Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Grant v. Lee Twitter Experiment










From time to time, as Cosmic Americans know, I ask some sort of little question on Twitter to get the ball rolling toward a conversation. Recently I asked the hypothetical: "Who would you rather have on your side, Grant or Lee...and why?" Kind of a silly question of course, since there are so many other factors to consider when it comes to victory and defeat, but my point was to get people talking about the military prowess of each commander. 

The most interesting thing happened. The votes were unanimously cast for Ulysses S. Grant. This surprised me a little - the Twitter universes is a big place, and surely there have to be some Lee fans out there. But not this time.

A number of things could explain this. One, we are naturally looking at these two men retrospectively and well, we know who won. So yes, we all like to pick a winner.

But I think there is more to it than that. Answers indicated that Lee was overrated both in his time and by subsequent generations...that he was too audacious and unnecessarily bled his army to defeat. Grant, on the other hand, masterfully used the resources that those before him did (or could) not. This suggests to me that myths surrounding both men have changed drastically over the last several decades. 

Others suggested that northern leaning sentiment is slowly taking over the Internet - that perhaps a less technologically savvy older generation favors the Lee camp and thus doesn't really use social media platforms to speak their minds. I'm not sure if I agree with this - I have seen plenty of web-based pro-Confederate groups who maintain active forums declaring the many virtues of their beloved Robert E. Lee.

At least one person figured that I might have driven the pro-Lee crew away and they just did not participate. After all, besides being a "Yankee metrosexual wearing purple sunglasses" I am also on record as favoring the Union cause...maybe I was just baiting them. (I wasn't. I am also on record as stating that I think RE Lee was a hell of a soldier) 

I'll give the Lee crew a chance to weigh in here. But as it stands so far - Grant is a clear winner in the "who would you rather have on your side" contest.

And by the way, the winner of last week's "Bibliophiles Unite" contest on Twitter was @WeezieWeaver - she figured out after a few helpful hints that the book in question was Marshall W. Fishwick's Lee After the War published way back in 1963. Well done.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bibliophiles Unite! I like this game.

Avid readers, book nerds, and just regular geeks should enjoy this game. The rules are simple: I Instagram a shot of some text from a book that I am currently reading, post it to Twitter, and you guess what it is. Sound like a tall order? Don't fret. There will be plenty of hints on my Twitter feed. Get the answer correct and I will give you a shout out right here on Cosmic America. The book pictured is The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview by Eugene Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese. Congrats to @BobRBogle for getting it right. Nice work, Bob!


Friday, February 8, 2013

President Ben Wade


As you all know by now, i have a strong dislike for counterfactual history. I find it entirely useless, as a matter of fact. So you can rest easy. I am not going to try and construct some "what if" scenario featuring the gentleman from Ohio ascending to the executive office.

But not so very long ago, Senator Wade came within one vote of doing exactly that. During the 1868 impeachment trail of Andrew Johnson, Wade was serving as president pro tem of the Senate. Since the vice president's seat was vacant, then Wade was next in line should something happen to Andy Johnson. Something...for example...like a conviction in an impeachment trial.

But too bad for Ben Wade. It seemed a few of his fellow republican colleagues thought him a touch too radical for the job. His ascendency would surely have secured his nomination for president in '68 - and many thought he was too radical to win. What's more - he was pro-labor and favored a high tariff. This made northern business interests cringe. And what's worse - I don't think his colleagues liked him very much at all. I'm not sure how Mrs. Wade felt.

Sure, pleny of people would have loved to sack AJ, but not if it meant filling his seat with Ben Wade. In the end, he missed it by a tad - only one vote short of the 2/3 necessary to make him president.

Some alleged that Senator Ross of Kansas - the deciding vote - may have been helped along by promises from the Johnson camp. Ben "the Beast" Butler launched an inquiry to check in to such matters, but nothing really came of it.

Poor Ben Wade just couldn't catch a break.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Election of 1868 - Campaign Posters

The campaign posters for the Democratic nominee Horatio Seymour and the Republican nominee Ulysses S. Grant in the 1868 presidential contest show remarkable similarities. But there are a few significant difference as well - care to give them a shot?