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a national
drug abuse
Marty Cooper and the
birth of the cellphone
Preservationists and politics
saved a Hudson Valley mansion
August 2018
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32 Dying Like a Star
Marilyn Monroe’s fatal overdose presaged today’s
opioid epidemic. By Robert Dorfman, Emily Berquist
Soule, and Sukumar Desai, MD
40 Finding His Calling
Cellphone visionary Martin Cooper’s big idea changed
the way we communicate—and live. By Jon Cohen
50 Saving Olana
A fantasy manse on the Hudson became a turning
point in historic preservation. By Ann Morrow
58 The Best Kind of Cultural Collision
On dance floors in Texas and Mexico, conjunto
shows its European roots. By Barbara Finlay
6 Mosaic
12 Contributors
14 Interview
Britain’s ill-fated 1755 thrust
at Fort Duquesne still echoes.
16 Déjà Vu
When presidents land in court,
fireworks are rarely far away.
20 American Schemers
Aimee Semple McPherson,
canny evangelist of the airwaves.
22 SCOTUS 101
The Founders banked on a flexible Court.
24 Cameo
Numbers guy Herman Hollerith
punched a path to the future.
26 Style
Rockefeller legacy in Chicago;
glamping in the Black Hills.
The Diné or Navajo
people of Four Corners
were experts at
knapping obsidian
68 Reviews
72 An American Place
Shiprock, New Mexico
ON THE COVER: By 1953, Marilyn Monroe was
America’s reigning bombshell, among the most bankable of
Hollywood stars—and a harbinger of a modern epidemic.
Visit and search our archive
for great stories like these:
AUGUST 2018 VOL. 53, NO. 3
A researcher puts a name to the face of a
dead Confederate soldier shown in an
iconic photograph made at Devil’s Den.
Women Warriors
Tell Their Stories
First-hand accounts about the
Vietnam War from medics,
journalists, and front-line fighters.
‘Lady Lindy’: A Life
Lived With Tenacity
Amelia Earhart never let gender get
in the way of an adventure—on the
ground or in the air.
Love history? Sign up for our FREE monthly
e-newsleter at:
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Struggle to Identify
Getysburg Casualty
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We'll Take You There
The Quill Project takes
visitors to 1787 to illuminate
constitutional deal-making.
Online search is now helping aficionados and scholars study the birth of the U.S. Constitution. It’s well
known that that “negotiated text, with some 60 participants,” was created between May and September at a convention in 1787, says Nicholas Cole, historian at Pembroke College at Oxford University. But what, exactly, did
participants negotiate? Scholars could examine a private diary and notes by James Madison and spoty minutes
by Secretary of the Convention William Jackson, but no detailed record existed of the decision-making—the
back-and-forth regarding
motions, amendments, and
votes by delegations. Cole set
about to track that process in
time. The resulting Quill Project——is an
online platform and repository
ofering visitors a chance to
see, on any given day of the
convention, what issues and
amendments were being negotiated in any given commitee.
Searching by subject—“slavery,” say, or “impeachment”—is also possible. In the usual library seting, a researcher
would spend days tracking these developments. This impressive and daunting archive is like a sunshine project
for the nation's foundational document. The extensive trove harbors everything from diary entries and leters to
commentary about issues including worries about corruption and a limited monarchy.
Cole had many collaborators. Students at Pembroke College and the Center for the Constitutional Studies at
Utah State University helped pull together the elements. Visitors can explore by individual, date, topic, and summary view or undertake detailed dives. The accompanying user guide is a very useful stop for first-timers.
Besides covering the completion of the U.S. Constitution, the Quill Project also is studying ratification by states.
The platform can be useful in analyzing complex negotiations such as Brexit or the Geneva Convention, Cole says.
Students at Utah State are already using it to examine the negotiations that produced the Utah State constitution.
X-Raying the
by Sarah Richardson
Railroad House
Sleuths pinpointed a key Underground Railroad hub in Philadelphia,
a modest townhouse on Delhi Street that in February earned a listing
on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. From 1850-1855, the
three-story brick structure was home to William and Letitia Still, who
oversaw flights out of bondage by hundreds of people. Nomination by
the Keeping Society of Philadelphia, a local preservation group, convinced the Philadelphia Historical Commission to approve the site,
imposing a range of bulwarks against demolition. Architectural historian Oscar Beisart, who helped submit the nomination, said the clue
came when his collaborator J.M. Duin spoted an address on Ronaldson Street for Letitia Still’s dressmaking business in an old newspaper.
Duin figured out that the road that is today Delhi Street was then Ronaldson and ran through an African-American neighborhood.
William Still was one of the most influential figures of the Underground Railroad network on the East Coast. Son of former slaves, he
became secretary of the Philadelphia Vigilance Commitee of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society in 1850, following passage of the Fugitive
Slave Act that required people in non-slaveholding states to help slave
owners recover escapees. Ater the Civil War, Still pulled together letters and his own notes—long stashed in a nearby African-American
cemetery—about his years as a secret agent for freedom. In 1872 he
published The Underground Railroad, A record of facts, authentic narratives, leters, &c., narrating the hardships, hairbreadth escapes and
death struggles of the slaves in their eforts for freedom, online at
Action on the Still home was exquisitely timed. “The new owner had
told the seller that he intended to tear it down and build a new home,”
Beisart said. Now the house—a historic portal to freedom—will remain.
Philadelphia Freedom
At his home William Still,
let, aided many clandestine
travelers headed north on the
Underground Railroad.
$50K for Rare
Copy of Paine’s
American Crisis
“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with
us, that the harder the conflict, the more
glorious the triumph. What we obtain too
cheap, we esteem too lightly.” These stirring words come from The American Crisis,
an essay by English philosopher and Revolutionary War campaigner Thomas Paine.
Before General George Washington led his
cold and tired troops across the Delaware
River to Trenton, New Jersey, on December
26, 1776, he revved morale by having the
soldiers gather in groups to read aloud
Paine’s opening emotional appeal, which
begins, “These are the times that try men’s
souls.” Only four editions of the pamphlet
were thought to have survived, but a fith
edition, recently discovered, was auctioned
April 12 at Swann’s for $50,000.
No writer was more influential in stoking American colonists’ opposition to
English rule than Paine. He advocated
independence in Common Sense in 1776,
followed by The American Crisis, writen in
16 installments. The auction item turned
up when a family was rummaging through
an atic in Mount Pleasant, Utah. A New
Jersey tavern owner had passed the pamphlet down to a granddaughter, who died
in Salt Lake City in 1886. The box containing the pamphlet shited among relatives
and friends, until the document finally was
recognized as a rare surviving copy. The
most recent sale, in 2014, of a complete
American Crisis brought $125,000.
AUGUST 2018 7
Railroads Spread
1874 Opposition
to Alcohol
The Taino people on Caribbean islands greeted Columbus and his
men in peace in 1492, only to be wiped out by disease and servitude. Or
so it was thought, though there are people in the Caribbean who still
claim Taino ancestry. DNA from a 1,000-year-old tooth found in a cave
on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas has allowed researchers to compare
an ancient Taino woman’s genetic material with a dataset of DNA from
466 people from 50 Native American groups and DNA profiles of 104
modern-day Puerto Ricans. The results show that Taino DNA does persist, most strongly among Puerto Ricans; islanders shared a 10-15 percent similarity with the ancient sample. Lead author Hannes Schroeder,
from the University of Copenhagen, carried out the research as part of
the NEXUS1492 project. He acknowledged that people self-identifying
as Taino have long contested the concept of Taino extinction. “Now we
know they were right all along,” Schroeder said. “There has been some
form of genetic continuity in the Caribbean.”
The research confirmed that the Caribbean islands, setled for
around 8,000 years, were colonized by people from the northern part of
South America, a claim long supported by archaeological evidence.
Taino genetic specifics have taken time to discover, but the Taino linguistic legacy is well-documented. The names Cuba—cubao: “fertile
land”—and Haiti (ayiti: high place) derive from Taino, as do canoe, barbecue, hammock, tobacco, potato, maize, hurricane, and savannah.
Take the Pledge
The temperance
movement grew by
riding the rails.
Taino Talk
Railroads and telegraphs were 19th-century game-changers for political organizing,
much as social media is today. A recent
paper by researchers at the University of
Pennsylvania traces the explosion of activism in 1873-74 among women galvanized to
fight alcohol abuse and related domestic
problems. Combing newspapers and maps
of railroad and telegraph networks, the
investigators found that Temperance Crusade meetings led to protest events in
nearby towns, and that railroads were key
for this transmission. “During the phase of
fastest spread of the Crusade, one additional Crusade event among neighboring
towns linked by rail led to a six-fold
increase in the probability of holding a Crusade event in the following 10 days,” they
write, and the presence of telegraphs—then
a rare medium—heightened the probability.
The Crusade began in Fredonia, New
York, in December 1873. Actions in more
than 800 towns in 29 states ensued.Over
214 days, 483 towns held meetings, 283
circulated petitions, and 464 staged a
march. Between 1864 and 1873, liquor
stores had multiplied from 80 to more
than 200,000, and much of that increase
occurred in the Midwest.
The Crusade's organizing muscle, first
aimed at shuting down taverns and liquor
dealers, would mature and deliver the vote
for women in 1920.
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150 years ago – with our nation divided over issues of slavery, states’ rights, and economic survival – the
southern states seceded from the Union to form the Confederate States of America. Like so many Americans
caught in the middle, Robert E. Lee, a respected Colonel in the Union Army, was forced to choose between
his nation and his state. Driven by duty and guided by honor, Lee declined command of the Union Army and
sided with his home state of Virginia. He soon rose to the rank of General and was given command over the
Army and Navy of Virginia. His dazzling military maneuvers brought about many victories for the outmanned
Confederate Army before succumbing to Union forces at Appomattox in 1865. Even in defeat, Lee served as
a symbol of courage and dignity, embodying the finest elements of a true Southern gentleman. After the war,
Lee set aside all animosity and urged the people of the South to work for the restoration of peace and harmony
in a united country.
Meticulously designed by American Mint – in conjunction with The National Civil War Museum – for the Sesquicentennial of the
Civil War, this magnificent bowie knife was created from a single piece of tempered 420 stainless steel. The hand-polished blade
features a laser-etched portrait of Robert E. Lee with the names of the battles he fought. The coldcast handle is inlaid with a solid
brass nameplate laser-etched with Lee’s signature and features a 24k gold-plated guard and pommel with designs from an original
American Civil War officer’s sword.
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This year the U.S. Supreme Court will decide cases related to gerrymandering of political districts in Wisconsin and Maryland. The term
refers to Massachusets Governor Eldridge Gerry, who in 1812 oversaw redrawing of district boundaries to envelop communities favoring
his political party. The resulting elongated district had a salamander
shape. Courts have hesitated to address gerrymandering, as no
accepted standard exists defining a gerrymandered district. Now Greg Warrington, a University of
Vermont mathematician, suggests how to
make that call.
Supposing that no
gerrymandering for party
exists, plot proportionate
party membership in
each district, Warrington theorized.
That exercise should
produce a straight slope,
from least concentrated to most concentrated. When he did this for districts in the
2014 congressional elections in North Carolina, where Republicans won a majority of
Gerry's Kids
elected oices even though the majority of
Two centuries on, the
voters identified as Democrats, Warrington
gerrymander swarms
got a slope with notable deviations in the
across the land.
concentration of Democrats. The line flattened in 10 districts where the percentage of Democratic voters hovered between 30 and 45 percent, a distribution favorable to Republican
candidates. In the three districts that elected Democrats, the percentage shot to 70 percent. That distortion, according to Warrington, suggests boundaries drawn to distribute Democratic voters in ways that
benefit the Republican Party. The strategy—called “packing and cracking”—concentrates voter impact in some districts, diluting it in others.
Studying districts 2012-16, Warrington found Pennsylvania, North
Carolina, and Ohio to have been strongly gerrymandered for Republicans. Maryland and California were gerrymandered for Democrats.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ordered that state to redraw districts
based on a case showing that of 18 House districts, 13 were held by
Republicans and five by Democrats, even though votes, overall, were
divided between Democrats and Republicans. When the state legislature
and governor could not agree on a redistricting plan, the Supreme Court
redrew the congressional district map.
That layout will be used in the 2018 midterm elections. Stay tuned.
Furor over the fate of Civil War-era Fort
Negley outside Nashville, Tennessee, has
ended. Mayor David Briley supports creating a park on land adjacent to the fort. Predecessor Megan Barry had supported a
controversial mixed-use development. A
report describing the site’s history and the
probability that undiscovered human
remains from an African-American setlement still are there proved influential.
Lawrence's Last
A long-lost painting by artist Jacob Lawrence sold at Swann Galleries on April 5 for
$413,000, more than quadruple the estimate. Tension on the High Seas belonged to
Lawrence’s final 30-panel historical series,
Struggle…from the history of the American
people (1956). One of five panels at large,
the work depicts a British oicer who is
examining captives taken from the American ship Chesapeake, an 1807 event that
helped provoke the War of 1812. The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusets, is planning an exhibition of
Lawrence’s final series in 2020.
Fort Negley’s
Fate Decided
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“I love this computer! It is easy to
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Jon Cohen (“Finding His Calling,” p. 40), is a staf writer at Science magazine. He has published four nonfiction books and written for every publication he ever dreamed of writing for, a list that
now includes American History. @sciencecohen;
Robert Dorfman, Emily Berquist Soule, and Sukumar Desai, MD,
(“Dying Like a Star,” p. 32), are, respectively, a research fellow in
plastic and reconstructive surgery at Northwestern University, an
associate professor of history at California State University, Long
Beach, and an assistant professor of anesthesia, Harvard Medical
School/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston. They also write for
World War II magazine. Their most recent piece for American History was “Smiling Through a Personal Apocalypse” (December 2017).
Barbara Finlay (“The Best Kind of Cultural Collision,” p. 58) is professor emerita in sociology at Texas A&M University. The author
of five books and many articles on social history and issues of
inequality, she lives in Kyle, Texas. Most recently, she wrote “Letter from the Front” (April 2017).
Ann Morrow (“Saving Olana,” p. 50) is a journalist who covers
the history and culture of the Hudson River region for newspapers and magazines. Now working on a book about the Gilded
Age in New York, Morrow lives in Albany. Her most recent article,
“What’s in a Name?,” ran in the August 2017 issue.
Course Correction
Continental Army Colonel John Glover’s
mariners, who ferried American troops from
Brooklyn to Manhatan (“Fight Again
Another Day,” December 2017), included
black sailors from Marblehead, Massachusets, as Henry Wiencek observes in his 2003
book An Imperfect God: George Washington,
His Slaves, and the Creation of America. Noting this fact would, in a small way, rectify the
chronic under-reporting of the important
roles African-Americans played in the
Anthony C. Newton
Arlington, Virginia
Fair’s Fair
Today I received an ofer by mail from American History—or, as I think of it, About 45% of
American History, since about 95 percent of
your articles feature males. The Nellie Bly
story (“Troublemaker,” February 2018) is
intriguing; she deserves a cover, as do so
many dead white women—Sarah Josepha
Hale? Frances Perkins? Dolley Madison?—
and dead women and men of color! Think of
the subscribers you’d atract if you covered
ALL the people who’ve made American history. I’d love to be one of those subscribers.
When I see a cover featuring a woman
maybe I’ll consider renewing a subscription
of more than 20 years’ standing. As Abigail
Adams wrote, “Remember the ladies and be
more generous than your ancestors.”
Joanne Hjort
Seatle, Washington
June Déjà Vu column
incorrectly incorporated
an image of President
John Quincy Adams.
The picture should have
been of President John
Adams (let).
Email AmericanHistoryleters@historynet.
com or write to American History Leters,
1919 Gallows Road #400, Vienna, VA 22182
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U.S. military history
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Braddock died from
wounds received at
Fort Duquesne. His
troops buried him
beneath the British
military road.
General Edward Braddock’s defeat in 1755
by an allied French and Indian force outside
Fort Duquesne—now Pitsburgh—recast the
French and Indian War. In Braddock’s
Defeat, historian David L. Preston argues
that the batle and its consequences escalated that conflict between Britain and
France into a global struggle known as the
Seven Years’ War, opening fissures between
Britain and the 13 colonies that helped bring
on the American Revolution. The destruction of a conventional British army by irregular forces in remote mountainous territory
foreshadows similar encounters in the 18th,
19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.
How did the Seven Years’ War play out in
North America? New France, which reached
from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf
of Mexico, was the strategically dominant
power in the region in the mid-1700s. In
contrast to Britain’s more populous and
expansive colonies, New France had a meager population that depended heavily on the
fur trade. To conduct that trade, the French
relied on neighboring Indian tribes. The Indians’ desire for sovereignty led them to collaborate militarily with New France in its efort
to contain the westward expansion of British
colonies like Virginia.
In 1755, what made the Forks of the Ohio so
important? Interior waterways aforded the
fastest, most reliable routes into and around
the continent’s interior. Control of the Forks
of the Ohio, where the Allegheny and
Monongahela Rivers form the Ohio River,
enabled British traders to compete with
French counterparts and, in so doing, to challenge New France’s network of Indian alliances. The French built forts to keep the
British out of the Ohio Valley. But aggressive
British colonies like Virginia were determined to assert claims to the disputed region.
The British mistrusted colonial oicers like
George Washington. Washington came to
the fore in this dispute among France, Britain, and Indian nations over the Ohio Valley.
As lieutenant colonel of the Virginia provincial regiment, Washington had led early British military ventures against the French,
notably a humiliating defeat at Fort Necessity in 1754. When London learned of that
loss, the British government sent regular
troops under royal oicers to salvage the situation. Braddock asked Washington to serve
in his expedition, but only as a gentleman
aide, not an oicer with rank. Imagine the
diference in Washington’s life—and American history—had the British government
decided to recruit patriotic British Americans into royal regiments oicered by colonists like Washington.
British regulars had no experience with
Indian-style warfare. In the 1740s, Braddock’s 44th and 48th infantry regiments had
fought conventional batles in Scotland and
Europe, but nothing had prepared them for
combat in the mountains against small, dispersed, and highly skilled units of French
Canadians and Indian warriors using irregular tactics, such as firing from cover. Contrary to mythology, General Braddock had
taken adequate precautions, deploying as
many as a third of his 1,400 men as flankers
on his column’s outer edges. In the end, 250
French and Canadian troops and 600 to 700
Indian warriors showed more discipline than
British regulars—using natural cover, accurate musketry, and individual initiative—to
destroy Braddock’s flank protection and kill
or wound two British soldiers in three who
crossed the Monongahela. Superior French
and Indian tactics destroyed the ring of
security. The British massed together, leaving themselves no option but to run for their
lives or die where they stood.
How did tensions between Braddock’s
army and colonists shape the expedition?
There is much evidence of political and social
conflict between the Americans and the British Empire, personified in Braddock and his
army. Historically, Britons feared standing
armies as threats to their political liberties and
economic wherewithal. Once Braddock and
his force landed in Virginia, conflict quickly
ensued with various colonial governments over supplying, quartering,
recruiting, and financing Braddock’s and other British forces in America.
The 1755 campaign rudely awakened British authorities to the growing
political independence of the 13 colonies.
Why was funding an issue? The British had expected colonial legislatures to supply Braddock’s expedition and to vote public monies to a
common fund for defense to be controlled by Braddock, who was
commander in chief of British forces in America. The American legislatures balked at the costs and oten refused to surrender control of
public monies. Braddock and other British oicers blamed the expedition’s delays on the uncooperative
colonial governments.
So what? Braddock and other British
commanders sent report ater report to
London calling the colonies uncooperative, unpatriotic, and even disloyal. The
colonies contributed enormous sums of
money and manpower to British victory
in the war, but many London politicians
developed an idée fixe of Americans as
ungrateful. Ater the war, Parliament
directly taxed colonists, to make them
partially responsible for funding their
own defense, and to lessen their political independence.
Braddock’s Defeat:
The Batle of the
Monongahela and the
Road to Revolution
By David L. Preston
Oxford University
Press, 2015, $17.95
The French operated diferently. By the
1750s, French colonists had been in the
New World for generations and identified as Canadians. Elite French Canadians oten became commissioned oicers
in the French military and through decades of service at far-flung locations around New France gained noble status or royal preferment.
They dealt intimately with Indian allies, learning their languages and
cultures. Most important, those French soldiers learned the Indian way
of war. Braddock’s French opponent, Captain Daniel-Hyacinthe-Marie Liénard de Beaujeu, was a veteran of irregular combat. He knew
how to negotiate with Indian allies comprising two-thirds of his force.
What is the lesson of Braddock’s defeat? Braddock’s defeat, in its time
and in history, shows a confident conventional army coming to naught
against an unconventional force in a foreign environment many British soldiers found terrifying. It also shows how armies as institutions
oten unlearn hard-fought lessons. In 1775, the British army sufered a
shocking defeat at the Batle of Concord, a running action that many
compared to Braddock’s defeat 20 years earlier. And in turn, Native
American warriors in the Northwest Territories decisively defeated
U.S. Army forces at the Batle of the Wabash in 1791—St. Clair’s Defeat—
and in the Montana Territory at the Litle Bighorn in 1876—Custer’s
Last Stand. As the United States continues military operations in Iraq,
Syria, and Afghanistan, Braddock’s defeat testifies to the importance of
understanding tribal polities and the worlds they frame. +
AUGUST 2018 15
The mills of the law, like those of God, grind slowly, but they
grind small. Donald Trump’s enemies and accusers hope to
involve him in lawsuits that will tenderize him in court.
This spring a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the
atorney general of the District of Columbia may sue
Trump on the grounds that rents foreign diplomats pay for
rooms in his hotel in the Old Post Oice on Pennsylvania
Avenue NW represent unconstitutional gits. The alleged
unconstitutionality arises from the stern words of Article I,
Section 9: “no Person holding any Oice of Profit or Trust
under [the United States] shall…accept of any present [or]
Emolument…from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
A New York State Supreme Court judge ruled that Summer Zervos, a contestant on Trump’s reality show The
Apprentice, could sue him for defamation. Trump called
Zervos a liar during the homestretch of the 2016 campaign
ater she accused him of groping her in 2007. “No one,” the
New York judge intoned, “is above the law.” Another U.S.
District Court judge let Trump of the hook, denying a
motion to depose him by pit-bull lawyer Michael Avenati.
Avenati represents porneuse and ecdysiast Stormy Daniels, who has sued to overturn an agreement she made to
keep mum about an alleged 2006 fling with Trump. The
Days in Court
Exchanges grew
heated at Aaron
Burr’s trial in
Richmond, Virginia.
judge called Avenati’s motion “premature.” The atorney
vowed to return with new motions.
English kings occasionally were murdered or killed in
batle by upstarts, but custom and an aura of near-mystical
respect kept monarchs from being dragged into court. Was
America’s president meant to enjoy similar immunity from
prosecution? From testifying in other people’s cases? The
Constitution says Congress may impeach a president and
remove him from oice for the sonorous if vague ofense
of high crimes and misdemeanors. But can a president also
be subject to ordinary legal proceedings?
The founders weren’t sure. In 1789, during the inaugural
session of the First Congress, Vice President John Adams
and Pennsylvania Senator William Maclay had an
impromptu cloakroom debate on the subject. The president, declared Adams, “was above the power of all judges.”
Otherwise, any troublemaker in a black robe could entangle the chief executive in a prosecution that might “stop
the whole machine of government.” But, Maclay asked,
suppose the president “commits murder in the streets?”
Impeach him and indict him, answered Adams. Maclay
pressed on: “Suppose he continues his murders daily” and
Congress is not in session to impeach him? The people
Full court
American Sieges
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Sculpin (right) to
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Please Be
Luther Martin,
botom, was Burr’s
defense atorney.
would rise up to stop him, Adams exclaimed.
So, Maclay concluded, we should rely on a
mob to do what the legal system can’t? Too bad
there were no high schools—Maclay would
have been a star debater.
The issue grew from bull session to reality in
1807 with Aaron Burr’s trial for treason. Burr
had been vice president during Thomas Jeferson’s first term, but his evident ambition
caused Jeferson to drop him from the ticket in
1804. Burr spent his newfound free time traveling the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, promoting a setlement in Arkansas. In January 1807,
President Jeferson learned that Burr was up to
something darker: James Wilkinson, commanding general of the U.S. Army, claimed
that Burr planned to lead 7,000 men to seize
New Orleans, invade Spanish Mexico, and
start a nation. Wilkinson’s evidence was a
coded leter from Burr inviting the army commander to join the plot.
Jeferson told Congress that Burr’s guilt was
“beyond question,” and ordered his arrest. The
“invasion force” amounted to 60 men. The
scheme’s staging area had been an island in
the Ohio River, so Burr was tried in Richmond
U.S. Circuit Court, whose senior judge was
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall.
The trial was a circus. Richmond overflowed
with spectators; nine lawyers—three for the
prosecution, six for the defense—wrangled
endlessly. The government was prepared to call
140 witnesses to Burr’s general awfulness. In
May, the defendant enlivened the proceedings
by asking Marshall to subpoena the president.
Burr wanted Jeferson to come to Richmond
bearing the original of the coded leter.
Lawyerly polemics reached gale force. Most
eloquent was Burr’s senior atorney, Luther
Martin, a veteran of the Constitutional Convention, an iron-lunged orator, and a high-functioning alcoholic. Jeferson, Martin stormed, “has let
slip dogs of war, the hell-hounds of persecution.”
If the president now withheld “information that
would save the life of a person, charged with a
capital ofense,” he would be “a murderer, and so
recorded in the register of heaven.”
Marshall ruled on Burr’s request in June.
“The court,” he declared, “would not lend its
aid” to frivolous motions. However, defendants did have “the right of preparing the
means to secure…a fair and impartial trial.”
Marshall issued the subpoena.
Jeferson’s response denied the form while
conceding the substance. He declined to
appear in court. “To comply” with such a
request “would leave the nation without an
executive branch,” he said. But Jeferson told
his atorney general to let Burr see the coded
leter. Privately Jeferson steamed; he wanted
Luther Martin indicted as a co-conspirator.
Prosecutors in Richmond wisely ignored this
specimen of premature Nixonianism.
Ater all this, the coded leter did not figure
in the trial; modern scholars doubt Burr even
wrote it. He walked because the government
could not prove he had commited treason.
Jeferson was of-stage pulling wires in
Burr’s case. But suppose the president himself
is a party? In 1994 Paula Jones sued Bill Clinton, claiming he had sexually harassed her
when he was governor of Arkansas and she a
state employee. The president’s lawyers countersued to stop the action, on the grounds that
allowing to suit to proceed while Clinton was
in the White House would pose “serious risks
for the institution of the Presidency.” They
cited Adams’s of-the-cuf judgment in 1789,
and Jeferson’s refusal to go to Richmond in
1807, and asked the court to delay Jones’s suit
until ater Clinton let oice.
The Clinton team’s argument came before
the Supreme Court in 1997. Justice John Paul
Stevens, delivering the opinion of the court,
found no guidance in the past, since Adams
and Jeferson said “tomato” while Maclay and
Marshall said “tomahto.” Examining the argument on its merits, Stevens decided that postponing Jones’s suit would burden her, since
delay would fog memories and erode evidence.
Leting the case proceed would not burden the
president, since “it appears to us highly unlikely
to occupy any substantial amount of [his] time.”
The Supreme Court let Jones sue. Her lawyers
asked Clinton if he had had sex with White
House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton’s
denial, under oath, began a circus that made
Burr’s trial seem like a Quaker meeting.
The president may be the most powerful
man on earth, but he can be compelled to give
evidence or testimony on his behalf, or on
behalf of others. The lawyers circling Trump no
doubt hope to entangle him under oath in a
Clintonesque contradiction. Be careful what
you ask for. Jeferson’s day in court let him
looking like an unsuccessful bully. Clinton’s let
him looking like a bullied sexual everyman.
All it cost him was time. +
when the
could not
prove that
he had
“When I opened the
Hunter back and
saw the reproduced
words scrawled on the
watch mechanism by
Jonathan Dillon I
was totally amazed.”
Praise for the
Lincoln Watch
from R.A.,
Milwaukee, WI
Mystery of the Lincoln Watch Solved!
Master watchmaker reveals the 150-year-old secret hidden inside
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id a watch repairman really engrave
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President Lincoln's pocketwatch was rumored to carry a
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of Dillon’s inscription
after almost 150 years.
is found inside the
“The moment of truth has come,” he said. hunter’s back.
“Is there or is there not an inscription?”
It was there! George removed his jeweler’s
goggles and handed the watch to the greatgreat grandson of Dillon to do the honors.
The inscription read, "Jonathan Dillon April
13 -1861 Fort Sumpter [sic] was attacked by
the rebels on the above date J Dillon April
13-1861 Washington thank God we have a
government Jonth Dillon."
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Rating of A+
A Semple Case
of Evangelism
Glory Days
McPherson in her
work clothes in
New York in the
1930s. Earlier, the
evangelist’s return
to Los Angeles ater
a visit to the Far
East drew a crowd
of more than 5,000.
Minnie Kennedy knelt. “Give me a litle
baby girl,” the Canadian farm wife prayed.
“And I will give her unreservedly into your
service, that she may preach the word.” In
1890, Kennedy gave birth to a girl she named
Aimee, and promised God her daughter
would save souls. Three decades later, Aimee
Semple McPherson was the most charismatic
and controversial evangelist in America, a
flamboyant preacher whose tempestuous personal life inspired countless tabloid headlines,
police inquiries, and a Broadway musical.
Young Aimee propped dolls on chairs and
preached to them. At 12, she won a Christian
oratory contest; at 13, she preached at church
picnics. High school stole her faith. A science
text declared the earth eons old and man a
descendant of apes. If that’s true, Aimee
thought, the Bible is false. She confronted
her teachers and preachers. None could allay
her doubts. Aimee rejected religion and
began living a worldly life of reading novels,
playing ragtime piano, and dancing—until
she was 17 and, transfixed, heard the preaching of Robert Semple, a fiery Irish evangelist.
Semple was tall and handsome and Aimee
fell in love with him. She burned her novels,
her sheet music, and her dancing shoes.
Within the year she and Semple married and
traveled to China as missionaries. He died of
malaria there in 1910, a month before she
gave birth to daughter Roberta.
Aimee, 20, moved to New York. She wed
Harold McPherson, an accountant, and settled in Rhode Island, where Aimee bore a
son, Rolf. Housewifery bored and depressed
her. She heard the voice of God. “Preach the
Word!” He told her. “Preach the Word!”
In 1915, determined to become an evangelist, Aimee fled with Roberta and Rolf to her
mother’s home in Canada. Her husband
begged her to “act like other women” but
Aimee let her children with their grandparents and set of. Her 1912 Packard convertible, a rolling billboard, blared slogans: “Jesus
is Coming Soon” and “Where Will You Spend
Eternity?” For six years, she roamed America, preaching in parks, coton fields, tents,
and auditoriums. She touted the “joy of salvation” while denouncing dancing, drinking,
card-playing, and other worldly pleasures
like theater. The last she condemned as the
“devil’s workshop” even though theatricality was her shtick. Besides
preaching, she sang, played piano, and spoke in tongues, drawing ever
larger crowds—30,000 to San Diego’s Balboa Park in 1921—and moving onlookers to weep, faint, and roll on the ground. Some claimed
Aimee healed their ailments. “They are cured by Christ,” she said.
In 1921, Harold McPherson filed for divorce. Aimee setled in Los
Angeles with her children and her mother, who handled the books as
“Sister Aimee” created America’s showiest ministry. She founded the
Church of the Foursquare Gospel and on Glendale Boulevard in Echo
Park built Angelus Temple, which seated 5,000 and had a stage big
enough to hold her 200-voice choir. In trademark white dress and blue
cape, Aimee starred in “illustrated sermons”—musical plays she wrote
and directed, basing some on Christ’s life, some on her own. For
instance, when ticketed for a moving violation—a transgression widely
covered by the press—she transformed the experience into a sermon,
“Arrested for Speeding,” that she delivered in a police uniform, punctuating her recitation with the wails of a police motorcycle siren.
McPherson’s vivid theatrics atracted Hollywood stars, including
Charlie Chaplin. An atheist, the Litle Tramp nonetheless appreciated a
good show. “Half of your success is due to your magnetic appeal, half
due to the props and the lights,” Chaplin told McPherson. “Whether you
like it or not, you’re an actress.”
The self-proclaimed evangelist founded a Bible college and a magazine. She bought radio station KFSG to carry her sermons. She
denounced Darwinism, defended Prohibition, and lobbied unsuccessfully to keep Los Angeles from legalizing dancing on Sundays. She peddled several autobiographies along with records of her sermons, plus
souvenirs decorated with her picture. Her most popular sermon was
entitled, “The Story of My Life.”
In May 1926, Aimee Semple McPherson went swimming at a Los
Angeles beach…and vanished. Minnie Kennedy, thinking her daughter
had drowned, announced, “Sister is with Jesus.” Followers and authorities searched for weeks without result. Rumors spread, linking Aimee’s
disappearance to that of her friend, Kenneth
Ormiston, a KFSG engineer whose wife had Headquarters
A postcard shows
reported him missing. On June 23, Aimee
Angelus Temple and
appeared in Agua Prieta, Mexico, across the KFSG antenna.
border from Douglas, Arizona, claiming that
she’d been abducted. Newspapers ballyhooed the story
while America debated: kidnapping or canoodling?
Nothing came of inquiries into Ormiston’s private life,
but the Los Angeles district atorney accused Aimee of
perjury and obstruction of justice, charges he abruptly
dropped. To this day, nobody knows what went on
while Aimee was AWOL.
Notoriety made McPherson even more famous.
Eager to cash in, she toured the country, pulling
$5,000 a week telling her life story in vaudeville
houses. She announced where she planned to be
interred, then sold plots in that cemetery, promising
buyers would rise with her at the Second Coming.
Her mother criticized her for being greedy and told
reporters Aimee had punched her. Aimee fired
Mother Minnie—foreshadowing family friction to
come years later that led McPherson to pinkslip daughter Roberta in another headline-generating spat.
For one of her showbiz sermons, Aimee
hired a roly-poly singer, David Huton, to play
Pharaoh. In 1931, she and Huton eloped. Next
morning, as a publicity stunt, she invited
press photographers into her boudoir. A few
days later, a young woman sued Huton for
breach of promise. Aimee vowed her man
would fight the suit and win. When a jury
ruled against him, Aimee fainted, fell, and
fractured her skull. Recovering, she fled to
Paris without Huton, who filed for divorce,
saying he wasn’t Aimee’s “pet poodle.”
Despite—or perhaps because of—the lurid
publicity about her personal life, Aimee kept
filling Angelus Temple. During the Depression, she used donations to feed and clothe
thousands in Los Angeles. During World War
II, she produced elaborate patriotic extravaganzas and sold sheaves of war bonds.
In September 1944, Aimee was in Oakland,
California, to preach “The Story of My Life,”
when Rolf McPherson found his mother dead
in her hotel room. She had overdosed accidentally on sleeping pills. At Angelus Temple,
45,000 mourners filed past her casket.
For the next 44 years, Rolf McPherson ran
the Church of the Foursquare Gospel with
no hint of flamboyance or scandal. The
church went international, and now claims
eight million members in 140 countries. In
2012, Foursquare Gospel invested $2 million
in “Scandalous,” a Broadway musical about
Aimee Semple McPherson writen by Kathie
Lee Giford. The show died, closing ater 29
curtains, and the church lost $2 million. +
AUGUST 2018 21
17 U.S. 316
Bank On It
A 1799 engraving
shows the First Bank
of the United States
on Third Street in
From the inception of a union of 13 formerly
British colonies in North America, two visions clashed over how that nation was to
govern itself. In one camp stood advocates of
a strong, unifying central government that
would foster commerce. In the other stood
those imagining an agrarian country of autonomous states restricting its central government to those limited tasks states could
not eiciently handle on their own.
Tension between these outlooks dominated in 1787 when, ater a loose, unsuccessful alliance in which states and even localities
went their own ways, delegates met in Philadelphia to forge a stronger central government. The Constitution produced that
summer was a careful compromise defining
with some precision what powers each
branch of the federal government had.
The Constitution’s first article outlined the
role of Congress. Section 8 of Article 1 enumerated the legislature’s powers, from declaring war to establishing post oices. Section 9
listed what Congress could not do, such as
tax exports or impose regulations applying in
some states but not others. To win support for
the Constitution by underlining the extent to
which they intended to constrain the central
government, the framers promised a bill of
rights. That bill consisted of 10 amendments
ratified by 1791. The 10th declared, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the
States, are reserved to the States respectively,
or to the people.”
Conflict over the central government’s
role persisted, oten landing in court. Proponents of powerful federal authority had an
ally in Chief Justice John Marshall. In 1819, Marshall
handed that faction a major victory, significantly narrowing the purview of the Tenth Amendment.
At the time, states chartered banks, enabling them to
operate only within the borders of those states. To create a
repository for federal funds, Congress in 1791 set up a
national bank. That body’s clumsy operations so sapped
growth that when the national bank’s 20-year charter ran
out, Congress let it die. In 1816, Congress revived the concept, authorizing the Second Bank of the United States.
This institution’s directors envisioned it reaching across
the country; in 1817 alone, the national bank opened
branches in 18 cities, from Boston to Savannah.
State oicials—and local bankers who oten had those
oicials’ ears—bristled at this federal competitor exempt
from state control. In 1818, Maryland politicians struck back,
imposing a $15,000 yearly charge on any bank doing business within the Free State without a Maryland charter. That
definition fit only the Second Bank of the United States.
The national bank’s Maryland branch, in Baltimore,
was headed by James William McCulloch, who refused to
pay the fee, puting the issue before the courts. There
Maryland could make its key argument; namely, that
because the Constitution did not authorize Congress to
create banks, the national bank had no business existing.
Maryland’s highest court agreed.
McCulloch took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court,
cueing Marshall to render a broad interpretation of Washington’s powers. The high court heard oral arguments for
nine days in February and March 1819; three days later,
Marshall handed down the unanimous opinion.
The Maryland Court of Appeals had placed in Marshall’s way a logical hurdle. The state court was perfectly
correct in holding that powers the Constitution explicitly
defined for Congress did not include chartering banks.
Marshall, known for pragmatism and creativity, not only
found a rationale for upholding the national bank charter,
but persuaded the six other justices to go along with him.
The Tenth Amendment’s workings, Marshall admited,
reserved to states “the powers not delegated to the United
States.” But in 1787, when Congress was debating the Bill
of Rights, a motion to rephrase that to “the powers not
expressly delegated” did not pass. Marshall took rejection
of the adverb as an indication that the founding fathers
meant the provision to have wiggle room.
Turning to the pre-amendment Constitution, Marshall
put the emphasis on Section 8’s final sentence, authorizing
Congress to make laws “necessary and proper” to perform
its duties. Maryland said “necessary” meant laws absolutely essential to use the powers listed, a reading Marshall
flatly rejected. Citing Section 9’s limits on congressional
power, Marshall declared that if the “necessary and proper”
clause had been meant to curb the national legislature, it
would have appeared in that roster. Instead, he insisted,
“necessary and proper” must be interpreted in light of its
place on the list of what Congress could do. And “necessary,” Marshall decreed, meant not a singular way but any
reasonable way of exercising congressional powers. The
Constitution assigned the legislature economic responsibilities—to
issue money and to regulate commerce—so legislators could deem
chartering a national bank an efective way of carrying out those tasks.
Marshall went further, finding
the bank’s refusal to pay the Maryland tax justified. States could, he
noted, tax a bank’s real estate holdings or dividends paid shareholders,
same as any real estate or dividend
income. But since “the power to tax
involves the power to destroy,”
Marshall Plan
giving states authority to tax the
The chief justice
operations of any federal activity
creatively read the
would weaken that government
Constitution in
and excessively empower state legMcCulloch.
islatures, Marshall wrote.
By 1819, the Second Bank had fairly broad political support. Litle ruckus would have greeted a narrow decision
rejecting Maryland’s claims that the bank was unconstitutional. But Marshall’s approach, using the case to enhance
Washington’s powers, drew immediate fire from proponents of less centralized governance. Judge William Brockenbrough of the Virginia Court of Appeals argued pseudonymously that liberally interpreting the “necessary and
proper” clause gave Congress so much authority that “it is
diicult to say how small would be the remnant of power
let in the hands of the state authorities.” A resolution in
the Virginia legislature condemned the decision, instructing that state’s members of Congress to campaign to limit
the Supreme Court’s power.
The intensity of opposition to the ruling wore at Marshall. “It behooves the friends of the union to be more on
the alert than they have been,” he wrote to Justice Joseph
Story. By tradition, justices spoke only through their formal opinions, but his concerns led Marshall to pen nine
newspaper essays, none under his name, defending the
McCulloch decision. Marshall portrayed McCulloch as
having far less sweep than critics claimed, leaving plenty
of important maters to states. He assured the public that
the court would bar bids by Congress to overstep.
Critics were right and Marshall wrong about the reach
of McCulloch, now considered Marshall’s most important
decision and the key that opened the door for federal
involvement in a universe of issues unthinkable in 1819.
The high court’s OK of federal labor laws, of farm controls,
of civil rights laws, of the federal ban on marijuana use—
all were based on McCulloch v. Maryland. +
AUGUST 2018 23
Loom controls and
railroad ticketing
inspired Hollerith
to devise a punchcard system, top,
that revolutionized
data collection and
Herman Hollerith rewarded his employees
with bonuses and generous advances, but
woe betide any who stretched a bathroom
break. The micromanaging Hollerith wired a
workplace toilet seat to shock workers too
long on the throne. The same controlling
technocratic bent got Hollerith a place in history when he applied himself to mechanizing
tabulation of the United States Census.
To apportion congressional representation
and taxes, the Constitution requires a census
every 10 years. The first, by hand in 1790,
took 18 months, tallied 3.9 million residents,
and enlarged the House of Representatives
from 65 to 105 members. By 1880, the job had
ballooned, requiring seven years to record 50
million residents. Concern arose that the
1890 efort might drag on past 1900.
That was where Herman Hollerith came
in. Untutored in statistics or electrical engineering, Hollerith had a talent for synthesizing ideas. His tinkering led to cards punched
with holes whose position and order conveyed information. Fed into a corresponding
machine, punch cards automatically could be
“read” to arrive at tallies of data by category.
His innovations in counting Americans catapulted the world into the information age.
Hollerith, a native of Bufalo, New York,
was seven when his father, a teacher, died.
The family moved to New York City. One
daughter married a textile merchant whose
business involved mechanical looms run on
a system devised in 1801 by Joseph Marie
Jacquard. On a Jacquard loom, cards punched
with holes automatically directed threads to
their locations in a piece of fabric. To repeat
a design, a loom operator laced together
punch cards in a given order.
Despite uneven grades—frustrated by his
terrible spelling, he once jumped out of a
second-story classroom window—young
Hollerith had a git for numbers. He was 19
and a recent graduate of the Columbia
School of Mines in New York City when he
hired on to collect data for the 1880 census.
During that stint, he acquired a mentor in
John Billings, who headed Vital Statistics at
the Census Bureau and talked up the Jacquard loom as an information processing
machine. Recalling his brother-in-law’s business, Hollerith understood what Billings meant. He saw a related
example in railroad tickets, punched to personalize information on a given passenger and encoding departure and
arrival times, routes, and destinations.
Borrowing brilliantly, Hollerith between 1884 and 1887
filed three patents. His design for a data management
system incorporated the ideas behind the ticket punch
and the loom card. However, his machine added a fillip:
mechanical tabulation of information. Each hole in a
Hollerith tabulator card denoted a specific datum—say,
a person’s sex, age, race, or occupation. A corresponding
electromechanical reader had an array of pins configured
to pass through the card holes and enter a mercury bath,
completing a circuit and advancing counters by category.
In 1887 Baltimore and in 1889 New York City successfully used his system to tally vital statistics, proving Hollerith’s concept. These projects presaged the outcome of a
competition to mechanize the 1890 federal census. Using
his tabulator to process data from the 1880 census of St.
Louis, Missouri, Hollerith and his Tabulation Machine
Company won hands down. His punch card technique
captured the data in 72.5 hours; rivals needed 100.5 and
144.5 hours. Hollerith’s counters tabulated data into categories in 5.5 hours. The other systems took 44.5 and 55.5
hours. Hollerith landed the contract, which specified that
he would lease the government more than 50 tabulating
machines and fix any problems. The machines worked so
well, and the data proved so reliable, that the 1890 Census
of more than 62 million residents was done in 30 months.
The 1890 data showed the nation’s population in unprecedented detail. Early censuses had asked only six questions: number of white free men and white free women,
gender, race, relationship to head of household, name of
head of household, and number of slaves, each counted as
3/5 of a person in apportioning electors in the state Electoral College. By Hollerith’s time the quiz was collecting
information not only on family size, but occupation, race,
home ownership, English fluency, and immigration and
naturalization status. Census takers asked how many children a woman had borne and how many had survived,
whether men had served in the Union Army, and who in a
household was a survivor of a Union casualty. The 1890
census put the population at 62,979,766, a 25 percent
increase over 1880—by comparison, the 2010 Census came
in at nine percent over the 2000 count.
Hollerith’s tabulator had an impact far beyond counting and categorizing people. In his
patent application, he noted, “My
invention is not limited to such a Hollerith machines
system [for the census] but may underwent constant
improvement to
be applied in efecting compilations
their speed
of any desired series or system of
and accuracy.
items representing characteristics
of persons, subjects, or objects.” Obvious candidates were
steel mills, railroads, insurers, and other large businesses—
any entity grappling with a huge flow of numbers. By 1900,
Hollerith had enhanced his automation. In that census his
rig was processing as many as 2,000 items every 60 seconds. His tabulators were critical for burgeoning retailers
like Chicago department store Marshall Field’s, where in
1902 management employed punch cards and a Hollerith
tabulator to records sales by product class and item number, date, route, state, branch, and so on.
The Tabulating Machine Company’s smashing success
brought tribulations. The firm easily won the contract to
tabulate the 1900 census, but in anticipation of the 1910
exercise would-be competitors complained that Hollerith’s patent protections amounted to an illegal monopoly.
Opposition by rival Simeon North, picked to run the 1910
census, boxed out Hollerith, compounding his frustration.
North hoped to design tabulators based on Hollerith’s,
leading to years of batle between Hollerith and the government over patent infringement. Eventually North was
let go, but in parting comments gave Hollerith his due.
“Men may come and men may go, but great scientific
movements like this one for the standardization of oicial
statistics depend upon no one man,” North said, speaking
of Hollerith’s approach. “They are bound to advance for
they are at the root of an advancing civilization.”
In 1911, Hollerith sold his stake in Tabulating Machine
Company to Thomas Flint and retired to Virginia to raise
swine, sheep, and finally catle. He showered friends with
foodstufs, from canned goods to buter, codfish, and oysters. Flint expanded his new holding, renaming it Computing Tabulating and Recording Company. During World
War the firm tracked distribution. Rebranded in 1924 as
International Business Machines, the corporation dominated data processing for decades. Hollerith-style tabulators handled the United States Census until 1951, when
UNIVAC 1 got the assignment. New sampling techniques
reduced the burden of collecting information from residents. Processing surpassed 4,000 items a minute. Today’s
technology can process a million items a minute. +
AUGUST 2018 25
The Rockefeller family
auctions art, and we’re
there; we look into
a new Julius Shulman
book; visit the Art
Institute of Chicago;
and glamp it up by
Mount Rushmore.
Charles Sheeler (1883-1965) White Sentinels
tempera on board15 x 22 in.,1942
In May, Christie’s facilitated sale of The Collection
of David and Peggy
Rockefeller. The proceeds
advance a pledge by David
Rockefeller (1915-2017) to
donate most of his wealth
to charitable causes. He
and his wife of more than
50 years, Peggy McGrath
Rockefeller (1915-1996),
shared a passion for great
art and decorative objects.
David Rockefeller Jr., last
surviving grandson of
Standard Oil founder John
D. Rockefeller, said, “We
are proud to fulfill my
father’s wish to share with
the world the art and
objects that he and my
mother collected over a
lifetime together, and use
them as means to continue the long legacy of the
Rockefeller family
philanthropy, first
established by John D.
Rockefeller.” Works ofered
included those by artist
Charles Sheeler (p. 26-27),
and Milton Avery (p. 28).
Milton Avery (1885-1965) Woman with Rebozo
oil on canvas, 44 x 32 in.,1947
Crites residence by Crites & McConnell, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1961.
Julius Shulman (1910–
2009) famously documented on film the
architecture of such
modernist stars as Frank
Lloyd Wright, Pierre
Koenig, Charles Eames,
Richard Neutra, and
Raphael Soriano.
Shulman’s iconographic
images brought all of
these aces to first light.
The Brooklyn-born
photographer’s meticulous composition and use
of perspective—oten
leavened with humanity—captured not only
form and structure but
soul and zeitgeist as
well. Julius Shulman.
Modernism Rediscovered, assembles
nearly 200 brilliant
images. Hardcover,
5.5 x 7.7 in.,
636 pages, $20.
Recreation Pavilion, Mirman residence, by Buff, Straub and Hensman,
Arcadia, California, 1959.
AUGUST 2018 29
American artist John
Singer Sargent (1856–
1925) is best known for
sumptuous and fluid oil
and watercolor portraits
whose subjects include
Presidents Theodore
Roosevelt and Woodrow
Wilson. He first showed
in 1890 at the Art Institute of Chicago—then at
Michigan Avenue and
Van Buren Street. Chicago businessman Charles
Deering amassed an important collection of the
artist’s works and became
a friend of Sargent’s. This
summer the Institute
presents John Singer
Sargent and Chicago’s
Gilded Age. The exhibition examines Sargent’s
impressive breadth of artistic accomplishment as
well as the intricate grid
of interactions connecting the artist, his patrons,
his creative circle, and
the Second City itself.
John Singer Sargent and
Chicago’s Gilded Age will
run from July 1 through
September 30.
(Below) John Singer Sargent.
Portrait of Charles Deering, 1917.
The Art Institute of Chicago.
(Right) John Singer Sargent. Mrs.
George Swinton (Elizabeth Ebsworth),
1897. The Art Institute of Chicago,
Wirt D. Walker Collection.
Under Canvas®
Mount Rushmore
ofers luxe-minded
backcountry wayfarers unique two- and
three-night vacation
glamping (glamorous
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breakfast, lunch, and
dinner. Inside the
four-person tents are
all the comforts of
home—some even
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porch, enjoy views of
the range that includes
legendary Mount
Rushmore. Activities
include panning for
gold, hiking, biking, a
hayride to a chuck
wagon dinner, and an
of-road 4WD ramble
into photo range of
bison, bighorn sheep,
antelope, and elk. Ater
sundown, gaze above
your bed at an amazing
interstellar light show—
uncorked nightly.
AUGUST 2018 31
a Star
Marilyn Monroe’s life
and death previewed
the opioid epidemic
By Robert Dorfman,
Emily Berquist Soule,
and Sukumar Desai
the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.
More than two million Americans are addicted to opioids,
with costs for their care and treatment exceeding $55 billion
yearly. Across the United States, more than 64,000 people
died from opioid overdose in 2016, according to federal data.
Among the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, and
friends lost to the plague are celebrities: Heath Ledger in 2008,
Michael Jackson in 2009, Philip Seymour Hofman in 2014,
Prince in 2016, Tom Pety in 2017. One of the earliest—and
most infamous—celebrity overdoses was Marilyn Monroe’s in
1962. Abuse of prescription drugs has only risen since then.
Now anyone can die like Marilyn. >
Star Power
Marilyn Monroe at a
party early in 1962, the
year the actress died.
AUGUST 2018 33
From upper let,
Monroe in 1947;
with her mother
circa 1929; later
opioid casualties
Hofman, Jackson,
Pety; Schwab’s in
1951; Monroe in
1962; a 1946 studio
parking pass.
oday’s opioid crisis has no
precedent, but Americans
have been abusing drugs
since the Civil War, when
wounded soldiers were treated with morphine—
an opiate to which many became addicted. As all
opiates do, morphine at first generally sickens
users. But ater exposure euphoria, tolerance,
and finally addiction kick in. By 1914, America’s
addiction to opium, morphine, and the stimulant cocaine was so widespread that the government enacted the nation’s first federal anti-drug
law. The 1914 Harrison Act made it tougher to get
these drugs. Many addicts turned to doctors,
who were happy to prescribe barbiturates, a new
class of drugs that sedated by depressing the
central nervous system. Considered “miracle
drugs” by doctors and patients, barbiturates
eased anxiety and depression and helped users
sleep. Research later showed these compounds
to be addictive, too, and over the long term
to worsen depressive symptoms. By mid-century, drug companies were marketing no fewer
than 30 barbiturates, with Amytal, Nembutal,
and Seconal the most popular. Ater World War
II, “goofballs” were everywhere—and cheap. A
dozen pills went for about $1.
Then, as now, abuse of drugs was nationwide.
But if prescription drug abuse had an epicenter
in the 1950s, it was in Los Angeles at Schwab’s
Pharmacy on Sunset Boulevard, where Orson
Welles shopped, Ava Gardner worked the soda
fountain, and F. Scot Fitzgerald reportedly had a
heart atack buying cigaretes. At the pharmacy
counter, celebrities and regular folks could get
their prescriptions filled. In 1950s Hollywood,
that meant barbiturates for nerves and amphetamines for energy and weight loss. One studio
employee claimed that in those days most Hollywood actors were on prescription drugs. While
filming The Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland, 17, was
plied with amphetamines to give her energy and
keep her weight down. When uppers caused
insomnia, Garland was prescribed barbiturates
to counter their efects. Studio doctors handed
out pills to countless stars, including Lauren
Bacall and Lucille Ball. A 20th Century Fox physician who treated both Garland and Monroe
recalled that “pills were seen as another tool to
keep the stars working. The doctors were caught
in the middle. If one doctor would not prescribe,
there was always another who would.” And there
were other sources. The illicit drug scene—
detailed in Kenneth Anger’s 1965 exposé Hollywood Babylon—was inescapable. Pills were
distributed like candy at parties and used as
chips in poker games. Stars drank heavily,
smoked marijuana, used cocaine, and tried LSD.
Everyone had a connection.
When Marilyn Monroe, 20, arrived on the
Fox lot as a contract actor in summer 1946, she
was intent on a career, not a drug habit. She did
all she could to get producers’ atention. She
studied actors. She shadowed makeup artists.
She befriended publicists. Focus paid of: from
1950’s The Asphalt Jungle to 1961’s The Misfits,
she starred in 23 pictures that grossed at least
$200 million. Women imitated her botle-blonde
hair, hourglass figure, and signature red lips. She
counted as friends Marlon Brando, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra. Yet, on August 5, 1962,
Marilyn Monroe was found naked and alone,
dead on her bed amid pill botles, phone at hand.
Two days prior, she had filled two prescriptions
for Nembutal—a tranquilizer oten prescribed
for insomnia and anxiety. The coroner declared
her death a probable suicide by overdose. Tabloid stories and conspiracy theories swirled, but
one thing was sure: Marilyn was an addict, and
addiction killed her, intentional or not.
Born Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles in
1926, Marilyn had a tumultuous girlhood. Her
mother, Gladys, turned her over to foster parents
before she was a month old. Gladys visited infrequently, and, when she did, showed litle afection. “She never kissed me or held me in her
arms,” Marilyn recalled. Marilyn was seven when
Gladys was institutionalized for a breakdown. As
a girl, Marilyn, who never knew her father, daydreamed about a handsome daddy—perhaps
dark-haired and looking like Clark Gable—who
would pick her up ater school. Let largely on her
own in foster homes and orphanages, she fell
victim to sexual predators. Biographer Lois Banner says “the sexual abuse she endured as a child
was formative in molding her adult character,”
leaving Monroe an “angry, frightened adult.”
Marilyn worried about her family history. Her
maternal grandmother died in an asylum ater
years of manic depression; her maternal grandfather was diagnosed with dementia. “I wish I
knew why I am so anguished,” Marilyn wrote to a
friend. “I think maybe I’m crazy like all the other
members of my family.”
AUGUST 2018 35
Physical problems, notably endometriosis, intensified Marilyn’s
menstrual periods and also caused
pregnancy complications that led to
miscarriages. A doctor suggested she
cope with cramps by drinking vodka. Her drink of choice,
Champagne—Dom Perignon 1953—failed to dull her emotional pain and performance anxiety. By the early 1950s, she
was regularly downing barbiturates to take the edge of and
help her sleep. Like many users of Nembutal, Seconal, and
their cousin drugs, she oten felt lethargic, so she coupled
these pills with amphetamines, which also kept her slim. In
interviews with screenwriter Ben Hecht at the Hotel Beverly
Hills in 1954, Monroe hinted at her despair and even joked,
“When you’re young and healthy you can plan on Monday to
commit suicide, and by Wednesday you’re laughing again.”
More ominously, she referred to herself as “the kind of girl
they found dead in a hall bedroom with an empty botle of
sleeping pills in her hands.”
Still, Marilyn found her professional footing, even starring
with two of the era’s most famous actresses—Bety Grable
Mrs. DiMaggio
The star-crossed
lovers remained wed
for only 274 days.
and Lauren Bacall—in 1953’s How to Marry a Millionaire. In
1954, she married New York Yankees slugger Joe DiMaggio,
who would remain devoted to her all his life, despite their
divorce 274 days later. Marilyn moved to New York and began
studying at Actors Studio on West 44th Street, where Lee
Strasberg trained followers in “method acting.” Method actors
drew on experience to bring raw emotion to performances.
When students had trouble working through harsh memories, Strasberg might recommend psychoanalysis. At his urging, Marilyn began to see a psychoanalyst. To address pain
unearthed excavating her childhood, Marilyn turned to reliable friends—during the day Dexamyl, a stimulant/sedative
hybrid, and at night sleeping pills, washed down with booze.
In New York, Marilyn reconnected with old love interest
Arthur Miller. The movie star and the playwright married on
June 29, 1956. She joined his circles, befriending Truman
Capote and Saul Bellow, vacationing in Long Island and
Connecticut. But Marilyn’s habits persisted. She had increasing anxiety over acting that she allayed with drugs. Miller
became known among Marilyn’s friends as her “pill monitor.”
He doled out capsules and tablets and tried to watch her
intake. When his wife overdosed on Nembutal in September
1957, Miller called paramedics, who saved her life. By 1959,
Mr. President
To celebrate JFK’s 45th,
Marilyn sang a breathy
“Happy Birthday.”
With husband Arthur
Miller, Monroe goes
home ater losing a child.
Hollywood gossips were suggesting the thermos she held
between takes making Some Like It Hot held vodka, not coffee. Another overdose required a stomach-pumping. Monroe
wrote of her fear of learning lines: “...maybe [I] won’t be able to
learn them, maybe I’ll make mistakes, people will either think
I’m no good or laugh or belitle me or think I can’t act.”
At Miller’s suggestion, Marilyn began working with psychoanalyst Marianne Kris. Aided by another prescription for
barbiturates, Marilyn muddled through. During this period
some said she feared solitude and the dark. On stays in Los
Angeles, she began seeing Beverly Hills analyst Dr. Ralph
Greenson. She was taking multiple barbiturates, including
phenobarbital, Amytal, and Pentothal. Some sources say she
was injecting the opiate Demerol. Worried about chemical
interactions as well as overdose, Dr. Greenson, who had many
stars as clients, tried to get her of the drugs. He failed, and
ironically continued to write prescriptions for Marilyn and
other stars as well. Greenson later came in for scrutiny and
complaints about unethical practices with patients, including
Monroe, but he was also a product of his time.
In that era, when psychological treatment was the province
of the very privileged or the very ill, pharmaceuticals seemed
to hold great promise for treating mental illness. More
patients got relief without undergoing lobotomy, previously
the recommended treatment. But the medical community
knew prescription pharmaceuticals were addictive. Studies in
the 1950s showed the best treatment for such addictions to be
hospital detox followed by inpatient psychological care. Those
convicted under federal drug laws could be forced to undergo
such treatment, but Marilyn’s drug use never became a criminal mater. Her treatments were strictly voluntary.
The Monroe-Miller relationship was disintegrating. Even
so, the couple collaborated on a star-laden John Huston film,
The Misfits. Miller had writen the lead role for his spouse, but
Marilyn complained that the script favored male co-stars
Clark Gable, Montgomery Clit, and Eli Wallach. At the location in the Nevada desert, temperatures regularly reached
108°. Even with an 11 a.m. call time, Marilyn regularly arrived
Evenings at Home
Marilyn pours a beverage as producer Kermit
Bloomgarden talks to Miller, obscured.
late. She and Miller stopped speaking to each other. She
needed her pills more than ever. Should the production company doctor balk at writing prescriptions, Marilyn would see
agreeable doctors in Reno. Mid-shoot, the producers sent her
to Los Angeles for two weeks to detoxify. “She was doomed,”
Huston said later. “She was incapable of rescuing herself or
being rescued by anyone else. And it afected her work.”
Shooting ended on November 4, 1960; within days, Gable
had a heart atack. On November 11, Marilyn’s press secretary
announced her separation from Miller, who later said he had
married Marilyn thinking she was “the happy girl that all men
loved,” but found that “with all her radiance, she was surrounded by a darkness that perplexed me.” On November 16,
Gable died. A devastated Marilyn blamed herself and her
on-set antics for her father figure’s demise, a logic also
expressed in gossip columns. In interviews with journalist
W.J. Weatherby, Monroe’s despondency showed. She talked
about wanting to write a will. “Can’t tell you why,” she mused,
“but it’s been on my mind.” She talked about her insomnia,
and about taking sleeping pills. She mentioned suicide: “I
tried it once and I was kinda disappointed it didn’t work.” She
isolated herself. When reviewers bashed The Misfits—The
New York Times called Monroe’s performance “blank and
unfathomable”—she stayed in bed all day, curtains closed.
Fearing another suicide atempt, analyst Marianne Kris
convinced Monroe to sign into New York City’s Payne Whitney clinic for another try at detox. Marilyn quickly saw the
AUGUST 2018 37
Last Day
A police officer at Monroe’s
Brentwood home on August 5,
1962, the day she was found dead.
Dr. Ralph Greenson, center, and
family at Monroe’s funeral.
place as the psychiatric ward it was, with barred
windows, locked doors, and staf eyes always on
patients. The halls reverberated with screams. Frantic, Marilyn smashed a window and threatened to
slit her wrists with a shard of glass. This got her
moved into isolation in a cinderblock cell on what she later
called “the dangerous floor.” Desperate, she contacted Lee
Strasberg. “I’m sure to end up a nut if I stay in this nightmare,”
she wrote. “Please help me Lee, this is the last place I should
be.” The acting coach did not come. Nor did Kris. Ater four
days, ex-husband Joe DiMaggio secured Marilyn’s release.
Within weeks, she was in Los Angeles, regularly seeing
Greenson. The psychoanalyst had diagnosed his famous
patient as a “borderline paranoid schizophrenic.” He arranged
for nurses to supervise her daily activities. He tried to wean
Monroe of Nembutal. He suggested she buy a house. In tony
Brentwood, she purchased a two-bedroom Spanish-style
villa. An inscription in Latin at the entry read Cursum Perificio, “I am finishing my journey.” To furnish the house, Marilyn made a shopping trip to Mexico. She began working on a
memoir with photographer George Barris.
Monroe was to star with Dean Martin in a comedy, Something’s Got to Give. A sinus infection kept Marilyn from making her first on-set call, a bump that became a patern. When
she was not arriving late, she was having her driver cruise
the lot. Once, before going on camera, she vomited, which
Going Home
Mortuary workers
take Monroe’s
remains from the
LA County morgue.
producer Henry Weinstein atributed to “sheer,
primal terror.” Something’s schedule slid a week
behind. Marilyn infuriated studio executives by
leaving for New York to sing “Happy Birthday”
at Madison Square Garden on May 19 to President John F. Kennedy, a sometime paramour.
On June 1, Monroe turned 36, a milestone
marked rudimentarily on set with grocery-store
champagne, cake, and crew members singing
“Happy Birthday.” That weekend found Marilyn
in bed alone, in the dark, with her pills. Monday
she called in sick. By Wednesday, the studio had
shut down Something’s Got to Give and was
suing an inconsolable Monroe for $500,000.
Hoping to cheer up his colleague, Dean Martin planned a party for her that weekend. Marilyn stayed home with her prescriptions, writen
by Greenson and another doctor: Nembutal and
the painkiller Sulfathalidine, as well as chloral
hydrate, an insomnia treatment known on the
street “Mickey Finn knockout drops.” She may
have stockpiled additional controlled substances
while in Mexico, where drug laws were laxer
than in the United States.
Marilyn and photographer Barris met for a
mid-July session. As the sun was seting of Santa
Monica on Friday, July 13, 1962, Barris made one
last exposure. In their weeks together, his subject
seemed disturbed, he said later. “Marilyn would
now and then lapse into a blue mood,” the photographer said. “She would cover her face with
both hands, lower her head for a moment or two
and then, smiling, become her old self again—
cheerful and clowning for the camera. But I could
see a residual tear or two.”
Later in July, Marilyn returned to Santa Monica for a beach house party that actors Warren
Resting Place
Monroe’s crypt at Westwood
Memorial Park Cemetery.
Monroe’s body at the
morgue for autopsy,
August 5, 1962.
Beaty and Natalie Wood also atended. Both performers recalled a
despondent, agitated Monroe. The star spent much of the night in a corner.
“Thirty-six, thirty-six,” she mutered to herself. “It’s all over.” Marilyn had
reached the age at which Bety Grable, her co-star in How to Marry a Millionaire, had been pushed out of Hollywood.
On August 3, Life magazine writer Richard Meryman interviewed Monroe at home in Brentwood. She told the journalist she felt herself to be “one
of the world’s most self-conscious people.” Though still beautiful, Marilyn’s
face was “pasty and lifeless looking,” Meryman said. A follow-up visit
could not end quickly enough for him. “I didn’t like the atmosphere in that
house,” he said. “There was something creepy, something sick about it.”
Marilyn deteriorated. Some suggest she was anguished over failed relationships with the Kennedys—first Jack, then Bobby. On August 4 a friend
of the political family warned Monroe to leave the Kennedys alone. Marilyn asked Dr. Greenson to make a house call. Ater a few hours of therapy,
the star seemed calmer, but when she proposed to stroll Santa Monica
Pier, Greenson advised she have her housekeeper take her for a drive.
Around 8, Marilyn decided she was in for the night. In her bedroom she
put on Sinatra records and phoned friends. Most were out.
Early on Sunday, the housekeeper, hearing music and seeing her
employer’s bedroom lights on, knocked at Monroe’s bedroom door to no
response. The door was locked. A call brought Dr. Greenson. Around 3:30
a.m., he broke into Marilyn’s room to find her “face down on the bed,
bare shoulders exposed…the phone clutched fiercely in her right hand.”
Marilyn was not breathing. About the room were scatered pill botles,
including two labeled for anti-anxiety drug
Librium and two for the sedative chloral
hydrate, along with containers of analgesic
Sulfathalidine and the sedative Nembutal.
The death certificate would state that Marilyn
had died of “acute barbiturate poisoning,” and
was a “probable suicide.” An autopsy found
her system to contain 10 times the standard
dosage of Nembutal.
It is impossible to know whether Marilyn
Monroe took her own life or was self-medicating and miscalculated. Many friends insisted
she died by accident. But in her final interview,
Marilyn called celebrity “only a temporary and
partial happiness,” adding in an aside on her
career that “it might be kind of a relief to be finished.” Days later, she was. +
AUGUST 2018 39
Inventor Martin Cooper made his vision for
a cellphone a reality—and changed the world.
An exclusive interview. By Jon Cohen
Finding His
“Can You Hear Me Now?”
Marty Cooper placing the first
public cellphone call in history,
New York City, April 3, 1973.
AUGUST 2018 41
artin Cooper, semi-renowned since 2009,
when The Economist featured him in an
article the magazine headlined “Father of
the cellphone,” is part engineer, part salesman. In his 29 years at Motorola, Cooper
helped that company pioneer two-way
radios, pagers, and crystals in wrist watches. In 1973, he led the team that
made the first portable phone. But Cooper, now 89 and running his own
companies with his wife, also excels at pitching. As cellphone history
atests, he understands the value of what he refers to as “dazzle,” and what
he’s ultimately selling reaches far beyond product.
Marty Cooper is selling visions of the future.
Cooper is quick to acknowledge the many contributors to cellular technology’s development. That arc began with two-way radios and morphed
into the car phone, an AT&T coup. But Cooper had a diferent concept, of
people walking around using a phone wherever
Band of Digital Bros
they went, untethered to a vehicle, its batery, or
Cooper, let front, with a
that bulky trunk-mounted radio. That vision
gathering of the team that
triggered what amounted to a war over elecmade the first cellphone.
tronic real estate between AT&T and Motorola,
speeding Cooper’s concept to fruition.
A Chicagoan who served in the U.S. Navy to radio spectrum the corporation would need if it wanted phones in milduring the Korean War, Cooper has a master’s lions of cars and perhaps, in the distant future, in hands. Cooper, a
degree in electrical engineering from the Illinois Motorola division head, saw the truly portable phone as a way for his comInstitute of Technology. Ater a stint at Teletype pany to play David to AT&T’s Goliath. If his team could build a portable
Corporation, an arm of AT&T—Cooper’s future device and show that it worked, he believed, the smaller company could
nemesis—he joined Motorola in 1954.
convince the FCC not to give AT&T a monopoly. “We have to do someIn the early 1970s, AT&T and its Bell Tele- thing spectacular,” he wrote in a company memo.
phone Laboratories lobbied the Federal CommuThree months later, Cooper’s team had a prototype, essentially a minianications Commission, which regulates the turized mash-up of existing two-radio technologies. Seeking a media
airwaves, to grant the company exclusive license splash, Motorola flamboyantly demonstrated the unit. Lead pitchman?
Marty Cooper, who made the first public call with the phone—an ungainly
brick of a thing—from the streets of New York City.
Who did Cooper call? His main rival at AT&T.
A decade passed before Motorola actually sold a mass-produced cellphone, but that first call resonated at the FCC, and today, platoons of carriers share the country’s airwaves.
Cooper let Motorola the year the cellphone reached market and soon
had started his own outfit, Dyna LLC. Based in Solana Beach, California, a
seaside town in northern San Diego County, Dyna bills itself as “insightful,
innovative, relevant.” In the past decade, Cooper has received several honors, including the Marconi Prize, which recognizes exceptional contributions to communications, the Charles Stark Draper Prize from the U.S.
National Academy of Engineering, and top billing in a 60 Minutes segment, “Marty Cooper’s Big Idea.”
Cooper and his wife Arlene Harris, Dyna’s co-founder, live near the
company oice in a beachfront house in adjoining Del Mar. Harris, whose
family worked in telecommunications, started a second company with
Cooper, GreatCall, which creates technology for
seniors. One product is the Jiterbug, a no-frills
Mister Cooper
Cooper as a U.S. Navy cellphone with oversized butons. “I’m 20 years
lieutenant during the
younger than Marty and I have trouble keeping
Korean War.
up with him,” she says.
Old School
Clockwise from
top let, a Western Electric bullpen like one
Cooper fled;
views of early car
phones, GI using
a WW2-era
SC536 walkie-talkie; car
phone elements
fill a vehicle’s
trunk; the noir
look of long-ago
portable calling;
patrolman with
a version of the
early “brick” that
Martin Cooper
helped develop.
AUGUST 2018 43
Jon Cohen: How old are you?
Martin Cooper: I’m 89.
JC: Growing up on the west side of Chicago in the 1930s, did your family
have a phone at home?
MC: My first recollection of a phone was a party line. But very soon we
had one phone, a rotary dial telephone on the wall. The number was RO
8646—ROckwell 8646.
JC: You still remember it!
MC: Yes, but don’t ask me what I had for dinner last night.
JC: Your parents were immigrants. Where were they from?
MC: Russia—now Ukraine.
JC: Did they live to see your invention?
MC: My mother did; my father did not.
JC: Do you remember what she thought of it?
MC: The cellphone had no meaning to her whatsoever. She would have preferred me to be a
doctor. But she was proud of me regardless and
I credit her for all my useful atributes.
JC: You served in the U.S. Navy during the
Korean War. How were you in the military?
MC: Oh, I understood orders and I followed
them as best I could. I tried to do what the
underlying requirement was. What was the
objective? Even in the military you don’t follow
orders blindly.
JC: Was that when you got into radio?
MC: I didn’t get into radio until I went to work at
Motorola in 1954.
JC: Was that straight out of the service?
MC: No, ater the Navy I went to work at Teletype. Teletype was a division of Western Electric, part of the Bell system, that made
mechanical typewriters for transmiting
Cooper met with American History in the Dyna conference room amid
displays of early cellphones and reprints of articles celebrating the
co-founder’s centrality to an invention that nearly five billion people now
use. Cooper is physically fit, mentally sharp, and relentlessly curious. A
kind and earnest Midwesterner, he also can be cantankerous and feisty—
but never short on opinions, especially about tomorrow.
Papa’s Got a Brand-New Phone
Marty Cooper kicks back at his
Del Mar, California, home
with his Samsung S9.
information. People remember those machines
and their clickety-clack. I sat in a huge room
with hundreds of other engineers. It was the
kind of place where at 5 o’clock a bell rang, and
everybody stood up and walked out—like a big
machine. That was when I started having an
adversarial relationship with the arrogant
monopoly culture at Bell and AT&T. I got on
well with individual Bell Labs researchers, but
monopolies are bad.
JC: How did you make your escape?
MC: Motorola recruited me. My future bosses
made me solve problems like the minimum bit
rate for digitizing a sine wave. I had to work it
out in front of them on a chalkboard.
JC: Was Motorola like AT&T culturally?
MC: Motorola was very diferent. If someone
thought of a technical issue at a quarter to 5,
we’d start a discussion and not go home `til we
finished—totally unlike Bell.
JC: Walk me through the invention of the cellphone.
MC: From when I conceived of a portable phone and when we demonstrated that portable phone was a litle over three months. But the technology in the device had been part of my dream for years. The
understanding that personal communications was going to be really
important was something my mentor at Motorola, John Mitchell, infused
into me. We got it from the marketplace for two-way radios.
JC: How did Motorola get into the two-way radio business?
MC: Motorola built most of the walkie-talkies used during World War II.
The walkie-talkie led to the first commercial pager and the handheld twoway radio. Motorola built virtually all the police, fire, and business communications systems like those your plumber and electrician use.
Competing with RCA, GE, and others, Motorola led the world in two-way
radios, and when the technology became available we moved into handheld devices. My team, led by chief engineer Richard Carsello, introduced
the world’s first citywide pager as well as the system for
paging nationwide.
JC: What’s an example of the portable device marketplace at work?
MC: In the early 1960s, I was running the portable products division. Chicago Police Superintendent Orlando Wilson asked us to help oicers communicate on the street and in their cars. We built a radio that we called
“the brick,” from its shape. A cop wore the brick on his hip and a microphone with an antenna on his shoulder. When the oicer was in the car,
the radio antenna was at window height, able to pick up signals, and he
also could communicate well outside the car. But those radios were not
able to transmit far, so the oicers using them had to be near one of many
base stations. A typical police radio conversation was about 12 seconds, so
they never were out of range as they moved through the city.
JC: Wasn’t the original mobile phone the car phone?
MC: In 1947, a Bell engineer named Doug Ring and his boss, Rae Young,
wrote a memo describing cellular technology. AT&T decided the time
wasn’t right for cellular, but in the `50s Bell introduced a pushbuton analog phone system for cars. The system was like a party line—when someone wanted to reach you, an operator would dial. Everyone was on the
same channel, so they could listen in on your call. But big shots had to
have these gadgets. My wife worked for a common carrier providing that
service. She was 12, at a switchboard, hooking Jerry Lewis up to his girlfriend. That was mobile telephony. The service was awful.
JC: Did you have one?
MC: No. We at Motorola didn’t know what it was until Bell decided to
build a nationwide dial car phone system. We were building the phones
for that system. Bell would buy our two-way radios and put in this ringer
gadget. Instead of a cellular system, AT&T decided to build the improved
mobile telephone system and to delay cellular indefinitely. An entrepreneur named Chan Rapinsky invented a device that converted a two-way
radio into an automatic car phone. AT&T adopted that system. Motorola
wanted in on that business.
JC: For that business to happen, AT&T needed bandwidth.
MC: Yes. AT&T requested frequencies from the Federal Communications
Commission. The FCC allocated AT&T maybe 50 UHF 150-megahertz
radio channels.
JC: Are base station radio and cellular identical?
MC: Radio is radio—receiver, transmiter, base station. A cell is a base station connected to other base stations and to the public switched network.
AUGUST 2018 45
When a user moves from one cell to another the call transfers seamlessly
from one radio channel to another; we call that “hand-of.” That’s the difference between a cellphone system and what we did for Superintendent
Wilson in Chicago.
JC: What technological leap let you connect diferent cellular regions?
MC: My understanding is that Rae Young came up with this hand-of concept. The actual switching logic was by a guy named Amos Joel at Bell
Labs. I had an interchange with Amos Joel’s
“I will hold.”
children who got angry because someone called
In a candid, Arnold
me the father of the cellphone and they thought
Schwarzenegger uses
he was. I met them and we became friends.
a later car phone.
JC: You’re not the only father?
MC: I’m not minimizing what I did. But the
invention itself is not important. What’s important is having an idea that contributes to society.
If it’s a good idea, it will have a life of its own
and become reality. The vision, the invention,
and the execution are all important.
JC: What was your essential contribution?
MC: It was my idea, and, I guess, my invention. I
was lucky enough to have brilliant engineers
and designers who taught me the basics.
JC: When did this start to heat up?
MC: In 1969, AT&T said they were ready to
introduce cellular technology. But AT&T didn’t
see much of a market—about two million car
phones, an elite service only a few people would
want. They told the FCC, “We want 30 megahertz of radio channels and we want a monopoly.” They wanted that monopoly to include car
phone service and two-way radio—and
air-to-ground radio, which didn’t exist but
which competitors were proposing.
JC: How did that sit with Motorola?
MC: Motorola didn’t believe in monopolies,
even though we virtually had earned one in
two-way radio. Motorola was a billion-dollar
business, AT&T was a $22 billion business.
AT&T was going to take our business. And there
was a technical reason to oppose Bell. If you
mix diferent traic in the same system you end
up having to deal with all kinds of ineiciencies.
JC: How about a primer on radio spectrum?
Radio waves exist in bands, like colors. AM
radio appears in the band 535 to 1600 kilohertz
(kHz). FM radio is in 88 to 108 megahertz (MHz).
A station broadcasts within a sliver of frequencies called a “channel” in a given band. An AM
station takes up 10 kHz. An FM station takes up
200 kHz, so FM stations have higher quality.
Two-way radios, like the police, firefighters, and
businesses use, broadcast in bands around 25 to
50 MHz, 152 to 174 MHz, and 452 to 470 MHz.
In those bands, channels span 25 kilohertz. Cellular telephony began, in 1983, in a band around
900 MHz. If the FCC had assigned AT&T 30
megahertz of radio channels, they could have
accommodated 600 voice channels. Before cellular technology, the most the government ever
allocated was a dozen or so radio channels.
With new technology, bands as high as 2700
MHz are used in cellphones. All cellphones
Early portable phone
adopter and comedy
star Jerry Lewis.
today are digital—they send your voice as a
binary digital signal with a bit rate of about 12.5
kilobytes per second.
JC: What did Motorola do?
MC: We took AT&T on for years. Motorola had
three people in Washington, DC, lobbying the
FCC; AT&T had 200. We appeared at hearings
and filed reams of testimony. I was practically
living in Washington.
JC: How was it that 900-megahertz spectrum
got involved?
MC: AT&T wanted 30 megahertz of channels for
their exclusive use. Motorola believed AT&T
could get by with much less. Motorola needed
more channels for their growing two-way radio
business. The solution I worked out with the
FCC was to set aside 20 MHz for AT&T and one
or more competitors and 20 MHz of channels
for Motorola and others for two-way radio service. Everybody won, especially the public.
JC: How did this conflict play out?
MC: In late 1972, the FCC said it was going to
announce its decision. Motorola was thinking
the agency was going to decide against us. We
wanted to convince the FCC we were beter
than AT&T at making eicient use of 900-MHz
frequencies. As a demonstration, Motorola created portable 900-MHz two-way radios. We
mounted the radios in vans and drove Washington decision makers around so they could see
and hear for themselves.
JC: What did you think of those early demonstration radios?
MC: I was enchanted by them, and so were the
DC bigwigs. It wasn’t technology, it was personal. Reaction to the portable device confirmed
my obsession about entering the handheld business. It was a dazzling demonstration.
JC: What did AT&T propose to do with 900
megahertz spectrum?
MC: AT&T was fixated on creating a more eicient car phone and on creating their monopoly.
JC: What did you want to do?
MC: I wanted people to experience the freedom
of communicating anywhere any time. In
November 1972, I called Rudy Krolopp, who had
designed the first national pagers. I described
my idea and told him I wanted it in the April
demonstration. He said, “What’s a cellphone”?
JC: Was “cellphone” what you said?
MC: Rudy remembers it that way. I don’t
remember. Maybe I said, “portable phone.” He
assigned his team to design the phone. Two
weeks later I bought them dinner at Lancer’s in
Schaumburg, Illinois, and they presented their handmade models. One
was a slider phone. One was a flip
phone. A lozenge phone. One looked
like a shoe. They were beautiful, all
the size of a modern cellphone. We
picked a simple one-piece design. Management had agreed at least to consider
having a handheld phone in the April
demonstration, so the research department put a dozen people onto building
one. By March 1973, we had a working
phone. But a cellphone by itself wasn’t of
any use. The device had to make and
receive calls to and from other phones.
JC: What was the absolute first call?
MC: That had to have happened in the lab,
because we tested throughout, but I don’t
remember when that first success happened.
JC: What was the first oicial public call?
MC: Our PR people had arranged for me to
appear on The Today Show on Tuesday, April 3,
1973. That morning the PR lady called to say
Today had bumped us. “Don’t worry,” she said.
“I’m gonna get you on radio or TV or something.” And she set up a meeting for me with a
radio journalist whose name is lost to history.
JC: How can that be?
MC: At that time cellular was just a concept.
The memories faded quickly. I’m glad American
History is reviving them.
JC: How did you actually accomplish the
MC: I took the reporter out on the streets of
New York. We had two cell sites, one near Central Park and one on Wall Street. I decided to call
Joel Engel at AT&T. I happened to have his
oice number on a piece of paper.
JC: Did you know the phone would work?
MC: I hadn’t tested it. I entered Joel Engel’s
number and he answered! He was not fond of
me or Motorola. I said, “Joel, it’s Marty Cooper.”
He said, “Hi, Marty.” I said, “I’m calling you from
a cellphone—but a real cellphone, a personal,
handheld, portable cellphone.” Silence at the
other end. He doesn’t remember this call, but I
remember that he was polite.
JC: Did Joel Engel have to be in New York City
for the call to work?
MC: He happened to be at his oice, which was
in Manhatan, but the call would have gone
anywhere in the world with telephone service.
JC: Was that all that went on that day?
MC: That aternoon we had a press conference.
Hello, Chief?
Get Smart creator
Mel Brooks came up
with the shoe phone.
Toy Boys
Miami Vice fetishized
the car phone. Cellphone miniaturization
inspired a running gag
in the Zoolander
AUGUST 2018 47
A reporter said, “Can I call my mother in Australia?” She
woke her mother up in the middle of the night. The base station was hooked to the switch, which was hooked to the public network. Joel could have been anywhere.
JC: What was the reaction?
MC: People love the future. The story ran all over the world.
But the cellphone didn’t even exist; there weren’t even cordless phones. You couldn’t buy a cellphone until 1983.
JC: Why did it take 10 years to get the cellphone to market?
MC: The technology wasn’t ready. Between `73 and `83 we
built at least four versions of the phone I named the “Dyna
TAC.” Each one was smaller and got more manufacturable.
JC: Why push so hard to put a prototype in the public eye
when Motorola had no product?
MC: To give the FCC and the Congress a picture of the future.
And who created this picture? Not AT&T—Motorola. That
was our reason—to stop AT&T, plain and simple.
JC: Did the AT&T executive understand when he took your
call that you just put a stick in his eye?
MC: No. His view was that Motorola was really good at PR.
JC: To him it was a stunt.
MC: He may have used that word.
JC: But you also were saying to the government, “Hey, don’t
give AT&T a monopoly here because we’ve got a technology
that’s going to be a competitive business one day.”
MC: Yeah. Motorola was a multifaceted company and I was a
daydreamer. My vision was that everybody was going to
have a cellphone and we were going to make those phones.
JC: Did something technological allow you to make a prototype that no one else had made before?
MC: Yes. There is a patent, issued to Cooper et al., that integrates all the ideas all these wonderful people that I worked
with had, all these ideas lumped into one patent.
JC: What do you think of the iPhone?
MC: Steve Jobs’s vision carried Apple a long time. They are
creating wonderful technology. But they’ve lost some of that
vision. Or maybe folks there can’t take the kind of chances
Jobs was able to take in introducing concepts that didn’t exist.
JC: Where is the industry going?
MC: Manufacturers are caught in a trend which is prety
much exhausted. The mantra has been that smaller and
lighter is beter, more power is beter, more pixels is beter,
more megabits, more megahertz. It’s geting hard to find
something “more” that’s useful. Technology is the application
of science to create products and services that make people’s
lives beter. If you leave out people, it’s not technology.
JC: How many cellphones do you own?
MC: That I actually use? I guess I’ve got three.
JC: What are they?
MC: I always have the latest, hotest phone, which, in my
opinion, is the Samsung S-8. I’m going to get an S-9. I should
be lusting ater the iPhone 10, but I’m not, because it doesn’t
have any of the “people” features I find atractive. I also
would have to learn a whole new interface.
JC: What are your other two phones?
MC: I have a Jiterbug. Do you know what a Jiterbug is?
JC: No.
MC: My goodness. It’s a phone optimized for seniors. My
wife invented the Jiterbug and created the company that
sells it. A million people use it.
JC: So, a Jitterbug and a Samsung. What’s your third phone?
MC: I have a Nokia. I wanted to understand Windows.
JC: But you don’t have an Apple phone.
MC: I had one for a while.
JC: Which?
MC: Probably an iPhone 4. I gave it to my grandson.
JC: You gave up on the iPhone.
MC: (chuckles) Yeah, I did. The only feature that I know of
that really is arguably beter on an Apple is face recognition.
JC: What do you love about the Samsung S-8?
MC: Everything. I love the edge-to-edge design. It’s eicient.
It’s got all the apps I could imagine. It tells me where it is and
when it’s charged, whether my front door is locked.
JC: How well did the cellphone match your expectations?
MC: I told you one—everybody’s got one, and needs it. Texting and talking, those things we envisioned. But cameras?
We didn’t have digital cameras in 1973, nor personal computers. Nor had the internet or a large-scale integrated circuit
been invented, or could you do anything at 2.3 gigahertz.
JC: Where do we go from here?
MC: The cellphone’s future is personalization and customization. Each of us is unique, and the products that make our
lives easier should accommodate that.
JC: What does a cellphone look like in 10 years?
MC: It becomes what I call a server. You need something on
your body connecting you to the world. But that’s a function.
Now it’s not “the phone”—in fact, calling this device a
“phone” is ridiculous, right? So, we’ve now got a server.
JC: But what will change?
MC: Medicine will be revolutionized. One aspect of medicine
is understanding what’s going on in your body. To understand you have to measure. How do you measure unless you
have devices measuring? And measurements have no function unless they accumulate where somebody can do something about them. So, the cellphone now is the medical
server, and the function you measure depends on your
23andMe. If genetics says that you have a family history of
congestive heart failure, you’ll have a gizmo that warns you
you’re about to have a heart atack.
JC: What else?
MC: The phone will be connected to a virtual reality device.
Kids will be playing what they think are games but really getting educated. So, the cellphone is an educational device.
JC: How do you regard the device itself?
MC: It’s a marvelous achievement. There are seven radios in
a cellphone, each independent, with diferent functions.
There’s a supercomputer. They claim that eventually there
will be enough power in a cellphone to do all your computing; for a big screen, you’ll plug into a docking station.
JC: Do you ever think, “What have I done?”
MC: I’m an optimist. Technology does disrupt. Technology
screws up a lot of people and things. But ultimately technology saves the world. Yeah, there are bad aspects of the phone
but we’re going to work them out. The biggest problem in the
world today is people not talking to each other.
JC: What’s the source of your optimism?
MC: I’ve got a protégé. I met this kid at the swimming pool.
He says he’s going to be an inventor. “That’s interesting,” I
said. “I’m an inventor.” And we are now best friends and he
is inventing stuf. This kid is eight years old. And at some
point, we’re going to be collaborating.
JC: What do you see as your legacy?
MC: Nobody can take the cellphone away from me, but I
didn’t do that all by myself. The one I’m really proud of is
Cooper’s Law. The real name is the Law of Spectral Eiciency. In its simplest form, it states that there is an exponential growth in eiciency in the use of spectrum.
JC: Explain.
MC: Around 1991 or 1992, I asked myself: On a given
amount of bandwidth, how many phone calls can you
make, and how many bits can you put through? I did an
analysis, starting with Marconi, whose first act on radio
was to place a transatlantic phone call. You can’t even
measure his eiciency with that first call, but when he
went commercial he was transmiting at the rate of a bit
every six seconds. And you could make only one phone
call in the world at a time because another telephone call in
this hemisphere would have interfered with Marconi’s call.
He was using all the bandwidth there was. I used that as my
initial point and started finding points in time where I could
measure usable bandwidth, how many people were able to
talk at the same time, and so on. Since 1900, useful bandwidth, measured by how much you can pump through, has
doubled every 30 months.
JC: Kind of like Moore’s Law for computer memory.
MC: It’s exponential, like Moore’s Law. We’re 10 trillion times
more eicient than when Marconi started. But we also need
to move lots more data. Say there’s this kid in 2030. He’s got
his virtual reality goggles and he’s using ten times the access
somebody is using today. That is every student in the world
in 2030. You can’t have an educational system where the rich
kids have virtual reality and the poor kids have nothing, but
it’s going to take tons and tons of data.
JC: How do we do that?
MC: New technology makes Cooper’s Law work. But we need
infrastructure. If I ran the country I’d be encouraging private
enterprise. “Listen, you guys,” I’d say. “You’ve got this spectrum, and spectrum is a public resource. We’re asking you to
use it right. You’re going to have to invest a lot of money.
Markets will pay you for that. When it comes to education,
the government will pay you to build the infrastructure.”
Trump wants to build bridges and stuf. Well, equally important is this infrastructure that will eliminate poverty. Cooper’s
Law will eliminate poverty. That’s my legacy.
JC: What are your hobbies?
MC: I was a runner. Now I hike. You want to know what
brings me pleasure? Having ideas.
“Call Me!”
The ultimate pleasure is having an
Arlene Harris and husband
original idea. Every once in a while,
Martin Cooper at Dyna
I come up with a zinger. +
LLC world HQ.
AUGUST 2018 49
Saving Olana
Artist Frederic Church’s best-known work
may be a Hudson River mansion that almost
didn’t survive By Ann Morrow
Hudson River Light
In 51 years as a public holding,
Olana, which sprang from
Frederic Church’s imagination,
has welcomed millions of visitors.
AUGUST 2018 51
ix hundred feet above the Hudson River
towers Olana, a fantastical mansion conceived and constructed by landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church. In the
summer of 1966, Church was long dead and Olana in peril of
being torn down—until a day in late June when a helicopter
landed in the yard. From the aircrat emerged New York
Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller. Ater greeting a crowd and
touring the idiosyncratic 19th-century home, Rockefeller
spoke briefly of its historic significance, then signed a bill
authorizing the state to acquire the property.
The autocratic politician may have stage-managed his
appearance for publicity, but the urgency was real: Olana’s
trove of paintings by Church and other artists already had
been removed to be readied for auction, and almost everything else of value cataloged and tagged for transport. With
his 11th-hour intervention, Rockefeller, who had demolished
98 acres of old Albany to build a monolithic state-oice complex, allied with the emerging cause of historic preservation.
In 1844, preeminent landscape artist Thomas Cole took an
18-year-old protégé to sketch with him along the Hudson
River on a bluf afording spectacular views of the Berkshire
and Catskill mountains. Located across the river from Cole’s
home in the village of Catskill, 110 miles upriver from New
York City, the overlook was part of the majestic terrain that
had brought Cole his earliest renown. These vistas would
propel Cole’s student, Frederic Edwin Church, to such success that eventually Church could build on the bluf a house
that many admirers call the greatest of the younger artist’s
works—in the words of art expert Franklin Kelly, “the single
most important artistic residence in the United States, and
one of the most significant in the world.” If not for a preservation campaign that began with one man and ended as a
movement, Church’s unique residence would have been
destroyed or altered beyond recognition. The painter, not
only a technically bravura artist but a born showman, would
have appreciated the drama surrounding the rescue of his beloved
country home, and its role in a new
appreciation for his art.
Olana matered—and maters—
because of the property’s connection to the Hudson River School,
the first American art movement to
break from traditional European
techniques. Cole, widely regarded
as one of the pillars of the Hudson
River School, along with Church and peers like Asher B.
Durand, Jasper Cropsey, and Albert Bierstadt, painted exalted
depictions of a natural world in harmony with divine order,
manifest destiny, and the young nation.
Having emigrated from Lancashire, England, Cole painted
in New York City, initially without much success. In 1825, he
sailed up the Hudson in search of transcendent wilderness
and found it upstream among the mountains. Cole moved to
Catskill, a mountain village, and married his landlord’s niece.
The couple later inherited her uncle’s house and property,
called Cedar Grove.
Cole’s theologically illumined landscapes brought him
recognition, buyers, and, in 1844, an ambitious overture from
young Church, a financier’s son from Hartford, Connecticut,
to study with the Hudson River painter. “I have frequently
heard of the beautiful and romantic scenery around Catskill,”
Church wrote. “It would give me the greatest pleasure to
accompany you in your rambles about the place observing
nature in all her various appearances.”
Cole did not accept students. However, art patron Daniel
Wadsworth, founder of Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum
museum and a friend of Church’s father, interceded. The
Wadsworth endorsement and $300 a year from Church
senior persuaded Cole to take the youth, already a remarkable dratsman, as a student. Church lodged at Cedar Grove
Man and Mansion
Church, opposite,
based his design on
his travels in the
Middle East.
Spouse and 11th-Hour Benefactor
Isabel Carnes Church, at let in 1860,
met her future husband when she lined
up to see his work. New York Governor
Nelson Rockefeller, second from let
above, signed last-minute legislation
that kept her home intact.
AUGUST 2018 53
in an atic bedroom and painted with his mentor in Cole’s
studio, absorbing his teacher’s Arcadian perspective. Each
felt a spiritual connection to nature and saw in wilderness a
manifestation of the divine. Church was only 19 when the
prestigious National Academy of Design accepted two of his
landscapes for exhibition. Cole never took another student.
In 1847, ater two years with Cole, Church moved to New
York City, establishing a studio in the Art Union building at
497 Broadway. In 1848, the National Academy made him a
member in full, the youngest artist ever so honored. Cole’s
death that year at 47 ater a brief illness deeply saddened
Church. He kept the older artist in mind all his life, an influence that extended to his choice of a home site.
Church made sketching jaunts to the Catskills, the Berkshires, the Green Mountains, and into Maine and Canada,
making field studies that he worked into paintings in his studio. He came to eschew Cole’s allegorical fervor, still invoking
the sacred in nature but with a virtuoso realism, especially in
his approach to light. Church’s glowing sunrises, lowering
skies, and luminous clouds delighted critics and public alike.
Ater a Canadian sojourn, he began “Niagara,” depicting the
falls that had atracted Cole and other artists.
Forgoing a grand tour of Europe’s art capitals for inspiration, Church instead followed in the footsteps of peripatetic
Prussian scientist, explorer, and author Alexander von Humboldt, who in his sensational book Cosmos chronicled his
South American explorations.
In 1853, Church extensively toured Colombia and Ecuador, lodging at a hacienda where Humboldt had stayed
decades earlier. Becoming one of the first “artist-explorers,”
Church visited tropical jungles, volcanoes, and primordial
stone formations. To sketch the Andes, the painter under54 AMERICAN HISTORY
took arduous treks along the cordillera.
Church’s South American paintings did well but he took
the art world by storm when he finished “Niagara,” a grand
canvas three-and-a-half feet high and seven-and-a-half feet
across. Not even Cole had approached the waterfall’s cataclysmic force as Church did.
Framing the falls from the Canadian shore without foreground, “Niagara” places the viewer’s eye at a precipice. Displayed by itself at a New York gallery in 1857, “Niagara”
became an event. Customers by the thousands paid a
25-cent admission fee to be astounded by the painting’s
compositional breadth and intricate detailing.
Commentators rhapsodized, especially noting the artist’s
genius as a colorist. “Niagara” toured cities along the East
Coast and in Britain, where the work drew praise from influential critic John Ruskin.
Church was now in the top rank of landscape painters,
and geting rich. Selling “Niagara” to a collector, he returned
to Ecuador to explore and sketch mountains where he conceived another epic image. Unveiled in April 1859 in New
York City, “Heart of the Andes” was Church’s most ambitious
canvas, approximately 10 feet across and six feet high—a
composite view of Ecuador, from distant peaks to exquisitely
rendered tiny birds and plant tendrils. The ticket price
included use of opera glasses to focus on details. The staging
emphasized the composition’s drama: Curtains at either side
of a heavy frame and an array of tropical plants Church had
brought from South America created the impression of looking out a window into the Andean sublime. Sale of prints
from an engraving added to the work’s popularity and commercial success.
In London and across the United States, “Heart of the
Andes” received thunderous acclaim, touring for two years.
Dealing in Grandeur
Church’s 1859 “Heart of
the Andes” embodied the
painter’s aesthetic and
showed of his vast skill.
Seeing the painting in St. Louis, Mark Twain
wrote rapturously of its efect on him. The
painting’s selling price of $10,000 was unprecedented for a work by a living artist. At 33,
Church was America’s most celebrated painter.
Among the spectators lining up in New York to
view “Heart of the Andes” was Isabel Carnes, a
young beauty from Ohio. Watching spectators
view his masterpiece, Church saw Isabel and
fell in love. As a friend recalled, the painter
described his first sight of her as “A ravishing
vision, a star illumined with light never before
seen on land or sea!” For Isabel, he painted “Star
in the East.” They married in 1861. A few weeks
before the wedding, Church purchased 126 acres
of farmland across the Hudson from Cedar
Grove—on the overlook where years before he
and Cole had sketched. The new owner planted
orchards, imported trees, and built a clapboard
cotage where he and Isabel could raise a family.
He worked on plans for a chateau to be built
later. He gradually acquired the most scenic
parcels of adjoining land, including a wooded
hilltop. “Almost an hour this side of Albany is
the Center of the World,” Church wrote to sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer. “I own it.” In 1862, son
Herbert arrived; daughter Emma, in 1864. In
March 1865, the family was in New York City
when diphtheria claimed the children. In 1866,
Isabel gave birth to Frederic Joseph. That year
the young family traveled through Europe—son
Theodore Winthrop was born in Rome—and
continued to the Middle East, where Byzantine
and Arabic architecture fascinated Frederic. The
18-month trip took the Churches to Beirut; he
continued alone to the Otoman Empire cities
of Jerusalem, Damascus, and Petra, where stone
ruins intrigued him. He shipped home more
than 15 crates of artworks and artifacts, along
with three white Damascus donkeys.
Returning to his overlook farm, Church
scrapped those plans for a chateau. Inspired by
his travels, he designed a Persian-style structure with Moorish and Italianate influences. He
hired as a consultant landscape architect Calvert
Vaux, Frederick Law Olmsted’s collaborator on
Central Park.
Vaux and Church were in agreement about
enhancing nature’s beauty with design. Vaux
assisted Church with transforming more than
200 untamed acres into setings artfully cultivated in the picturesque style.
His piece of property and dwelling occupied
Church for the next three decades. Amid widespread disillusionment
brought on by the Civil War and its industrialized slaughter, Church’s
artistry fell from favor, his tour-de-force New World romanticism lost
on a public weary of triumphalist nationalism. Art from France’s Barbizon School, a more evocative and intimate style, became the vogue.
Adapting to that approach, another Hudson River painter, George
Inness, eclipsed Church.
In 1870, disheartened by the public’s indiference and hampered by the
symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, Church poured his creative energy
into the home he called a “feudal castle” and later named Olana, ater a
Persian fortress treasure-house pictured in a book Isabel had given him.
In hundreds of sketches and watercolors, both imagined and based on
architectural patern books, Church conjured a 500-foot bell tower reigning over stone arches, balconies, bays, ornate cornices, and a long piazza
for watching Catskills sunsets. Construction took place largely between
1870 and 1872, with Church adding to and refining Olana for the rest of
his life. The interior spaces radiate from a Middle Eastern-style courtyard.
Broad arches and tall windows reveal panoramas of the Hudson Valley.
No detail was too minor for Olana’s creator. For the exterior stone and brick, Church
The Master
created geometric motifs in contrasting colThomas Cole, around
ors. He designed the interior stencils and
1845, when he was taking
tiles. He custom-mixed colors for complex
Church under his wing.
AUGUST 2018 55
paint schemes. “I match every stone that is laid, examine
every timber, direct everything no mater how trivial,”
Church wrote to one of his patrons. He even designed the
etched-brass fireplace surround.
Church filled his treasure house with furniture, fabrics,
and artifacts he and Isabel collected on their travels and
imported from abroad. The couple shared the Victorian
vogue for curios: Chinese pictures, mounted birds of paradise, Tifany glass, brass sculptures, buterflies, and Indian
boxes arranged by Church into arresting tableaux.
Church brought the same artistic intensity to the grounds,
planting thousands of trees and shrubs and creating meadows, gardens, and a lake. “I can make more and beter landscapes in this way than by tampering with canvas and paint
in the studio,” he wrote to Palmer. Still painting, though not
for exhibition, Church based smaller works on his travels
and views from his home. “When autumn fires light up the
landscape you will see Nature’s palete set with her most precious and vivid colors,” he wrote to painter Jervis McEntee.
Isabel Church was 62 when she died in 1899. In 1900,
ater wintering in Mexico, Frederic Church, 63, was in New
York City when he died, probably of rheumatoid arthritis. At
the time, paintings by Church were selling for less than a
tenth of what they once brought. The Metropolitan Museum
of Art honored his passing with a small memorial exhibition.
Church let Olana to his youngest son, Louis, 30, who for
decades ran the property as a farm. Louis and his wife, Sally,
held onto the house’s contents except for donating a substantial number of Frederic Church’s drawings to the Cooper-Hewit Museum. The childless couple scarcely altered
the house or changed its opulent furnishings. Louis died in
1943 but Sally was still living at Olana in 1953 when art
history student David Huntington arranged to stop by for a
look. Ater contacting the elderly widow, he got a tour from
the couple who handled the estate’s farming. Huntington
was writing a dissertation at Yale on an artist who had fallen
from fame into obscurity—Frederic Edwin Church.
“I went into the house absolutely bewildered by what I
saw, not at all expecting such a relic of the nineteenth century, almost virtually untouched, unchanged,” Huntington
told an interviewer in the 1980s.
The Olana atic’s inventory “absolutely staggered” him:
paintings by Church and other artists, hundreds of Church
drawings and oil studies, and thousands of photographs,
along with journals, leters, and other ephemera.
Huntington took up residence in the nearby city of Hudson for four months. When not studying Olana and its contents, he made local acquaintances like lawyer Alexander
“Sam” Aldrich. Huntington’s research earned him a doctorate
and a reputation as the foremost expert on Church. He
became an associate professor of art history at Smith College
in Northampton, Massachusets.
During the mid-20th century, Olana and other ornate
Victorian relics came to be regarded as white elephants, consigned to deterioration and demolition. American paintings
were also out of fashion. In autumn 1964, still teaching at
Smith, Huntington got a call from a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sally Church, 96, had died, the curator
said, leaving decisions regarding Olana in the hands of her
nephew and co-executor, Charles Lark. Fearing Lark might
sell the estate, Huntington contacted him. Lark confirmed
the professor’s worries. Olana’s likely fate was subdivision of
the 250-acre property and its picturesque viewsheds, demolition of the house, and dispersal of Church’s furnishings and
collections, including more than 700 paintings.
Out of Experience, Art
Church, holding son Frederic in
Beirut in 1868, began to transmute
his travels into three dimensions when
he sketched what would be Olana.
Huntington asked Lark to let him document
the house’s contents. He also sought an option
to buy Olana, priced at $470,000, and time to
raise that sum. Lark gave Huntington three
months’ grace, and the scramble was on. A commitee Huntington formed with Sam Aldrich,
preservation pioneer James Biddle, and others
arranged a leasing agreement to buy more time
in order to raise money.
The nonprofit project did not take of running. Church and the Hudson River School had
fallen of the radar. The year before, across the
river, Cedar Grove had been emptied, its contents auctioned from the porch, erasing Thomas
Cole’s presence. Downstream, New York City
had demolished the Beaux Arts splendor of
Pennsylvania Station. Upriver in Albany, Governor Rockefeller had pushed through a massive—some said monstrous—urban renewal
undertaking, the Empire State Plaza, that guted
the state capital’s historic heart. Nationwide,
America’s architectural past, from early Dutch
domiciles to High Victorian castles, was vanishing under the wrecking ball and the bulldozer.
Huntington and allies bore down. In collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, the art
professor organized an exhibition of Church’s
paintings that opened in Washington, DC, in
In the Details
Ephemera preserved
included swatches
of paint that Church
painstakingly mixed.
February 1966—the first
Church retrospective since
that memorial exhibition in
1900. The press chimed in.
To headline a lavish 14-page
spread, the May 13, 1966, Life
magazine asked, “Must This
Mansion Be Destroyed?”
New York Times editorials
argued to preserve the house.
Huntington, who for years had
been researching and writing a
Church treatise, rushed into
print The Landscapes of Frederick Edwin Church: Vision of an
American Era. Enthusiasm for
Hail the Hero
Olana developed into a growing
Graduate student
chorus ranging from Hudson Valley locals to
David Huntington
Manhatan socialites. Former First Lady Jacquecame looking for
line Kennedy, who had marched unsuccessfully
thesis information
and found a cause.
to preserve Pennsylvania Station, raised money to
preserve Church’s home. The exotic pile’s least
likely, most powerful ally joined in out of simple kinship. Nelson Rockefeller, genius loci of the Empire State Plaza, was the brother of conservationist—and Olana supporter—Laurance Rockefeller, as well as a cousin
of Huntington’s stalwart associate Sam Aldrich.
With a June 30 sale deadline impending, the Olana preservation campaign was $170,000 short. New York Assemblyman Clarence Lane and
State Senator Lloyd Newcombe, who represented nearby constituencies, introduced a bill that would authorize the state to
acquire Olana. The Lane-Newcombe Act passed unanimously;
it couldn’t have hurt that Jackie Kennedy called brother-inlaw and U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY), asking that
he throw in on Olana’s behalf, too.
The Lane-Newcombe bill became law on June 27, 1966, when
Governor Rockefeller signed it—the dramatic flourish of his
deus ex machina appearance at Olana’s Persian doorway. A
year later, Church’s great work became a New York State Historic Site. Ever since, under the Friends of Olana—now the
Olana Partnership—the artist’s house, collections, and artworks have been undergoing conservation and study. The late
David Huntington’s book revived interest in Church’s artistry.
In 1979, the painter’s once-neglected Arctic-themed masterpiece, “The Icebergs,” was auctioned for $2.5 million, at the
time the most paid for an American painting. Olana today is
the locus of interest in the Hudson River School and the
American Romantic movement. In 2016, the house marked 50
years as a public holding, during which more than two million
visitors experienced Church’s vision. For the anniversary, the
partnership restored the carriage trails, so visitors in electric
vehicles could roam lanes where farmers once delighted to
glimpse beautiful Isabel Church driving her donkey cart. +
AUGUST 2018 57
The Best
Kind of
The border between Texas
and Mexico couldn’t keep
music from flowing both ways
by Barbara Finlay
Viva la Raza
Accordionist Jorge Hernández of Los Tigres del Norte
performs at Otay Mesa,
California, in 2016.
A bandoneón made in Saxony by
Ernst Louis Arnold, circa 1925-35.
driver in South Texas scrolling the radio dial will
hear stations—KROB, KEDA or KUKA, say—playing fast, exuberantly rhythmic Spanish-language
songs featuring the accordion. That is conjunto, Spanish for “group” or
“ensemble,” a music developed by working-class Tejanos—Mexican-Texans—beginning in the 19th century. Rooted in the polka, the schotische,
the waltz, and other Old World styles, this form is a remarkable example of
cultural collision and transmission.
The soul of conjunto is the accordion, which came from Europe. In the
1820s, Friedrich Buschmann, an instrument maker in German-speaking
Thuringia, invented what he called the handaoline or Ziehharmonika—a
hollow cube containing 21 metal reeds that made individual
musical notes when air passed over them. To supply and control the air, Buschmann atached a bellows. A player could
select which notes to play and how long to play them
using a keyboard. In 1829, the Austrian Cyrill Demian
improved on Buschmann’s device. Demian’s instrument
had a right-hand bellows and was played let handed,
using four butons, each producing one chord when the
player was squeezing the bellows and another when the
player was stretching the bellows, like a harmonica player
breathing in and out over the same reed to make two notes. Innovator
Demian patented his squeezebox as the “accordion,” for its Charles
capacity to play chords.
At first, Europeans made accordions by hand, always tin- invented the
kering. Buschmann’s handaoline had no let-hand butons;
Demian’s had no right-hand butons. In London, England, Charles Wheatstone built a bellows instrument able to play chords with the let hand and
melodies with the right—a concertina, he called it. Thanks to ease of use
and portability, variations on this arrangement captivated Europeans,
especially Germans and Italians. A single musician could accompany
dancers, making the accordion, an expensive hand-made artifact, a staple
of entertainment. These instruments were primarily diatonic, like harmonicas. A concertina player’s right hand controlled one or two rows of
AUGUST 2018 59
setlers in and around San Antonio, Texas, also were buying accordions.
German immigrants to Mexico included trained musicians whose
sophisticated salon music appealed to upper-class urban Mexicans. Accordion ensembles played from printed scores, familiarizing Mexicans with
the instrument and its place in polkas, waltzes, and other German dances
like the redowa, or redova, a waltz-time step from Bohemia oten called
the “leaping waltz” for the requisite bound on the second beat.
Working-class Mexicans also took to the imported sounds, playing the
economical buton accordion at weddings, fiestas, and other celebrations.
These musicians learned and played by ear, adapting European tunes and
rhythms to a hybrid eventually known as norteño, as in northern Mexico.
butons, the let hand a few bass butons. Ger- Texas, part of Mexico until 1836, had a porous border across which the
man bands played dance music like the polka, norteño sound and customs flowed, with Mexico influencing Mexican
the waltz, the schotische, and similar tunes, Texas as much as Texas influenced life south of the Rio Grande.
emphasizing the beat for dancers with a bassy
“In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Monterrey functioned as an
“oom-pah” and right-hand melody. For har- economic and cultural metropolis, with Texas
mony, a musician could play two melody notes forming part of its hinterland,” Manuel Peña Originators
at once. Many players read music, and sheet writes in his 1985 book The Texas-Mexican Con- Santiago Jiménez,
music for accordions was distributed widely.
junto. Many Texans began as Mexicans, their seated, with Israel and
By the mid-1800s, Germans were mass-pro- nationality shiting when the Texas Republic Manuel Gonzales.
ducing accordions. A market bloomed in Mex- formed in 1836 and again in 1845, when Texas
ico in the 1860s when Emperor Maximilian joined the United States of America. These
recruited immigrants from the Continent. Ger- Spanish-speaking residents call themselves
mans especially setled in the northern Nuevo Tejanos. Influenced by cosmopolitan Monterrey,
León, around Monterrey, home to a burgeoning salon music, the province of trained players,
brewing industry and soon a center of accordion found its way into elite circles in San Antonio,
music. In the United States, German and Czech Laredo, Corpus Christi, and other cities with a
Mexican bourgeoisie. As in Mexico, the Tejano
working classes had their own ideas about
music. They adapted songs, dance rhythms, and
instrumental techniques, making the simple button accordion their main instrument because a
player could solo while keeping a beat.
A big driver of Texan accordion and polka
music was German migration to
that state. European political and
Old School
Before emigrating to economic turmoil made Germans
the largest European demothe Southwest, the
graphic to migrate to Texas startconcertina was a
parlor instrument.
ing in the 1830s, when Texas was
Order Today!
A page from a 19th-century
English instrument catalog.
Step Lightly
Chicagoans Toña
and Ramiro Borrego
dance a cumbia to
Eva Ybarra's band
at the Tejano Conjunto Music Festival
in San Antonio,
Texas, in 2006.
Early Days
Samples of early 19th century
German instrument making.
still part of Mexico. They came for the plentiful
farmland and the long growing season. Another
factor was a land grant program Stephen F. Austin promoted with permission from Mexican
provincial authorities. Tirelessly boosting “Austin’s Colony,” Austin at one point backed Texas
as a Mexican state, but in the end reluctantly
endorsed the Texas Revolution. Named the new
republic’s secretary of state in September 1836,
Austin died that December at 43. The state capital is named for him.
“German Belt” transplants encouraged friends
and relations in the old country to come on over.
That produced a string of mostly German towns.
Within 100 miles of San Antonio, in 1880 itself
one-third German, arose the Teutonic towns
Schulenberg, Gruene, Kerrville, New Braunfels,
Weimar, Comfort, and Fredericksburg. Most
German immigrants farmed but German professionals and intellectuals also setled in San
Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Houston. Czech
and Polish immigrant ranks included trained
accordionists who played at public sings and
dances. These communities developed the
state’s first for-profit dance halls.
Family Trade
Santiago Jiménez Jr.
at work on a San
Antonio bandstand.
Hostility and segregation could not keep music from flowing between
Europeans and Tejanos. In San Antonio, Tejano musicians learned tunes
by ear from German bands and adapted them for hometown listeners.
Tejanos associated accordion music with dancing. By the 1890s, guests at
Tejano weddings, fiestas, and parties were bopping to European steps as
well as the huapango, a fast-moving 6/8 dance from Mexico. Anyone
with a musical ear could learn the one-row accordion and play loud
enough to propel a tune across a dance floor, in one package delivering
melody and beat. A single musician could power a heck of a party.
Until around 1920, Tejano accordionists customarily worked with a
percussionist using a tambor ranchera, or ranch drum—a goatskin head
stretched on wire and struck with wooden mallets. The ranch drum gave
way to the bajo sexto, a large-bodied guitar with six courses of two
strings each, believed to have originated in Mexico. The buton accordion and bajo sexto formed the core of conjunto—the music of working-class Tejanos—sometimes augmented by a tololoche, an upright
acoustic instrument with three or four strings resembling but smaller
than the European double bass.
During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Tejano accordionists like Narciso
Martínez and Santiago Jiménez advanced and solidified conjunto. Martínez
was born in 1911 in Reynosa, Mexico, but his family soon moved to a small
town near Brownsville, Texas. Raised in the country, the boy frequently
moved as his family picked crops. He had scant formal education, spoke
almost no English, and could not read or write any language. For a living he
drove trucks and tractors, fed zoo animals, and worked in the fields.
Narciso took up accordion in 1927, learning from older brother Santos.
Within a year Narciso was playing dances on a cheap second-hand
instrument. In Kingsville in 1930, he bought a new Hohner. By 1935 he
had mastered the two-row accordion and was working with bajo sexto
player Santiago Almeida. That year Bluebird Records recruited him.
Martínez’s first recording was a polka, “La Chicharronera.” By the late
`30s, Bluebird was regularly issuing Narciso Martínez records, mostly
instrumentals because Martínez regarded airplay as bait for dance gigs,
and dancers preferred instrumentals. He learned many tunes from German and Czech bands. He and a friend with a very good ear would soak
up a performance; later, the pal would whistle the tunes they had just
heard until Martínez got the melody down on the accordion.
AUGUST 2018 61
Broadcasters like San Antonio’s KEDA and powerful “bor- musicians avoided. They wanted to play bailes decentes—
der radio” stations just across the border (XER, XEP) played decent dances—in homes, at fandangos, or public dances, at
Mexican music. Even poor households could aford radios, so weddings, and to accompany other respectable celebrations.
Martínez’s recordings gained him many fans. Airplay got him
An additional strain of Tejano music began during the
work at weddings, fiestas, and Cinco de Mayo celebrations— early 20th century in northern Mexico. Mexican-born
honoring an 1862 victory by Mexican troops over French Eugenio Abrego of the popular group Los Alegres de Teran
forces—throughout South Texas. His recording contract was and Pedro Ayala, an innovative conjunto accordionist, were
the standard exploitative arrangement of the day, and his live sons of squeezebox-playing fathers. To the intergenerational
audiences had litle money, so he, like other conjunto musi- aspect these musicians added continued contact with Gercians, was barely covering expenses. Still, Narciso Martínez man and Czech music, whether flowing south from Texas or
was beloved of the common people—la gente—who revered north from Mexico.
him as el Huracán del Valle—”Hurricane of the Valley.” Along
with his fast, intricate solos, Martínez’s main innovation was As blues discs were gaining traction on radio, first among
ignoring the bass-chord butons that gave German music its African-Americans and then a growing white listenership,
oom-pah. Instead, propelled by Almeida’s rock-solid
record companies Okeh, Decca, Vocalion, and othbajo sexto, Martínez blazed on the treble buters, deciding conjunto recordings might
tons. Speeding tempos, he added trills
prove similarly profitable, signed Tejano
and solo runs, giving familiar matesingers and bands, oten paying as
rial a vivid new feel and composlitle as $25 per session, with no
ing his own songs. His style
royalties. The first Tejano accorbecame conjunto’s. All his life,
dion 78 rpm record was the
Martínez explored genres,
half-blind buton accordionist
including Texas swing in the
Bruno Villareal’s in 1928. Vilmode of Bob Wills and Latin
lareal’s style relied heavily on
American forms like tango
German-style bass chording.
and cumbia. Aficionados oten
His early recordings have been
hail Martínez as el Primero, or
lost, but by the mid-1930s, he
father, of conjunto.
was recording “La Cascada,” “Tres
As Martínez was on the rise, so
Flores,” and other instrumentals. A
was Santiago Jiménez. Born in 1913 in
self-taught musician so well known for
San Antonio, Santiago was the son of accorbusking in South Texas towns that his nickdionist Patricio Jiménez, much sought for Sat- Vintage
name was El Azote del Valle, “Scourge of the
A Charles Wheatstone
urday night dances in the barrios. Santiago
Valley,” Villareal became an Okeh stalwart.
concertina, manufactured
learned accordion at 12 or so by copying his in Britain in 1845.
Radio was a lifeline. No large venues existed
father. Jiménez senior had German friends,
in which to stage shows, but airplay boosted
especially in nearby New Braunfels, from whom he learned demand for performers at dances, weddings, and fiestas. The
songs. Most Germans “didn’t like Mexicans very much,” San- language barrier and segregation kept conjunto of Anglo
tiago said, but for Patricio Jiménez and European performers radio, but among the Tex-Mex working-class, Spanish-lanmusicianship trumped racism, and German musicians from guage radio ruled.
New Braunfels frequently performed in San Antonio’s BrackAter World War II, larger labels dropped conjunto for
enridge Park, where the Jiménez family and other Tejanos more sophisticated Mexican music, reframing radio in every
heard and appreciated their music.
Southwestern state except Texas. To preserve and advance
Santiago Jiménez played traditionally until he added the their tradition, Tejanos started independent labels like Faltololoche, whose bass notes lent great depth to the buton con Records and Ideal Records, as well as smaller labels:
accordion and bajo sexto. His music began as old-school Corona, Globe, El Zarape, Rio. The most successful, Ideal
instrumentals, but he and then other players began compos- Records, kept older conjunto artists like Narciso Martínez
ing tunes, oten commemorating an event, place, or acquain- before the public and introduced new performers like Valerio
tance. All were instrumentals; Tejanos associated vocals Longoria Sr., Tony de la Rosa, and Paulino Bernal. Despite
with less-than-proper cantinas and bailes de negocio. Can- conjunto’s historic male lineage, there also were outstanding
tina music summoned images of whores and rounders; at female accordionists like San Antonio-born Eva Ybarra.
bailes de negocio poor families brought girls to dance for
Younger postwar Tejano performers made vocals a must
pay. Male customers would purchase chips for 15 cents a in conjunto. Among these pioneers was Longoria, an accordidance, paying their temporary companions with them. Girls onist and vocalist who adapted the traditional canción
got a nickel a dance, a seamy arrangement that conjunto ranchera, or ranch song, as well as canciones corridos.
The Voice
Valerio Longoria Sr.
made vocals a must
for conjunto bands.
Ranchera and its lyrics embraced and jumpstarted a Mexican tradition of oten slow-moving songs of love, beauty, and heartache. Longoria’s most famous ranchera may have been 1947’s “El Rosalito”:
El rosalito se está secando, Ya no enverdece las flores
Tambien mi vida se está acabando, Por falta de sus amores
The litle rose is drying up, it no longer produces flowers;
Likewise my life is ending, for lack of your love.
Longoria blended conjunto and bolero, a big-band sound until
then favored by sophisticated Mexican-Americans in Texas. This
mix stressed the accordion player’s vocals against the ensemble’s
wall of sound. Corridos presented epic narratives about heroes
and villains and border life, oten mocking Anglos. The most
famous, “El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez” (“The Ballad of Gregorio
Cortez”), tells of a language misunderstanding that leads a sherif
to shoot Gregorio’s brother and try to shoot Gregorio, who kills
the lawman in self-defense. Another corrido, "Quinientos Novillos" (“500 Steers”) has Mexican cowboys outdoing Anglo
Quinientos novillos eran, todos grandes y livianos,
Y entre treinta Americanos, no los podían embalar.
Llegan cinco Mexicanos, todos bien enchivarrados,
Y en menos de un cuarto de hora, los tenían encerrados.
There were 500 steers, all big and lively,
Thirty Americans couldn’t corral them.
Then five Mexicans arrived, all sporting good chaps,
In less than a quarter hour, they had them penned up.
Golden Years
Tony de la Rosa was a star of
conjunto's most beloved era.
Just as blues musicians’ adoption of electric
guitars and other postwar technology remade
that genre from a rural acoustic form to a roaring
urban dynamo, conjunto performers got powerful results swapping the tololoche for the electric
bass. Bands kept accordion front and center;
most players switched to the three-row buton
instrument played through a pickup or a microphone. Longoria and others sometimes added a
second accordion, eschewing keyboards, brass,
AUGUST 2018 63
electric guitars, and violins. Bands added drum sets, another
Longoria innovation, but the bajo sexto remains the standard
backbone of basic conjunto.
The period 1947-1970 stands as conjunto’s golden era, with
such artists as Longoria; Tony de la Rosa, who excelled on the
accordion and introduced a slower dance, el tacuachito; and
the Conjunto Bernal, led by Paulino Bernal, who introduced
three-part vocal harmony. The music of these and fellow conjunto groups, traditional and newer, resonated on the radio
and locally in juke joints and ice houses, local bars where one
can have a burger and beer to music. Along the harvest trail
leading to the northern plains around Lubbock and Amarillo,
South Texas towns sprouted dance halls, their stages filled by
conjunto groups in matching suits and polished boots.
Leonardo "Flaco" Jiménez
in the studio in 1972.
Still Squeezing
Flaco, Sean Sahm of the
Tex-Mex Experience at SXSW.
and other pioneers appeared at the National Folklife Festival
and in other important setings. The National Endowment for
the Arts awarded Martínez and artists like Flaco Jiménez, son
of Santiago and grandson of Patricio, with National Heritage
Fellowships, bringing the form to the world’s atention.
Today’s top conjunto accordionist is Flaco Jiménez, who
has held true to the traditional style while infusing the form
into pop, rock, and country in performances with Willie
Conjunto evolved further in the 1970s as younger players
incorporated R&B, rock, and other genres, added electric guitars, synthesizers, brass, and drums, and, taking a cue from
rockers, began performing more theatrically. Out of this
movement came “Tejano,” the music of artists like Los Tigres
del Norte, Selena, Los Lobos—originally Los Lobos del Este de
Los Angeles, evoking the band’s East Los Angeles roots—La
Mafia, Isidro Lopez, and Jay Perez. In Mexico, rising demand
for cumbia and tropicale, rhythm-heavy Latin beats from
Colombia and Brazil, filtered north, further sapping conjunto
and its seemingly out of fashion accordion.
But diehard fans nurtured conjunto, holding on in hopes of
a revival. In 1981, accordionist Juan Tejeda, director of the
Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, launched the
Conjunto Festival, showcasing generations of conjunto musicians old and new. More than 30 years later the renamed
Tejano Conjunto Festival is adhering to its mission to sustain
traditional conjunto while sprinkling its performance schedule with “progressive” Tejano musiTigres in Madrid
cians like Augie Meyer.
Brothers Hernán,
Outposts of the American folklore
on bass, and Jorge
establishment like the Smithsonian
Hernández playing Institution began to recognize conin Spain, 2009.
junto as folk music. Narciso Martínez
Nelson, the Texas Tornados, Dwight Yoakam,
Ry Cooder, Doug Sahm, the Rolling Stones,
Carlos Santana, and many others. Jiménez’s six
Grammys include a 2015 Lifetime Achievement
Award. At 78, he continues to tour. His childhood friend Eva Ybarra, grande dame of conjunto accordion, this year accepted a National
Heritage Fellowship. “The accordion is the
heart of our music,” Jiménez told NBC News in
2015. “Some Tejano artists ignored, hated the
accordion and took it out of Tejano music. But
if you take the accordion out, you get rid of
all the flavor.”
Conjunto gets its staying power from intriguing growth reaching down to deep and specific
roots. “Without exception, its contributors had
two characteristics in common: they were
totally or for the most part illiterate,” anthropologist Manuel Peña writes. “And they belonged
to a proletarian class who were relatively isolated from other groups.” Mapped onto listeners’ experiences, this form and its European
origins reinforced indigenous listeners’ sense of
ethnic identity—making conjunto a banner to
wave in the face of disdain from elites. Conjunto transcends entertainment, even musicality, providing vivid relief from the drone of
lives spent at menial labor; inspiring resistance
to negative stereotypes; and instilling pride
among la gente—the people. +
Broadcast stations
that play Tejano or
conjunto music:
Clockwise below
from top: Selena, an
avatar of conjunto
crossover; Eva
Ybarra, "Queen of
the Accordion";
traditional Mexican
music LP La Pistola
y el Corazón, by Los
Lobos, shown in
their hometown, Los
Angeles, California,
in 1998.
KEDA 102.5 FM, 1540 AM,
San Antonio,
KROB 1510 AM, 94.3 FM,
Corpus Christi
KUKA 105.9 FM
Internet stations:
Wolfpak radio
Puro Texas Conjunto Radio
Rancho Alegre Radio
AUGUST 2018 65
Home to more than 400 sites, the Civil
War’s impact on Georgia was greater
than any other event in the state’s
history. Visit to
learn more.
Explore Maryland with once-in-alifetime commemorations—all at one
destination. Create your family history
by exploring ours. Go to visitmaryland.
org to plan your trip today.
here’s no other place that embodies
the heart and soul of the True South
in all its rich and varied expressions—
Mississippi. Find Your True South.
To discover more about Tennessee and
to order your free oicial Tennessee
Vacation Guide, visit:
or call 1-800-GO2-TENN
Known for sublime natural beauty,
captivating history and heritage and
warm hospitality, West Virginia really
is the great escape. Start planning your
getaway today.
Walk where Civil War soldiers fought
and died. A short trip from Nashville and
a long journey into America’s history!
Call (800) 716-7560.
Join us for our Civil War Anniversary
Commemoration including
atractions and tours, exhibitions,
memorials and a selection of artifacts
from Fort Fisher.
Lebanon, KY is home to the Lebanon
National Cemetery, its own
Civil War Park, and it’s part of the
John Hunt Morgan Trail. today.
History lives in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Visit Brice’s Crossroads National
Batleield, Natchez Trace Parkway,
Tupelo National Batleield, Mississippi
Hills Exhibit Center and more.
“Part of the One and Only Bluegrass!”
Visit National Historic Landmark,
National Civil War Trust tour, historic
ferry, and the third largest planetarium
of its kind in the world!
Edward S. Curtis: he North American
Indian. Historic exhibition of the full collection. Only at the Muskegon Museum
of Art. May 11–September 10, 2017.
A vacation in Georgia means
great family experiences that can
only be described as prety sweet.
Explore Georgia’s Magnolia Midlands.
Experience the Civil War in Jacksonville
at the Museum of Military History.
Relive one of Arkansas’ irst stands at
the Reed’s Bridge Batleield.
Explore the past in Baltimore during
two commemorative events: the War of
1812 Bicentennial and Civil War 150.
Plan your trip at
Are you a history and culture buf?
here are many museums and
atractions, Civil War, and Civil Rights
sites just for you in Jackson, Mississippi.
Experience living history for
The Batles of Marieta Georgia,
featuring reenactments, tours and
a recreation of 1864 Marieta.
Experience the Old West in action with
a trip through Southwest Montana.
For more information on our 15 ghost
towns, visit or
call 800-879-1159, ext 1501.
he Mississippi Hills National Heritage
Area highlights the historic, cultural,
natural, scenic and recreational treasures
of this distinctive region.
Once Georgia’s last frontier outpost,
now its third largest city, Columbus is
a true destination of choice. History,
theater, arts and sports—Columbus
has it all.
Over 650 grand historic homes in three
National Register Historic Districts.
Birthplace of America’s greatest playwright, Tennessee Williams. he ultimate
Southern destination—Columbus, MS.
Six major batles took place in Winchester
and Frederick County, and the town
changed hands approximately 72 times—
more than any other town in the country!
Greeneville, TN
Founded in 1783, Greeneville has a rich
historical background as the home for
such important igures as Davy Crocket
and President Andrew Johnson.
Plan your visit now!
Roswell, Georgia
Tishomingo County, MS
Fayeteville/Cumberland County, North
Carolina is steeped in history and patriotic traditions. Take a tour highlighting
our military ties, status as a transportation hub, and our Civil War story.
Whether you love history, culture, the
peacefulness of the great outdoors, or the
excitement of entertainment, Roswell
ofers a wide selection of atractions and
With a variety of historic atractions
and outdoor adventures,
Tishomingo County is a perfect
destination for lovers of history
and nature alike.
History surrounds Cartersville, GA,
including Allatoona Pass, where a ierce
batle took place, and Cooper’s Furnace,
the only remnant of the bustling
industrial town of Etowah.
Tennessee’s Farragut Folklife Museum
is a treasure chest of artifacts telling the
history of the Farragut and Concord
communities, including the Admiral
David Glasgow Farragut collection.
Seven museums, an 1890 railroad, a
British fort and an ancient trade path can
be found on the Furs to Factories Trail
in the Tennessee Overhill, located in the
corner of Southeast Tennessee.
hrough personal stories, interactive
exhibits and a 360° movie, the Civil War
Museum focuses on the war from the
perspective of the Upper Middle West.
he National Civil War Naval Museum
in Columbus, GA, tells the story of the
sailors, soldiers, and civilians, both free
and enslaved as afected by the navies
of the American Civil War.
Williamson County, Tennessee, is rich in
Civil War history. Here, you can visit the
Lotz House, Carnton Plantation, Carter
House, Fort Granger and Winstead Hill
Park, among other historic locations.
Explore the Natchez Trace. Discover
America. Journey along this 444-mile
National Scenic Byway stretching
from the Mississippi River in Natchez
through Alabama and then Tennessee.
Come to Helena, Arkansas and see
the Civil War like you’ve never seen
it before. Plan your trip today!
Join us as we commemorate the 150th
anniversary of Knoxville’s Civil War
forts. Plan your trip today!
Charismatic Union General Hugh
Judson Kilpatrick had legions of
admirers during the war. He just wasn’t
much of a general, as his men often
learned with their lives.
Sandy Springs, Georgia, is the perfect
hub for exploring Metro Atlanta’s Civil
War sites. Conveniently located near
major highways, you’ll see everything
from Sandy Springs!
Treat yourself to Southern Kentucky
hospitality in London and Laurel
County! Atractions include the Levi
Jackson Wilderness Road State Park and
Camp Wildcat Civil War Batleield.
Hip and historic Frederick County
boasts unique shopping and dining
experiences, batleields, museums,
covered bridges, and abundant outdoor
recreation. Request a free travel packet!
Just 15 miles south of downtown
Atlanta lies the heart of the true
South: Clayton County, Georgia,
where heritage comes alive!
St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Visit Point
Lookout, site of the war’s largest prison
camp, plus Confederate and USCT
monuments. A short drive from the
nation’s capital.
Confederate Memorial Park is the site of
Alabama’s only Home for Confederate
veterans (1902-1939). he museum interprets Alabama’s Confederate period and
the Alabama Confederate Soldiers’ Home.
Cleveland, TN
Near Chatanooga, ind glorious
mountain scenery and heart-pounding
white-water rafting. Walk in the footsteps
of the Cherokee and discover a charming
historic downtown.
Gulf Coast
If you’re looking for an easy stroll
through a century of ine architecture or
a trek down dusty roads along the Blues
Trail, you’ve come to the right place.
Southern hospitality at its inest, the
Classic South, Georgia, ofers visitors a
combination of history and charm mixed
with excursion options for everyone
from outdoorsmen to museum-goers.
Relive the rich history of the Alabama
Gulf Coast at Fort Morgan, Fort Gaines,
the USS Alabama Batleship, and the
area’s many museums.
of the Western Theater
Vicksburg, Mississippi is a great place
to bring your family to learn American
history, enjoy educational museums and
check out the mighty Mississippi River.
Follow the Civil War Trail in Meridian,
Mississippi, where you’ll experience
history irst-hand, including Merrehope
Mansion, Marion Confederate Cemetery
and more.
Fitzgerald, Georgia...100 years of bringing people together. Learn more about
our story and the commemoration of the
150th anniversary of the Civil War’s
conclusion at
Hundreds of authentic artifacts.
Voted fourth inest in U.S. by North &
South Magazine. Located in historic
Bardstown, Kentucky.
Come to Cleveland, Mississippi—the
birthplace of the blues. Here, you’ll ind
such legendary destinations as Dockery
Farms and Po’ Monkey’s Juke Joint.
Historic Bardstown, Kentucky
Jessamine, KY
Prestonsburg, KY - Civil War &
history atractions, and reenactment
dates at Home to
Jenny Wiley State Park, country music
entertainment & Dewey Lake.
Search over 10,000 images and primary
documents relating to the Civil War Batle
of Hampton Roads, now available in he
Mariners’ Museum Library Online Catalog!
History, bourbon, shopping, sightseeing
and relaxing—whatever you enjoy,
you’re sure to ind it in beautiful
Bardstown, KY. Plan your visit today.
Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury,
Alabama, commemorates the Civil
War with an array of historic sites and
artifacts. Experience the lives of Civil
War soldiers as never before.
STEP BACK IN TIME at Camp Nelson
Civil War Heritage Park, a Union Army
supply depot and African American
refugee camp. Museum, Civil War
Library, Interpretive Trails and more.
Broadway: A History
of New York City in
Thirteen Miles
By Fran Leadon
Norton, 2018, $35
The Main Stem
Northward view up the
beloved artery in 1870.
Most good books begin with a good idea.
CCNY architecture professor Fran Leadon
had a humdinger: tell the history of Manhattan from the municipality’s 17th-century origins as a Dutch setlement to the present day
by tracing, mile upon mile, development
along the emblematic route between the Battery and the Bronx. “Broadway was never
just a thoroughfare; it has always been, first
and foremost, a place,” Leadon writes.
Much the same great notion occurred to
amateur historian Stephen Jenkins, and in
1911 G.P. Putnam’s Sons published The
Greatest Street in the World []. Leadon, digesting more than a century’s worth of subsequent enterprise and
scholarship, delivers the more comprehensive and entertaining volume. He guides the
reader from the 1776 toppling at Bowling
Green of a statue of King George III to the
1840s, when, in the basement of John James
Audubon’s mansion on a rural spread between Broadway and the Hudson now
threaded by 155th through 159th Streets,
Samuel F.B. Morse wired New York’s first
telegraph line, to today’s checkout line in a
C-Mart at 5249 Broadway. That location, on
landfill, is geographically in the Bronx but
politically part of Manhatan, a status neighborhood residents defend doughtily.
Between Leadon’s prose and the book’s
mile-by-mile maps and copious illustrations
one sees America changing as building on
Broadway grinds northward, replacing farmers’ fields and country retreats with mammoth structures, altering not only the city’s
look and inhabitants’ modes of living, but
manners, mores, and the very idea of a proper and desirable lifestyle. Leadon mines
250-some meticulously referenced sources,
from contemporary interviews to George
Washington’s leters. Technology, not surprisingly, is a driving force. The safety elevator made skyscrapers feasible, electric-arc
lamps nesting on poles made Broadway “the
Great White Way,” and rail lines underground and elevated made bosky north
Manhatan into dense bedroom communities for downtown toilers.
More important are Broadway people—famous, forgoten, and in between. B.F. Palmer
got rich during the Civil War selling artificial
limbs to “mutilated soldiers.” In 1926, two
weeks ater Gotham feted Gertrude Ederle
for swimming the English Channel, Amelia
Corson got her own Broadway parade as the
up on
second woman to do so. In 1957,
urban planning czar Robert Moses
undertook the demolition of 80
apartment buildings, in the process
dislocating thousands of New Yorkers to install beneath Broadway a
host of north-south arteries such as
the Trans-Manhatan Expressway.
Leadon and his breathless Baedeker leave a reader hungry for more
about the persons and events rushing past. Perhaps that’s the best
measure of how wonderful this
book is.
—Daniel B. Moskowitz, in his
salad days, lived in midtown over
a Chinese restaurant a few doors
from Broadway.
shoe time!
In Kicks, first-time author Smith
chronicles the sneaker’s evolution
from humble beginnings in the
Industrial Revolution to 21st century ubiquity, interweaving the
histories of modern sport, fashion, and commerce through an
informative and adoring lens that
focuses on American culture.
The sneaker’s history is not exclusively American, but it does
begin in New York City, where in
1834 Charles Goodyear began a
tangled but ultimately lucrative
pursuit of a patent for vulcanization, a process that makes natural
rubber durable. From Goodyear,
Smith bounces through the personal histories of the (mostly)
men who tinkered with, designed,
competed in, and profited from
sneakers to imbue your old New
Balances with a sense of place.
Early chapters etch the athletic
sneaker’s Mount Rushmore: James
Naismith, the Canadian P.E. teacher who invented basketball in upstate New York; Chuck Taylor, the
traveling shoe salesman and celebrity marketing pioneer whose Converse still sells a quarter million
Was San Jacinto really
the last battle of Texas war
for independence?
What Texas battle did
Jefferson Davis call the
“Confederate Thermopylae”?
What battle involving Kit Carson
almost became the Little Big
Horn of the Southern Plains?
Why was the second Battle
of Palo Duro Canyon a disaster
for the Comanche Nation when
only three warriors were killed?
Read about the Military History
of Texas from the early Spanish
period through the Red River
War, the Battles of Spanish Fort,
Encinal De Medina, the Alamo,
San Jacinto, Neches River, Salado
Creek, Galveston, Adobe Walls and others.
For more information about Battles of Texas,
Battles of Texas by Joseph P. Regan (290 pages)
Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon:
Hardcover, $29.99; Softcover, $19.99; Kindle, $3.99
Slow Trot, Cump, Sparky,
or Old Cotonmouth?
For more, visit
Kicks: The Great
American Story
of Sneakers
By Nicholas Smith
Crown, 2018, $26
pairs a day; Adi and Rudi Dassler of Adidas,
and later, following a Nazism-related fallout,
Puma; and Bill Bowerman, the track coach,
shoe engineer, and Oregonian who co-founded Nike. These forebears, along with a handful of less prominent but no less essential
actors like Pierre Coubertin and Mary Outerbridge, accomplished the 19th- and 20th-century bootstrapping that lent the sneaker a
pivotal presence in each of the style revolutions of the post-Vietnam war era.
One cannot overstate the sneaker’s role
in personal style from the 1970s onward.
Punk, skateboarding, the NBA, hip hop, and
streetwear—each of these aspects of American youth culture has been fueled or complemented by signature footwear. Smith
spends the later 2/3 of Kicks diving enthusiastically into each facet, making the case
that the sneaker was not adjacent but fundamental to the American zeitgeist.
Kicks is well-researched, charming, and
replete with fun facts, such as the etymology
of the term “sneaker.” Smith is long on the
details, which are genuinely fascinating, but
short on critique. Narrating Nike’s rise, he
stresses the rosier subjects of the company’s
design and advertising genius, sot-pedaling
corporate culpability in sweatshop proliferation. While each chapter of Kicks detly
sketches a place and a time, Smith struggles
to find the throughways between. I forgive
him on both counts, however, because his
passion for his topic glows. Even someone
with a tenth as much enthusiasm I have for
sneakers will find Kicks a kick.
—Marty Dolan lives in Los Angeles and
owns one pair of Yeezy’s.
Done With Delft
The Pilgrims depart
Holland in July 1620.
The Mayflower:
The Families, the
Voyage, and the
Founding of America
By Rebecca Fraser
St. Martin’s, 2017
The Mayflower ofers fresh and detailed
insights into Restoration England, pre-colonial America, and the Plymouth experience.
Fraser weaves together astute analysis of
English religious tensions and the biographies of Edward Winslow, William Brewster, and William Bradford, the principals
behind the eventful undertaking.
Edward Winslow emerged from a long
line of Worcestershire yeoman farmers, a
row he too might have hoed had his ambitious father not gone into the salt trade, raising the family’s income and social standing
and expanding his son’s horizons. Repression of the separatist church by King James I
and the Church of England drove the younger Winslow, an adventurous sort, to ally with
fellow religio-political radicals John Robin-
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son and printer William Brewster,
and the trio soon departed for the
Netherlands. Chafing at self-exile
in comfortable Leiden, Holland,
separatists set out in 1620 for the
New World. Disease cost the complement half its ranks on this brutal three-month haul, a seagoing
siege Fraser renders with vivacity
and emotional depth that draws
the reader into the experience.
As surviving passengers landing at Plymouth were about to add
another entry to the list of failed
English atempts at colonizing,
they encountered the Massasoit, a
kind, generous tribe of the region
whose members, Winslow reported, were “glad of any occasion to
make peace with us.” The Indian
Squanto taught the Pilgrims to
survive. Fraser’s steady narrative
explicates the founding of the
Massachusets Bay Company, resulting economic experiments, and
the decline of the Pilgrim-Indian
bond into the Pequot War and King
Phillip’s War, presaging the Native
American future.
Winslow, who “liked fighting
for a cause” and might fairly be
considered the first Founding
Father, later became Plymouth’s
tribune in London. He also served
on many of Oliver Cromwell’s
commissions. His strivings came
to permeate the American identity as his descendants in the Massachusets colony proliferated
and multiplied through the Enlightenment and the Revolution.
The Mayflower abounds with
illuminating information and profound insight, presenting a chronicle that shits between Pilgrim
and Puritan perspectives, highlighting in particular the points of
view of successive generations of
—Casey Titus, a student at Palm
Beach State College in Palm
Beach Gardens, Florida, has
writen for
...1940s STYLE
page 36
Plan your trip to Virginia now at
To keep a vital secret
safe, Cromwell rode
doomed sub USS
Sculpin (right) to
his death.
JUNE 2018
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…is a monadnock, geologists’
term for a prominence that juts
from a plain. Shiprock, a 1,583foot remnant of a volcano’s
throat, formed about 27 million
years ago when molten rock
hardened underground. Erosion
exposed the igneous mass, whose
shape recalls that of a sailing vessel. The outcropping dominates
the high desert plain where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and
Utah meet—hence the area’s
name, Four Corners. The Navajo,
who call themselves the Diné and
whose lands encompass much of
Four Corners, know the pinnacle
as Tsé Bit’a’í (pronounced tseh bit
eye), meaning “rock with wings.”
A Diné legend holds that the tribe
came to the vicinity carried by a
great bird from the north. For religious purposes, the Diné closely
control access to the revered site,
recommending that non-Navajo
view the formation only from
paved roads. Shiprock, also the
name of a nearby town, can be
seen from 100 miles away. Four
Corners, where a visitor can plant
a foot in four states at once and
which also marks the boundary
between Navajo and Mountain
Ute lands, is about 30 miles
northwest of Shiprock.
—Michael Dolan
Dominant Prominence
Shiprock’s volcanic mass stands
out from as far as 100 miles away.
Right, a powwow dancer at
Shiprock Navajo Reservation Fair.
New Mexico…
r of Liberation
The Yea
Save $1,000 per couple when you book before August 31, 2018*
The National WWII Museum provides vivid insight into the war that changed the world,
but nothing can tell its story more dramatically than a visit to the actual places where
victory was fought for and won. Our program allows you to experience these journeys
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villages where crucial battles took place and history-making decisions were made.
Guided by the best experts in WWII history, you’ll hear the personal stories and walk in
the footsteps of the citizen soldiers who fought for the freedom we enjoy today. From
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surrounding Bastogne, and atop the Eagle’s Nest, this tour immerses you in the drama
of D-Day and beyond.
*Terms and conditions apply. For a full list of terms and conditions, contact The National WWII Museum
Travel at 1-877-813-3329 x 257.
Featuring “Churchill’s London”
a three-day optional pre-tour
extension program.
Introducing our optional three-day
pre-tour Extension Program
The Treasures of Normandy
Book early and save $1,000 per couple. Call 1-877-813-3329 x 257 to reserve.
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journal, American History
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