Internautica January 9, 2019

  1. Rachel Cusk’s meditations on the road near her house and the intermitten cardrivers upon it is really in the English mode. George Orwell, in one of his lesser known pieces, was all for a 20 mile an hour speed limit for cars. If Cusk is to be believed, there’s a lot of George Orwell fans among this lot. An interesting piece. 
  2. Here’s a scary number. Alexander Sammon goes to Elwood Illinois, a town that is being strangled by villainous corporate megagiants in the usual pump and dump game – get the Babbits who control the town council to vote in fantastically stupid tax credits, build, let the town strain to take care of the infrastructure by going deep in bond dept, then pull out if the town gets feisty. In Elwood’s case, the rooking derives from its geography. ” Six class-1 railroads and four interstate highways pass through the region, which is situated a day’s drive from a full 60 percent of the country. Chicago is some 40 miles northwest as the crow flies.” Its a story of daily cruelty enacted against the precariat, with the cooperation of the powers that be. 

3. Ulysses Grant used to be thought of as a low-end president. Great general, drunk, corrupt administration – those were the labels. But the labelers were all down with the white supremicist order. Their corruption is mirrored in their rankings. We are starting to see Grant as the last radical Republican, the president who was serious about enforcing suffrage for African-Americans, and who was willing to back up reconstruction with troops. Mary Stockwell shows that Grant’s inclusiveness was not confined to black liberation – he was also serious about First Nation rights – although to the extent that he felt Indians were American citizens too. 

Calling American Indians the “original occupants of the land,” he promised to pursue any course of action that would lead to their “ultimate citizenship.” It was not an idle promise. In the spring of 1865, he had been appointed the nation’s first General of the Army, a post that involved overseeing all the armies of the United States—including in the West, where conflicts with native tribes had raged throughout the Civil War. In this position, Grant had relied on his good friend and military secretary, Ely S. Parker, a member of the Seneca tribe, for advice. Now, as the newly inaugurated president of the United States, he was ready to implement his plans for the Indians, with Parker at his side as his Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

Parker and Grant’s friendship began in 1860, when Parker was working at the time as an engineer for the Treasury Department in Galena, Illinois, and often visited a leather goods store, where the proprietor’s son, Ulysses, worked as a clerk. Ulysses Grant had developed a deep sympathy for the Indians while serving in the army during the Mexican War. Later, on active duty in California and the Columbia River Valley, he saw firsthand the misery that Indians endured in his own nation. Grant never bought into the popular notion that Americans wanted to improve the lives of the native peoples, noting that civilization had brought only two things to the Indians: whiskey and smallpox.

Roger Gathmann
Roger Gathmann

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