Tag: prologue blog
In the summer of 1942, the Allies’ war against Japan was in dire straits. China was constantly battling the occupying Japanese forces in its homeland, supplied by India via the Burma Road. Then Japan severed that supply artery. Planes were flown over the Himalayan mountains, but their payloads were too little, and too many pilots crashed in the desolate landscape to continue the flights.
The Allies were desperate to find a land route that would reconnect China and India. The task fell to two OSS men—Ilia Tolstoy, the grandson of Leo Tolstoy, and explorer Capt. Brooke Dolan. To complete the land route would require traversing Tibet, and to traverse the hidden country required the permission of a seven-year-old boy, the Dalai Lama.
When the two men arrived in Lhasa, the remote capital of Tibet, these spies were received as ambassadors. A military brass band played, and they were treated as guests of honor in a city that only a few decades earlier had forbidden Westerners to enter.
They came carrying a message from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. On December 20, at 9:20 in the morning, they were granted an audience with His Holiness. As a further sign of his respect for these two emissaries, the men were allowed to ride horses up the Potala to the quarters of the Dalai Lama. After a brief wait, they … [ Read all ]
Posted by Rob Crotty on February 8, 2011, under - Exploration, - Spies and Espionage, - World War II, Rare Videos.
Tags: american history, Brooke Dolan, CIA history, dalai lama, Ilia Tolstoy, Ilya Tolstoy, National archives and records administration, national archives blog, Office of Strategic Services, OSS, prologue blog, spy history, tibet, world war 2, ww2
The issue of slavery divided the country under Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency. The national argument was simple: either keep slavery or abolish it. But Abraham Lincoln, known as the Great Emancipator, may have also been known as the Great Colonizer when he supported a third direction to the slavery debate: move African Americans somewhere else.
Long before the Civil War, in 1854, Lincoln addressed his own solution to slavery at a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois: “I should not know what to do as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.” While Lincoln acknowledged this was logistically impossible, by the time he assumed the Presidency and a Civil War was underfoot, the nation was in such duress that he tried it anyway.
By early 1861, Lincoln ordered a secret trip to modern-day Panama to investigate the land of a Philadelphian named Ambrose Thompson. Thompson had volunteered his Chiriqui land as a refuge for freed slaves. The slaves would work in the abundant coal mines on his property, the coal would be sold to the Navy, and the profits would go to the freed slaves to further build up their new land.
Lincoln sought to test the idea on the small slave population in Delaware, but the idea met fierce … [ Read all ]
Posted by Rob Crotty on December 1, 2010, under - Civil Rights, - Civil War, News and Events.
Tags: abraham lincoln, american history, civil war, discovering the civil war, emancipation and deportation, lincoln on slaves, NARA, national archives, National archives and records administration, National Archives Official Blog, odd history, Pieces of History, prologue blog, Prologue magazine, random history, slavery, strange history, was lincoln racist, weird US history
Here, in short, are the documents that made Thanksgiving.
On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789, as an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks.” The nation then celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution.
On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln made the traditional Thanksgiving celebration a nationwide holiday to be commemorated each year on the fourth Thursday of November. In the midst of a bloody Civil War, President Lincoln issued a Presidential Proclamation in which he enumerated the blessings of the American people and called upon his countrymen to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”
In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November to lengthen the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy which was still recovering from the Depression. This move, which set off a national debate, was reversed in 1941 when Congress passed and President Roosevelt approved a joint house resolution establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
Posted by Rob Crotty on November 24, 2010, under - Civil War, - Constitution, - Revolutionary War, News and Events.
Tags: abraham lincoln, american history, Constitution, fdr and thanksgiving, george washington, history of thanksgiving, NARA, national archives, National archives and records administration, odd history, prologue blog, Prologue magazine, thanksgiving, weird US history, why is thanksgiving the last thursday of november
Yesterday was Veterans Day, and many of my friends on Facebook posted tributes to their family and friends, usually mentioning their grandfathers who fought in World War II.
Now, World War II was over 60 years ago, but I personally know WWII vets—my own grandfather and great-uncle. And my father knew family members who were WWI vets.
It is easy to think of historical events as happening in the long-ago past, in a vacuum where wars have a beginning and end rather than as lives that overlap from one event to another. But things run into each other—Theodore Roosevelt saw Lincoln’s funeral, and Roosevelt’s son Ted served in World War I and later was on the beach in Normandy in WWII, directing the troops as they came ashore.
But still, I was jolted when I saw the film footage of Civil War veterans. After all—the Civil War ended in 1865, before the invention of cars or telephone or airplanes. But there they were in motion, men who had been on the field at Gettysburg, chatting and talking, their long white beards blowing in the wind.
They were filmed in 1938, 20 years after WWI and just a few years before WWII. They had grown up with horses and trains, and they arrived at the Blue and Gray Reunion by car.
Seventy-five years after the Battle of Gettysburg, a Federal commission took on … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on November 12, 2010, under - Civil War, Facial Hair Fridays, Rare Videos.
Tags: civil war, discovering the civil war, Pieces of History, prologue blog, strange facts, things you didnt know about civil war, us history, weird but true
Today Part Two of “Discovering the Civil War” opens at the National Archives in Washington, DC. The exhibit is divided into a few sections, the last of which is entitled “Endings and Beginnings,” a reference to the end of the Civil War and the start of Reconstruction. As to the beginning and the end of the Civil War itself, there is only one man who book-ended it so literally. His name was Wilmer McLean.
On July 18, 1861, Confederate General Beauregard had sat down for supper in the home of a Manassas local when a cannonball pierced through the house and landed in the kitchen fireplace. It was something of a surprise, but not so overwhelming as to ruin Beauregard’s sense of humor “A comical effect of this artillery fight was the destruction of the dinner of myself and staff by a Federal shell that fell into the fire-place of my headquarters at the McLean House,” he wrote in his diary. Perhaps the shell would have been more of a shock had it not been just one of many volleys in the first major campaign of the Civil War: the Battle of Bull Run.
The house belonged to a man named Wilmer McLean, who had purchased the property in 1854. Beauregard had commandeered the property—and McLean’s well-situated house and barn—as his headquarters and, later, … [ Read all ]
Posted by Rob Crotty on November 10, 2010, under - Civil War, Myth or History.
Tags: american history, appomattox, bull run, civil war, discovering the civil war, NARA, national archives, Pieces of History, prologue blog, Prologue magazine, random history, strange facts, things you didnt know about civil war, us history, weird but true, weird US history, wilmer mclean