Thursday, April 28, 2011

Baltimore County and Harford County During the War of 1812

North Point Battlefield small

On this strip of land located in Dundalk, Maryland, something significant happened in the history of our nation, when citizen soldiers stood up to the might of the British Army and prevented Baltimore being burned and so helped to ensure that "Our Flag Is Still There."

North Point Battlefield #2 From edge of alley looking west along Old North Point Rd

An Introduction to Baltimore County During the War of 1812 Saturday, April 30 2 p.m.
(North Point State Park)

Two authorities on Baltimore's role during the War of 1812, author and historian Christopher George as well as independent historian Robert Reyes, will address that topic during a one hour program in preparation for Baltimore County's bicentennial celebration of that war in 2012. George, author of Teror on the Chesapeake: The War of 1812 on the Bay, and co-editor of the Journal of the War of 1812, has spoken widely regarding the topic while Reyes has researched the role of North Point and its inhabitants during the war. Together, their program will certainly prove to be a memorable kick-off to the region's bicentennial celebrations.

- Free Park Entrance and Free Event Entrance to all attendees -
Address and directions available from the North Point State Park website:

This will be one of a series of talks I will be giving over the War of 1812 Bicentennial. Next weekend, May 7-8, I will be at the 199th anniversary re-enactment of the Burning of Havre de Grace. I am also serving as the historian for the city of Havre de Grace bicentennial. We have a blog for the project where I will be posting regularly. Go to

Havre de Grace 2011 poster smaller

More Clerihews

In an earlier blog posting, I wrote about "How to Write Clerihews" -- follow the link through the title to go to that previous blog post. Briefly, clerihews are short poems that follow a few short rules:

1 - They are four lines long.
2 - They rhyme aa, bb.
3 - The first line contains a name.
4 - They are usually humorous.

Thanks to Oudeis at the Yo Liverpool forum
for posting those rules.

Here are a few more clerihews of my own:

It's time for the wedding of William and Kate:
like any couple, they prepare to meet their fate.
He's Diana's son, a prince, and she's a commoner
and now Wills and the world will honor her.

William and Kate smaller

When, Icarus flew too close to the sun,
Daedalus cried, "Don't do it, son, you'll be undone!"
The kid is as mythical as Castor and Pollux,
but trust poor Icarus to make a bollocks.

Airheads rewarded
for ignorant cavorting:
each of them a glutton.
Punch the ignore button.

Television's "Real Housewives" are feeling blue
and now I'll gossip about them in this Clerihew:
if only they didn't all have PMS
their bloomin' lives wouldn't be such a mess!

There lived a poet called Frances Cornford.*
Her husband was named "Francis Cornford."
We really must learn to differentiate the two:
spelling one with "e" and the other with "i" will do.

* See "To a fat lady seen from the train" by Frances Cornford at

To use and abuse is what all tyrants know,
from Hitler and Stalin to Saddam and Nero:
the more things change, the more they're the same
--- for shame! for shame! for shame!

The more Khadafy's people tell him to go,
the more he says the Libyans love him so.
A strange individual -- totally perverse.
I fear this will end badly. Order a hearse.

As the world ponders curtailing Khadafy with a no-fly zone,
that is, chucking international justice a bone,
do we sense the wily dictator might yet survive
tweak the world's nose, give us more of his jive?

The Libyan leader might be off his head;
all the same, he's clever as a fox, it's said.
However, that's not what is worrying me today.
No! How d'you spell his darn name -- with a Q, G, or K????!!!

St Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland
Paddy had moxie--he used it like a brand
And though he chased away the vipers
he left the little people and the pipers!

The passing of an age: Liz Taylor -- gone!
For six decades, her star so clearly shone!
Not merely an actress, an activist too,
an example to emulate for me and you.

Too many times we blame ourself
for ideas that ought to have been left on the shelf.
We are all capable of making a mistake,
we can all tread on a rake.

They inevitably end up blaming the murder on poor Jeeves
-- but the gun or knife might have been Madge or Steve's.
Why should the butler swing for bumping off the victim
when capturing the true killer should be the dictum!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Time for the South to Lose the Civil War

Robert E Lee

Robert E. Lee: A True "Knight" of the South?

As some of you might suspect, as a historian of the War of 1812, I am not pleased that the hoopla over the 150-year anniversary of the Civil War is going to steal the thunder from my favorite war, a war that is much overlooked and misunderstood but nonetheless important in making the United States what it is today.

In today's Washington Post, columnist Richard Cohen has an interesting article attacking the myth of Robert E. Lee and questioning why a man who defended slavery is so admired these many years after the Civil War (see the link through the title above). It's an important article and goes to nub of much of the guff and legend of the Civil War and the idea of the nobility of the Southern warrior, whether it be the rebellion's commanding general or the ordinary Johnny Reb in his nutbrown uniform.

There's a lot of hypocrisy in the enduring celebration of the South, the side that lost. And it always amazes me that many of my War of 1812 colleagues, who celebrate the writing of "The Star Spangled Banner" and the fact that "our flag is still there" are the same individuals who line up in parade every cold January at the double equestrian statue of Generals Lee and Jackson in Baltimore's Wyman Park under the Rebel "Stars and Bars." It seems to me they can't have it both ways -- to want to honor the fact that the United States was saved from foreign domination and to celebrate a bloody rebellion against this nation at the same time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Donald Trump for U.S. President in 2012? Will "The Donald" Trump Obama?

Donald Trump

Donald Trump -- underestimate him at our peril

He has latched on to what most people think is a bogus issue -- the allegation that U.S. President Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii but in Kenya, the incumbent president's father's country, which would make him ineligible to be president -- but business tycoon Donald Trump is getting a lot of attention just because of who he is.

Some Republicans and liberals alike are tending to view Trump as a mock candidate just trying to get attention for his reality TV show, Celebrity Apprentice. I would not underestimate him. How about a Donald Trump - Michele Bachmann ticket for 2012? Don't discount it. Now that will certainly get out the left wing vote won't it? At present, it is understood that Trump plans to make an announcement about his intentions in regard to the presidency on the May 22 season finale of Celebrity Apprentice. See link through the title above.

What other Republican candidate can you think of that has such an outsize image and reputation as a figure in this nation? Mitt Romney, Mike Huckerbee, Sarah Palin, Haley Barbour, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich? Each of these people appears to be a pygmy compared to Trump. While "The Donald" might have some questions about his business practices, with a number of his companies having been allowed to become bankrupt, something on which opponents are bound to attack him, he nonetheless overall has a reputation and an image of solidity. In an era when there is not much to cling to, will American voters go for a Rock of Gibraltar-type of leader rather than a leader they are unsure about or distrust?

If Trump runs for President in 2012, he just might win, partly because Obama has lost a lot of credibility with the left wing of his party and with the independents that put him over the top in 2008. Don't forget that now when he runs, he will be a known quantity and will not be the unknown, shock candidate that he was when he ran before. Conceivably he has lost too much credibility. Clearly he needs to reinvent himself to be the force he was in 2008.

"Change We Can Believe In" might have proved to have been a fairly empty promise on the part of Obama in 2008 except for people who saw the potential he offered, but what can he do to fend off a high visibility, strong Republican challenger? Donald Trump has already shown that he can latch onto an issue that gets him attention. What if he is serious and really does run in 2012? Who would you put your money on?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

April Showers in Washington, D.C.

Cherry blossom tidal basin

Japanese Cherry Blossoms, Tidal Basin, Washington, D.C.

April Showers in Washington, D.C.

Cold showers pepper my office window;
raindrops slant across glass. Below,
12th Street's silver as pedestrians labor

with umbrellas; headlighted cabs sail
past, windshield wipers awash. I woke
to thundercrashes; yesterday's balmly,

summery sun's swilled away, and I fret
for the fragile Japanese cherry trees round
the Tidal Basin: Kwanzan, Usuzumi,
Yoshino, Akebono, Takesimensis. . .

Christopher T. George

The names at the end of the poem are the different varieties of cherry trees that grow round the Tidal Basin. The original cherry trees were a gift from the people of Japan to the people of the United States in 1912.

See the link through the title above for a National Park Service site giving more information on D.C.'s cherry blossoms and their history.

Unfortunately, the cherry blossoms did suffer some damage in yesterday's rainstorm and some near Union Station seem a bit worse for wear and not as glorious as they looked on Monday which as expressed in the poem was a summer-like day.