A House Divided: Emancipation Strategy II

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: American political parties are essentially coalitions with a variety of opinions and social and economic impulses gathered under a single political tent organized to recruit, fund, and elect candidates for office at various levels. The bigger the tent, so the theory goes, the greater the party’s success.

 

 

A House Divided: Emancipation Strategy I

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: When the Civil War began there was a decided difference in its perceived purpose North and South. The Confederacy desired its independence primarily so that it might preserve its way of life, most particularly the institution of slavery. Southerners were quite clear. The Yankees could let them go out of the Union without a fight, but they would indeed fight if pressed, and their purpose was to maintain slavery. The Southern constitution expressly protects the institution of slavery and the ownership of slaves. Though a minority of Southerners actually owned slaves, the Confederate enterprise, its economy, its society, and its military initiatives and strategy were all designed to preserve that peculiar institution. Asserting states’ rights was the South’s clarion intellectual formulation, but the region departed the Union because it clearly saw that with every passing year American society was become more and more hostile to the state’s rights in maintaining slavery. 

 

First Ladies: Grace Coolidge

Lead: Few couples who occupied the White House have been as dissimilar as the thirtieth President of the United States and his gracious, ebullient, popular First Lady, Grace Coolidge.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The first time Grace Goodhue saw Calvin Coolidge, he was in his underwear. She was watering flowers, glanced at the house next door and saw the 32 year old lawyer, standing in his union suit, with a brown derby on his head, busily shaving. She burst out laughing but when he looked up she turned away in embarrassment. The encounter, however, was enough for Cal, he contrived an introduction and pursued her with great intensity.

 

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President Grover Cleveland Under the Knife

Lead: In the summer of 1893, with the country in a financial panic, President Grover Cleveland underwent a secret cancer operation.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: As both Governor of New York and President, Cleveland had a reputation as a corruption fighter and political independent. He was the only United States President elected to two nonconsecutive terms in 1884 and then again in 1892 and the first Democrat in the White House since James Buchanan in 1856. Under the President who served between Cleveland's terms, Benjamin Harrison, Congress had passed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. Western farmers were in favor of this believing that with more money in circulation, loans would be cheaper and life easier for the average American. The problem was that the government had to buy silver with treasury gold causing reserves to drop below the $100,000,000 required by law. People panicked and began to demand gold in exchange for paper money. Banks failed in this the so-called Panic of 1893 and the country was thrown into a short but violent economic depression.

 

Walter Winchell

Lead: From the mid-1930s to the 1950s, arguably the most powerful journalist in the United States was Walter Winchell.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: For nearly three decades Winchell helped set styles, shaped public opinion, passed on juicy gossip, boosted the careers of those he admired and occasionally ruined others. He came from a troubled home and early on sought the escape afforded by show business. Winchell spent his teenage years and early twenties in the backwaters of America singing and dancing as a vaudeville performer. During the spring of 1920 Winchell began to put together a little gossip sheet for the members of the company with which he was touring. This led to a column in the "The Vaudeville News" and eventually employment on its staff. Ten years on the circuit had made Winchell into an entertainer and taught him how to reach and hold an audience, lessons he applied to great usefulness in the future.

 

William Wallace III

Lead: His reputation was that of a hard-hitting guerilla fighter and anti-English rogue, but after Stirling Bridge, William Wallace became the symbol of the fight for Scottish independence.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: England had conquered Scotland, but not the national spirit. Whereas many of the Scottish nobility were prepared to bow the knee to England, resistance continued under partisan leaders such as commoner William Wallace. In September 1297 he led a ragtag brigade to Stirling Castle, northwest of Edinburgh, an important English outpost. On September 11th an English army under the Earl of Surrey arrived to deal with this west-country upstart. Wallace was vastly outnumbered, but the English troops had to cross a narrow wooden bridge to get to him. When they did he and his band slaughtered them mercilessly as they poured off the bridge at the other side. As many as 5,000 English died in the day’s fighting. Wallace became a national hero.

 

William Wallace II

Lead: In 1297 Edward of England crushed the weak Scottish army and established himself as ruler of the Kingdom to the North. His attempts to pacify the resistant Scots were complicated by guerilla fighters such as William Wallace.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the years following the death of Scottish King Alexander III, King Edward I of England, had, with ill-disguised intensity, interfered in the affairs of his neighbor to the north. He tried to marry his son to Alexander’s heir, Margaret, but when she died, he shamelessly played the Scottish nobility against one another in their internecine conflict to determine who would be the next King of Scotland. Edward’s choice was John de Balliol whom he thought could be easily manipulated. When Balliol proved more resistant than expected, in 1297 Edward marched north and in five months had defeated the weak Scottish army, deposed and imprisoned John Balliol, and had himself made ruler of Scotland. To add insult to injury, he confiscated the legendary Scottish Coronation Stone of Scone and had it shipped south to Westminster.

 

William Wallace I

Lead: As the ages pass, accurate portraits of historic persons are hard to come by. The Scottish patriot and guerilla leader William Wallace is one such figure in whom legend and reality mix in fanciful confusion.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Historian Ernest Renan insists that ‘forgetting history’ or perpetuating ‘historical error’ are essential in the formation of a nation. As Graeme Morton points out, Renan’s conclusions work precisely in the case of William Wallace. The Scottish rogue was a child of wealth and privilege, son of a knight, grandson of a sheriff, born in County Ayr in southwest Scotland. He was a teenager in 1286 when Scottish King Alexander III died leaving as heir a four-year old daughter living in Norway. Her death four years later left the succession and Scotland in hopeless confusion. Scottish independence was imperiled by the struggle for the throne within the Scottish aristocracy, but also by the imperial intentions of English King Edward I known as “Old Longshanks” because of his height.