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Archive for the tag “history”

Happy Mother’s Day

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The official Mother’s Day holiday arose in the early 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Following her mother’s death in 1905, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. After gaining financial backing from a Philadelphia department store owner named John Wanamaker, in May 1908 she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. That same day also saw thousands of people attend a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s stores in Philadelphia.

Arguing that American holidays were biased toward male achievements, Jarvis started a massive letter writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians urging the adoption of a special day honoring motherhood. By 1912 many states, towns, and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday, and Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. Her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Sources : http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140508-mothers-day-nation-gifts-facts-culture-moms/
http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day
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The Birth of English Poet, Playwright, and Actor William Shakespeare

Historians believe William Shakespeare was born on this day, April 23, in 1564—the same day he died in 1616.

Shakespeare was baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, on April 26, 1564. At age 18, he married Anne Hathaway, and the couple had a daughter in 1583 and twins in 1585. Sometime later, Shakespeare set off to become an actor and by 1592 was well established in London’s theatrical world as both a performer and a playwright. His earliest plays, including The Comedy of Errors and The Taming of the Shrew, were written in the early 1590s. Later in the decade, he wrote tragedies such as Romeo and Juliet (1594–1595) and comedies including The Merchant of Venice (1596–1597). His greatest tragedies were written after 1600, including Hamlet (1600–01), Othello (1604–05), King Lear (1605–06), and Macbeth (1605–1606).

Shakespeare became a member of the popular theater company named “The Lord Chamberlain’s Men,” who later became the “King’s Men.” The group was responsible for building and operating the famous Globe Theater in 1599. Though widely known for his literature, Shakespeare was also a sound businessman, ultimately becoming a major shareholder in the troupe. His investments earned him enough to buy a large house in Stratford in 1597, where he retired in 1610 and wrote his last plays including The Tempest (1611) and The Winter’s Tale (1610–11). Despite his prolific work ethic, no formal collections of his works were published until after his death. In 1623, two members of Shakespeare’s troupe collected the plays and printed what is now called the First Folio.

Yet he was more original than his originals. He breathed upon dead bodies and brought them into life. —Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), Letters and Social Aims

 

Shakespeare titles in stock

Shakespeare’s Philosopher King

Shakespeare’s Philosopher King: Reading the Tragedy of King Lear
By author: Guy Story Brown

9780881462807

Shakespeare’s History:Introduction to the Interpretation of THE FIRST PART OF KING HENRY THE SIXTH and the English Histories
By author: Guy Story Brown

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Shakespeare’s Prince: The Interpretation of the Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth
By author: Guy Story Brown

Women’s History

Mercer University Press Celebrates Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month first gained a national stage in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28, both authorizing and requesting that the President proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as Women’s History Week. Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as Women’s History Week. The National Women’s History Project petitioned for the month of March to be dedicated to Women’s History. Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as Women’s History Month. Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to dedicate March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as Women’s History Month.

adapted from the government website: http://womenshistorymonth.gov/about.html

Check out the fascinating women highlighted in the books listed below. Click links for more information on each book and author. All titles in stock.

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Suffer and Grow Strong: The Life of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1834-1907
By Carolyn Newton Curry

97808814652

Fresh Water from Old Wells: A Memoir
By Cindy Henry McMahon

97808814645
The Second Bud: Deserting the City for a Farm Winery
By Martha M. Ezzard

97808814627

A Titanic Love Story: Ida and Isidor Straus
By author: June Hall McCash

97808814623

A Light on Peachtree: A History of the Atlanta Woman’s Club
By author: Anne B. Jones

97808655474

Life in Dixie during the War
By Mary A. H. Gay; edited by J. H. Segars

97808655487

The Power of Woman: The Life and Writings of Sarah Moore Grimke (1792-1873)
By Pamela Durso
97808814641

The Life and Letters of Emily Chubbuck Judson: Volume 1; Biographies and Timelines
(7 volumes in all)
Edited by George H. Tooze

Happy Birthday Abe!

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday February 12

On this day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky.

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of America’s most admired presidents, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was born into a poor family in Kentucky.
Lincoln was the tallest president at 6′ 4 with record physical strength. He was a formidable wrestler in Illinois. Lincoln went on to become infamous for his dry humor and wit. After frustrating defeat after another Lincoln reportedly wrote to a general “if you are not using the army I should like to borrow it for awhile.” Lincoln was also an avid animal lover throughout his lifetime once saying “I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”

He attended school for only one year, but even as a child Abraham was a voracious reader constantly striving to improve is mind. As an adult, he lived in Illinois bouncing from job to job before entering politics. Many people are unaware of the fact that Lincoln didn’t begin his journey in politics. Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, was also a postmaster, surveyor and shopkeeper. After this small chapter in his life Lincoln went on to pursue politics.

Before the presidency Lincoln served in the Illinois legislature from 1834 to 1836, and then became an attorney. In 1842, Lincoln married Mary Todd; and had four sons. Lincoln returned to politics during the 1850s, when disagreements over slavery began to escalate. Lincoln proposed a restriction of slavery to the states where it existed. As president on January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.

 

For Civil War Enthusiasts….

Upcoming Civil War titles:

A Just and Holy Cause?

Cracking the Solid South:The Life of John Fletcher Hanson, Father of Georgia Tech

Summon Only the Brave!: Commanders, Soldiers, and Chaplains at Gettysburg

Confederate Sharpshooter Major William E. Simmons: Through the War with the 16th Georgia Infantry and 3rd Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters

MUP Authors to Attend Decatur (GA) Book Festival!

Mercer University Press is proud to announce a number of our fine authors will be attending the Decatur Book Festival!

Stephen Davis (What the Yankees Did to Us)
Robert Jenkins (The Battle of Peach Tree Creek)
Daniel Cone (Last to Join the Fight)
Raymond Atkins (Sweet Water Blues)
Carolyn Newton Curry (Suffer and Grow Strong)
Megan Sexton (Swift Hour)

 

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Decatur BookFest

MUP Remembers Leonidas Polk

Bishop/ROBINS_dj080306On this day in 1864, Leonidas Polk, one of the Confederacy’s more unique generals as he was also an Episcopal bishop, died this day in 1864 during William T. Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. In fact, Sherman was directly involved in Polk’s death as the general spotted a cluster of Confederate officers scouting along a ridge. On his orders, the 5th Indiana Battery opened fire and General Polk was nearly cut in two.

Today, Glenn Robins joins us to discuss his biography of Polk, The Bishop of the Old South, and Polk himself.

1. Why do people remain interested in Leonidas Polk?

Aside from a basic interest in the mid-nineteenth century, I think people are fascinated with why a high-profile and well-liked cleric accepted a combat assignment with the Confederate army rather than serve as a chaplain. The noted Civil War historian James McPherson contends that the Civil War armies may have been the most religious in American history. And yet, there is really no one comparable to Polk, a bishop who became a general. Also, the dramatic and unusual circumstances of Polk’s death—being killed by artillery fire—seem to have created something of a sympathetic figure. Some people see him as a symbol of the Confederate cause by conflating his religious devotion, his reputable personal character, and his military service. Finally, religious generals such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are viewed simply as Christian, whereas Polk is a decidedly Episcopalian figure, which appeals to a certain population.

2. What were your reasons for writing this biography of Leonidas Polk?

Generally, Leonidas Polk is known as the Bishop-General and his life is viewed through the narrow lens of the Civil War. I wanted to construct a narrative of Polk’s life that emphasized his prewar activities, particularly his ministerial career, his ownership of a large sugar plantation, and his role in developing the University of the South.

3. What surprised you the most about Polk’s prewar life?

First, in economic terms, he was a very successful sugar planter. He used innovative farming techniques and employed a slave management system that afforded slaves more responsibility and greater autonomy. Second, he was deeply committed to his ministerial responsibilities. He helped make the Louisiana Diocese a vibrant Episcopal organ in the South that challenged the societal influence of the region’s larger protestant denominations. Third, Polk had a remarkably ambitious vision for the University of the South. He did not envision the university as an insular institution—quite the contrary. He hoped that the university would compete with the premier universities of the nation and of Europe. He intended to recruit world-class scholars, promote academic excellence, and cultivate the Episcopal faith, as well as make the university a gathering place for social elites and public intellectuals. Of course, the war and Polk’s death changed all of that.

4. What stands out about Polk’s Civil War generalship?

Polk was a mediocre corps commander serving in a theater dominated by mediocre generals. Despite his West Point education, Polk had no real military experience and was probably not deserving of such a high-ranking appointment. It’s counterfactual history, but I have always wondered how Polk would have fared in the Army of Northern Virginia under that army’s superior leadership. Whatever limitations Polk had as a fighting man, he was widely popular with his men. Late in the war Polk became more involved in the religious life of the Army of Tennessee. He baptized several generals, including Braxton Bragg, which was truly bizarre considering that each man attempted to have the other stripped of his command.

5. Having reached the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and the death of Leonidas Polk, do you have any thoughts about future studies in these areas?

I think for those individuals who survived the war more work needs to be done on their postwar lives and not just on their involvement in the political reconstruction of the nation and their respective states. Instead, there needs to be a greater emphasis on how the war impacted the participants as individuals and as families, and on how groups and individuals understood and assigned meaning to the war. As for those figures like Polk who died in battle, we need clear assessments of their initial view of the war and to know if their view of the war changed over time, and why. And for those individuals who have become symbols of a particular version or interpretation of the war, we need to examine whether the memory of the man matches the realities of the man.

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Frank Lambert’s Separation of Church and State Now Available!

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Separation of Church and State: Founding Principles of Religious Liberty, Frank Lambert’s powerful corrective against faulty history skewed to serve political ends, hits the shelves today. With immaculate logic and compelling writing, Lambert reveals the flaws in would-be historians’ arguments and political agendas. Pointing to evidence that others would ignore, Lambert reminds us of the importance of exploring the historical evidence evenly and equally, especially when our own beliefs are challenged.

 

Enter discount code MUPNEWS when you order at the Press’s website and receive a 20% discount plus free USPS Media Mail shipping on your entire order!

 

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ChurchStateMatters BrothersGrimm

The Warm Springs Story Available Today!

The Warm Springs StoryThe long-anticipated release of F. Martin Harmon’s The Warm Springs Story: Legacy and Legend has arrived! Mercer University Press is proud to be part of such important scholarship on a much neglected aspect of medical, presidential, and Southern history.

Today, F. Martin Harmon stops by the blog to offer us a few insights into the book.

 

 

1. Why has Warm Springs been so ignored in the studies of FDR?

This question is easy to answer because of the voluminous ways Franklin Roosevelt impacted his era. Looking back now, it seems he was involved in everything. By being president for so long, his fingerprints are all over the twentieth century, such as coping with the Great Depression with his various social programs, the build-up to WWII and the war years; the start of Social Security, rural electrification and the TVA, and national parks and the continued conservation efforts started by his cousin, Teddy, and so on. I just think historians ran out of time and space when it came to his adopted home. After all, Warm Springs was very much tied in with his disability and his own, very personal efforts to overcome polio, a struggle he kept in the background. With all of the other pieces of history that he touched, I just think historians have largely missed the important role he played in disability awareness, compassionate healthcare, rehabilitation, medical fundraising and research, and independent living—all things the famous “spirit of Warm Springs” was about. It’s understandable, but in its own way was no less impactful than all the other things for which he has been better known.

2. In the book, you discuss how close Warm Springs came to closing despite its historical significance. Why do you think states are so shortsighted in such matters?

In the early years, immediately following FDR’s death in 1945, polio was still very prevalent and there were good reasons for keeping the historical and medical parts of Warm Springs separate. The Georgia Warm Springs Foundation was still a very active force under FDR’s anointed lieutenant Basil O’Connor and although the Little White House and its environs was an immediate and ongoing attraction, it made sense to keep the two entities separate. That all changed, however, with the advent of the Salk vaccine. The hospital’s emphasis had to shift with polio’s gradual decline. Naturally, other forms of rehabilitation were embraced by the medical powers-that-be. Meanwhile, the state kept alive Georgia’s FDR history at the Little White House and eventually got into the rehab business itself with vocational rehab, and, unfortunately, kept it all separate after assuming control of the medical side from the foundation. As with many things at that level, politics probably got in the way of logic. With more than one department in charge at Warm Springs and elected officials coming and going, the merging of everything that could have been so beneficial never happened. Tourism was continued through the FDR story, but the much larger (and warmer) Warm Springs story never got its due and so never had a chance to enhance the ongoing rehab legacy and economic potential. Worst of all, the famous water was allowed to fade away—the very reason for (and name of) the place—a marketing gaff rarely committed at a location with such historic significance. With so much on their plate, I think many Georgia leaders didn’t want Warm Springs, but they also didn’t want to be responsible for its going away. It’s a shame the federal funding (and control) that was discussed never happened because the significance warranted support from that level. The state was never up to running a rural hospital no matter how famous, especially given ever-increasing competition in the medical marketplace, and, as always, visionaries were few and far between. I’m sure other states have endured similar missteps for similar reasons. In tough economic times, which state budgets almost always profess, common sense solutions are often missed even when obvious advantages far outweigh risks. It all becomes too political to handle.

3. Do we have a modern polio, that is, a disease that is wrecking lives and ruining human potential?

At one time, diabetes was called the new polio and a diabetes management program was even proposed at Warm Springs to renew its medical glory. Unfortunately, that idea came at a time when Warm Springs was more concerned with upgrading vocational rehabilitation as part of the labor department rather than branching into a new medical rehab future. And although cancer probably remains the disease we would like to conquer most, it does seem that the ongoing problems caused by a lifetime of diabetes probably most closely mirrors a life with polio and what we now call post-polio syndrome.

4. How has the social stigma of physical handicap changed since FDR’s struggle with polio?

There’s no doubt Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a trendsetter and one of the trends he clearly established through the creation of Warm Springs was bringing disability out into the open, where it could (and should) be dealt with honestly and fairly on a day-to-day basis. Obviously Warm Springs was way ahead of its time in the use of automatic doors, ramps and inclines, hand rails, accessible bathrooms, and even elevators. Warm Springs was ADA compliant fifty years before the actual act made such things mandatory. In the final twenty-one years of his life, FDR returned to Warm Springs repeatedly for his own restoration, but also because he wanted each and every Warm Springs patient to realize that disability should be no excuse to abandon one’s dreams. How else could you view a “handicapped” or “crippled” man who had achieved the nation’s highest office? He was (and is) a hero to the disability community. When the great debate was raging over whether or not to allow a statue of him in a wheelchair at the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC, no less an authority and historian than Hugh Gallagher, a man with polio himself, famously proclaimed, “Don’t let them take our hero” in support of the statue.

5. What were you surprised to learn about FDR during the writing of the Warm Springs Story?

Perhaps my biggest surprises concerning Franklin Delano Roosevelt had to do with the what-might-have-beens that could have altered (for good or bad) the history of Warm Springs if FDR had never returned to politics, allowing his vision of Warm Springs to come to pass. With such a prominent, energetic, and charismatic man working constantly on Warm Springs rather than the economy, war, politics, and the nation’s future, imagine what he might have achieved for Warm Springs’s tourism and medical fronts. In fact, his documented plans for the place in lieu of all he accomplished as president and how famous he became make it even more of a head-scratcher that such things have been ignored by the generations since. Added to that was my realization of the marketing corners he was willing to cut and the truth he was willing to stretch to ensure survival of the place. He was, after all, a master of public relations, in his own words “one of America’s two greatest actors” (along with Orson Welles), and no place exemplified his talent for the well-placed comment (or con) more so than Warm Springs.

 

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Presidential PraiseBully PulpitNegotiation

An Interview with Matt Jennings, Author of The Flower Hunter and the People

JenningsWith the recent release of Matt Jennings’s The Flower Hunter and the People: William Bartram in the Native American Southeast, we thought it a good idea to tap the author for some insights into the book. Here’s what Dr. Jennings had to say:

 

 

1. What were the differences between Bartram’s view of Native Americans and that of most British colonists?

Most British colonists, and the Americans who succeeded them as the would-be masters of eastern North America, took a dim view of Native Americans. At best, Native Americans represented people trapped in an early stage of civilization who might benefit from exposure to Protestant Christianity and capitalism. At their worst, the continent’s first nations represented evil and savagery, and they deserved whatever violence the European invasion and subsequent expansion of the United States might unleash. William Bartram was not willing to admit a basic social equality with Native Americans, but he did believe that Native people had histories and cultures that merited serious study and understanding, and that alone set him far ahead of most of his contemporaries on this issue.

 

2. Who was the audience for William Bartram’s writings and how did they fit in with colonial and British culture?

Bartram was plugged into one of the most vibrant scientific communities in the British Empire (and the most vibrant scientific community in the early United States in Philadelphia). Principally, he wrote for his colleagues. However, during Bartram’s time, the study of natural science was not just the province of elites, or university-trained scientists. Well-read amateurs also contributed their findings, and Bartram’s writings blend cutting-edge eighteenth-century thought with writing that, even today, is fairly accessible to laypeople.

 

3. How did Bartram’s Quaker faith affect his view of nature and Native Americans?

Bartram’s Quaker beliefs influenced him profoundly. At several points in his studies, he invoked a “Great Monitor,” a divine force that oversaw all of nature, including Native and white people alike. Like all Quakers, Bartram also supposed that everyone carried around an aspect of the divine within her or himself, sometimes known as an “Inner Light.” And all people had access to this Inner Light.

 

4. How would William Bartram view today’s environmental policies?

This is a tough question to pose to a historian. Historians preach repeatedly that we must avoid judging historical figures by current standards, and pulling people of the past out of their historical context. On the other hand, why study the past if you believe it has absolutely no bearing on current affairs? As a student of Native American history, I’m also particularly wary about putting words in the mouths of the people whose stories I try to interpret. Having said all of that, I’m fairly certain that William Bartram would be dismayed by the callous disregard that our policymakers, and we as a society, have shown for our environment. Climate change is one part of it, but I think that William Bartram would be dumbfounded by our inability or unwillingness to wean ourselves from fuel sources that are clearly detrimental to our environment, and he certainly would disapprove of any policies that threatened to limit the diversity of species that he probably viewed as embodying some piece of the divine.

 

5. Most Americans probably still hold some “noble but primitive” view of pre-colonial Native-American culture. How do scholars’ views differ?

Another tough question. I’m wary of using pre-colonial, pre-contact, prehistoric, or any such descriptor when referring to ancient North America, and I’m just as wary of drawing lines between categories like “scholar” and “Native American.” since the lines are quite blurred. For a long time, historians and archaeologists wrote as if Native Americans could be easily consigned to some past age. To be blunt, in the West, history and archaeology evolved to serve the very states that committed genocide and dispossessed Native nations. Native activism and more sensitive scholarship have helped to improve this situation, but you’re right. Most non-Native people have a limited understanding of Native-American history, and it often rests on half-remembered racist history-class lessons and pop-culture stereotypes based on Hollywood films, to say nothing of the “tomahawk chop,” the use of Native mascots, and other such tomfoolery. I must also point out that most non-Native scholars have fairly limited experience in Indian Country, and, as such, they risk repeating stereotyped or inaccurate images of the type you asked about. For what it’s worth, these images are really old in Western society. Columbus himself praised the simple, yet attractive Taínos, and denigrated the “savage Caribs.” We are not likely to erase these caricatures overnight, but recognizing they exist is a step in that direction. For non-Native scholars, trying to forge connections with Native communities is crucial. At its best, the scholarly community (largely non-Native), takes Native voices seriously and incorporates them into an inclusive, even-handed narrative of early American history.

 

6. What are the main things you hope readers get out of The Flower Hunter and the People?

Well, I think it’s important to recognize that William Bartram was both firmly rooted in his own time, and yet, his vision managed to transcend that time. He advised the American government as it plotted to extend its dominion over Native nations, and that can’t be overlooked. He also failed to fully understand, or wasn’t granted access to, the full flowering of Native-American knowledge. But in the same set of texts, Bartram laid forth a vision of Native America as a diverse people, an ancient people, and a people that deserved consideration and respect. Like a lot of great nature writing, Bartram’s words reflect his own time, but they also carry a certain timeless quality. Bartram’s passion, along with his fairly accurate renderings of Native-American culture, allow his writings to reach us in our own time.

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We’re Proud of House Proud! Released This Week!

House Proud

Lori Eriksen Rush’s pictorial history of Atlanta’s interior design, House Proud: A Social History of Atlanta Interiors, 1880-1919, was released this week. Take a peak into the premiere homes of one of the most significant cities in the South and gain insight into a region that has shaped a nation. Order your copy today!

 

 

 Enter discount code MUPNEWS when you order at the Press’s website and receive a 20% discount plus free USPS Media Mail shipping on your entire order!

 

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