Saturday, September 26, 2015

Theodosia Burr Alston's Disappearance was Used in Anti-Privateer Propaganda

There are many stories about what may have happened to Theodosia Burr Alston after she boarded The Patriot on December 31, 1812. Most of those stories involve pirates: pirates forcing her to walk the plank, pirates turning her into their love slave, pirates slitting her throat because they are after her jewels. Every such story was used to hurt Theodosia's father Aaron Burr, both personally and politically,  and in the process to bolster the Neutrality Act under which he was persecuted for his expedition against Spanish held Mexico.

It is one of the practices of the political propagandist to recruit as victims of the policies they are against people near and dear to their political enemies. So it should come as no surprise that some of the people accused of killing Theodosia were not pirates at all, but rather law abiding privateers. One of these was Captain Jean DesFarges, who while working for Jean Laffite, was accused of piracy for taking as a prize a Spanish ship named the Filomena . This occurred about seven years after Theodosia's disappearance. The purpose of the prosecution and later hanging of DesFarges and his crew was to discredit Jean Laffite and his privateering establishment in Galveston. As part of the general smear campaign,  a baseless story was published to the effect that DesFarges had confessed to murdering Theodosia.

The following newspaper account, countering the "pirate" story, from The Famer's Repository, Charleston, W. Vrginia, August 30, 1820 was provided to me by Pam Keyes;

The New Orleans Advetiser of August 21 contradicts the story in the New York prints of June 1820, of certain pirates, executed at New Orleans, having confessed they composed part of the crew of the pilot boat Patriot who murdered Mrs. Alston. The Advertiser discredits the whole account: and upon the testimony of the Rev. Mr. Larned, who attended them in prison from the day of condemnation to the moment of their being swung from the gallows, "It did not appear that they had ever stained their hands with blood."

Nevertheless, the legend of Theodosia having been done away with by pirates lives on. And very few people understand that DesFarges and his crew were not pirates. Likewise, Jean Laffite is known as a pirate, and Aaron Burr, while acquitted of treason, is known as a traitor.  This is how political operatives kill two birds with one stone.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Theodosia and the Pirates: The War Against Spain -- bad scam, good review

As if it were not enough that the false claim of being "released 1900" was applied to Our Lady and Kaifeng, today I discovered a similar scam about Theodosia and the Pirates: The War Against Spain.

This is disheartening, but while investigating this, I also found there was a new review of The War Against Spain.

If you find this review helpful, please vote it up!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

False Claims About My Books

Some charlatan is trying to sell Our Lady of Kaifeng for over a hundred dollars, claiming it was released in 1900. Marah Fallowfield was born in 1900. I, on the other hand, was not yet in existence and hence could not have released the book back then.

The false claim is right above the blue box -- "released 1900"

Several of my books are being offered at inflated prices, and I can do nothing about that. However, please be advised that the more expensive copies are not being sold by me, and that any bizarre claims about these being antiques or having miraculous healing powers are also not coming from me. It is a free country, so if you would prefer to pay $121.37 for a book that you could buy for $10.99 new from the author, then at least know that you are not buying an antique or a magical time-traveling edition. Neither the book nor the author existed in 1900, and the main character was only just born then.  You could buy ten books for that amount of money. But it's all up to you. I believe in a free market.

Monday, September 21, 2015

FDR and Executive Order 6102

The ways of advertising are rather peculiar, and we sometimes get  ironic results. This morning, as I was looking at my other blog, Notes from the Pens, an advertisement from the United States Mint appeared in the left sidebar, reading: "Celebrate the Life of FDR." They were trying to sell me gold coins.

It is true that I have been researching FDR. It is also true that I have been researching FDR in conjunction with the word "gold'. But a gold coin commemorating the life of FDR is the last thing I would want to buy. On April 5, 1933 by Executive Order 6102, Franklin Delano Roosevelt confiscated everyone's gold and made the possession of gold coins a criminal offense.

When you make possession of gold coins a criminal offense, then only criminals can possess gold coins. Enter Bonnie and Clyde. Although their crime spree predated the Executive Order by FDR and involved robbing small stores and gas stations, they are best remembered as bank robbers. That is because, whatever their own motives may have been, people were looking for heroes to save them from the tyrant in the White House.

Wanted poster from FBI site

In my upcoming novel, Our Lady of Kaifeng: Courtyard of the Happy Way, the protagonist, Marah Fallowfield, hero worships Bonnie and Clyde.

When Marah is interned in China in 1943 in a Japanese-run camp for enemy aliens, and she complains about not being allowed to buy food on the free market on pain of being shot, the Camp Commandant gently explains to her that President Roosevelt has instituted food rationing in America, too. She may have been stripped of her civil liberties by the Japanese incarceration, but were she to be repatriated in the United States, she might not have any more rights restored to her. That is because, during World War II, there was not a country on either side the conflict that was not in effect socialist and under totalitarian rule.

Look for Our Lady of Kaifeng: Courtyard of the Happy Way on Amazon by January of 2016.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Apparently, today is "Talk Like a Pirate Day" -- an official holiday in the United States or even internationally.

I wrote about this two years ago on Bubblews,  I still think the same today. By making it impossible for privateers to thrive, the United States created a nostalgia for that era, but instead of using the word "privateer" we use "pirate." We long for the valor and patriotism and determination of a Jean Laffite, but we end up talking like idiots in emulation.

The change in nomenclature between a privateer and a pirate began as early as the 19th century, when after saving the United States from certain annihilation, Jean Laffite was branded a pirate. But what does a pirate talk like, you may ask? Back when Jean Laffite was still alive, there were people who tried to imitate him. One robber of the sea left this note:

This was not written by Jean Laffite, but it was attributed to him by the papers, because that's what people back then believed that a pirate talked like. Things have gone very much downhill when today they are expected to say "Ahhrghh".

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Role of John Quincy Adams in the Lives of Aaron Burr and Jean Laffite

John Quincy Adams, I think, was probably a very troubled man. We know there was good in him, because of his role in the Amistad case.  He was right to argue in favor of kidnapped Africans in their fight to liberate themselves, and in this matter I think that Aaron Burr and Jean Laffite would both be in agreement with him.

However, when it came to his treatment of Aaron Burr and Jean Laffite, he was not so upstanding. There, instead of fighting for the underdog -- the person whose rights had been trampled upon unfairly by the ruling party -- John Quincy Adams came out squarely in favor of the establishment.

When Aaron Burr had already been acquitted in his trial for treason earlier that year, John Quincy Adams, then serving in the Senate, made a  motion on the floor toward the end of 1807 when he was forty years old concerning "the conspiracy of Aaron Burr and his associates against the peace, union and liberties of the United States". He was trying to expel John Smith of Ohio from the Senate on the grounds that he had been a supporter of Burr. (Kennedy 1999.378).

Senator Hillhouse of Connecticutt rose up to reply to Adams: "Where is the evidence whereon we can ground a vote which is to disrobe a Senator from his office and of his honor? ... Nothing but jealousy, ... that jealousy that frequently attaches itself to a charge of treason."

What was John Quincy Adams so jealous about, that it required him to charge Burr anew of the treason of which he had just been acquitted in a trial by his peers? Could it be that he held the election of 1800 against Burr in the same way that Jefferson did? Burr had soundly beaten John Adams,  the Quincy's father, in votes to the presidency. He had tied with Jefferson. Could this have won him the enmity of both the younger Adams as well as his own running mate?

In Theodosia and the Pirates: The War Against Spain, Theodosia warns Jean Laffite that John Quincy Adams cannot be trusted.

At the time, John Quincy Adams was Secretary of State under President Monroe and he was negotiating a treaty with the Spanish Ambassador de Onis. The Adams-Onis Treaty set the western border between Spain and the United States at the Sabine River in return for Spain giving up Florida.

Effectively, what John Quincy Adams did was to trade Texas for Florida. There was just one problem: Texas did not belong to the United States. Texas was a separate sovereign nation, under the leadership of Jean Laffite.

When  Patterson of the US Navy sent Kearney on The Enterprise  to clear out the Laffites from Galveston, they were not doing it on behalf of the United States, as the United States had given up all claim to that territory. They were acting on behalf of Spain, as promised by John Quincy Adams!

It is perhaps a fitting biographical note that John Quincy Adams died of apoplexy suffered in 1848 while denying American servicemen recognition for their service in the Mexican-American War, to which he had been opposed. I believe that if John Quincy Adams had had his way, the United States would be much smaller than it currently is. He opposed the Burr expedition that was meant to liberate Texas from Spain. He opposed the right of Jean Laffite to govern Galveston, which Laffite was doing as a service to the United States. And he opposed every other territorial expansion in the western direction, if it meant taking territory that he had preemptively given away under his treaty with de Onis.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Videos About Theodosia and the Pirates

Today I am promoting videos on my blogs. So I am going to share with you again some of the videos about Theodosia and the Pirates that I have accumulated over the past two years.

Above is embedded the trailer for the first Theodosia and the Pirates book, "The Battle Against Britain." It contains important historical information, along with fictional story, giving details of the financial arrangement for the Louisiana Purchase that eventually left the United States in debt to Britain and helped to precipitate the War of 1812. Most people today still think we owed that money to France. If only they had watched this book trailer, their horizons would be greatly expanded.

In the trailer for the second Theodosia and the Pirates novel, "The War Against Spain" the many ways in which the United States government  let Jean Laffite down are explored. No matter how badly he was treated, he was always in love with this country, and his love needed no reciprocation. That's what a true patriot is like.

The first talk I gave about Theodosia and the Pirates was at the Texas County Museum of Art and History. It was well received.

Some people had problems accepting the sexual part of the Theodosia and the Pirates books. In the above video, I discuss the Sack of Hampton, and how it relates to why I chose to portray Captain Lockyer in the way that I did.

I know that many people from all across the world are reading this blog and gaining information not readily available about the history of the United States. However, it seems that fewer people have seen these videos than have read my blog posts. If you have not watched them yet, and you are interested in Jean Laffite and Theodosia Burr, The War of 1812, the political careers of Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson, or even the history of the national debt, then you might want to explore these and other related videos.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Looking for Lois Ann Little

Very little is known about Lois Ann Little, Jean Laffite's putative granddaughter. We are told that she was born in 1840, was a deaf mute for most of her life, that she lived on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri and died in 1914. Her parents were Francis and Denise Little.

Lois Little is said to have been good looking and intelligent and to enjoy drawing, but she could not hear and could not speak out loud. I am not sure whether her deafness was congenital or as a result of a childhood disease. As far as we know, she never married. As Lois Little has no great achievements to her name, her chief interest to me at the moment is to help authenticate the Journal of Jean Laffite and the accompanying biographical materials that came with it, in the form of entries in the family Bibles and scrapbooks kept by the Laffite heirs. If we can prove that Lois Little existed, then maybe we can prove that her mother Denise Laffite Little existed as well, and we will be one step closer to proving that the Journal is genuine or at least contains facts about Laffite not otherwise known. 

My biggest lead at the moment is a small order of nuns who emigrated from France  and set up shop at Carondelet in 1837 to minister to the deaf community of St. Louis. They are called the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet. Here is their story:

St. John Fontbonne in 1808, after the French Revolution, re-founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph (CSJ). More than a century and a half before, in 1650, the Sisters of St. Joseph had been founded in LePuy, France. During the French Revolution, the sisters were forced to return to their homes and the community was dispersed. Some 28 years after the refounding, six Sisters of St. Joseph came to the United States in 1836 and established American roots at Carondelet, a small community in south St. Louis, Missouri. Five years later, in 1841, they opened St. Joseph's Academy for girls.
 The school that the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet opened was not just a school for girls, It was not just a school for French speaking girls. It was a school for the deaf.

St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf was founded in 1837 when six Sisters of St Joseph of Carondelet arrived in America from Lyon,France. Sent by the Bishop and a dedicated supporter, their sole mission was to educate children with deafness. They began teaching sign language in a small log cabin on the banks of the Mississippi River. Their ministry grew and by 1908 they purchased a school building and established residential housing for students from across the nation
I have contacted the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet several times already, but I have not yet had any confirmation of any contact with Lois Little, as the archives from that period are hard to access. However, I plan to redouble my efforts until a more concerted search can be made.

If there was a young girl of French origin living in Carondelet or the vicinity who was deaf and in need of an education, where would she have gone if not to the school opened by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet? And if she had parents and a famous grandparent who were well off, would there not be evidence of financial contributions from the Littles and the Laffites to that school?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Presidential Election of 1800

Even though the framers of the constitution did not make any mention of political parties, the party system emerged very early on in the history of American politics, and by the  fourth quadrennial presidential election two parties dominated the scene: the Federalists, whose leaders were John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, and the Democratic-Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.

Because the framers of the constitution did not anticipate the rise of political parties, they provided that each member of the Electoral College could cast two votes for president, and that the person with the highest number of votes would be the new president, and the person with the second highest number of votes would be the new vice president. The reasoning behind this rule was that it would maximize the possibility that a person with a majority of national support would be elected president. (When people vote by the party and not by the person, the possibility of getting a majority is much greater, as electors never even consider voting for people that the major parties have not thrown their support behind.) It was thus that in 1800 the incumbent president was John Adams, a Federalist, and the incumbent Vice President, Thomas Jefferson was his rival, a Democratic-Republican.

In preparation for the election, each of the two major parties had a plan and a "ticket". Despite the fact that the constitution expected each candidate to run on his own and for the second runner up to be vice president, that is not at all how the major players in the election of 1800 organized themselves. Each party had a presidential candidate and a chosen running mate.

John Adams chose Charles Cotes Pinckney of South Carolina as his running mate. (He could not have chosen Alexander Hamilton, because Hamilton was foreign born, and thus ineligible to hold the office of president .) Thomas Jefferson chose Aaron Burr, of New York, as his running mate. Notice that they tried to keep things even between the North and the South: the presidential candidate from the North, Adams, chose a southerner for his running mate. The presidential candidate from the South, Thomas Jefferson, chose a northerner for his running mate. But make no mistake about it: despite the provisions in the constitution, there was a presidential ticket for each party that included a presidential and a vice presidential candidate. And in order to make sure that the right guy wound up president from their own slate, each party instructed one of their electors to vote against the vice presidential candidate of their choice, lest he get the exact same numbers as the presidential candidate.

But in 1800 something went wrong.  Things did not go as planned at party headquarters. The person on the Democratic-Republican side who had been instructed to vote against Aaron Burr forgot or changed his mind, and Jefferson and Burr tied for president, each with 73 electoral votes. In the Federalist party, Hamilton and Adams were not acting in unison, which may be one of the reasons why the Federalists lost their hold on the presidency.

The issues in the election centered on the Federalist support of England against France, which resulted in the use of the Neutrality Act to prevent American privateers from serving the French interests, while the American government was engaged in a Quasi-War with France. And to make sure that people did not complain about this, the Federalists had passed the Alien and Sedition Acts. All of these were highly unpopular measures, which is why the Democratic-Republicans were the clear winners. But while everybody was tired of the tyranny of the Adams administration, and most Americans did not want to be satellites of England, there was also concern that Thomas Jefferson might be a Jacobin, and that his presidency might result in a loss of property rights as was suffered by the bourgeoisie under the French Revolution. That is why certain people, some of them Federalists,  were campaigning behind closed doors to make Aaron Burr the president, and Thomas Jefferson the Vice President.

However, that was not Aaron Burr's doing, and he was an honorable man. He had promised to run with Jefferson as the vice presidential candidate, and though he had a chance to grab the presidency, he did not. He instructed his supporters in the House of Representatives to throw in their votes for Thomas Jefferson in the follow-up election of 1801. At this point, the Federalist supporters of Adams had been voting for Burr, while the faction of the Federalists that Hamilton controlled voted for Jefferson. Abigail Adams, in one of her letters, expressed the thought that Burr would make a pretty good president.

Thomas Jefferson, even though he did win the election, never forgave Burr for almost upstaging him, and the next time he ran for president, he did not choose Burr as a running mate. Another, far more permanent result of this election was that the constitution was amended. No more was the vice president to be the person with the second  highest number of votes for president. From now on, vice presidents would be elected separately from presidents, thereby acknowledging the practical power of the political party.

Today, most people do not know about any of this. Some say it's a shame we have political parties, since that was not envisioned by the founding fathers. Not envisioned perhaps, but all the founding fathers who ran for office were involved in political parties, so while they may not have wanted them to exist for the other side, they certainly did use them when they themselves were running. People also do not remember that Burr and Jefferson were running mates on the same political party slate. Some contrarians even remember that the president and vice president were elected in the same election, but they do not remember that in order to get around the rules they themselves had made, founding fathers like Adams and Jefferson instructed their political flunkies to cast one vote for somebody they did not want elected at all, just so there would be a clear presidential winner on their party slate distinct from the vice presidential winner.

The historical facts can be quite astonishing. Sometimes it pays to revisit them.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

American Labor Day versus International Labor Day

On my Facebook feed, in preparation for Labor Day, I saw a meme with a picture of coffins covered with American flags, and the words: "In case you thought it was just an excuse for another three day weekend, this is what this day is about." That was odd! I would think that meme would be more appropriate for Memorial Day than for Labor Day. But it's true that all those holidays that just very conveniently fall on a Monday do seem to blend together, and most people have no idea what any of them are about.

American Labor Day falls on the first Monday of September, and it marks the end of the period when it is fashionable to wear white. It also has something to do with the American Labor movement, but is not to be confused with International Labor Day, which falls on May 1st every year and involves waving red flags, holding up a left hand with a clenched fist and singing the Internationale.

Even though the Internationale is a French song in origin, it is best known around the world in its Russian translation. That is because the Russian Internationale was the national anthem of the Soviet Union until 1944, when they wrote their own song. (They also used to sing the Marseillaise a lot.)

Here is the Internationale in English:

This one does not seem to be as inspiring as some of the other versions ("Don't cling so hard to your possessions"?!)Be that as it may, international Labor Day is celebrated in many countries, and the Internationale is sung in many languages.

In most countries, Labor Day is a socialist holiday, and the workers are expected to show solidarity with workers the world over, because the "working class" is supposed to transcend national borders.

In the United States, in order to distance ourselves from international socialism, Labor Day is not on May 1st and nobody sings the Internationale, not even the more "progressive elements." Instead, here are the top ten Labor Day songs:

The very top song is sung by Pete Seeger to the tune of John Brown's Body, a Civil War ballad adopted by the North against the South.

Solidarity Forever was written by Ralph Chaplin in 1915. Here are a few sample lyrics:

It is we who plowed the prairies; built the cities where they trade;
Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid;
Now we stand outcast and starving midst the wonders we have made;
But the union makes us strong.

All the world that's owned by idle drones is ours and ours alone.
We have laid the wide foundations; built it skyward stone by stone.
It is ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own.
While the union makes us strong.

What do you  think, after listening to this song: Is American Labor Day a socialist holiday?