Letters to the Editor
Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all -Winston Churchill
Write to us
Whether you're here to praise, damn, or are just plain feeling feisty, we love to hear from you.
3/31/2004 / Dear Sirs:
Great job!I am reading a novel which talks about eugenics so I decided to do a little web research on the subject. There are so many crackpots out there on both sides of the subject that I was having a difficult time getting any straight facts. I found your website and was able to get some good information on this crazy issue.I was shocked and surprised!
Thanks also for the interesting article on Guy Town. I'll remember that when I'm enjoying my next martini at Cedar Street!
10/15/2002 / Dear Sirs:
What is with this 'Junior Member'?
There is some entirely arbitrary number of posts you must write before you become a 'Historian'. It might be 50. There's no rules saying they have to be smart, but we'd sure like it
10/8/2002 / Dear Sirs:
The following email was recently sent to me. Is this true?
Subject: Remember this?
Anyone remember this?? It was 1987! At a lecture the other day they were playing an old news video of Lt. Col. Oliver North testifying at the Iran-Contra hearings during the Reagan Administration. There was Ollie in front of God and country getting the third degree, but what he said was stunning!
He was being drilled by a senator; "Did you not recently spend close to $60,000 for a home security system?"
At this point the senator tried to repeat the name, but couldn't pronounce it, which most people back then probably couldn't. A couple of people laughed at the attempt. Then the senator continued.
"Why are you so afraid of this man?" the senator asked.
The senator disagreed with this approach, and that was all that was shown of the clip. By the way, that senator was Al Gore.
10/1/2002 / Dear Sirs:
Your website made my day!
Actually, I was looking for stuff to back up an album title of mine (The Children's Krusade: "www.alopeciaboy.net/music.html") and when I found your site I didn't know wether to laugh or cry. At first I thought you were kidding, it being all just a lot of hooey that the Children's Crusade [never] happened in the first place, but your bend on the history of it could make sense -- I mean, everyone loves to embelish and romanticize any story if it's repeated often enough right, so a band of poor-boys waving banners around a countryside eventually being called a Crusade of sorts, well, sure! These days, for instance, if I started wandering around a Canadian countryside waving banners and crosses telling people I was on a march to liberate Jerusalem, I'm sure the media would call it a Crusade, and I'm sure a bunch of others would come with me wherever I was going, even helping me make more banners and more crosses, no matter how silly I thought it all would be in the first place -- I'm sure some people out there would be willing to support my idea no matter how nuts it might seem to others... just as there'd be a bunch of rednecks with pickup trucks and fists waiting at the next bend to keep me from going over their dad's farmlands! I support either theory -- that it could have or couldn't have happened, but I still think it's a rotten idea that a bunch of marauders would throw these crusaders into slavery -- raping, pillaging and plundering a group of young people who thought they really were trying to save Jerusalem... Great site, though! Have a groovy day!
9/25/2002 / Dear Sirs:
I have only recently come across your site and am enjoying it to no end. However I was rather confused by some points you made in "The Formation of NATO", so I asked some readers at about.com's "European History" forum to comment. These were two responses:
1. "Some minor errors: 1) St. Pierre and Miquelon islands are NOT in the Caribbean and do NOT have "fetid coconut groves". They are adjacent to Newfoundland. 2) Roosevelt did NOT die in 1944, but on April 12, 1945."
2. "Russia was never a part of NATO, the group formed by the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949; indeed, the military and political encroachment of Russia was a major contributory factor to the alliance's creation; in contrast, France was one of the original signatories. Of course, the US and UK governments were worried by the growth of communism in France and Italy, and it's certainly true to say none of them trusted Charles de Gaulle. However, two plans of action were put into effect after World War II, both of which aimed to protect and rebuild Europe, thus preventing the rise of an unfavoured government. One was the Marshall Plan, a massive injection of cash and resources from the US, delivered to countries that toed the democratic line.
The second was the Western European Union, a collective defense agreement between the UK, France and the Low Countries. Now, it's well known that people felt the WEU to be insufficient, and the US and UK engaged in discussions aimed at creating a larger union. France wasn't initially involved in these talks, which were partially secret and aimed at testing the ground, but they were soon included. Russia wasn't.
It's at this point that I wonder whether the History House article really knows what it's talking about. They state that NATO had formed before Roosevelt died and that Russia was kicked out in 1948, a good year before NATO even formed. They must surely mean the UN, which was born out of the Alliance countries of the Second World War, and which did initially include the US, UK and Russia and not France. The reason was simple though: the original UN countries were those fighting against Germany/Japan and others, so Russia was a major player, while France was under foreign occupation and unable to join anything. The article really is a travesty."
(By the way, the author of #2 began his reply by commenting how much he'd enjoyed others of your articles in the past. This one seemed to be an exception).
You've got to be kidding me. Jesus.
Please see any of the other twenty dozen reminders that this is an April Fool's piece. Have faith in your common sense.
9/20/2002 / Dear Sirs:
I wanted more info on The South Sea Bubble and came across your very unprofessional site. In the artical the British are refered to as "limeys". That is just about forgivable but what is not is when I read the artical on Morse code and it refers to "a Frog Sientist" I am British and therefore it required of me to find the French repulsive, but refering to the French as frogs on a public web site that is there for education and probably used by children is just not on. Its racist. Did you copy the articals from books and just change some of the words? For your site to by recommended by the History Channel is hard to belive.
Hope you die in a nasty industrial accident very soon.
Stupid Pom. Learn how to spell.
9/17/2002 / Dear Sirs:
You are ever-inspiring as well as quite amusing. Historians should always remember that the basis of history is STORY. You rpiece on the exploration of Australia comes just after my completion of Bill Bryson's book In A Sunburned Country, which also covers this foolhardy expedition. He also found himself flabbergasted at the utter thoughtlessness of those who chose to set out so ill-prepared. Just goes to show humans don't change much over time, doesn't it?
9/14/2002 / Dear Sirs:
Your April 1, 1999 article "The Formation of NATO" has some minor errors: 1) St. Pierre and Miquelon islands are NOT in the Caribbean and do NOT have "fetid coconut groves" -- they are located near Newfoundland. 2) Roosevelt did not die in 1944 - but on April 12, 1945.
Yeah, every once in awhile somebody reminds us of this. You're very clever to notice. However, we'd like to point out that the Soviets were never actually members of NATO, as the organization was basically invented to stop them. Most folks seem to overlook that and instead write us to show off their geography skills. Have a look at the publication date of the piece, placed very intentionally at the top. Hint: It's April 1.
9/10/2002 / Dear Sirs:
Isn't it "IrOnIc" that when we are taught in schools about hstory, (and we all have been taught some story,)that Moors were from a sole country named Morocco, and that the Moors conquered Spain, Italy, Portugal, etc, BUT yet, these Moors exist no more! As large of a nation were the Moorish people, their descendants don't exist in this day and time! Yeah, right.. I am a Native (indigenous) American Moor; a direct descendant of a Moor of Spanish descent (Jimenez..Son of Jimen, Ben Jimen, BENJAMIN, semetic no doubt.) who also had a blood link to the Taino/Arawak from his family ties in the Carribean. In the past colonial periods, near the late 1300, early 1400, Europeans slowly but surely started associating the word Negroe/black with free Moorish people; slowly but surely making Amistads across teh globe. You see, Moors as per the U.S. Immigration and Nat. Act (there are more referrences older than this one, but it is more recent..) Moorish inhabitants in America are stated to be Free White Persons, and that White does not denote Caucasian, but rather a STATUS. For legal factual proof, go to a law library and ask for the most popular law dictionary around,BLACKS LAW DICTIONARY, *BUT* the 4th ed. You just look up FREE WHITE PERSON, and you will see with awe that Moors living in America were and are to this very day by geographical classification( email me for this proof) Free White Persons. Now, since the invasion of Columbus he was dubbed the discoverer of these lands, yet the manuscripts of his own self and brother state dark skinned, arabic speaking inhabitants living on Hispanola/the Dominican Republic. In the Lweis & Clark Expedition, Ben York (called a slave, but actually a Moor) led the explorers across the land and spoke ALL "indian" tounges (sounds like a native to me,) and led them to find the Ouchita/Washitaw/Wichita people, noting they were neither "red nor white"..... okay, they were: bingo! Moorish. We Moors here in America are the sleeping giant, awaking from our mental enslavement, researching our Indigenous background and true Nationality. We Moors already were here in this hemisphere as the Olmec, etc etc. How do you explain Pyramids in the western hemisphere, where people acknowledged a Sun god, gold, etc. Sounds like egypt right, but actually renamed Aztec, Inca etc. We shared with all other derivitaive of our own Race. I could hit you with facts all day about our Moorish history here, but you know who really knows this is the truth: the U.S. Government. SEE the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1787. READ the law dictionary. Study the Origins of the Spanish and French in the Americas (Moros/Moriscos/Morenos and Muurs) strip the racism and prejudice from your eyes and welcome back the living Moorish Nation. No more will we accept the slave title, the Moors are still here. Remember, Kidnapping is a crime internationally, whether from our own lands here or over sees. The time is now. We are here.
Bammo! Right on time for our loon-of-the-month award. Thanks.
8/21/2002 / Dear Sirs:
I'm only writing because I wanted to call you on having all your posted letters begin with the very reverent "Dear Sirs", thereby making them seem made-up....come on---a reference librarian? Anyhoo...I see the 'Dear Sirs' is your automation. Whatever (and are you all really Sirs, or Mayhap I should kneel and say Your Grace?)
Great site, nonetheless. Thanks.
Your Grace would be lovely.
8/16/2002 / Dear Sirs:
First off, I love you're site. I think its some of the best stuff on the internet. You guys have a great sense of humor.
That being said, I wanted to point your attention to an article you wrote on the Dutch "Tulipmania" of the 17th century. I thought you'd be interested to know that the main source you quote, Mackey, was nothing more than an gullible and terrible researcher. I suggest you consult the book "Famous First Bubbles: the fundamentals of early manias" by Peter Garber, who aptly points out Mackey's exaggerations and misinformation.
Most notably, your list of commodities rumored to have been traded for a single bulb, actually originated from a Dutch Government Propoganda campaign against futures trading. The pamphlet was published decades after the original tulipmania, and never purported to be a list of actual items traded for a bulb. Rather the pamphlet used the list in the context of: As a reminder to current traders, in 1736, all of the following could be purchased for the price of a single bulb.
A significant portion of Garbers book is dedicated to the fallacies contained within Mackey, most of which you guys repeated in your story. I just thought it a shame that you guys bought into Mackey's crap without further investigation.
Oh well... I've ranted enough. Otherwise Keep up the good work!
MacKay did indeed fall for a few things he shouldn't have. History House may also have. We'll have to pick up the book you mention. Some of what we repeat in Tulipomania is corroborated by a book published few years ago, much more scholarly in bent, Devil Take the Hindmost. Perhaps we should revisit the topic now that financial excess is back out of fashion.
8/14/2002 / Dear Sirs:
It is refreshing to visit a site that is not biased against the southerner as a result of the war of northern aggression. If the war had been about race, Sao Paulo would have been the last place we would have migrated to get away from the Yankee carpetbaggers, who exist unto this day.
A Coachman relative, I heard the truth from my grandmother, who was a Munnerlyn and a Coachman (father/mother).
This is not bias. This is history without the distortions of the victor. The truth shall out, thanks to the Internet.
Warmest regards from a 7th generation Floridian, and well done!.
Of course race had nothing to do with the American Civil War. Those trifles relating to it during the war were completely coincidental [amendments to the Louisiana, Maryland, Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee state constitutions abolishing slavery before the war ended, the 13th and 15th amendments to the Constitution of the United States (you could probably argue the 24th, too), President Davis' proclamation that captured black Union soldiers remanded to state authorities rather than the Confederate government, the Confederate practice of not conscripting any plantation owner with more than twenty slaves, the passage of the First Confiscation Act and subsequent articles of war granting freedom to escaped slaves, the proposed Constitutional amendment barring federal fooling with state domestic affairs that did NOT pass in 1861, etc. etc.]. None of this business had anything to do with the war. At all.
Donít' be such a disgraceful idiot. There's few things more embarrassing than the sort of pride you show in your ignorance
And we agree that those Yankee carpetbaggers are vile, worthless bastards, every one.
8/12/2002 / Dear Sirs:
RE [Your article on Webster], the footnote "Johnson deserves his own story and may one day get one" was a delight. Your readers presumably know of the painfully long story written by Boswell, but may not know about the excellent book "The Making of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary," by Alan Reddick. It discusses the need, the finances, the techniques, etc. Robert DeMaria also has the very wonderful "Johnson's Dictionary and the Language of Learning", which focuses on the quotations Johnson used to support his definition, and the goals Johnson was trying to achieve through his selections. All the best,
8/1/2002 / Dear Sirs:
I just finished reading Constantine's Sword, The Church and the Jews. It was very heady reading, more like a Doctor's thesis, I think. Nevertheless, I never expected such a frank and compelling argument against the very core of the Catholic Church. This book shows warts and all. And as a Jew, I think of what life and history could have been like, if, indeed, courageous people (women not included in those times) could have taken Mr. Carroll's "roads not taken" route. As my older brother said (he sent the book to me), "I will never look at, or think about Catholics in the same light again." What do you think the chances are of the Church convening the Vatican III and addressing the repentance and change of attitude and church-sponsored readings being amended? Would like to hear your thoughts on this extremely important issue.
History House knows better than to think that the Catholic Church will do any such thing anytime soon.
7/29/2002 / Dear Sirs:
The following paragraph about the Finnish-Russian Winter War in your THOSE BURLY FINNS article is inaccurate and missleading:
"Nevertheless, Finland managed to inflict in between 230,000 and 270,000 fatalities plus 200,000-300,000 injuries on Russia, while losing 48,745 troops and enduring 159,000 other casualties during the campaign. It held on for as long as it could before succumbing on March 13, 1940, but only after a two-week-long bombing and artillery effort by Russia, which threw everything it had at poor Finland. Mannerheim's orders to his troops upon their surrender survive as a piece of inspired patriotism."
Russian leadership, including Khrutschev in his memoirs, have acknowledged that Russia lost over a million men as dead in the 105 days' WINTER WAR. It is also a commonly known fact about all wars that there are 3-4 times as many wounded soldiers as there are dead. Winter war was not an exception.
Only 25,000 Finnish soldiers died in that particular part of WW2. That is what makes Winter War such a miracle and a great victory for Finland. Finland won the war itself but ceded territory after lenghty peace negotiations which were innitiated by Stalin who had come to grips with the fact that Finland cannot be taken over militarily.
The same lesson Russia learned in the three and a half years' Finnish-Russian CONTINUATION WAR after loosing the final battle in ILOMANTSSI in the Finnish Karelia in 1944. That war too was a miracle and it is known for its largest artillery concentration in the world history od wars.
Funny we should get two letters in as many weeks discussing this interpretation with us. Our sources for this article (listed it its bibliography) obviously drew different conclusions. We have not done a detailed enough study of the war to back up or refute either set of claims. We present these counterclaims here for our readers to judge!
7/11/2002 / Dear Sirs:
Thank you for your story about the Finnish-Russian Winter War. We would like to continue providing links to you from our website FINNFILM.com.
However, the numbers of dead soldiers on both sides of that war are wrong in your story. Due to viewer response we suggest that you'd kindly make a correction to those numbers.
Russian president, Nikita Khruschev, has said in his memoirs that over a million Russian soldiers died in the 105 days' Winter War. During the Cold War the official Russia admitted to only 273,000 dead Russian soldiers in result of the Winter War. By all counts your estimate of 230,000 to 250,000 is way too low and missleading.
Also, only about 25,000 Finnish soldiers died in that particular part of WW2, not 48,000 as you claim.
7/5/2002 / Dear Sirs:
I would like to bring to your attention an exciting website produced by the Public Record Office - (the UK National Archives). Using original documents, images, and film from the PRO's 1000 year old collection, the 'Virtual Museum' provides a showcase for some of the treasures at the PRO. Visitors can explore everything from Famous Names to Crime & Punishment, and from War & Defence to Kings & Queens. They can find out surprising facts about famous people - including William Shakespeare, Robin Hood and Sir Elton John - as well as the extraordinary feats of ordinary people. Explore each century of the last millennium in the 'Millennium Galleries' and find out more about the most famous documents at the PRO in the 'Icons' galleries.
Explore some of the treasures of the PRO - visit the Virtual Museum at: http://www.pro.gov.uk/virtualmuseum.
7/2/2002 / Dear Sirs:
JUST TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT, THEY FINALLY HAD TO DDROWN RASPUTIN TO KILL HIM. THE POISON AND SHOOTINGS DID NOT WORK.
Unfortauntely, this is a common misconception, and cannot be corroborated in the reliable accounts of his death. Thanks for reading!
7/1/2002 / Dear Sirs:
"Jews, Cows, and Other Red Things" contributes a new and almost unexeptable information about Aaron Aaronson. For a while I was looking after proves to that event but without any success. Most of the bibliography is unknown or out of print and scholars who are expert in "NIL"Y" period say that it couldn't happen. In Aaronson's diary there is nothing that reminds the story. I would appreciate if you could lead me to some up-dated preferences
Please note the prominent "This story published April 1, 2000" at the top of the first page of the article. April 1 is known as "April Fools' day", wherein participants pull corking good ruses on their peers. As such, substantial portions of "Jews, Cows, and Other Red Things" are wholly fictional. For example, the Ottomans never received an Elephantine Colossus, nor was a wine-soaked cow the ostensible cause of World War I.
There are a few other April Fools' stories on the site, each as clearly marked as this one. Everything else you find has extensive bibliographies of actual books in actual print, or articles in journals, etc. and has been confirmed as rigorously as our reference library can allow.
6/17/2002 / Dear Sirs:
Thank you for your interest in reviewing and/or featuring THE ICE MASTER by Jennifer Niven on your website! Please tune in to Dateline ABC June 30th at 7pm for more about THE ICE MASTER.
Jennifer's website is also up and running. If you haven't seen it, you just have to visit http://www.jenniferniven.com. If you need copies for a giveaway on your website, please let me know.
We were so tickled by this computer generated letter, we felt compelled to quote Robin Moses a section of our review of this book:
"Niven paints a portrait of what the crew's suffering through a monotonous wasteland might be like by making large sections of the book closely resemble a monotonous wasteland."
Robin responded by bcc'ing us on another press release for book detailing "a gripping odyssey of intense rivalry". We're not impressed with Robin, and don't believe she should be coordinating anything except perhaps a midnight cheetos run.
6/10/2002 / Dear Sirs:
I have a problem with the treaty of Ghent section of your artilce entitled Founding Fathers.
It says's "... the Americans were forced to hastily add a clause to the Treaty of Ghent. Article XIII, not usually printed in history books, notes that
Whereas the future cultural independence of Canadia is of ultimate importance to the World, and it is generally agreed that God has a Special Design for the Province, the United States shall immediately cast its covetous eye elsewhere. In return, His Brittannic Majesty shall return the Declaration of Independence to the United States, and both parties will never speak of it again. Ever."
Problem number one. I can only find 11 articles in the treaty. Your article is claiming that there is thirteen articles. What are the other "missing" articles?
My second problem is the fact that your article refers to "Canadia". This is the first time that I have heard of this term. IIs the author refering to Canada, or possibly even Acadia, but as anyone with a basic knowledge of Canadian history will tell you. "Canada" did not come into existence until 1867. Prior to that time, it was Canada was still refered to as Upper and Lower Canada. To the best of my knowledge, the term "Canada" was not used to describe Upper & Lower Canada, until well after the rebellions of Upper & Lower Canada in the 1830's. The area refered to as Acadia refers to area around Nova Scotia, New Brunswick. But again, this area was not being refered to by that name during the time period in question.
As well the term "province", was not used until well after Candian Confederation in 1867.
Other than that the article makes for an interesting read, if its true.
I look forward to hearing from you in regards to my counter claims on this matter.
Thanks for your astute analysis of our article, "Foundering Fathers". A momentís inspection of the top of that page reveals that the piece was published on April first. As such, we regret to inform you that substantial portions of the piece are, in fact, facetious. Your knowledge of the Treaty of Ghent notwithstanding, careful consideration of our claims might have led to this conclusion. For example, the word "poop-head" was never actually in the Declaration of Independence. We've found references to "poop" meaning "excrement" as far back as 1744, but itís probably safe to say it rarely passed the lips of the Founders and never quite made it into any document declaring statehood. The original Declaration was reproduced a couple dozen times by John Dunlap, the official Congressional printer, a day or two after it was drafted [some 24 of these copies, known as the Dunlap Broadsides, are left], so Jefferson wouldn't have had to rewrite the damn thing. Moreover, elephants were not used in maritime operations during the Revolutionary War. There are many other claims in this story that defy reason. Try to find them all!
Other articles not published at April 1 at History House are 100% true, or so far as we could discern with our meager resources.
6/8/2002 / Dear Sirs:
have you considered an article on my favorite character in ancient history, ie Alcibiades (see Thucydides and Plutarch). God knows how many times he changed sides, mostly for disgraceful reasons, and got away with it. Regards,
It'll have to go on our (long) list. Thanks for the suggestion.
6/4/2002 / Dear Sirs:
Thanks for the thought provoking articles. I wish we had time to discuss matters over a few cold Gordon Biersch Marzens at Aloha Tower here in Honolulu. My good friend Kirk Ward's father, (Kirk and I served in the Marines together) C.H. Ward is a professor at Rice, I hope you're familiar with him and his many scientific dissertations. I've provided the link to one of his books. Kindest Regards and Semper Fi,
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