Short Takes

Will Ronald Reagan replace US Grant on the fifty dollar bill? A US Representative right here in NC, Patrick McHenry, thinks so:

“Every generation needs its own heroes,” McHenry said in a written statement. “One decade into the 21st century, it’s time to honor the last great president of the 20th and give President Reagan a place beside Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy.”

Thanks to a recent book I think I’ve finally figured out the real reason for the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid—Vampires! Yup, seems Old Abe was a vampire hunter all along.

The conceit of Abraham Lincoln is that Grahame-Smith – his very name is a mashup! – has come into possession of Lincoln’s secret diaries detailing his life as a stalker of vampires. As a frontiersboy, Lincoln loses his mother to the undead and swears lifelong vengeance. A giant among men – he was 6 ft. 4 in. (1.9 m) tall – Lincoln adopts the ax, that most American of edged weapons, as the tool of his trade, hiding it inside his signature long black coat.

If Jeff Davis was a vampire, then the raid was a literal attempt to drive a stake into the heart of the Confederacy, and explains a detail no one’s been able find a reason for—why were Dahlgren’s men carrying bundles of sharpened sticks? But seriously, folks, I guess I’m jealous that people who write things like this are getting six figure advances, or that this sort of faux history sells so much better than the real thing.

American Rifleman has a lengthy article on “The Wizard of Weaponry,” Maj. Alfred Mordecai. Author Alexander Rose calls him America’s “finest ballistician,” who published a number of important and influential papers on the subject in the 1840s and 1850s.

But Mordecai’s most important work was done at the behest of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis in 1855. Davis, who would later become president of the Confederate States of America, was concerned that the United States was beginning to lag in arms technology. “Though our arms have heretofore been considered the best in use,” he reported, “recent inventions in Europe have produced changes in small arms, which are now being used in war.” The “war” he referred to was the Crimean, then being fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of Britain, France, and Turkey.

Mordecai traveled to Europe with two other officers, one of whom was a young captain by the name of George McClellan. After surveying the arms of Europe and observing the Crimean War, the team returned to write a comprehensive work on the subject, “Military Commission to Europe,” which is probably the best work on the ordnance of the time. It’s still available (for example on Google Books) and is worth a look if you want to understand the firearms technology of the time.

Although the Southern-born Mordecai was offered high positions in both the US and Confederate armies in 1861, he chose to resign and sit out the war in Philadelphia.

As someone who grew up in the segregated South, I have been following the progress of the Akaka bill on Congress, which would confer sovereignty on some Hawaiians, and incidentally give them powers (and money) the old Southern Segs could only dream of. So t’would seem that 56 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, we’d once again have de jure segregation. US Civil Rights Commissioners Peter Krisanow and Gail Heriot explain why they think it’s a bad idea. Some of these same folks have demanded secession, but this certainly seems to be a better deal.

And finally, everyone’s got their favorite Lincoln quote—here’s mine:

“The problem with quotes on the internet is that it is difficult to verify their authenticity”

—-President Abraham Lincoln

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