I did not graduate from Council Rock North!

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I get irritated with organizations and websites, including the district itself; that persist in the myth that I and everyone else that graduated from Council Rock School District before 2002 are alumni of Council Rock North. Council Rock North did not exist before 2002. Therefore, we graduated from Council Rock High School. The shell of the original building is still there, but the inside has been gutted, the footprint changed, the landmarks are gone; one can now cross from one side of the building to the other on the third floor. I know change is inevitable, predictable, beneficial, and logic demands that I be a part of it. As a historian, I am also aware that the past needs to be remembered or the present isn’t worth much. All that it left of Council Rock High School is the name and the alumni, and that should be recognized by people other than alumni.

Twitter and Franklin Roosevelt

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I use my twitter account primarily to post links to articles and other things I find interesting and promote my work. The post below is typical:

Usually, all I will get is a retweet, but this post provoked a response.

Mr. Joe Ferrazzano took issue with my comment about Franklin Roosevelt (FDR). Ferrazzano pointed out some things that FDR did wrong, which is difficult to do in 140 characters because FDR was not perfect. Setting aside the confiscation of gold and the raising of taxes and analyzing Ferrazzano’s statements that FDR prolonged the Great Depression and subjected the peoples of Eastern Europe to communism requires more than 140 characters in response.

The argument whether the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression or not is as old as the event itself, and the focusing on it provides an equally distorted view as focusing on the stock market crash of 1929. Barry Karl argued that focusing on the crash provides a distorted view of a crisis that developed slowly. William Leuchtenburg concurrently argued that the market crash played an important but not crucial role in precipitating the Great Depression. Additionally, Leuchtenburg asserted that the stock market crash exposed the underlying weakness of the economic prosperity of the 1920s. Furthermore, no industrialized nation in the world had as unstable or irresponsible a banking system as the United States. Moreover, nothing did more to turn the stock market crash into a prolonged depression than the collapse of the banks, which eroded business and public confidence.

The legislation of the First Hundred Days and the first regular session of the New Deal Congress were efforts to respond to emergency circumstances and were not based on anything that could be construed as a plan. Thus, arguing that FDR’s policies the prolonged the crisis promotes misunderstanding of the New Deal and the circumstances that existed at the time.

Maintaining that FDR’s actions at Yalta subjected the peoples of Eastern Europe of communism suggests that there was something that could have been done to remove Stalin from Eastern Europe or persuade him to keep his word. That is simply not the case. At that time of the Yalta Conference in 1945, the United States, Great Britain, and the other Allied forces were not strong enough to eject Stalin from Eastern Europe. FDR died in April 1945 leaving Truman’s policy of containment the only reasonable option at that time. Suggestions to the contrary are part of the same partisan political argument that suggests China was lost to the communists, and that a victory for communists anywhere was a defeat for democracy everywhere. Such an argument provides an incomplete perspective on the Cold War and its impact on American society.

I appreciate Mr. Ferrazzano response and his point of view. Franklin Roosevelt was imperfect to say the least. Acknowledging those imperfections does not negate those things FDR did right. Two of Mr. Ferrazzano’s examples do not clearly illustrate Roosevelt’s mistakes, which is hard to do in 140 characters.

Further Reading


H. W. Brands, The Devil We Knew: Americans and the Cold War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993

Barry Karl, The Uneasy State the United States from 1915 to 1945, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

William Leuchtenburg, The Perils of Prosperity, 1914-1932 Second Edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.


Book Review: H. W. Brands,The Devil We Knew: Americans and the Cold War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993

The 1920s, and the Great Depression

For the Good of the Service: Husband E. Kimmel and the Aftermath of Pearl Harbor

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My thesis is complete and ready for download.

For the Good of the Service: Husband E. Kimmel and the Aftermath of Pearl Harbor

It represents over a year of research and writing and rewriting. It is an important addition to the historiography of Pearl Harbor.

Lewis and Clark

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Lewis and Clark 

Originally posted a year ago, it should be posted here.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A great article in the Billings Gazette: Retracing Clark’s Journey to Pompeys. Two hundred years ago, July 24, 1806 the Corps of Discovery was on the Yellowstone River. If not for the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which President Thomas Jefferson thought Unconstitutional but made anyway, and the Corps of Discovery; the United States would not be the size it is today. The Louisiana Purchase was the first step in westward expansion that led to Manifest Destiny, the Mexican War; the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; February 2, 1848, giving the United States California and in turn the Gadsden Purchase in 1853. It is debatable whether the Mexican War was a good thing. There is no such thing as a good war. There is nothing good in war except its ending.

The fact is the United States came out of that war with California and Texas. California, in 1848—49, was a place that people wanted to go. Land was cheap, abundant, and the weather was fair. This desire of people to get to California for its land and raw materials led to the construction of the Transcontinental Rail Road. The Road was called for by Congress in 1862 with the Pacific Rail Road Bill. The building of the Transcontinental Rail Road was the greatest industrial-economic feat in American History, and it was made possible in part by the exploration of Lewis and Clark.