Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The business of writing / The song of the Cuban protests / The editor of the world’s most famous crossword puzzle / How to be back in the airport / A 150-year old fragrance is back

This week: The business of writing / The song of the Cuban protests / The editor of the world’s most famous crossword puzzle / How to be back in the airport / A 150-year old fragrance is back

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. ‘Your evil revolution’: How a reggaeton anthem inspired Cuba protests
By Nancy San Martin and Mimi Whitefield | National Geographic | July 2021
“‘Patria y Vida’ turns a Castro slogan on its head, inspiring thousands to demand reform in the island nation”

2. The Business Side of Being a Writer
By Susan Orlean | Medium | July 2021
“Being a writer means you are running a small business, manufacturing sentences, and you are the owner of the business, and the foreman of the factory, and the guy working on the production line, and the person driving the truck to deliver the sentences to your customers.”

3. Searching for Moby-Dick (and the Elusive Truths of America’s Pastime)
By Rick White | LitHub | July 2021
“Two decades later, sabermetrics are the only metrics that matter,’big ball’ is baseball, baseball is boring, and Whiteyball has gone the way of the ‘Pequod’ and the hand-hurled harpoon. What else should one have expected? It was, like Melville’s masterpiece, and like all other fine works of American art, destined in time to be swallowed up like Jonah, either in obscurity or by the whale of American corporate oligarchy.”

4. ‘I’ve outlasted them all’: The spectacular life of the world’s most powerful crossword editor
By J Oliver Conroy | The Guardian | July 2021
“The New York Times’ Will Shortz has appeared on The Simpsons, written riddles for a Batman villain and sold over 1m copies of a sudoku book. He talks hate mail, controversial clues and why puzzles are like drugs”

5. The completely correct guide to being back in an airport
By Natalie B. Compton | The Washington Post | July 2021
“No one wants to listen to you yell about client synergies, Richard”

6. Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A Kid’s-Eye View
By Dana Stevens | The Criterion Collection | May 2021
“[L]ike all the kids in director Amy Heckerling’s tender, funny, sometimes painfully well-observed comedy of teenage manners, I spent most of my spare time in one of several sprawling suburban malls, because where else was a high schooler in the early eighties supposed to go?”

7. Galileo and the Pope Fell Out over a Story about a Cicada
By Nuno Castel-Branco | Scientific American | July 2021
“The legendary scientist used the insects’ songs as a metaphor for his theories about the universe. It didn’t go well”

8. Shipwrecked scent: A perfumer re-creates a 150-year-old fragrance
By Amanda McGowan | The World | July 2020
“A ship called the Mary Celestia sank in 1864 off the coast of Bermuda. About 150 years later, divers visiting the shipwreck uncovered a perfectly preserved bottle of perfume. Perfumer Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone worked to re-create the 150-year-old scent.”

9. My Time as (Probably) the Most Assaulted Cabinet Member in History
By Dan Glickman | Politico Magazine | June 2021
“The worst part? All the food people threw at me.”

10. Samuel Beckett
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2008-2020
Also see: The Fire of London | Heat | Neuroscience | Bolivar

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Pelosi’s war with the next generation / The evolution of the romance genre / Remembering the fall of Saigon / The T. Rex census / New histories of the UT Tower shooting

This week: Pelosi’s war with the next generation / The evolution of the romance genre / Remembering the fall of Saigon / The T. Rex census / New histories of the UT Tower shooting

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. Inside Nancy Pelosi’s War With AOC and the Squad
By Susan Page | Politico Magazine | April 2021
“How the House speaker put Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her place.”

2. How the romance genre found its happily ever after
By Angela Haupt | The Washington Post | April 2021
“Here, a dozen people — authors, editors, agents, cover artists and one mononymous male model — recount how the modern romance industry came together and took off.”

3. The Rhymes And Reasons Behind Re-Recording Your Own Classics
By Annie Zaleski | NPR | April 2021
“In general, the reasons for these re-records are simple: financial control and creative ownership.”

4. The Wizard in the White City
By Kirstin Butler | American Experience :: PBS | April 2021
“L. Frank Baum’s long and winding road to Oz, and the Chicago World’s Fair that inspired his life’s work.”

5. How many Tyrannosaurus rex walked the Earth?
By Ashley Poust and Daniel Varajão de Latorre | The Conversation | April 2021
“To estimate population, our team of paleontologists and scientists had to combine the extraordinarily comprehensive existing research on T. rex with an ecological principle that connects population density to body size.”

6. Forty years on from the fall of Saigon: Witnessing the end of the Vietnam war
By Martin Woollacott | The Guardian | April 2015
“Much suffering and grief lay in the past, but there was a presentiment, even as things ended in Saigon, that the future held more of the same.”

7. How to Collect Firewood
By Malia Wollan | Tip :: The New York Times Magazine | March 2021
“To cut enough wood to keep a house warm for the winter, you’ll need to know your way around a chain saw.”

8. Behind the Tower: New Histories of the UT Tower Shooting
By Christopher Rose, Joan Neuberger and Henry Wiencek | 15 Minute History :: UT Department of History | 2014-2020
Also see: 1968 – The Year the Dream Died | Harvey Milk, Forty Years Later | Stokely Carmichael: A Life | The History of the Family

9. What’s next for Cuba and the United States after Raul Castro’s retirement
By Joseph J. Gonzalez | The Conversation | April 2021
“Cuban President Miguel Díaz Canel, who took office in 2018 after Raul Castro stepped down as president, has resisted calls for democratic reforms and has pressing economic issues to manage, as well as a pandemic. So does his American counterpart, President Joe Biden. The White House recently said Cuba policy is ‘not a top priority.’ ”

10. Frankenstein
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2010-2019
Also see: Shinto | The Hippocratic Oath | Thomas Edison | Cleopatra

Latin America in the Civil War Era: A working bibliography and research memo

This evolving list is the first of many steps of an intellectual process to comprehend the scope of relevant literature in this field. It is a very broad initial attempt to identify important books, essays, articles, memoirs, archival collections and other primary and secondary sources.

 

The U.S. Civil War sent economic, political and social shockwaves around the world. My great objective is to understand how they were felt primarily throughout Latin America, specifically throughout the republican and imperial governments, the intelligentsia, the diplomatic circles, the street-level multiracial societies, and the military commands.

I intend to illustrate these histories through biography whenever possible and through narrative history in general. I may be fashionably late to the transnational party, but I definitely intend to earn my place among its best scholars.

This evolving list is the first of many steps of an intellectual process to comprehend the scope of relevant literature in this field. It is a very broad initial attempt to identify important books, essays, articles, memoirs, archival collections and other primary and secondary sources.

A second, sharpened, edited version of this bibliography will follow in the coming months. The third step will be an annotated bibliography. That will then lead to a comprehensive review essay analyzing the evolution of the literature, the conversations and the debates. The essay will also identify potential avenues of future research and the challenges of traveling down those avenues. That essay will, in part, guide my future scholarly ambitions and plans.

I have a very long and very beautiful intellectual journey ahead of me. I certainly welcome corrections, comments and suggestions as this self-introductory process continues. You may reach me at this address: remembrance_@hotmail.com.

WORKING BIBLIOGRAPHY (by region)

MEXICO

Aldis, Owen F. “Louis Napoleon and the Southern Confederacy,” North American Review 129 (October 1879): 342-362.

Bacha-Garza, Roseann, Christopher L. Miller and Russell K. Skowronek. The Civil War on the Rio Grande, 1846-1876. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2019.

Barker, Nancy N. “Monarchy in Mexico: Harebrained Scheme or Well-Considered Prospect?” The Journal of Modern History 48, no. 1 (March 1976): 51-68.

Brettle, Adrian Robert. “The Fortunes of War: Confederate Expansionist Ambitions During the American Civil War.” PhD diss. University of Virginia, 2014.

Callahan, James Morton. Evolution of Seward’s Mexican Policy. West Virginia University Studies in American History ser. 1, Diplomatic History, nos. 4, 5, and 6. Morgantown, W.Va.: West Virginia University, 1909.

Downs, Gregory P. “The Mexicanization of American Politics: The United States’ Transnational Path from Civil War to Stabilization.” American Historical Review 117 (April 2012): 408.

Frazier, Robert W. “Latin American Projects to Aid Mexico during the French Intervention,” The Hispanic American Historical Review 28 (August 1948): 370-386.

Gonzalez-Quiroga, Miguel Angel. “Conflict and Cooperation in the Making of Texas-Mexico Border Society, 1840-1880” in Bridging National Borders in North America: Transnational and Comparative Histories, 33-58, edited by Benjamin H. Johnson and Andrew R. Graybill. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2010.

Hanna, A.J. “The Role of Matthew Fontaine Maury in the Mexican Empire,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 55 (April 1947): 105-125.

Hanna, Kathryn Abbey. “The Roles of the South in the French Intervention in Mexico,” The Journal of Southern History 20, no. 1 (February 1954): 3-21.

—. Napoleon III and Mexico: American Triumph over Monarchy. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1971.

Hardy, William E. “South of the Border: Ulysses S. Grant and the French Intervention.” Civil War History 54, no. 1 (March 2008): 63-86.

Hart, John Mason. Empire and Revolution: The Americans in Mexico since the Civil War. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Irby, James. Backdoor at Bagdad: The Civil War on the Rio Grande. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1977.

McAllen, M.M. Maximilian and Carlotta, Europe’s Last Empire in Mexico. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2014.

Martin, Percy F. Maximilian in Mexico: The Story of the French Intervention (1861-1867). New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1914.

Miller, Robert Ryal. “Matia Romero: Mexican Minister to the United States during the Juarez-Maximilian Era,” The Hispanic American Historical Review 45 (May 1964): 230.

—. “Arms across the Border: United States Aid to Juarez during the French Intervention in Mexico,” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, n.s, 63, no. 6 (1973): 1-68.

Mora-Torres, Juan. The Making of the Mexican Border: The State, Capitalism, and Society and Nuevo Leon, 1848-1910. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001.

Ridley, Jasper. Maximilian and Juarez. London: Constable, 2001.

Rister, Carl Coke. “Carlota: A Confederate Colony in Mexico,” The Journal of Southern History 11 (February 1945): 33-50.

Rolle, Andrew F. The Lost Cause: The Confederate Exodus to Mexico. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965.

Schoonover, Thomas. Dollars Over Dominion: The Triumph of Liberalism in Mexican-United States Relations, 1861-1867. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978.

—., ed., Mexican Lobby: Matias Romero in Washington 1861-1867. Lexington, Ky: University of Kentucky Press, 1986.

Truett, Samuel. Fugitive Landscapes: The Forgotten History of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Tyler, Ronnie C. Santiago Vidaurri and the Southern Confederacy. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1973.

Wahlstrom, Todd W. The Southern Exodus to Mexico: Migration across the Borderlands after the American Civil War. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2015.

GENERAL SOUTH AMERICA

Ferris, Nathan L. “The Relations of the United States with South America during the Civil War,” The Hispanic American Historical Review 21 (February 1941): 51-78.

Fitz, Caitlin A. “The Hemispheric Dimensions of Early U.S. Nationalism: The War of 1812, Its Aftermath, and Spanish American Independence,” The Journal of American History 102 (September 2015): 356–379.

—. Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of Revolutions. New York: Norton, 2016.

Gobat, Michel. “The Invention of Latin America: The Transnational History of Anti-Imperialism, Democracy, and Race,” American Historical Review 118 (December 2013): 1345-1375.

Kelly, Patrick J. “The Cat’s-Paw: Confederate Ambitions in Latin America” in American Civil Wars: The United States, Latin America, Europe and the Crisis of the 1860s. Edited by Don H. Doyle. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017.

May, Robert E.. Manifest Destiny’s Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

—. Slavery, Race and Conquest in the Tropics: Lincoln, Douglass and the Future of Latin America. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Sanders, James E. The Vanguard of the Atlantic World: Creating Modernity, Nation, and Democracy in Nineteenth Century Latin America. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2014.

Scott, Rebecca, et. al. The Abolition of Slavery and the Aftermath of Emancipation in Brazil. Durham: Duke University Press, 1988.

Tenorio-Trillo, Mauricio. Latin America: The Allure and Power of an Idea. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017.

CHILE

Burr, Robert N. By Reason or Force: Chile and the Balancing of Power in South America, 1830-1905. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.

PERU

Blanchard, Peter. Slavery and Abolition in Early Republican Peru. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources Books, 1992.

“Emancipation Declared in Peru,” Anti-Slavery Reporter, July 2, 1855, 157.

GENERAL SPANISH CARIBBEAN

González-Quintero, Nicolás. “Empire, Slavery, and Exile in the 19th Century Spanish Caribbean.” PhD diss. University of Texas at Austin, 2020.

May, Robert E. The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 1854-1861. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1973.

Rugemer, Edward Bartlett. The Problem of Emancipation: The Caribbean Roots of the American Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008.

Schmidt-Nowara, Christopher. Empire and Antislavery: Spain, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, 1833-1870. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999.

—. “From Aggression to Crisis: The Spanish Empire in the 1860s” in American Civil Wars: The United States, Latin America, Europe and the Crisis of the 1860s. Edited by Don H. Doyle. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017.

CUBA

Chaffin, Tom. Fatal Glory: Narciso López and the First Clandestine U.S. War Against Cuba. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996.

Corwin, Arthur. Spain and the Abolition of Slavery in Cuba, 1817-1886. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967.

Scott, Rebecca. Slave Emancipation in Cuba: The Transition to Free Labor, 1860-1899. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985.

—. Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba After Slavery. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005.

GENERAL U.S. CIVIL WAR

Barnes, James J., and Patience P. Barnes. The American Civil War Through British Eyes: Dispatches from British Diplomats. Kent, OH: Kent University Press, 2005.

Beckert, Sven. “Emancipation and Empire: Reconstructing the Worldwide Web of Cotton Production in the Age of the American Civil War,” American Historical Review 109 (December 2004): 1405-1438.

Bonner, Robert E. “The Salt Water Civil War: Thalassological Approaches, Ocean-Centered Opportunities,” The Journal of the Civil War Era 6, no. 2 (June 2016): 243-267.

Bowen, Wayne S. Spain and the American Civil War. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2011.

Crook, David Paul. The North, the South, and the Powers, 1861-1865. New York: Wiley, 1974.

—. Diplomacy during the Civil War. New York: Wiley, 1975.

Davis, Jefferson. The Papers of Jefferson Davis. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1971 to present.

Davis, William C. “Confederate Exiles.” American History Illustrated 5, no. 3 (June 1970): 30-43.

Doyle, Don H. The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War. New York: Basic Books, 2015.

Egerton, Douglas R. “Rethinking Atlantic Historiography in a Postcolonial Era: The Civil War in a Global Perspective,” The Journal of the Civil War Era 1, no. 1 (March 2011): 79-95.

Eichhorn, Niels. “North Atlantic Trade in the Mid-Nineteenth Century: A Case for Peace during the American Civil War,” Civil War History 1, no. 2 (June 2015): 138-172.

Faust, Drew Gilpin. Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War. Durham: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Ferris, Norman B. Desperate Diplomacy: William H. Seward’s Foreign Policy, 1861. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976.

Fleche, Andre. Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.

Foreman, Amanda. A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War. New York: Random House, 2010.

Grant, U.S. The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant. Edited by John Y. Simon. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1991.

—. The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant. New York: C.L. Webster, 1886.

Grimsley, Mark, and Brooks D. Simpson, eds. The Collapse of the Confederacy. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001.

Hahn, Steven. “What Sort of World Did the Civil War Make?” in The World the Civil War Made. Edited by Gregory P. Downs and Kate Masur. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.

Hubbard, Charles M. The Burden of Confederate Diplomacy. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1998.

Hunt, Jeffrey William. The Last Battle of the Civil War: Palmetto Ranch. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.

Jones, Howard. Union in Peril: The Crisis Over British Intervention in the Civil War. Lincoln, NE: Bison Books, 1997.

–. Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom: The Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

–. Blue and Gray Diplomacy: A History of Union and Confederate Foreign Relations. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016.

Kelly, Patrick J. “The North American Crisis of the 1860s,” The Journal of the Civil War Era 2, no. 3 (September 2012): 337-368.

—. “1848 and the Transnational Turn in Civil War History,” The Journal of the Civil War Era 4, no. 3 (September 2014): 431-443.

Kerby, Robert L. Kirby Smith’s Confederacy: The Trans-Mississippi South, 1863-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972.

Lincoln, Abraham. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Edited by Roy P. Basler. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953-1955.

Lonn, Ella. Foreigners in the Confederacy. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

McDaniel, W. Caleb, and Bethany L. Johnson. “New Approaches to Internationalizing the History of the Civil War Era: An Introduction,” The Journal of the Civil War Era 2, no. 2 (June 2012): 145-150.

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Mahin, Dean P. One War at a Time: The International Dimensions of the U.S. Civil War. Washington, D.C.: Brassey’s, 1999.

May, Robert E., ed. The Union, the Confederacy, and the Atlantic Rim. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1995.

Owsley, Frank Lawrence. King Cotton Diplomacy: Foreign Relations of the Confederate States of America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959.

Prior, David M. et. al. “Teaching the Civil War in Global Context: A Discussion,” The Journal of the Civil War Era 5, no. 1 (March 2015): 126-153.

Robinson, Michael. “William Henry Seward and the Onset of the Secession Crisis,” Civil War History 59, no. 1 (March 2013): 32-66.

Sexton, Jay. “The Civil War and U.S. World Power” in American Civil Wars: The United States, Latin America, Europe and the Crisis of the 1860s. Edited by Doyle. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017.

Stokes, Donald. The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Townsend, Stephen A. The Yankee Invasion of Texas. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2006.

Tucker, Phillip Thomas. The Final Fury: Palmito Ranch, The Last Battle of the Civil War. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 2001.

Tyrner-Tyrnauer, A.R. Lincoln and the Emperors. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1962.

U.S. War Department. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.

Zimmerman, Andrew. “From the Second American Revolution to the First International and Back Again: Marxism, the Popular Front, and the American Civil War” in The World the Civil War Made. Edited by Downs and Kate Masur. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.

GENERAL WORKS

Baptist, Edward E. The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. New York: Basic Books, 2014.

Bayly, C.A. The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2004: 165-166.

Beckert, Sven, “Merchants and Manufacturers in the Antebellum North” in Ruling America: A History of Wealth and Power in a Democracy. Edited by Steve Fraser and Gary Gerstle. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005.

—. Empire of Cotton: A Global History. New York: Knopf, 2014.

Bender, Thomas, ed. Rethinking American History in a Global Age. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

—. A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006.

Bensel, Richard Franklin. Yankee Leviathan: The Origins of Central State Authority in America, 1859-1877. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Geyer, Michael, and Charles Bright. “Global Violence and Nationalizing Wars in Eurasia and America: The Geo Politics of War in the Mid-Nineteenth Century,” Comparative Studies in History and Society, 38, no. 4, (October 1996): 619-657.

Grandin, Greg. “The Liberal Tradition in the Americas: Rights, Sovereignty, and the Origins of Multilateralism,” American Historical Review 117 (February 2012): 68-91.

Greene, Jack P., and Philip D. Morgan, eds. Atlantic History: A Critical Reappraisal. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Guterl, Matthew. American Mediterranean: Southern Slaveholders in the Age of Emancipation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008.

Hamalainen, Pekka. The Comanche Empire. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

Johnson, Walter. Soul By Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

—. River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2013.

Karp, Matthew. This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016.

LaFeber, Walter. The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860-1898. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1963.

Perkins, Dexter. The Monroe Doctrine, 1826-1867. Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1965.

Roediger, David R. The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class. New York: Verso Books, 2007.

Rothman, Adam, “The Slave Power in the United States, 1783-1865” in Ruling America: A History of Wealth and Power in a Democracy. Edited by Steve Fraser and Gary Gerstle. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005.

Sexton, Jay. The Monroe Doctrine: Empire and Nation in Nineteenth-Century America. New York: Hill & Wang, 2012.

Whitaker, Arthur P. “The Origins of the Western Hemisphere Idea,” Proceedings of the American Philosophy Society 98 (October 15, 1954): 323.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Havana’s neon past / 48 hours that almost destroyed Trump / The myth of nice-guy Gen. Lee / The voice of a Ken Burns documentary film / Women on the edge of the ‘glass cliff’

This week: Havana’s neon past / 48 hours that almost destroyed Trump / The myth of nice-guy Gen. Lee / The voice of a Ken Burns documentary film / Women on the edge of the ‘glass cliff’

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. In Search of the Brain’s Social Road Maps
By Matthew Schafer and Daniela Schiller | Scientific American | January 2020
“Neural circuits that track our whereabouts in space and time may also play vital roles in determining how we relate to other people”

2. Inside the restoration of Havana’s 20th-century neon signs
The Economist | January 2020
“After the Cuban revolution, much of the signage was destroyed or fell into disrepair. One artist has made it luminous again.”

3. Do women feel guilt after having an abortion? No, mainly relief
By Suzanne Moore | The Guardian | January 2020
“Most women don’t regret their decision to have a termination — and that outlook could help us protect reproductive rights”

4. Is this the most powerful word in the English language?
Helene Schumacher | BBC Culture | January 2020
“The most commonly-used word in English might only have three letters — but it packs a punch.”

5. ‘Mother Is Not Going to Like This’: The 48 Hours That Almost Brought Down Trump
By Tim Alberta | Politico Magazine | July 2019
“The exclusive story of how Trump survived the Access Hollywood tape.”

6. The Myth of the Kindly General Lee
By Adam Serwer | The Atlantic | June 2017
“The legend of the Confederate leader’s heroism and decency is based in the fiction of a person who never existed.”

7. The Golden Voice Behind All Those Ken Burns Documentaries
By Tim Greiving | Vulture | September 2019
” His calm, cowboy-around-a-campfire timbre is basically the voice of America, at least within the orbit of PBS.”

8. The ‘glass cliff’ puts women in power during crisis — often without support
By Traci Tong | PRI :: The World | March 2019
“It’s the phenomenon of women in leadership roles — CEOs or political figures — who are far more likely to ascend to leadership roles during a crisis, when the risk of failure is highest.”

9. What Survival Looks Like After the Oceans Rise
By Andrea Frazzetta | The New York Times Magazine | April 2019
“At the site of a Bangladeshi town lost to devastating storms, locals make do by scavenging what remains.”

10. Slavery and Abolition
By Brooks Winfree | Not Even Past :: UT Austin Department of History | April 2018
“Who were abolitionists How did they organize What were their methods And, considering that it took a Civil War to put an end to slavery, did they have any real effect”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Versace is back / Women in tech / The history of life after death / The reality of Jack Ruby / Trump and Castro’s Cuba / Puerto Rico still crippled after Maria

This week: Versace is back / Women in tech / The history of life after death / The reality of Jack Ruby / Trump and Castro’s Cuba / Puerto Rico still crippled after Maria

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Easter Island Is Eroding
By Nicholas Casey and Josh Haner | The New York Times | March 2018
“Centuries ago, Easter Island’s civilization collapsed, but the statues left behind here are a reminder of how powerful it must have been. And now, many of the remains of that civilization may be erased, the United Nations warns, by the rising sea levels rapidly eroding Easter Island’s coasts.”

2. How women got squeezed out of tech
By Manuela Saragosa | BBC World Service | March 2018
“Women dominated the early days of programming — so how did men take over, and what can be done to balance things out again?”

3. Versace: the resurrection
By Luke Leitch | 1843 :: The Economist | April/May 2018
“Twenty-one years after her brother’s murder, Donatella Versace has revived the family brand. She tells Luke Leitch about her journey from the darkness to the light”

4. The Last Days of Jerry Brown
By Andy Kroll | California Sunday Magazine | March 2018
“After more than 40 years in public life, 15 as governor of California, he is as combative and contradictory as ever – and still trying to save the world from itself.”

5. Fine Specimens
By David S. Reynolds | The New York Review of Books | March 2018
“Americans in the second half of the nineteenth century had no sure prospect of resting in peace after death. If their bodies weren’t embalmed for public viewing or dug up for medical dissection, their bones were liable to be displayed in a museum. In some cases, their skin was used as book covers by bibliophiles and surgeons with a taste for human-hide binding.”

6. What 11 Female Authors Read When They’re Fed Up
By Madison Feller | Shondaland | March 2018
“Tayari Jones, Terese Marie Mailhot, and nine other women writers share the books that keep them keepin’ on.”

7. Who Was Jack Ruby?
By Gary Cartwright | Texas Monthly | November 1975
“How a small-time joint operator ushering in America’s age of violence.”

8. Up in smoke: should an author’s dying wishes be obeyed?
By Blake Morrison | The Guardian | March 2018
“Harper Lee never wanted Go Set a Watchman brought out, Sylvia Plath’s diary was burned by Ted Hughes — the controversial world of literary legacies.”

9. As Castro prepares to leave office, Trump’s Cuba policy is a road to nowhere
By Jon Lee Anderson | The New Yorker | March 2018
“Trump’s use of the bully pulpit to upbraid the island for its failings seems as hypocritical as it is counterproductive.”

10. 6 months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico pleads for help
By Danica Coto | Associated Press | March 2018
“As the six-month anniversary of the Category 4 storm approaches, only a fraction of the $23 billion in congressionally approved funds has actually been spent in Puerto Rico. In February, a $4.7 billion loan approved last year for Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico was reduced by the U.S. Treasury Department to $2 billion for Puerto Rico, none of which has been disbursed.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Monica Lewinsky and #MeToo / The last days of John Kelly? / Remembering the 2017 Oscar disaster / Hitler’s, Mao’s and Stalin’s death tolls / Inside the U.S. embassy in Havana

This week: Monica Lewinsky and #MeToo / The last days of John Kelly? / Remembering the 2017 Oscar disaster / Hitler’s, Mao’s and Stalin’s death tolls / Inside the U.S. embassy in Havana

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Emerging from ‘the House of Gaslight’ in the Age of #MeToo
By Monica Lewinsky | Hive :: Vanity Fair | February 2018
“On the 20th anniversary of the Starr investigation, which introduced her to the world, the author reflects on the changing nature of trauma, the de-evolution of the media, and the extraordinary hope now provided by the #MeToo movement.”

2. ‘The Newsroom Feels Embarrassed’: Backfires and Explosions at The New York Times as a Possible Future Chief Re-Invents the Paper’s Opinion Pages
By Joe Pompeo | Hive :: Vanity Fair | February 2018
“A yoga-pants refusenik, a climate-science skeptic, and a tech writer with a neo-Nazi pal, among other offenders, have put James Bennet in the crosshairs.”
Also, from the Washington Post: ‘Criticize our work privately’: NYT editorial page chief sends a 1,500-word treatise to colleagues

3. How Long Can John Kelly Hang On?
By Matt Flegenheimer | The New York Times | February 2018
“Last year, Democrats and Republicans alike agreed that if anyone could bring order to the Trump administration, it was the retired four-star Marine general. Were they wrong?”

4. “They Got the Wrong Envelope!”: The Oral History of Oscar’s Epic Best Picture Fiasco
By Scott Feinberg | Hollywood Reporter | February 2018
“One year after the craziest, most improbable and downright embarrassing moment in Academy Awards history, 29 key players open up (many for the first time) about the onstage chaos, backstage bickering and who’s really to blame for Envelopegate and the two minutes and 23 seconds that ‘La La Land’ beat ‘Moonlight.'”
Also, from the Hollywood Reporter: They’re Back: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway to Present Oscars Best Picture

5. Personal Connections with the Civil War West
By Maria Angela Diaz | Muster :: Journal of the Civil War Era | February 2018
“While listening to the papers of my own panel, walking around the book exhibit, and attending several of the other panels, it got me thinking about being a Mexican-American woman, a historian of the Civil War era, and how I’ve related to, or at times not been able to relate to, the field that I’ve chosen to study.”

6. How showing vulnerability helps build a stronger team
By Daniel Coyle | Ideas :: TED.com | February 2018
“If you’d like trust to develop in your office, group or team — and who wouldn’t? — the key is sharing your weaknesses”

7. When Government Drew the Color Line
By Jason DeParle | The New York Review of Books | February 2018
“Government agencies used public housing to clear mixed neighborhoods and create segregated ones. Governments built highways as buffers to keep the races apart. They used federal mortgage insurance to usher in an era of suburbanization on the condition that developers keep blacks out. From New Dealers to county sheriffs, government agencies at every level helped impose segregation — not de facto but de jure.”

8. The Instagram matchmaking queer women via old school personal ads
By Biju Belinky | Dazed Digital | February 2018
“Spoiler alert: it’s led to cross-country love affairs”

9. The Sound and the Fury: Inside the Mystery of the Havana Embassy
By Tim Golden and Sebastian Rotella | ProPubilica | February 2018
“More than a year after American diplomats began to suffer strange, concussion-like symptoms in Cuba, a U.S. investigation is no closer to determining how they were hurt or by whom, and the FBI and CIA are at odds over the case.”

10. Who Killed More: Hitler, Stalin, or Mao?
By Ian Johnson | The New York Review of Books | February 2018
“[T]he Hitler and Stalin numbers invite questions that Mao’s higher ones do not. Should we let Hitler, especially, off the hook for combatant deaths in World War II? It’s probably fair to say that without Hitler, there wouldn’t have been a European war.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Raul Castro’s legacy / Tracking bad Texas weather / Wall Street in 2017 and Trump in 2018 / Maria and Puerto Rico / Stockbrokers and opiods

This week: Raul Castro’s legacy / Tracking bad Texas weather / Wall Street in 2017 and Trump in 2018 / Maria and Puerto Rico / Stockbrokers and opiods

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. What will be Raúl Castro’s legacy?
By Richard E. Feinberg | Brookings | December 2017
“Raúl initiated some policy innovations, deepened and consolidated others, and merely watched while forces beyond his control drove other changes. Regardless, these changes have paved the way for the successor generation of leaders — if they dare — to push Cuba forward into the 21st century.”

2. Web tools and apps to track weather emergencies in Texas
John Tedesco | August 2017
“Texas weather can be wild and dangerous … so here are some techniques that have helped me track the impact of storms, floods and other natural disasters in San Antonio and other parts of the state:”

3. The Wall Street epidemic being kept behind closed doors
By Gregory Bresiger | The New York Post | December 2017
“While the opioid epidemic ravages rural America, Wall Street is not immune to its scourge. In fact, given its unique pressures, the securities industry leaves its professionals particularly vulnerable to drug problems.”

4. Trump in 2018
Brookings | December 2017
“Brookings experts predict what President Trump’s second year in office will entail with regards to a wide range of policy areas.”
Also, from the Associated Press: Trump barrels into 2018 with fresh foreign fights on Twitter

5. Scrapyard or museum? After 10 years, still no firm plans for former carrier USS John F. Kennedy
By Joe Daraskevich | Florida Times-Union :: Stars & Stripes | December 2017
“The Navy recently removed the Kennedy from the list of ships earmarked for donation despite efforts in New England to display the vessel permanently. But the same group that tried to turn the Saratoga into a museum is still making a push to change the Navy’s mind, and another group is ready to jump in if they don’t’ succeed.”

6. The year of Trump has laid bare the US constitution’s serious flaws
By Jonathan Freedland | The Guardian | December 2017
“I once wrote a hymn of praise to the achievements of the founding fathers. There’s still much to celebrate — but their inspirational vision needs an urgent update.”

7. Everything Went Right for Markets in 2017 — Can That Continue?
By Corrie Driebusch | The Wall Street Journal | December 2017
“The market notched the most closing highs for the index in a single calendar year. Volatility swooned to historic lows and many global stock markets finished the year at or near records or multiyear highs.”

8. Cory Booker Loves Donald Trump
By Michael Kruse | Politico Magazine | November 2017
“The junior senator from New Jersey has a religious disdain for hateful rhetoric, even against his political enemies. Is he too nice to take on the president?”

9. Maria’s Bodies
By Mattathias Schwartz and Matt Black | New York Magazine | December 2017
“The hurricane in Puerto Rico has become a man-made disaster, with a death toll threatening to eclipse Katrina’s.”

10. The 20 Best Podcasts of 2017
By Emma Dibdin | Esquire | December 2017
“Whether you want to make sense of Trump’s America or pretend it’s not happening entirely, online broadcasting’s got your back.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Who’s who in ‘The Post’ / The revolutionary world Cuba created / Paul Ryan ready to go / The inner turmoil of ‘Frankenstein’ / Key questions for falling in love

This week: Who’s who in ‘The Post’ / The revolutionary world Cuba created / Paul Ryan ready to go / The inner turmoil of ‘Frankenstein’ / Key questions for falling in love

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Who’s Who in ‘The Post’: A Guide to the Players in a Pivotal Era
By Sam Roberts | The New York Times | December 2017
“The newsroom crackles with verisimilitude, its rotary phones, staccato typewriters and a veil of cigarette smoke evoking a bygone grittiness. At its heart are a wisecracking editor and matriarchal publisher.”

2. Cuba’s Revolutionary World
By Jonathan C. Brown | Not Even Past :: UT Austin Department of History | December 2017
“Cuba’s revolution attracted youthful visitors from all over Latin America who wished to learn how they too might become armed revolutionaries.”

3. Paul Ryan Sees His Wild Washington Journey Coming to An End
By Tim Alberta and Rachael Bade | Politico Magazine | December 2017
“He felt he was ‘made for this moment.’ But now, on the verge of achieving his long-sought legislative dream, he’s got his eyes on the exits.”

4. Out of Control
By Richard Holmers | The New York Review of Books | December 2017
Frankenstein is saturated in the heroic rhetoric of Milton’s Paradise Lost, the alienated imagery of Coleridge’s ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’ and the natural magic of Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey’ (all of which are actually quoted). It also clearly contains a series of philosophical debates between scientific hope and hubris, between friendship and betrayal, between love and solitude.”

5. The 36 Questions That Lead to Love
By Daniel Jones | Modern Love :: The New York Times | January 2015
“The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness.”

6. Below Deck
By Lizzie Presser | California Sunday Magazine | February 2017
“Filipinos make up nearly a third of all cruise ship workers. It’s a good job. Until it isn’t.”

7. The 4 Things That Helped Gary Oldman Disappear Into Winston Churchill
By Kyle Buchanan | Vulture | December 2017
“Here are the four keys that finally helped Oldman to crack Churchill and deliver one of of the most acclaimed performances of his career.”

8. A Journey Through Havana’s Clandestine Book World
By Ruben Gallo and Lisa Carter | Lit Hub | December 2017
“I felt immeasurably happy to be surrounded by blacks and mulatas, old women sitting on stoops, and jineteros hustling boys, girls, cigars, pirated music, and almost everything else.”

9. A Comprehensive List of How Texans Mispronounce Places With Spanish Names
By John Nova Lomax | Texas Monthly | November 2017
“From Amarila to Wad-a-loop to the Purda-nalleez River, we’ve taken some liberties when it comes to pronunciation.”

10. Dystopia is Realism: The Future Is Here if You Look Closely
By Christopher Brown | LitHub | July 2017
“All novels are set in alternate worlds, even if most writers only invent the people that inhabit them. Dystopia just expands the scale of the alteration.”

Loreta’s Civil War: Quite a brilliant audience

Velazquez ends her Caribbean tour in Havana, where she relaxes with relatives, makes a new friend, and confronts personal tragedy once again.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart shared edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 63: Velazquez ends her Caribbean tour in Havana, where she relaxes with relatives, makes a new friend, and confronts personal tragedy once again.

******

Through the exertions of my friends to make my visit to St. Thomas a pleasant one, the time passed rapidly, and when the arrival of the steamer Pelyo gave me warning that I must prepare for my departure, I would gladly have prolonged my stay for a number of days more had it been possible to do so.

The time of leave-taking was come, however, and I was escorted on board the steamer by quite a large party, many of whom, as I said goodbye, eagerly requested me to correspond with them and to keep them posted about my movements as they expected that I would scarcely be satisfied unless I undertook some strange adventures.

The steamer stopped at Porto Rico but I did not go on shore, not liking the looks of the place. We only remained for a few hours to take in some freight and passengers and then were off to sea again. Among the passengers was a young Spanish officer. Capt. F. Martinez, whom I had met before and who knew that I had served in the Confederate army. He came up to me and gave an officer’s salute, at which I laughed and held out my hand to him, saying that the time for that sort of thing had passed. We then fell into an animated conversation about the war and other matter, and during the rest of the trip he paid me every attention in his power.

As we were promenading the deck together in the evening, he informed me that he was engaged to a young lady in Santiago de Cuba, and he was very solicitous that I should stop there and see her. I was not unwilling, as I had relations residing near the city whom I was anxious to visit, and so I made arrangements for a return to another of the homes of my childhood.

When we reached Santiago, I called with Capt. Martinez upon his betrothed and was much pleased to see that he had made so excellent a choice. The young lady was very pretty and amiable and belonged to a wealthy family.

Having notified my cousin, who was married to a Prussian gentleman, of my arrival, I went out to her home about ten miles in the country and remained a day or two with her.

In the city, I was waited upon by many distinguished people and was invited to dine at the mansion of the general in command of the Spanish forces. At this dinner my health was proposed, with some complimentary remarks, at which honor I was immensely flattered, and after it was over, the company adjourned to the grand plaza to listen to the military band and to see the beauty and fashion of Santiago.

Santiago de Cuba is a very old town, and it has an extensive commerce. The chief exports are coffee, sugar, cigars, and fruit. The harbor is a fine one, and during the war it was a favorite resort for blockade-runners.

The day after the dinner at the general’s mansion, I went on board the steamer and started for Havana. That city was reached in due time, and once more I found myself on familiar ground and among friends who were ready to extend me a hearty welcome for the sake of old times.

My brother’s family and other relatives resided outside of the walls. I sent them word of my arrival but did not go to the house, on account of differences with my sister-in-law. During my stay in Havana my brother visited me frequently, as did also my niece — my sister’s daughter — and my nephew, who acted as my escort to the theater and other places.

In addition to my relatives, I had many acquaintances in Havana who were glad to extend the hospitality of the place to me. Among others, Gen. Juaquin Mansana and the officers of his staff were all warm friends of mine, and they seemed never to tire of paying me attentions. I was also acquainted with a great number of people with whom I had had confidential business relations during the war, and they too did what they could to make the time pass pleasantly.

Shortly after I reached Havana, there was a grand religious festival, and, at the suggestion of Gen. Mansana, I consented to appear in the procession in uniform. The general, enjoining me to keep the matter a secret, presented me with a handsome Spanish military suit. I attired myself in this, and arranging my disguise so that my most intimate friends would not know me, I took my place in the procession in a carriage beside Col. Montero, which drove just behind that of the general.

The colonel especially requested me not to let the other officers and soldiers know who I was, as there might be some excitement created if any one suspected that a woman disguised as an officer was in the procession. I accordingly kept my secret and was not recognized. During the day, I … passed quite close to Mr. Savage, the United States consul, and the members of his staff, and it amused the general greatly to see that they had not the slightest suspicion as to who I was. I was also introduced to a number of ladies as a young Spanish officer who had been educated in England. …

This procession took place on Friday, and Gen. Mansana, as we were about starting out, told me that there was a steamer in the harbor with some emigrants on board who were going to South America. He asked me if I would not see them, and, by relating my experiences, try and persuade them to return home again. This I promised to do.

In the evening, after the ceremonies were over, we went to the theater, where we found quite a brilliant audience assembled. Before the performance was over, Gen. Mansana said that he was hungry and retired. The rest of the party remained until the curtain fell, when we went to a restaurant and had supper. After supper we drove to the Plaza de Armas, where a room had been assigned me in the palace, and I changed my costume as rapidly as I could, appearing once more in female attire.

As I was coming out. Col. Montero met me in the hall and said that the general had been taken quite sick. I asked if I could see him, and on a messenger being sent, word was conveyed to the colonel that the general wished to speak with him. He soon returned and invited me to go into the sick chamber. The general was in bed, and the doctor was in attendance on him. He complained of severe cramps but did not think that anything serious was the matter and invited me to call on him the next morning, when he expected to be better.

After breakfast, the next morning, I went to the general’s quarters but the guard had orders not to admit any one. I sent in my card, however, and in a few moments the chief of staff came down and asked me to walk up to the reception room. The surgeon in attendance made his appearance and said that the general was worse instead of better but that I could see him if I would promise not to speak. I accordingly went into the sick-room and found the general looking very bad indeed. He smiled at me and seemed to be glad that I had called. I then retired, as I found that I could be of no assistance, and went to see the emigrants.

I gave them an account of my experiences and observations in South America and advised them in the strongest possible terms not to pursue their journey any farther, but to return home, and, if they wanted to get away from the South, to go West. Some of them were much impressed with what I said and came on shore to see me. I invited them to the hotel to take dinner and went into the matter more particularly, showing them the great risks they would run and the small chance they would have of establishing themselves in a satisfactory manner.

This interference on my part was bitterly resented by some of the leaders of the expedition, who expressed a desire that I should not come on board the steamer again. I had no wish to do this, having performed my duty, and I was willing now that they should take their own course and abide the consequences, although I was sorry for some of the poor women who I knew would regret not having followed my advice.

My expostulations proved of no avail, and the steamer sailed for South America after her old, worn-out and worthless boiler had been patched. The vessel itself, like the boiler, was worn out, and they were obliged to put in at St. Thomas with her and charter another boat. Some of the people, I believe, returned to the United States from St. Thomas, while the rest were glad to get back the best way they could after a very brief experience of Para, the port for which they were bound. After reaching their destination and endeavoring to effect a settlement, they very soon came to the conclusion that my advice was good.

On Sunday morning I learned, to my infinite sorrow, that Gen. Mansana was dead. The funeral took place the next day, and the body, having been embalmed, was carried through the streets, followed by his carriage, dressed in crape, and his favorite horse. The funeral was an imposing but sorrowful spectacle, for the general was a good man, and although, like other public men, he had his enemies, he deserved and enjoyed a great popularity.

With this visit to Havana concluded my trip to South America and the West Indies. In some of its aspects it was far from being enjoyable, and yet, on the whole, I managed to have a pretty good time, and I did not regret the journey. I had learned a great deal about a part of the world that it was worthwhile to know something about, and I had met a great many good friends whom I was exceedingly glad to meet. Taking it all in all, the pleasures of the trip far more than counterbalanced its disagreeable features, and the main thing I had to complain of was that I returned to the United States with a much lighter pocket-book than when I set out.

Loreta’s Civil War: Sadness and strangeness

Velazquez continues her Caribbean tour with a stop in St. Lucia, where she tries to come to terms with her younger self before the Civil War.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart shared edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 62: Velazquez continues her Caribbean tour with a stop in St. Lucia, where she tries to come to terms with her younger self before the Civil War.

******

Being bent upon visiting my relatives and my early home, I purchased a ticket permitting me to stop at St. Lucia until the next steamer, and after a short and pleasant cruise, which was not marked by any incident of note, we reached the island which was endeared to me as being my mother’s birthplace, and on account of my residence on it, being among the most fascinating recollections of my childhood.

As I was preparing to leave the steamer, I was surprised by the steward bringing me a beautiful basket filled with different kinds of fruit. A card which accompanied it told me that it was from Capt. F., who had been obliged to stop at St. Lucia for repairs, having broken a mast. On going on shore, I sent the captain a note, requesting him to call on me at the residence of my cousin, the old family homestead. This he did, and I introduced him to my relatives. His visit was a short one, however, as his vessel was almost ready for sea, and so he said goodbye again, and for the last time. I have never seen him since.

It was not without a certain feeling of sadness and strangeness that I found myself once more domiciled in the old-fashioned stone house where I had lived with my father and mother and brothers and sisters when a little girl. The house and its surroundings were much the same as they were many years before, and yet there was something oddly unfamiliar about them, and it took me some time to reconcile my recollections with the realities. The stone house, built in the English fashion, the marble floor, the ancient furniture of Spanish make, the stone water-pool and stone filter, and the banana and prune bushes which grew at my mother’s window were, however, all as they had been, and as if I had left them but yesterday.

In gazing on these familiar objects, I was forced, in spite of myself, to think of the many years that had passed since I had last seen them and of the many things that had happened. The happy family that had gathered under this roof had been scattered and most of its members were dead, while I, the darling of my father and of my gentle mother, what a strange career I had gone through — stranger far than that of many a heroine of romance whose adventures had fascinated my girlish fancy. I was yet, too, a young woman, and what strange things might not the future have in store for me? It was enough, however, just then to think of the past and of the present without perplexing myself with speculations as to the future, and I gave myself up to such enjoyment as a visit of this kind to a fondly remembered home of childhood was able to afford.

After viewing the old house and its immediate surroundings, I went to the family burying ground in search of the weather-stained vault, which contained the earthly remains of near and dear relatives, among others, of a sister and a brother, whose faces I never beheld after I left Cuba to go to New Orleans to school. The ivy and the myrtle grew so thick about it as almost to hide the inscription, and yet there was something beautiful in the appearance of the spot, which marked it as the fitting resting place for the beloved dead. As I stood by this vault and thought how lonely I was in the world and how unpropitious the future seemed, I thought that if it could be the will of God that my spirit should be taken to Himself, I would gladly have my body rest here beside those of my brother and sister. I was reluctant to leave the place but felt impelled to go on and seek the destiny that awaited me in another land and resolved to be as courageous as ever in meeting whatever fate or position the future might have in store for me. Before leaving the tomb, I knelt down to pluck some ivy leaves to carry away as remembrances, but as I stretched out my hand to gather them, something restrained me, and I went away empty-handed as I had come.

I remained in the old homestead, enjoying the hospitality of my cousins until the arrival of the steamer and then said farewell to St. Lucia — my visit to it having been the happiest episode of my journey.

From St. Lucia, I went to the Danish island of St. Thomas, where one of my friends of the war time, to whom I had written announcing my intention of revisiting the place, was expecting my arrival. When we entered the harbor, the passenger boat, which was to take us ashore, came off to the steamer, and as she neared, I recognized my friend. I waved my handkerchief to him, and he took off his hat, and when the boat came alongside he sprang on board, and shook me most cordially by the hand, expressing, as he did so, the greatest gratification at seeing me again.

When we reached the wharf, I met another of my old war acquaintances, the Italian consul. He also was glad to see me and asked me all manner of questions about where I had been and what I had been doing since the blockade-running business had come to a standstill. I walked between my two friends up to the hotel, where I found that a fine large room had been engaged for me, and, once fairly installed in it, the visitors came pouring in, one after the other — first, the proprietor and his wife, then the Danish commandant’s wife, then half a dozen others, until I was obliged to go into the drawing room and hold a regular reception.

Nowhere during my trip had I been welcomed with a more hearty and sincere courtesy or with a more evident disposition to make a heroine of me. All through the evening people were coming in, some of them acquaintances, who, having heard of my arrival, were anxious to extend a welcome, and others, strangers who had learned something of my adventurous career, were desirous of being introduced to me. One of the most agreeable of my visitors was Mr. English, the correspondent of a newspaper in Manchester, England. He was a fine, dashing young fellow, overflowing with wit and humor, and his lively conversation created a great deal of entertainment.

During the evening, some of the company amused themselves with dominoes, others with cards, while I was surrounded constantly by quite a little crowd of persons who persisted in having me relate to them some of my adventures. After a time, wine, ale, and cakes were brought in, and the gentlemen and some of the ladies, too, regaled themselves with cigars and cigarettes. It was nearly twelve o’clock when the Italian consul, a white-haired old gentleman, arose, and asking to be excused, wished us good night. As I was tired I followed him, asking my kind friends to excuse me, and so the party broke up.

I slept late the next morning and was awakened by a tap at my door. It was Mrs. Capt. B., who wished to know if I was sick. I said that I was quite well, whereat she smiled and said she would send me a cup of chocolate. The girl soon came with the chocolate, and after drinking it, I dressed myself and went down to the drawing room. As I passed the consul’s office, he came out and gave me a “good morning” and offered me his arm to take me in to breakfast.

After breakfast, I was joined in the drawing room by quite a large party of ladies and gentlemen, who proposed that I should go with them through the fort and up to the top of the hill to see the scenery.

The town of Charlotte is built on three hills, from the summits of which beautiful views of the harbor and the island are obtained. One of the features of the scene is a rock, called Frenchman’s Cap. It is almost perpendicular, and is, I believe, considered dangerous to shipping. Scorpion Rock is inhabited only by the horrid reptiles from which it takes its name. They are unusually abundant there, and for that reason it is generally given a wide berth, as no one cares to make its intimate acquaintance.

The principal fortifications of St. Thomas are Fort Christiana, and Prince Frederick’s and Mohlenfe’s batteries. These are occupied by a small force of Danish soldiers, who are clean and tidy looking but otherwise are not remarkable in appearance.

It was under the guns of Fort Christiana that the blockade-runners were accustomed to receive their cargoes and, notwithstanding the supposed vigilance of the United States fleet, most of them managed to get off in safety. On my former visit to St. Thomas, one of the Federal officers was pointed out to me as being in the trade himself. On one occasion, at least, where the consul notified him, he permitted a vessel with a contraband cargo to put to sea and did not pretend to give chase until she was so far away that there was no hope of overtaking her.

As the reader will, perhaps, remember, on the occasion of my previous visit to St. Thomas, I had the satisfaction of seeing the Confederate cruiser Florida come in, and coal, and get away again in safety through a clever trick played upon the Federals. The Florida took in her coal and supplies at the King’s wharf, and when she was ready for sea, one of the sailors pretending to be an Englishman went to the consul, Mr. Smith, and told him that as they were coming in they saw the Florida off to the westward of the island. Mr. Smith, accordingly, gave orders to the Federal man-of-war to go out and look for her, and so soon as the Federal cruiser was out of the harbor, and heading westward. Capt. Maffitt, having steam up, put on all speed and went out after her. Before the Federal commander discovered that he had been duped, the Florida was out of sight and out of danger.

The Danish commandant told me that he was heartily sorry the war closed so soon, for the people of St. Thomas profited greatly by it. He was of the opinion that could the South have held out for another year, the great powers of Europe would have interfered in her behalf and she would have secured her independence.