jennifer Anniston took to social media yesterday to state: “Just Wear The Damn Mask!”

Chafing at the Bit describes a lot of feelings after four months of quarantine; a restricted way of life is wearing thin. As my dear friend Betty used to say when she just couldn’t take it anymore: I am down to my last nerve.

Politics are even hotter than the weather, raw nerves abound. Yesterday in Jackson the Mississippi state flag came down, permanently. A new design has been commissioned, and will be voted on by state residents in November. Mississippi was the last state to have a Confederate emblem on its flag.In Richmond, Virginia’s state capital (which was once capital of the Confederacy), a statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson came down yesterday as a cheering crowd watched in the rain. In Seattle, CHOP camps (Capitol Hill Organized Protests) were cleared out yesterday after two weeks of standoffs and shootings that were part of the nation’s unrest after the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Add to that – it’s an election year, and voters are questioning the mental and physical fitness of both our sitting president, and the expected Democratic nominee. Both guys are in their 70s, and both have been criticized for their rambling speeches, and frequent gaffes. “We’re not electing a president this year,” the chatter is, “we’re electing a vice president, that’s who will wind up running the country!”

So dear reader, if you feel that you are “down to your last nerve” about how things are going in 2020 in our “land of the free and home of the brave” let me remind you of something terrible and tumultuous that happened 139 years ago on this date in our nation’s capital.

On July 2, 1881, Charles J Guiteau shot and fatally wounded the newly inaugurated US President James A Garfield in the lobby of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Depot in Washington, DC as he yelled, “I am a stalwart and Arthur is now President of the United States!” Guiteau blamed the president for not selecting him for a job at the US Consulate in Paris.

Mr Garfield’s presidency was cut so short there isn’t enough of a legacy to rank him among the worst and best – he was only in office four months. He was the last president to be born in a log cabin, and grew up poor and fatherless. He was bullied as a child, so took up wrestling. He was our only ambidextrous president, and a great multi-tasker. He was also one of the most well-read of our presidents and his background included being a soldier (he was a major general in the Civil War), a lawyer, a politician, and a math and science expert. Maybe his childhood toughened him up against bullying; as soon as he took office he pioneered the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, making it a law that all government jobs be granted on the basis of merit and merit alone.

And then was killed by a man wanting a job. At least, that’s part of the story.

President Garfield did not die immediately, but lingered for eleven weeks, during which time surgeons repeatedly attempted to find the bullet that had lodged in his back. In spite of Joseph Lister’s discoveries regarding the use of antiseptics in surgery, the practice of sterilization had not caught on, and Garfield’s wound was probed by many unwashed fingers. The resulting infection, not the bullet, caused Garfield’s eventual death on September 19, 1881. Vice president Chester A Arthur became president of the United States on September 20.

Garfield’s incapacitation sparked a constitutional crisis, as the Cabinet was divided over whether the vice president should assume the office of the incapacitated president or merely act in his stead. It was not until 1967, with the passage of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution, that the question of the succession of power was fully addressed. Today, the vice president assumes the office of president in the event that a sitting president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

In spite of Guiteau’s manifest insanity at his trial, his attorneys were unable to gain an acquittal on that basis—it was, however, one of the first uses of the modern insanity defense in a criminal court. After a six-month trial that sparked great public interest, Guiteau was found guilty and hanged on June 30, 1882.

Note: James Abram Garfield was our 20th president and was 50 years old when assassinated.

Reference: Library of Congress National Archives

Yes, things are definitely nerve-wracking right now. But July 2 was one heck of a bad day for Mr Garfield and Mr Guiteau, if you want to compare. My suggestions for tackling the heat if you have your own lemons to deal with:

  • Make yourself a nice tall glass of lemonade.
  • Cool down and mask up!
 
 
 

An Invite From DAR

1 DAR Presentation ArkadelphiaLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – I was invited by Charlotte Jeffers, Regent of the Arkadelphia Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, to speak at their April 14 meeting. “Do you want me to talk about the history of the capital cities, or my travel experiences?” I asked. “What will everyone be most interested in?” “We are interested in everything,” was the reply, so I decided to focus on our likeminded objectives, which sent me to the DAR national website.

I learned that DAR was founded October 11, 1890 and incorporated in 1896 by an Act of Congress. Objectives are listed as Historical, Educational, and Patriotic, so I honed in on the “educational” factor, since that is a primary objective of Capital Cities USA. For DAR, “to promote…institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge, thus developing an enlightened public opinion.” For Capital Cities USA, “to build community, character and citizenship through humanities education.” From Objectives to Methodology explains the Journey Across America: Item 1 – to assess civic, community and historic resources in the 50 capital cities of the United States and their capitol buildings by gathering data through on-site visits to each capitol and capital city. In a nutshell!

I began my talk with bottom-line statistics – departed February 28, 2012 and concluded December 18, 2013 for a total of 659 days. Traveled 31,710 miles and spent time in 50 state capitols and the national capitol in DC. Shared neighborhoods with 12,947,450 people as I lived two weeks in each capital city. (With my two cats, no less.) I shared a map showing the 75 overnight stops I made before settling down in Arkadelphia, and then moved into story telling.

“What learning opportunities did I find in the capitols?” I focused on five that were exceptional:
• Austin, Texas – Most Extensive Visitor Services
• Boise, Idaho – Most Inspiring Kids Tour
• Atlanta, Georgia – Tie With Springfield, Illinois as Most Welcoming
• Springfield, Illinois – Tie with Atlanta, Georgia as Most Welcoming
• Montpelier, Vermont – Most Intimate & Inviting, Best Volunteer Program, Most Meticulous Restoration

» read more

 
 
 

Love What You’ve Got

10 illinois signLinda Burton posting from Springfield, Illinois – I woke in Indianapolis today; from my room overlooking the city I watched the sun rise in the morning window-sparkle of downtown skyscrapers. I sleep tonight in Springfield; outside my room a single tree somewhat blocks my view of the long-haul trucks in the parking lot, waiting for daylight to hit the road. Though both cities are the center of government for their state, they are very different in style. Indianapolis (pop 829,718) thrives on the adrenalin of sports; speedways and stadiums dot the landscape, surrounded by the accoutrements that accommodate large crowds; restaurants of every ilk, high-rise hotels, taxi cabs. Stand and cheer! Springfield (pop 116,250) is Lincoln’s land; everywhere is evidence of the quiet reflective man who lived here, is buried here. In Springfield he practiced law; in Springfield he campaigned to become president of the land, though when he arrived he didn’t have money to even buy a bed. Inspiration of a different sort; such is the way of the Journey Across America, now 60% complete (stand and cheer!). Today I claim 30 capital cities as my home towns; for the last 443 days I’ve experienced life with big-city bustle, and small-town charm. I’ve seen mountains and 10 love brownvalleys and rivers and lakes, fishing and farming and mining and making things, fresh air and fresh food and history and her story, progress and dropping back and growth and decline, sun belts and bible belts and rust belts and no belts at all, just space. Or congestion. I knew capital cities would be interesting; I had no idea how such a mix of lifestyles and scenery and climate would affect my sensibilities, and begin to explain the world. It’s not what you’ve got that matters, I’ve discovered, it’s how much you love what you’ve got. » read more

 
 
 

Serious Business

20 red coat jogger plus walk plus bldgsLinda Burton posting from Richmond, Virginia – TD Robinson takes his job seriously. TD is a security guard; he waved me to a stop as I drove riverside along the James. It was the first day of spring and I had the window of the Scion down; enjoying the fresh air and sunshine; waving at the joggers and walkers taking advantage of the footbridges leading to islands in the river. “How are you ma’am?” he asked politely. I realized the road had ended; a large brick building stood to my right. “I think my riverside drive is over,” I laughed. “Where am I?” “You are on private property,” TD replied. I asked what business I had reached, but TD answered only “Private. Property.” Dominion was printed on his badge; I pointed out that fact. With a sideways nod of his head, he offered up this response “You 20 tall bldg and carcan look, but I can’t tell.” With a sideways nod of my head, I turned the car and headed back towards the city. I was feeling a little testy by now; first I was unable to find parking near the capitol for a spring-day’s walk around the grounds; now my drive along the river was halted. I stopped in the cobblestoned traffic circle on Tredegar to get a few photos for my collection; I wanted to remember where I was on the first day of spring, 2013; then I crossed the river and headed back to my hotel. But I’m thinking all the way – just what businesses are in those tall buildings overlooking the river? Turns out, six Fortune 500 companies are located in Richmond. And Dominion is one of them. » read more

 
 
 

Sophisticated Simplicity

15 washington rotundaLinda Burton posting from Richmond, Virginia – If you want to know what George Washington really looked like, go to the Virginia state capitol. Centered in the rotunda against the simplicity of a formal backdrop of black and white stands a life-size statue of Washington, considered by his contemporaries to be “a perfect likeness.” It was June 1784 when the Virginia General Assembly commissioned the statue to be made; Thomas Jefferson, on a diplomatic mission in France, secured the services of French artist Jean-Antoine Houdon for the work. Houdon didn’t guess at his task; in the fall of 1785 he traveled to Mount Vernon to study his subject. He made a plaster mask of Washington’s head and took detailed measurements of his body; from this he modeled a terra cotta bust to take back to his workshop in France. 15 washington cThe resulting statue, carved of Carrara marble, was shipped to America in 1796 and has graced the capitol’s rotunda since. It is considered to be Virginia’s greatest treasure and one of the world’s finest portrait sculptures; it is the only full-length statue for which the first President posed. Although Washington’s sword is by his side and he wears his Revolutionary uniform, he 15 statue and rotundacarries a civilian walking cane and stands over a plough; Houdon sought to show the balance between Washington’s life as a soldier, statesman, and private citizen. In the niches of the rotunda are busts of other Virginia-born presidents who succeeded Washington – Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, and Wilson – and another work by Houdon; that of LaFayette, the French citizen who was a Major General in service to the United States during the Revolutionary War. But more about the rotunda itself, a magnificent two-story space capped by a dome; a dome that is invisible from the outside. » read more

 
 
 

Right Here In River City

13 rafting the rapidsLinda Burton posting from Richmond, Virginia – “The idle brain is the devil’s playground,” goes Meredith Wilson’s song Ya Got Trouble, pointing out the dire things that might happen “right here in River City” if young folks don’t have enough to do. That warning was a highlight of 1957’s Broadway hit, The Music Man, and here in this River City by the James, it has been heeded, because nobody, young or old, has reason to be idle here. Outside magazine last year named Richmond the “Best River City in America,” probably because of the Class IV whitewater the James provides and the 500 acres of parkland that offer outstanding mountain biking and running trails. But when I looked into the “sports and recreation” aspects of this capital city on the river, I found that Richmond residents have a variety of gung-ho goings on to choose from. Biking ranks high, to be sure, and has some 13 muddy buddyinteresting twists, like the Anthem Moonlight Ride under a full moon, in costume; and the Grand Fondo, an all-age, all-fitness ride that covers 100 miles of the Region’s roads. The Muddy Buddy sounds like the most fun; held at Pocahontas State Park in the rainy spring, it’s a 6-mile race for two-person teams on bikes, and on feet; challenging terrain and mud pits make up the obstacle course. There’ll be some serious biking in 2015 as Richmond hosts the World Road Cycling Championship; it hasn’t been held in the USA since 1986, when it took place in Colorado Springs. Planners are busy now with the infrastructure development for this amazing race. As to everything else going on in River City, you’re going to need a long piece of paper to write it all down. » read more

 
 
 

Few Will Be Grieved

11 Poe pictureLinda Burton posting from Richmond, Virginia – “Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved.” Part of a long obituary published in the New York Tribune on October 9, 1849 and signed simply “Ludwig,” this unflattering piece was later published throughout the country. “Ludwig” was revealed as Rufus Griswold, who obviously didn’t like Poe very much; he later wrote a biographical article of Poe and depicted him as a depraved, drunk, drug-addled madman. Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) had his enemies and his critics, to be sure; yet today this American author and poet continues to influence literature around the world; his work appears throughout popular culture. He is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre; every year the Mystery Writers of America presents the Edgar Award to someone for distinguished work in the mystery genre. 11 Poe raven signHe is further credited with contributing to the science fiction genre, and was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through his writing alone. A number of the homes Poe lived in are dedicated museums today; although he never lived in the Old Stone House in Richmond, it houses the Edgar Allen Poe Museum and displays many items Poe used during his time with his foster parents, John and Sarah Allan; it also features several rare first printings of his works. That’s where I went looking, looking, looking for some ghostly lingerings of this brooding man whose life so often focused on death. » read more

 
 
 

Trailing History

09 jackson statueLinda Burton posting from Richmond, Virginia – I need to put my waders on. History is knee-deep here in Richmond, and then some; it is layered and twined with life as it goes on today. Every downtown street and hill top and river bottom is slathered with the taste of it; first-graders on a yellow bus circle Stonewall Jackson’s statue on the way to school. Sunday skateboarders veer down Bank Street, just below the pristine white-columned capitol, first used in 1792, French-inspired, Thomas Jefferson designed. A man walks his red-collared dog in Great Shiplock Park, they stroll the edge of James River on this side of Manchester Docks, where 09 capitol from bankslaves once arrived from Africa. Across the street condo dwellers live in downtown luxury, it’s the reconverted buildings of Tobacco Row where Lucky Strike is bricked into the factory’s chimney, left behind as a historic masterpiece. Suburban dwellers cross Lee Bridge and head home on J D Hway, that’s Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis, you know; the road is dotted with historic markers directing you to battle sites. Steven Spielberg filmed the movie Lincoln here; no city is more central to the Civil War. But go back farther than that; think John Smith, and Pocahontas, and the Jamestown settlement just downstream. Think 09 st johns churchRevolution, and Patrick Henry, whose famous words rang out in St John’s Church on East Broad; “Give me liberty, or give me death.” It’s more than I can wade through in two weeks; I’m dividing the organized trails into groups for exploring, to get at least an overview; early European settlement days; Revolutionary War; and Civil War. Put on your boots and follow me. » read more