Saturday, September 29, 2012

Consistency of Principle

     Last Thursday the Cortland County legislature voted to continue a legal investigation of questionable expenditures at the Public Defender's office. It was a close vote, 10-9. Those who wanted to end the "witch hunt" cited costs of legal fees, conflicting claims, and concerns for constituents who pay taxes to maintain county government. 
     We wish these same people were as concerned with costs and taxes when they voted to spend $14 million* rather than $6 million on an emergency radio system a year ago. The ramifications of that vote, 18-1, have caused a redistribution of sales tax and placed property tax pressure on smaller units of government.
     Obviously, consistency of principle is not every county legislator's rule of thumb. 

* Based on 10 year lease and bond payments. Estimated $24-26 million based on 20 year lease and bond payments.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Billy in the Darbies

     Herman Melville wrote the unfinished novella Billy Budd  before his death in 1891. It was discovered years later by his biographer and published in 1924. Melville scholars suggest that the story was based on an attempted mutiny on the USS Somers. Melville's first cousin, Lt. Guert Ganesvoort, was an officer who served on the USS Somers.
     A poem, originally written for another book titled John Marr and Other Sailors, concludes the story of Billy Budd after the handsome sailor is sentenced to hang.

                            BILLY IN THE DARBIES

Good of the chaplain to enter Lone Bay
And down on his marrowbones here and pray
For the likes o'me, Billy Budd.--But, look:
Through the port comes the moonshine astray!
It tips the guard's cutlass and silvers this nook;
But 'twill die in the dawning of Billy's last day.
A jewel-block they'll make of me tomorrow,
Pendant pearl from the yardarm-end
Like the eardrop I gave to Bristol Molly--
O, 'tis me, not the sentence they'll suspend.
Ay, ay, all is up; and I must up too,
Early in the morning, aloft from alow.
On an empty stomach now never it would do.
They'll give me a nibble--bit o'biscuit ere I go.
Sure, a messmate will reach me the last parting cup;
But, turning heads away from the hoist and the belay,
Heaven knows who will have the running of me up!
No pipe to those halyards.--But aren't it all a sham?
A blur's in my eyes; it is dreaming that I am.
A hatchet to my hawser? All adrift to go?
The drum roll to grog, and Billy never know?
But Donald he has promised to stand by the plank;
So I'll shake a friendly hand ere I sink.
But--no! It is dead that I'll be, come to think.
I remember Taff the Welshman when he sank.
And his cheek it was like the budding pink.
But me they'll lash in hammock, drop me deep.
Fathoms down, fathoms down, how I'll dream fast asleep.
I feel it stealing now. Sentry, are you there?
Just ease these darbies at the wrist, and roll me over fair!
I am sleepy, and the oozy weeds about me twist.

Pipe aboard, mate, shake the doldrums, and listen to a "stamp and go" sailor's work song by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem on You Tube.
Movie clips from Billy Budd on You Tube.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Philip Spencer, Mutineer

     After an investigation by ward room officers and steerage officers concerning a mutiny attempted on board the USS Somers, a decision was made before noon on November 30, 1842, to execute three prisoners implicated in the plot--Midshipman Philip Spencer, Boatswain's Mate Samuel Cromwell and Seaman Elisha Small.
      At noon, Commander Mackensie ordered hanging ropes called whips to be installed on the main mast yardarms. Two 80 foot whips were set on the starboard main yardarm, and one 80 foot whip was set on the larboard.
     The three prisoners were in chains and under guard since their arrest on November 26, as the ship sailed from Africa to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. On December 1, 1842, at 1:30 PM, the crew were called to quarters to witness the executions. There was a moderate breeze and sailing conditions were pleasant. Midshipman Philip Spencer was placed on the starboard outer whip, Seaman Elisha Small on the starboard inner whip, and Boatswain's Mate Samuel Cromwell was placed on the larboard whip. Spencer confessed that he himself was guilty but he had repented, and that Small was innocent. Small and Cromwell shouted that they were innocent and pleaded for their lives.
     At 2:15 PM a signal shot was fired and the prisoners were run up the yard arm. Then the ensign and pendant were hoisted.
     The crew were now called aft and addressed by Commander Mackenzie as to the crimes and punishment of the prisoners, after which "all hands were called to cheer the ship, and three hearty cheers were given to the American flag." At 2:30 PM the crew were called to dinner, and at 3:30 PM the watch was called and the corpses of the deceased were lowered to the gangways to be lain out for burial.
     At 6:30 PM all hands were called to bury the dead. "After the funeral service, the bodies were committed to the deep."
     When the USS Somers returned to its home port in New York, newspapers praised the commander and ridiculed the mutineers. James Fenimore Cooper was less inclined to praise the handling of the mutiny. He wrote a pamphlet condemning Commander Mackenzie's actions at sea. Soon other critics emerged, some with influence and power, including the Secretary of War, who was the father of Philip Spencer.
     On December 28, 1842, a Court of Inquiry convened on board the USS North Carolina at New York to hear testimony and send an opinion of fact to the Secretary of the Navy. The New York Tribune reported the proceedings.
     Commander Mackenzie introduced a detailed report, including the ship's log. He produced a paper which was found in Philip Spencer's cabin. The paper was partially written in Greek characters as code. Translated by another officer, the paper showed a plan of mutiny giving the names of the crew that could be trusted and those not trusted. The three men had planned to take the ship into the Caribbean and rove as a pirate ship. Commander Mackenzie and Lt. Gansevoort (a relative of Herman Melville, author of Billy Budd) testified that the prisoners could not be held as captives and brought to shore because the ship's crew would try to free them and continue the mutiny. At the time of the executions, the ship was about 250 miles from shore.
     Apprentice Seaman George Warner testified that he knew Philip Spencer intended to take over the ship but he thought that Spencer and the other prisoners could have been taken into port safely for court martial.
     On January 21, 1843, the Court of Inquiry found Commander Mackenzie innocent.
     Secretary of War John Canfield Spencer refused to let the case rest, and tried to obtain a civil suit against Commander Mackenzie. Secretary of the Navy Abel Upshur persuaded the Secretary of War to drop the civil suit in favor of a USN court martial, which convened on February 1, 1843. After a long trial with several delays, a verdict of innocence was delivered by 13 Naval officers.
     Philip Spencer was born in Canandaigua, New York, on January 28, 1823. He attended Geneva College--now called Hobart-Smith College--and later he attended Union College. When Philip expressed a strong desire to quit college and go to sea on a merchant marine ship or whaler, his father persuaded him to join the Navy. He was 19 years old when he died.


1) U. S. Naval Historical Center website.
2) The Somers Mutiny by Judith A. Nientimp, University of Rochester. U of R library website.
3) Wikipedia

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Crony Capitalism--The Anti-Jobs Program


     Rootstrikers understand how special interest money has corrupted our government. But how many understand how it has corrupted and deprived most citizens of the living standard they would otherwise enjoy?

     A recent article by Steven Pearlstein in the Washington Post dated August 31, 2012, explains how capitalism (with a helping hand from government) has lost its way. A healthy capitalistic system builds, recycles, and redistributes wealth constantly. By its very nature, wealth must be widely distributed or the system breaks down. Clearly, we are headed in the opposite direction (the goal of special interests).

     If wealth is defined as that which can be set aside for the future purchase of goods and services, we can make a distinction between good and worthwhile investments, like education and medical research, and others that will return more wealth. Increased wealth made available for increased investments--not to mention more jobs.

     Crony capitalists block this process by bribing Congress or the Administration for favorable treatment such as tax loopholes, favorable regulation, or protection from competitors. In every case the crony capitalist expects to gain more than he paid in (as much as seven times the amount paid). This ‘return’ is extracted from customers and taxpayers who get no value for their money. A true capitalist would use the money in a way that would be a net gain for the economy; the simplest being to reduce prices resulting in more volume and jobs.

     There are numerous other ways in which special interests pay big money to keep things as they are, wasting our nation’s resources—think of all those prison guards keeping non-violent, black drug users in jail. And how about the lawyers and accountants living off our 8,000 page tax code?

     Studies indicate a clear connection (cause and effect) between corruption and lower GDP, higher income disparity, and increased poverty. The burden of corruption falls most heavily on those least able to afford it and, in our current debt situation, none of us can afford it.

     Our politicians stay up nights trying to think of ways to extract more wealth from the private sector, without reducing jobs, and of ways to ‘stimulate’  the private sector. We are deluged with ‘good’ ideas of how to fix Congress and our economy. In my view, unless we remove the blockage—the root problem—we can’t fix anything. Just email this message to twenty friends and we are on our way.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Aesop Did Not Write This, But A Man Certainly Did

                                               The Fox and the Crow

     A Crow was sitting on a branch of a tree with a piece of cheese in her beak when a Fox observed her and set his wits to work to discover some way of getting the cheese.
     Coming and standing under the tree he looked up and said, "What a noble bird I see above me! Her beauty is without equal, the hue of her plumage exquisite. If only her voice is as sweet as her looks are fair, she ought without doubt to be Queen of the Birds."
     The Crow was hugely flattered by this, and just to show the Fox that she could sing she gave a loud caw. Down came the cheese, of course, and the Fox, snatching it up, said, "You have a voice, madam, I see: what you want is wits.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Who Am I? (Number 12)

     I was born in Paris on October 24, 1868. In early childhood I demonstrated a lifelong penchant for adventure and travel. At age five, I ran away from home. The police found me in the woods of Vincennes and my mother took me back home. She said I was a restless and inquisitive child and most likely thought that I was foolish too.
     When I was six years old my family moved to Belgium. I spent my formative years in Belgium. Of course, as each opportunity presented itself, I continued to run away from home. In 1883 I travelled to England alone, and returned home after spending all my money. A few years later, at age seventeen, I boarded a train to Switzerland and crossed into Italy on foot. I sent my mother a telegraph message when I ran out of money. My mother found me at Lake Maggiore and took me home.
     In 1886, without a word to anyone, I left home on my bicycle. I carried my scant belongings with me on my way to Spain. On the way, I detoured through the French Riviera. This was my declaration of independence. 
     In 1889 I moved to Paris where I studied Asian languages, philosophy, music and voice. I performed on stage, and joined secret societies including the Free Masons. I wrote an anarchist treatise, but publishers refused to publish it.
     While in Paris I spent many hours at the library of the Guimet Museum. "Vocations are born, and mine was born there."
     In 1890-91 I travelled to India and explored many of the religious and historical places.
     In 1895-97 I toured with a French opera company in Vietnam. I performed at the Hanoi Opera House.
     In 1900, I travelled to Tunis, Tunisia, where I met a wonderful person and fell in love. We were married in 1904.
     Home life was too routine and boring, and I grew restless after a few years. In summer of 1911, I travelled briefly to England and then set sail for Sikkim. My marriage was subordinated to my fiercely independent and adventuresome personality.
     While in Sikkim, I visited most of the Buddhist monasteries and holy places. My quest for spirituality blossomed. I met the 13th Dalai Lama in 1912.
     In 1914 I met a fifteen year old native of Sikkim and we became inseparable companions for life. We lived together in a cave near the Tibetan border from 1914 to 1916. I later adopted this person.
     My studies of Buddhism impelled me to visit Tibet, which was forbidden to a foreigner. In 1916 I crossed the border and I visited Jigatze in southern Tibet. I met the Pachen Lama in my travels. The ruler of Sikkim was told about my illegal adventure, and I was expelled from Sikkim. So my young companion and I travelled to India and then to Japan.
     In Japan I met a philosopher monk who told me that he had disguised himself as a Chinese monk and spent eighteen months at Lhasa, Tibet. That revelation gave me new hope for a return to Tibet. My young travel companion and I sailed for Korea and crossed China from east to west. We travelled through the Gobi desert and Mongolia. We stopped at Kum-Bum near the border of Tibet, where I studied Buddhism for three more years.
     Disguised as a beggar and a monk, my companion and I crossed the border into Tibet and arrived at Lhasa in 1924. I was fifty-four years old. I visited the Potala, and nearby monasteries for two months. I was 'discovered' while washing clothes in a river, and I and my companion were expelled from Tibet by the governor of Lhasa.
     In 1925 I returned to France with my young companion. I separated amicably from my spouse, who continued to communicate with me.  I tried to settle down in France, but adventure and spirituality were pushing me. 
     In 1937, my companion and I travelled again to Tibet. We lived there until the end of World War 2. I was absorbed in Buddhism. I completed circumambulation of the sacred mountain known as Amnye Mache.
     My companion and I returned to France in 1946. I was seventy-eight years old. My companion died in 1955. I lived for 100 years and passed away on  September 8, 1969.
     I am Alexandra David-Neel, author and adventurer.

1) Alexandra David-Neel official website. (highly recommended)
2) My Journey to Lhasa, Alexandra David-Neel. Google books, My Journey to Lhasa
3) Alexandra David-Neel, Wikipedia.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Jacques Cartier and Chief Donnaconna

     French explorer Jacques Cartier made three voyages (1534, 1535, 1541) to North America, visiting the Saint Lawrence River region and the Huron villages of Stadacona (Quebec City) and Hochelaga (Montreal).
     Cartier was born in St. Malo, Brittany on December 31, 1491. In 1534, after Brittany was united with France, Cartier was introduced by his bishop to King Francis I, who gave Cartier a commission to discover a western passage to Asia. He sailed with two ships and 121 men on April 20, 1534. After twenty days, Cartier and his crewmen reached the coast of North America. On the Island of Birds, his crew slaughtered over 1000 birds.
     ...Presently they came to an island. It lay far out in the sea, and was surrounded by a great upheaval of jagged and broken ice. On it and around it they saw so dense a mass of birds that no one could have believed who had not seen it for himself. The birds were as large as jays [auk], they were colored black and white, and they could scarcely fly because of their small wings and their exceeding fatness...The sailors killed large numbers of the birds, and then filled two open boats with them.

     On the shores of Chaleur Bay and the Gaspe peninsula, Cartier encountered 50 large canoes filled with Micmac fishermen who greeted him with friendship, curiosity and awe. They exchanged gifts and celebrated. The next day Cartier proceeded to explore the bay. He met a fishing party of 200 Hurons, led by Chief Donnaconna and his sons, Domagaya and Taignoagny. Another gifting session was started, followed by celebrations of joy and friendship. Afterward, Cartier and his men placed a large wooden cross on an island in the bay, decorated it with a shield of three fluers-de-lis, and claimed the whole area for the King of France. Cartier and his men then returned to their ships. The chief and his sons witnessed this dedication with suspicion.
     On July 25, 1534, Chief Donnaconna and his sons revisited the ships in the bay. They made protest against the dedication of the cross and the French claim.
     They rightly saw in the erection of the cross the advancing shadow of the rule of the white man...[Chief Donnaconna] made a long oration which the French could not understand. Pointing shoreward to the cross and making signs, the chief gave it to be understood that the country belonged to him and his people. He and his followers were easily pacified, however, by a few gifts and with the explanation that the cross was erected to mark the entrance to the bay. The French entertained their guests bountifully with food and drink, and having gaily decked out the two sons of the chief in French shirts and red caps, they invited these young savages [sic] to remain on the ship and to sail with Cartier. They did so, and the chief and the others departed rejoicing. The next day the ships weighed anchor....

     Chief Donnaconna had allowed his two sons to go to France on condition that Cartier return with them the following year. On September 8, 1535, Cartier returned to Stadacona. Chief Donnaconna and sixteen warriors visited Cartier on the flagship La Grande Hermine, which was anchored on the St. Charles River near the village. When Chief Donnaconna spoke to his sons and found out that they had received warm hospitality and friendship while living in France, a celebration followed. Cartier told the chief  that he intended to sail to Hochelaga. After the celebration and ceremony of reunion, the chief, his two sons and their entourage departed for shore.
     The days that followed were marked with entreaty and protest by Chief Donnaconna. He did not want Cartier to sail to Hochelaga.
     On September 16, the Hurons came again. About five hundred of them gathered about the ships.

     Donnaconna, with ten or twelve of the chiefest men of the country, came on board the ships, where Cartier held a great feast for them and gave them presents according to their rank. Taignoagny explained to Cartier that Donnaconna was grieved that he was going to Hochelaga. The river, said the guide, was of no importance and the journey not worth while. Cartier's reply to this protest was that he had been commanded by his king to go as far as he could go, but that, after seeing Hochelaga, he would come back again. Taignoagny flatly refused to act as guide, and the Indians abruptly left the ship and went ashore.
     Donnaconna and his men were back again on the morrow... They brought with them eels and fish as presents, and danced and sang upon the shore opposite the ships in token of their friendship.

     Chief Donnaconna then offered three young children as gifts to the French on condition that Cartier not go to Hochelaga. The gifts of children were refused. Cartier gave the chief two swords and other gifts, and the Hurons surprised the French with perceived shouts of joy.

     The next day the Indians made one more attempt to dissuade Cartier from his journey. Finding that persuasion and oratory were of no avail, they decided to fall back upon the supernatural and to frighten the French from their design... From beneath the foliage of the river bank a canoe shot into the stream, the hideous appearance of its occupants contrasting with the bright autumn tints that were lending their glory to the Canadian woods. The three Indians in the canoe had been carefully made up by their fellows as stage devils to strike horror into Cartier and his companions. They were dressed like devils, being wrapped in dog skins, white and black, their faces besmeared as black as any coals, with horns on their heads more than a yard long. The canoe... floated past the ships, the devils making no attempt to stop, not even turning but counterfeiting the sacred frenzy of angry deities. The devil in the center shouted a fierce harangue into the air... The whole thing was a piece of characteristic Indian acting, viewed by the French with interest but apparently without the faintest alarm.

     Later, Taignoagny explained to the French that the great god, Cudragny, had spoken at Hochelaga and sent the three spirits in the canoe as a warning not to come to Hochelaga.
     In spite of the warning, Cartier departed with two ships for Hochelaga and arrived on October 3, 1535. Here he met Huron Chief Agouhanna. The chief brought all his sick and infirm to the French for a possible cure by touch. The French touched them and recited prayers for them. Gifts were exchanged and there was a celebration of friendship.
     The French saw fifty well-built longhouses within a fortified stockade. They visited Mount Royal. They inquired about gold and silver and other valuable minerals. The Hurons indicated that there was copper far to the west, past three waterfalls, and silver in the vicinity of today's Ottawa. The French left Hochelaga and returned to Stadacona for winter.
     During the winter of 1535-36, the French explorers discovered for themselves the severity of a Quebec winter. From mid-November 1535 to mid-April 1536 the French fleet lay frozen in ice at the mouth of the St. Charles River. Ice was over 10 feet thick on the river, and snow was four feet deep on land. The French learned to survive the cold, but they had no ready answer to scurvy--which started among the Huron and then among the French. The symptoms of teeth falling out, bad gums, swollen limbs and pain all over the body was unmistakable, according to Cartier's Journal.
     Domagaya had scurvy too, but one day he appeared at the French camp and said he was cured. He told the French about the curative properties of arborvitae, or white cedar. The leaves could be steeped in water. Cartier wrote that the Hurons brought back from the forest nine or ten branches and "showed us how to grind the bark and boil it in water, then drink the potion every other day and apply the residue as a poultice to swollen and infected legs." Of the 110 men that made up the second voyage, 85 survived the winter.
     Winter brings people together and stories are told. Often the stories are fables or myths.Many stories are designed to frighten or gratify the listeners. 
     Chief Donnaconna was an accomplished storyteller in the oral tradition of the Huron. He knew the French were looking for valuable minerals such as gold and silver. He told them about the Kingdom of Saquenay (long before the myth was crafted into a computer game). He had been there himself, he said, and it had immense quantities of gold, silver and rubies.He said it was protected by a fierce people. He told Cartier and his men about a pygmy people who were unipeds and attacked travelers from the branches of trees. He said there was also a race of people with no anus, who subsisted on liquids. Chief Donnaconna was a great chief and a great storyteller.
     Sadly, he was kidnapped along with his two sons and several others when Cartier and his shipmates weighed anchor on May 6, 1536 and left for France. Hundreds of Hurons in canoes raced alongside the three ships and they conversed with the chief and his sons who were on deck. There was nothing they could do to rescue the chief and the other kidnapped Hurons. Soon they were left in the wakes of the departing French ships.
     On July 6, 1536, the Cartier expedition reached the harbor of St. Malo. "We reached the harbor of St. Malo, by the Grace of our Creator, whom we pray, making an end of our navigation, to grant us His Grace, and Paradise at the end. Amen."
     Chief Donnaconna died in France in 1539. So did the other Hurons who were kidnapped and taken to France.

The Mariner of St. Malo--A Chronicle of the Voyages of Jacques Cartier by Stephen Leacock. Quotes from this reference are in italics in this post.
The Great Explorers by Samuel Eliot Morison


Sheriff's Posse

Editor's note: This cartoon was suggested by a blogger's comments on another blog. We modified the idea to fit the circumstances in Cortland County. Art credit -- G.S.

The sheriff is requesting an increase of one million dollars for his 2013 budget. Two new police officers, more guns, more cars--and more overtime. Something like this happens every year. Stand firm, legislators, and draw the line. Don't bow to expedient scare tactics. Martin Murphy is a competent county administrator. He deserves the support of the whole legislature. Let's demonstrate fiscal integrity in Cortland County for the year 2013.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Georg Wilhelm Steller Describes Blue Foxes

     Georg Wilhelm Steller was a participant in the Vitus Bering expedition to Alaska in 1741. Bering was employed by Peter the Great to determine the extent of a land link between Asia and North America. Steller wrote a journal describing the voyage and exploration of what is now called Bering Straight. In his journal, Steller describes the fearlessness and aggression of Arctic blue foxes found on Bering Island.

     Of four-footed land animals there occur on Bering Island only the stone or Arctic foxes (Lagopus), which doubtless have been brought there on drift ice and which, fed on what was cast up by the sea, have increased indescribably. I had opportunity during our unfortunate sojourn on this island to become acquainted only too closely with the nature of this animal, which far surpasses the common fox in impudence, cunning and roguishness....
     They crowded into our dwellings by day and by night and stole everything that they could carry away, including articles that were of no use to them, like knives, sticks, bags, shoes, socks, caps, and so forth. They knew in such an unbelievably cunning way how to roll off a weight of several pods from our provision casks and to steal the meat from thence that at first we could hardly ascribe it to them. While skinning sea animals it often happened that we stabbed two or three foxes with our knives, because they wanted to tear the meat from our hands. However well we might bury something and weight it down with stones, they not only found it but, like human beings, pushed the stones away with their shoulders and, lying under them, helped each other do this with all their might. If we cached something up in the air on a post, they undermined the post so that it had to fall down, or one of them climbed up it like a monkey or cat and threw down the object with incredible skill and cunning. They observed all that we did and accompanied us on whatever project we undertook....
     When we sat down by the wayside they waited for us and played innumerable tricks in our sight, became constantly more impudent, and when we sat still came so near that they began to gnaw the straps on our new-fashioned, self-made shoes, and even the shoes themselves. If we lay down as if sleeping they sniffed at our nostrils to see whether we were dead or alive; if one held one's breath they even nipped our noses and were about to bite.
     When we first arrived they bit off the noses, fingers and toes of our dead while their graves were being dug; they also attacked the weak and ill to such an extent that one could hardly hold them off. One night when a sailor on his knees wanted to urinate out of the door of the hut, a fox snapped at the exposed part and, in spite of the man's cries, did not soon want to let go.

Journal of the Voyage with Bering, 1741-42, by Georg Wilhelm Steller, ed. O.W. Frost (Stanford, California, 1988).

Monday, September 10, 2012

Main Street Across America

Note: click on each map to enlarge.

     The Lincoln Highway was dedicated in October 1913. It was the first national memorial in honor of President Abraham Lincoln--the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. was dedicated in 1922. 
     The Lincoln Highway was the nation's first automobile road to connect East Coast with West Coast. It passed through 13 states. Another state, West Virginia, was added in 1928. The press called the road "Main Street Across America."
     The Lincoln Highway connected Times Square in New York City with Lincoln Park in San Francisco, a distance of 3,389 miles. In 1926, it became part of the national highway system and was designated US Route 30.
     Since there weren't any tunnels under the Hudson River when the highway was dedicated, travellers rode a ferry to Jersey City. In 1928, when the Holland Tunnel was completed, the highway was rerouted through the tunnel from Manhattan to Jersey City.
     Interstate transportation was controlled by railroads in 1912. An automobile highway was a radical concept. Most existing roads were dirt roads; less than nine percent were "improved" with gravel, stone, brick, clay or oiled surfaces. A large number of "plank" roads were still utilized, especially in parts of the country where heavy rainfall or melting snow created muddy roads.
     The invention of the motor carriage, or car, spurred the idea of a national highway. Carl Fisher, a manufacturer of car headlamps and a founder of the Indianapolis Speedway, and several wealthy friends, put the idea in motion in September 1912. They created the Lincoln Highway Association. It was estimated that the highway project would cost $10 million. Fisher claimed that building the highway would stimulate American commerce and agriculture. It would also stimulate the manufacture of cars and car parts.
     The highway was only partially built when dedicated on October 31, 1913. Less than half of the road was "improved." It was hoped that the rest of the highway would be completed by May 1, 1915, in time for the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. But the work dragged on for years.
     On July 7, 1919, a U.S. Army transcontinental motor convoy left Washington, D.C., joined the Lincoln Highway at Gettysburg, and arrived in San Francisco on September 6, 1919. Calling attention to the convoy vehicle breakdowns and road conditions, the Lincoln Highway Association and Carl Fisher urged government funding with county and state bonds, and federal contributions too. Popular support and money for improvements soon followed.
     Lt. Col. Dwight Eisenhower was a member of the Army convoy. He wrote about his experience in his 1967 book: At Ease: Stories I tell My Friends. It was from this experience and his knowledge of the German autobahn network that he proposed the Interstate Highway System and Highway Trust Fund in 1956.
     The final unpaved segment of the highway was completed in Nevada in 1938. It was the 25th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway.
     Since 1940, the Lincoln Highway has been segmented or bypassed in various states. Those segments were given new route numbers.
     In 2003, the Lincoln Highway Association co-sponsored a cross country tour from Times Square, New York to Lincoln Park, San Francisco. Co-sponsor Ford Motor Company provided 35 vintage and new cars for the tour.
     In July 2013, a similar event will mark the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway. At least one hundred classic cars have been promised.
     Visit the official Lincoln Highway Association and experiment with an educational interactive map of the Lincoln Highway.
     Or get in the mood with a Willie Nelson road song.

1) Lincoln Highway Association
2) Wikipedia


Friday, September 7, 2012

Looks Like Smoke Rising From A Fire

     A recent release by the state comptroller's office of required public pension 2013 contribution rates for employers (municipalities) looks like smoke rising from a fire. According to the Albany Times Union, rates may increase by 11 percent.
     Pension contributions effective 2012 can be found in the auditor's report of the 2011 Financial Statement on the City of Cortland's website. The 2012 pension contributions are $1,415,596, up 51% from 2009.
     Director of Administration and Finance Mack Cook suggested that pension contributions for 2013 will exceed $1,667,297, based on Fire, Police and Public Works numbers that he supplied the Cortland Standard on page three, September 7, 2012. Using a city contribution of $1,667,297, the increase from the 2012 contribution is $251,701, or 17.8 percent year over year.
     Police and Fire personnel are exempt from contributing to their own pension fund (PFRS). In 2003, the state legislature exempted regular public employees who have ten or more years service from contributing to their pension fund (ERS)--if they are not in the latest pension Tier. Some of this information can be found in the city auditor's report at the city website.
     We would like to thank the Mayor, Alderpersons, and Director of Administration and Finance for the improvements of transparency on the city's website. We also withdraw prior criticism of the city for not posting balances of dedicated or undedicated funds. Fund balances for 2011 can be found in the recent posting of the auditor's report at the city website. It would be better if monthly updates of fund balances were provided.
     The state comptroller claims that the value of  the state's pension funds has increased over the past three years. But these gains have not wiped out the market losses of 2008.
     The county is facing similar mandated pension costs. By the way, where is transparency on the county's website? Where is the 2011 auditor's report? Look at the city's website to see how it's done. Oh, stop complaining....
     Municipalities have a state-mandated tax cap but all municipalities are begging for a reduction in state mandates.
     Pension contributions by all public workers would help. Any volunteers? What? We can't hear you....
     So who's going to shout: "Where there's smoke there's fire?" A firefighter who doesn't make direct contributions to a pension? How about taxpayers--especially those old cranky taxpayers on small fixed incomes?
     The Cortland Contrarian can't shout it--blogs can't shout.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Steel Strike of 1892

     On June 29, 1892, General Manager Henry Frick declared a lockout at the Carnegie steel mills in Homestead, Pennsylvania.
     On July 5, 1892, shortly after midnight, tugboats pulling barges on the Monongahela River were sighted by the strikers on shore. The barges were carrying several hundred Pinkerton's detectives armed with Winchester repeating rifles--a private army in the employ of the steel company. Within an hour, strikers on horseback rode through the streets of Homestead giving the alarm. Several thousand armed strikers and sympathizers, including women and teen-age children, rose from interrupted sleep and gathered at the riverbank in Homestead.
     A rowdy threatening crowd of strikers greeted the Pinkertons with a warning that they should not step foot on shore--but they did. Gunfire erupted. Under a barrage of gunfire, the Pinkerton detectives soon retreated back to their barges. Gunfire was exchanged over 12 hours. Strikers set a freight train car on fire and rolled it to the landing area near the barges. Lighted torches and dynamite were thrown at the barges. Strikers pumped oil into the river and set the oil on fire. 
     By the afternoon of July 6, the Pinkertons had surrendered. Three detectives and nine workers were dead. Afterward, the striking steel-workers celebrated a premature victory.
     The governor of Pennsylvania ordered state militia to restore order in Homestead. Militia took over the Carnegie-Frick steel mills and then escorted strikebreakers--called "scabs" by union members--in and out of the plant in sealed railroad cars. The strikers ran out of money and hope in four months and most returned to work. It was a grim Christmas.
     Local and state authorities charged strike leaders with murder. As many as 160 other striking workers were charged with lesser crimes. The strike committee was arrested and charged with treason.
     When these striking workers were tried in court, sympathetic juries would not convict them. The strike leaders were blacklisted from the industry. Carnegie crushed the union movement in Homestead and greatly reduced union activity in the steel mills in the Pittsburgh area.
     On July 23, 1892, a New York native, Alexander Berkman, who had no connection with steel or the union, tried to assassinate Henry Frick at his company office. Berkman shot and stabbed Frick. Security arrested Berkman. Frick survived and recovered and Berkman was tried for attempted murder. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison. 
     The union had won two major strikes in 1882 and 1889. The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers had obtained over 50 pages of work-rules at the mills, stopped "yellow dog" contracts, increased union membership, and banked a strike fund for future use. The contract was terminated in 1892.
     Following the strike of 1892, Carnegie's reputation as a benevolent employer was lost forever.
     In the year of the Homestead strike, organized labor had declared a general strike in New Orleans, coal miners went on strike in Tennessee, railroad switch-men struck in Buffalo, and copper miners struck in Idaho. The American economy was in recession. In Homestead, General Manager Henry Frick was determined to compensate for lower steel prices at his mills by imposing lower wages on workers. He also intended to break the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, which he did.
     Carnegie, who was on vacation in Scotland at the time of the strike, expressed his regret over the outcome. He tried to redeem himself six years later, when he returned to Homestead and dedicated a new library building, a concert hall, a swimming pool, bowling alleys and a gymnasium for the use of the public.
     " all my life, before or since, wounded me so deeply," Carnegie wrote in his autobiography. "No pangs remain of any wound received in my business career save that of Homestead."

Editor's note: This post was intended for Labor Day. We regret the delay. A key contributor for the Cortland Contrarian took an extended holiday in New York City.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lincoln's Speech Against the Mexican War

     President Polk addressed Congress and requested a declaration of war against Mexico on May 11, 1846. President Polk claimed that "Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood on American soil." On May 16, 1846, after a few hours of debate, Congress declared war on Mexico.
     On January 12, 1848, Congressman Abraham Lincoln spoke against the Mexican war. Note the organization of argument, the use of facts, and the principles underlying his argument.
     Compare President Polk's war and the conduct of Congress allowing subsequent declared or undeclared wars of intervention on sovereign countries. Include hostilities against Native Americans. (Magnify small print by clicking on tools and zoom font size.)

Some, if not all, the gentlemen on the other side of the House, who have addressed the committee within the last two days, have spoken rather complainingly, if I have rightly understood them, of the vote given a week or ten days ago, declaring that the war with Mexico was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President James K Polk. I admit that such a vote should not be given in mere party wantonness, and that the one given is justly censurable, if it have no other or better foundation. I am one of those who joined in that vote; and I did so under my best impression of the truth of the case. How I got this impression, and how it may possibly be removed, I will now try to show. When the war began, it was my opinion that all those who, because of knowing too little, or because of knowing too much, could not conscientiously approve the conduct of the President, in the beginning of it, should, nevertheless, as good citizens and patriots, remain silent on that point, at least till the war should be ended. Some leading democrats, including Ex President Van Buren, have taken this same view, as I understand them; and I adhered to it, and acted upon it, until since I took my seat here; and I think I should still adhere to it, were it not that the President and his friends will not allow it to be so. Besides the continual effort of the President to argue every silent vote given for supplies, into an endorsement of the justice and wisdom of his conduct—besides that singularly candid paragraph, in his late message in which he tells us that Congress, with great unanimity, only two in the Senate and fourteen in the House dissenting, had declared that, "by the act of the Republic of Mexico, a state of war exists between that Government and the United States," when the same journals that informed him of this, also informed him, that when that declaration stood disconnected from the question of supplies, sixty seven in the House, and not fourteen merely, voted against it—besides this open attempt to prove, by telling the truth, what he could not prove by telling the whole truth—demanding of all who will not submit to be misrepresented, in justice to themselves, to speak out—besides all this, one of my colleagues (Mr. Richardson) at a very early day in the session brought in a set of resolutions, expressly endorsing the original justice of the war on the part of the President. Upon these resolutions, when they shall be put on their passage I shall be compelled to vote; so that I can not be silent, if I would. Seeing this, I went about preparing myself to give the vote understandingly when it should come. I carefully examined the President’s messages, to ascertain what he himself had said and proved upon the point. The result of this examination was to make the impression, that taking for true, all the President states as facts, he falls far short of proving his justification; and that the President would have gone farther with his proof, if it had not been for the small matter, that the truth would not permit him. Under the impression thus made, I gave the vote before mentioned. I propose now to give, concisely, the process of the examination I made, and how I reached the conclusion I did. The President, in his first war message of May 1846, declares that the soil was ours on which hostilities were commenced by Mexico; and he repeats that declaration, almost in the same language, in each successive annual message, thus showing that he esteems that point, a highly essential one. In the importance of that point, I entirely agree with the President. To my judgment, it is the very point, upon which he should be justified, or condemned. In his message of Decr. 1846, it seems to have occurred to him, as is certainly true, that title—ownership—to soil, or any thing else, is not a simple fact; but is a conclusion following one or more simple facts; and that it was incumbent upon him, to present the facts, from which he concluded, the soil was ours, on which the first blood of the war was shed. Accordingly a little below the middle of page twelve in the message last referred to, he enters upon that task; forming an issue, and introducing testimony, extending the whole, to a little below the middle of page fourteen. Now I propose to try to show, that the whole of this,—issue and evidence—is, from beginning to end, the sheerest deception. The issue, as he presents it, is in these words "But there are those who, conceding all this. to be true, assume the ground that the true western boundary of Texas is the Nueces, instead of the Rio Grande; and that, therefore, in marching our army to the east bank of the latter river, we passed the Texan line, and invaded the territory of Mexico." Now this issue, is made up of two affirmatives and no negative. The main deception of it is, that it assumes as true, that one river or the other is necessarily the boundary; and cheats the superficial thinker entirely out of the idea, that possibly the boundary is somewhere between the two, and not actually at either. A further deception is, that it will let in evidence, which a true issue would exclude. A true issue, made by the President, would be about as follows "I say, the soil was ours, on which the first blood was shed; there are those who say it was not." I now proceed to examine the Presidents evidence, as applicable to such an issue. When that evidence is analyzed, it is all included n the following propositions:
1. That the Rio Grande was the Western boundary of Louisiana as we purchased it of France in 1803.
2. That the Republic of Texas always claimed the Rio Grande, as her Western boundary.
3. That by various acts, she had claimed it on paper.
4. That Santa Anna, in his treaty with Texas, recognised the Rio Grande, as her boundary.
5. That Texas before, and the U. S. after, annexation had exercised jurisdiction beyond the Nueces—between the two rivers.
6. That our Congress, understood the boundary of Texas to extend beyond the Nueces.

Now for each of these in its turn. His first item is, that the Rio Grande was the Western boundary of Louisiana, as we purchased it of France in 1803; and seeming to expect this to be disputed, he argues over the amount of nearly a page, to prove it true; at the end of which he lets us know, that by the treaty of 1819, we sold to Spain the whole country from the Rio Grande eastward, to the Sabine. Now, admitting for the present, that the Rio Grande, was the boundary of Louisiana, what, under heaven, had that to do with the present boundary between us and Mexico? How, Mr. Chairman, the line, that once divided your land from mine, can still be the boundary between us, after I have sold my land to you, is, to me, beyond all comprehension. And how any man, with an honest purpose only, of proving the truth, could ever have thought of introducing such a fact to prove such an issue, is equally incomprehensible. His next piece of evidence is that "The Republic of Texas always claimed this river (Rio Grande) as her western boundary[.]" That is not true, in fact. Texas has claimed it, but she has not always claimed it. There is, at least, one distinguished exception. Her state constitution,—the republic’s most solemn, and well considered act—that which may, without impropriety, be called her last will and testament revoking all others—makes no such claim. But suppose she had always claimed it. Has not Mexico always claimed the contrary? so that there is but claim against claim, leaving nothing proved, until we get back of the claims, and find which has the better foundation. Though not in the order in which the President presents his evidence, I now consider that class of his statements, which are, in substance, nothing more than that Texas has, by various acts of her convention and congress, claimed the Rio Grande, as her boundary, on paper. I mean here what he says about the fixing of the Rio Grande as her boundary in her old constitution (not her state constitution) about forming congressional districts, counties &c &c. Now all of this is but naked claim; and what I have already said about claims is strictly applicable to this. If I should claim your land, by word of mouth, that certainly would not make it mine; and if I were to claim it by a deed which I had made myself, and with which, you had had nothing to do, the claim would be quite the same, in substance—or rather, in utter nothingness. I next consider the President’s statement that Santa Anna in his treaty with Texas, recognised the Rio Grande, as the western boundary of Texas. Besides the position, so often taken that Santa Anna, while a prisoner of war—a captive—could not bind Mexico by a treaty, which I deem conclusive—besides this, I wish to say something in relation to this treaty, so called by the President, with Santa Anna. If any man would like to be amused by a sight of that little thing, which the President calls by that big name, he can have it, by turning to Niles’ Register volume 50, page 336. [See Santa Anna Treaty.] And if any one should suppose that Niles’ Register is a curious repository of so mighty a document, as a solemn treaty between nations, I can only say that I learned, to a tolerable degree [of] certainty, by enquiry at the State Department, that the President himself, never saw it any where else. By the way, I believe I should not err, if I were to declare, that during the first ten years of the existence of that document, it was never, by any body, called a treaty—that it was never so called, till the President, in his extremity, attempted, by so calling it, to wring something from it in justification of himself in connection with the Mexican war. It has none of the distinguishing features of a treaty. It does not call itself a treaty. Santa Anna does not therein, assume to bind Mexico; he assumes only to act as the President-Commander-in-chief of the Mexican Army and Navy; stipulates that the then present hostilities should cease, and that he would not himself take up arms, nor influence the Mexican people to take up arms, against Texas during the existence of the war of independence [. ] He did not recognise the independence of Texas; he did not assume to put an end to the war; but clearly indicated his expectation of its continuance; he did not say one word about boundary, and, most probably, never thought of it. It is stipulated therein that the Mexican forces should evacuate the territory of Texas, passing to the other side of the Rio Grande; and in another article, it is stipulated that, to prevent collisions between the armies, the Texan army should not approach nearer than within five leagues—of what is not said—but clearly, from the object stated it is—of the Rio Grande. Now, if this is a treaty, recognising the Rio Grande, as the boundary of Texas, it contains the singular feauture [sic], of stipulating, that Texas shall not go within five leagues of her own boundary. Next comes the evidence of Texas before annexation, and the United States, afterwards, exercising jurisdiction beyond the Nueces, and between the two rivers. This actual exercise of jurisdiction, is the very class or quality of evidence we want. It is excellent so far as it goes; but does it go far enough? He tells us it went beyond the Nueces; but he does not tell us it went to the Rio Grande. He tells us, jurisdiction was exercised between the two rivers, but he does not tell us it was exercised over all the territory between them. Some simple minded people, think it is possible, to cross one river and go beyond it without going all the way to the next—that jurisdiction may be exercised between two rivers without covering all the country between them. I know a man, not very unlike myself, who exercises jurisdiction over a piece of land between the Wabash and the Mississippi; and yet so far is this from being all there is between those rivers, that it is just one hundred and fifty two feet long by fifty wide, and no part of it much within a hundred miles of either. He has a neighbour between him and the Mississippi,—that is, just across the street, in that direction—whom, I am sure, he could neither persuade nor force to give up his habitation; but which nevertheless, he could certainly annex, if it were to be done, by merely standing on his own side of the street and claiming it, or even, sitting down, and writing a deed for it. But next the President tells us, the Congress of the United States understood the state of Texas they admitted into the union, to extend beyond the Nueces. Well, I suppose they did. I certainly so understood it. But how far beyond? That Congress did not understand it to extend clear to the Rio Grande, is quite certain by the fact of their joint resolutions, for admission, expressly leaving all questions of boundary to future adjustment. And it may be added, that Texas herself, is proved to have had the same understanding of it, that our Congress had, by the fact of the exact conformity of her new constitution, to those resolutions. I am now through the whole of the President’s evidence; and it is a singular fact, that if any one should declare the President sent the army into the midst of a settlement of Mexican people, who had never submitted, by consent or by force, to the authority of Texas or of the United States, and that there, and thereby, the first blood of the war was shed, there is not one word in all the President has said, which would either admit or deny the declaration. This strange omission, it does seem to me, could not have occurred but by design. My way of living leads me to be about the courts of justice; and there, I have sometimes seen a good lawyer, struggling for his client’s neck, in a desperate case, employing every artifice to work round, befog, and cover up, with many words, some point arising in the case, which he dared not admit, and yet could not deny. Party bias may help to make it appear so; but with all the allowance I can make for such bias, it still does appear to me, that just such, and from just such necessity, is the President’s struggle in this case. Some time after my colleague (Mr. Richardson) introduced the resolutions I have mentioned, I introduced a preamble, resolution, and interrogatories intended to draw the President out, if possible, on this hitherto untrodden ground. To show their relevancy, I propose to state my understanding of the true rule for ascertaining the boundary between Texas and Mexico. It is, that wherever Texas was exercising jurisdiction, was hers; and wherever Mexico was exercising jurisdiction, was hers; and that whatever separated the actual exercise of jurisdiction of the one, from that of the other, was the true boundary between them. If, as is probably true, Texas was exercising jurisdiction along the western bank of the Nueces, and Mexico was exercising it along the eastern bank of the Rio Grande, then neither river was the boundary; but the uninhabited country between the two, was. The extent of our territory in that region depended, not on any treaty-fixed boundary (for no treaty had attempted it) but on revolution Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable,—most sacred right—a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government, may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize, and make their own, of so much of the territory as they inhabit. More than this, a majority of any portion of such people may revolutionize, putting down a minority, intermingled with, or near about them, who may oppose their movement. Such minority, was precisely the case, of the tories of our own revolution. It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old lines, or old laws; but to break up both, and make new ones. As to the country now in question, we bought it of France in 18O3, and sold it to Spain in 1819, according to the President’s statements. After this, all Mexico, including Texas, revolutionized against Spain; and still later, Texas revolutionized against Mexico. In my view, just so far as she carried her revolution, by obtaining the actual, willing or unwilling, submission of the people, so far, the country was hers, and no farther. Now sir, for the purpose of obtaining the very best evidence, as to whether Texas had actually carried her revolution, to the place where the hostilities of the present war commenced, let the President answer the interrogatories, I proposed, as before mentioned, or some other similar ones. Let him answer, fully, fairly, and candidly. Let him answer with facts, and not with arguments. Let him remember he sits where Washington sat, and so remembering, let him answer, as Washington would answer. As a nation should not, and the Almighty will not, be evaded, so let him attempt no envasion—no equivocation. And if, so answering, he can show that the soil was ours, where the first blood of the war was shed—that it was not within an inhabited country, or, if within such, that the inhabitants had submitted themselves to the civil authority of Texas, or of the United States, and that the same is true df the site of Fort Brown, then I am with him for his justification. In that case I, shall be most happy to reverse the vote I gave the other day. I have a selfish motive for desiring that the President may do this. I expect to give some votes, in connection with the war, which, without his so doing, will be of doubtful propriety in my own judgment, but which will be free from the doubt if he does so. But if he can not, or will not do this—if on any pretence, or no pretence, he shall refuse or omit it, then I shall be fully convinced, of what I more than suspect already, that he is deeply conscious of being in the wrong that he feels the blood of this war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to Heaven against him. That originally having some strong motive—what, I will not stop now to give my opinion concerning—to involve the two countries in a war, and trusting to escape scrutiny, by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory—that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood—that serpent’s eye, that charms to destroy he plunged into it, and has swept, on and on, till, disappointed in his calculation of the ease with which Mexico might be subdued, he now finds himself, he knows not where. How like the half insane mumbling of a fever-dream, is the whole war part of his late message! At one time telling us that Mexico has nothing whatever, that we can get, but territory; at another, showing us how we can support the war, by levying contributions on Mexico. At one time, urging the national honor, the security of the future, the prevention of foreign interference, and even, the good of Mexico herself, as among the objects of the war; at another, telling us, that "to reject indemnity, by refusing to accept a cession of territory, would be to abandon all our just demands, and to wage the war, bearing all its expenses, without a purpose or definite object[.]" So then, the national honor, security of the future, and every thing but territorial indemnity, may be considered the no-purposes, and indefinite, objects of the war! But, having it now settled that territorial indemnity is the only object, we are urged to seize, by legislation here, all that he was content to take, a few months ago, and the whole province of lower California to boot, and to still carry on the war—to take all we are fighting for, and still fight on. Again, the President is resolved, under all circumstances, to have full territorial indemnity for the expenses of the war; but he forgets to tell us how we are to get the excess, after those expenses shall have surpassed the value of the whole of the Mexican territory. So again, he insists that the separate national existence of Mexico, shall be maintained; but he does not tell us how this can be done, after we shall have taken all her territory. Lest the questions, I here suggest, be considered speculative merely, let me be indulged a moment in trying [to] show they are not. The war has gone on some twenty months; for the expenses of which, together with an inconsiderable old score, the President now claims about one half of the Mexican territory; and that, by far the better half, so far as concerns our ability to make any thing out of it. It is comparatively uninhabited; so that we could establish land offices in it, and raise some money in that way. But the other half is already inhabited, as I understand it, tolerably densely for the nature of the country; and all its lands, or all that are valuable, already appropriated as private property. How then are we to make any thing out of these lands with this encumbrance on them? or how, remove the encumbrance? I suppose no one will say we should kill the people, or drive them out, or make slaves of them, or even confiscate their property. How then can we make much out of this part of the territory? If the prosecution of the war has, in expenses, already equalled the better half of the country, how long its future prosecution, will be in equalling, the less valuable half, is not a speculative, but a practical question, pressing closely upon us. And yet it is a question which the President seems to never have thought of. As to the mode of terminating the war, and securing peace, the President is equally wandering and indefinite. First, it is to be done by a more vigorous prosecution of the war in the vital parts of the enemies country; and, after apparently, talking himself tired, on this point, the President drops down into a half despairing tone, and tells us that "with a people distracted and divided by contending factions, and a government subject to constant changes, by successive revolutions, the continued success of our arms may fail to secure a satisfactory peace[.]" Then he suggests the propriety of wheedling the Mexican people to desert the counsels of their own leaders, and trusting in our protection, to set up a government from which we can secure a satisfactory peace; telling us, that "this may become the only mode of obtaining such a peace." But soon he falls into doubt of this too; and then drops back on to the already half abandoned ground of "more vigorous prosecution.["] All this shows that the President is, in no wise, satisfied with his own positions. First he takes up one, and in attempting to argue us into it, he argues himself out of it; then seizes another, and goes through the same process; and then, confused at being able to think of nothing new, he snatches up the old one again, which he has some time before cast off. His mind, tasked beyond its power, is running hither and thither, like some tortured creature, on a burning surface, finding no position, on which it can settle down, and be at ease. Again, it is a singular omission in this message, that it, no where intimates when the President expects the war to terminate. At its beginning, Genl. Scott was, by this same President, driven into disfavor, if not disgrace, for intimating that peace could not be conquered in less than three or four months. But now, at the end of about twenty months, during which time our arms have given us the most splendid successes—every department, and every part, land and water, officers and privates, regulars and volunteers, doing all that men could do, and hundreds of things which it had ever before been thought men could not do,—after all this, this same President gives us a long message, without showing us, that, as to the end, he himself, has, even an imaginary conception. As I have before said, he knows not where he is. He is a bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed man. God grant he may be able to show, there is not something about his conscious, more painful than all his mental perplexity!