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The Last Time a Republican Reigned in Big Business - 1903

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Friday, November 29, 2013

NOT PERFFECT

I was surprised to find on Thursday, September 10, 1846, how many of America's 18 million citizens were on the journey to our “more perfect union”.  In the pitiless Nevada desert members of the last California emigrant train of the season awoke to see the error of their ways in the snow capped Ruby Mountains. On that same day, out on the Great Plains, exhausted Mormons escaping religious persecution awoke to a violent downpour, and the commandment to rise from their sickbeds and retrace their steps. Sixty miles south of the Rio Grande River, an American invasion force was preparing to fall on the ill prepared Mexican city of Monterrey. While, at the center of this web of worry and hope, susceptible to each distant tug and pull, a 38 year old alcoholic was being chased by the shadows thrown by a flickering whale oil lamp in a Washington, D.C. hotel room.
At the foot of Capital Hill, on Pennsylvania Avenue and Third Street , and a few steps from the fetid Washington Canal, stood the three story wood frame St. Charles Hotel (above) - soon to be renamed the Capital Hotel. The establishment catered to southerners, boasting a basement room where slaves could be restrained so securely the management offered to reimburse masters should their property escape. One of the most popular resident guests was the congressman from Alabama's 7th district, Felix G. McConnell. He was known more for his biting humor, spendthrift ways and his voluminous drinking than his progressive politics. And this night he had reached the end of a hundred dollar drunk.
Tales of 38 year old McConnell's impromptu inebriated parties were legendary. During his first term, after inviting the occupants of the bar at the upscale Brown's Hotel to “Come up and licker'”, he was confronted by the scrupulously proper John W. Dade, superintendent of the District's jails. Dade had obviously been drinking for hours, and pompously inquired, “With whom have I the honor of drinking?” McConnell gave his stump speech reply. “"My name is Felix Grundy McConnell, Egad! I am a member of Congress from Alabama. My mother is a justice of the peace, my aunt keeps a livery stable, and my grandmother commanded a company in the Revolution and fit the British, gol darn their souls!” “Old Jack” Dade formally replied “Sir, I am a man of high aspirations and peregrinations and can have nothing to do with such low-down scopangers as yourself. Good morning, sir!” Dade was convinced to stay and drink with McConnell, and the two became fast friends.
But perhaps McConnell's most famous moment of public excess had come at a performance of “The Nordic Paganini”, Old Bull - Ole Bornemann Bull, the Norwegian solo violinists (above). This genius of self promotion, renowned for his “wild, unorthodox style” was already a phenom of rock star proportions in Europe and began his first American tour in late 1843. The New York Herald reported, “At the close of some of his wonderful cadences, the very musicians in the orchestra flung down their instruments and stamped and applauded like madmen.” The same critic went on to suggest the “Prince of Violinists” drew up to 4,000 people to his concerts because his “...pyrotechnic style and dramatic manner...captivated the musically uninitiated...”
Ole's bigger than life personality went over well in America. After one performance in Alabama, a westerner expressed admiration for the large diamond Old Bull had attached to his bow, and pulled a bowie knife to remove it. Bull closed the negotiations with a sharp chop to the aggressor’s throat. Witnesses insist the chastised assailant then offered his knife to Ole as a gift. The musician returned to Norway with five such knives in all. Ole's “boisterous... practical jokes” caused him to be described as a “charismatic but undisciplined...noble savage”. And he “could talk politics with even more earnestness and force than he could talk music.” All in all he seemed another natural friend for Congressman McConnell, except Ole was a tea totaler.
There is no record they ever met, but Ole played four concerts in Baltimore and Washington over the holidays in 1843, and in the midst of the Christmas Eve performance in the capital city a drunken Congressman McConnell suddenly rose and shouted, “None of your high-falutin, but give us ‘Hail Columbia’ and bear hard on the treble’! “ As a paper noted, “"Throw him out!”, people shouted, all over the house, and so they did, but the policemen had their hands full, for McConnell was a husky chap, and full of spirituous encouragement...” The officers had to resort to their night sticks, but given that most of the audience was not there for the music but for the show, it was not a significant interruption. Briefly he was charged with “rioting and disturbance”, before his high office and friends saw the charges dismissed.
In his two terms in Congress, McConnell sponsored just two pieces of legislation. In his first term he introduce a bill to annex Ireland. The bill wasn't meant to be taken seriously. It was a jibe at northern Democrats insensitively opposed the annexation of the slave state Texas, but who were sensitive to the fastest growing immigrant population then in America - the Irish. Having made his joke, Felix McConnell allowed it to quietly die. But at the beginning of his second term, he touched on something much closer to his heart.
On March 9th, 1846, just five days into the 29th Congress, McConnell introduced “A Bill to grant to the Head of a Family, Man, Maid or Widow, a Homestead not exceeding 160 acres of Land”. It was the first “Homestead Bill” introduced in the United States Capital (above). It's purpose was to democratize the frontier.
Since before the revolution money men had been bought up every tract of public land offered for sale, looking to profit by reselling it to other investors, as if it were stocks or stock derivatives Land speculation fever was so powerful, most investors eagerly went into debt to obtain as much land as possible, intending to sell before their note became due. Like Russian roulette, this game could end in only one of two ways.
Either some naive new owner would discover he now owned a swamp or a boulder field. This usually led to lawsuits and bankruptcies all around, or if the notes came due before an overextended speculator could find a bigger sucker than themselves. Either way the property would revert to the last legal owner, who was now free to re-sell the land to a new sucker. Bankrupting the unwary majority of speculators provided profit to the privileged few who were higher up on the pyramid. There has never been a shortage of optimistic suckers in America.
By the time an actual farmer obtained a tract, usually of 50 acres or less, the price was so inflated as to leave him so deeply in debt that after three or four years he would “pull up stakes”, abandon the farm and move further west to repeat the process. And again the land would revert to the last owner, who would resell to the next sucker. It was a very profitable business model, and reminds me of the current student loan system. But like the current for-profit college scams, it did not broaden the tax base, nor fund community improvements, like schools, roads or canals.
McConnell was far from alone even among southern Democrats seeking to break up this monopoly on land and money. Sam Huston from Texas wanted a homestead act. Andrew Johnson from Tennessee introduced his own version the same day as McConnell. But these southern progressives were being replaced by well funded, increasingly rabid pro-slavery politicians, who saw individual homesteaders as a block to the next generation of big slave plantations. Wrote one historian, “In spite of the undoubted earnestness of (McConnell), the bill seems to have been regarded as a jest...(and did not) elicit a respectful hearing from his fellow congressmen.” Andrew Johnson's almost duplicate bill was given a respectful hearing - before it was killed in committee.
It was the disrespect that seems to have broken Congressman McConnell's heart. Despite his reputation as a “dare-devil and a spendthrift”, McConnell was devoted to his job, missing just 8% of his floor votes in 1846, well below average. Perhaps if he had not left his wife Elizabeth and their three children back in Alabama, he would not have turned to drink in Washington. Perhaps if he had chosen to stay in a less expensive boarding house, where he could share meals and companionship with his colleges, as opposed to a $65 a month room at the St. Charles - perhaps things would have turned out differently. Except his father Perry had died at 52, also addicted to “ardent spirits”. And now it seemed, every one in every way had dismissed the young lawyer from Talladega as a joke and a drunk.
On the evening of May 13, 1846, the House of Representatives voted to go to war with Mexico – 174 to 14. The war had been sparked by the annexation of Texas by the United States, and was intended to help build a southern slave empire from Georgia through Texas to California. Congressman McConnell voted with the majority, but he knew, as did many other practical southerners, that even in the deep south, slavery was no longer economically viable. And yet, with the Mexican War, the south fell further under the control of firebrands and hot heads, determined to extend slavery at all costs.
On Tuesday, September 8, 1846 McConnell went to visit the man who had given him his first job, as Tennessee postmaster. President James K. Polk was surprised to see him, thinking McConnell had gone home to Alabama during the recess. In his meticulous diary Polk noted, “he looked ...as though he had just recovered from a fit of intoxication. He was sober, but was pale, his countenance haggard and his system nervous. He applied to me to borrow one hundred dollars (to clear up his debts) and said he would return it to me in ten days....I had known him in his youth and had not the moral courage to refuse. I gave him the one hundred dollars in gold and took his note. His hand was so tremulous that he could scarcely write his name to the note legibly. I think it probable that he will never pay me.”
Leaving the White House, McConnell settled his bill with the hackman (taxi driver), and disappeared. Where he was Tuesday night and all of Wednesday, no one could say. But early in afternoon of Thursday, September 10th, 1846, McConnell appeared in the bar of the St. Charles, inviting the few patrons to “Come up and licker”. He kept clicking gold coins between his fingers, and telling everyone he had been given them by President Polk. He even loaned the barkeep $35, although the man may have simply been trying to take the money out of McConnell's pocket before he drank himself to death. As evening approached the Congressman asked for a pen and paper, and struggled to compose a note. But after some time he rose and said he was going to his room.
Once behind his the locked door, McConnell lay upon the bed, and taking a “hawkbill knife”, stabbed himself several times in the abdomen. And when that proved ineffective, he slashed his own throat, twice. A short time later, someone was concerned enough to check in on the Congressman. Receiving no reply to a knock, a pass key opened the room, and Felix Grundy McConnell was discovered atop a blood soaked mattress.
A Washington newspaper said, “No doubt can be entertained that Mr. McConnell committed the act in a state of mental hallucination – most probably under the influence of delirium tremens, brought on by the intemperate course of his life.” According to the Baltimore Sun, “His friends say that for about a week past he had relinquished drinking, owing to indisposition, and that the absence of his usual stimulus caused great despondency...he had his watch and valuable jewelry on his person, besides a sum of money.” President Polk added to his diary, “A jury of inquest was held and found a verdict that he had destroyed himself. It was a melancholy instance of the effects of intemperance...he was a true Democrat and a trusted friend".
Having been thus safely categorized as an alcoholic and a jokester, Felix Grundy McConnell was buried in the Congressional Cemetery. Other than an occasional mention of his bill to annex Ireland, he was almost immediately forgotten. It was easier that way, to forget that he and other southerners, had once attempted to change the economics of the nation in a way that might have made the civil war unnecessary, that might have saved both of his sons, one born after his death, having to fight in that war which cost the state of Alabama almost 40% of its population, men, women and children, black and white, wise, foolish, saint, sinner, alcoholic and tea-totaler.
God bless Felix Grundy McConnell, for his journey. He did his best to do guide the people of Alabama and the nation to a “more perfect union”. He tried to lead them down a path to avoid war. He tried to lead the nation down a more just path. And if others did not notice his effort, that was their loss. And if he stumbled on the path, that was to be expected. In this journey failure is the inevitable. That is what makes success so sweet. That is why the journey must be made every day, to a “more perfect union”. Not perfect, just more perfect. And that was Felix Grundy McConnell – not perfect. Like the rest of us.
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

TURKEY WARS

I don’t understand why anyone believes any of the popular myths about Thanksgiving. The truth is our Puritan forefathers were a humorless bunch who showed their devotion to God by going hungry, not by eating. They would have considered our average Thanksgiving dinner an insult to God. Their God was not interested in contentment, just punishment and fasting. And the only feasts they had were in the late  summer, when food was plentiful. By late November they were already deep into their grain stores, and watery stew. They would only say thanks if they were staving to death!
The real mother of Thanksgiving was actually the widow who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and other innocent poems, Sarah Hale. She was the 19th century version of Martha Stewart. For forty years Sarah was the editor of the prestigious “Godey’s Lady’s Book” magazine. And each November Sarah would bombard her 150,000 subscribers with recipes for Roast Turkey, Turkey stuffing, Turkey gravy, and Turkey stew. Now a lot of selling and some kitchen chemistry was required because 19th century turkeys were scrawny and almost exclusively dark meat. Sarah championed turkey because her middle class homemakers were on tight budgets, and per pound the randy, strutting bird-brain turkey cost less than half what a chicken might.
But the real revolution came when, in 1934, the United States Department of Agriculture discovered the key to making turkeys palatable; artificial insemination. In 1932, before the breeding revolution, the average American ate just two pounds of turkey a year. Today, that amount is closer to twenty pounds. Turkey farmers across America, are very thankful for that big government intervention. So are most turkey eaters, although they don't seem to know it.
But the increased popularity of turkey has come at a price - no sex for the turkey. Today’s buxom white breasted Tom Turkey is too obese to climb atop an equally buxom white breasted hen. Without human intervention, the Thanksgiving turkey would have have gone extinct - Ah, ceste se la guerre. But this brings us to my real topic, which is the year when Thanksgiving became a real de la guerre; 1939
It was the third year of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s second term as president. And Republicans were determined (read terrified) that he might want a third term. However they were not in a good position to prevent it, holding only 177 seats in the House of Representatives (to 252 Democrats) and a paltry 23 seats in the Senate (to 69 Democrats). But then in August, Roosevelt handed Republicans an early Christmas present.
In July Franklin had received a visit from Fred Lazarus (above), head of the Federated Department Stores, the single biggest retail chain by volume in America. He controlled Macy’s and Bloomingdales in New York City, Filenes in Boston, and Strauss in Brooklyn. Fred pointed out to the President that in 1939, November would have five Thursdays; the second, the ninth, the sixteenth, the twenty-third and the thirtieth. And Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation calling for a day of Thanksgiving -  first issued after the battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and re-issued by Presidents every year since - specifically designated Thanksgiving as the final Thursday in November. That final Thursday would be, in the case of 1939,  the 30th . The last time Thanksgiving had fallen on the fifth Thursday in November had been 1933. 
That year the Christmas shopping season, which traditionally began the day after Thanksgiving, was just 20 shopping days long, and had proven disastrous for retailers. Of course, there had been the Great Depression that year, but retail business folks are like farmers, they always worry about the rain. Did it come too early, or too late? Is it too much, or too little? Anyway, Lazarus wanted Roosevelt to move the Turkey Day forward one week, to give merchants another week to tempt their customers into spending on Christmas. The President had also heard from lobbyists at the National Retail Dry Goods Association, as well as executives from Gimbels and Lord & Taylor.
Being a long time politician, Roosevelt listened to the business community. And at a Press Conference held August 14th, he said, “I have been hearing from a great many people...complaints that Thanksgiving came too close to Christmas”. Roosevelt reminded the press corps that Thanksgiving was still not an official holiday, and that each year the President picked the date for it. And, since "experts" believed that adding another week to the shopping season would increase sales by 10%, Franklin announced that this year of 1939,  he was moving Thanksgiving to Thursday, November 23rd., the fourth Thursday in November.
The first alarm went off  the very next day, when Fred Lazarus ran into his younger brother Simon. Simon Lazarus was ranting over the change because it had disrupted his Ohio State Universities’ Thanksgiving day football game. “What damn fool got the president to do this?” Simon barked at his brother, who, in fact, was the damn fool himself. But that was just the beginning.
The Republican attorney general for Oregon, turned to poetry. “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November; All the rest have thirty-one; Until we hear from Washington.”  A shopkeeper in Kokomo, Indiana preferred to protest in prose. He put up a sign in his window which read, “Do your shopping early. Who knows, tomorrow may be Christmas.” 
Republican Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire urged the President to simply abolish winter by fiat. And Methodist minister Norman Vincent Peal got very outraged, charging it was  “…contrary to the meaning of Thanksgiving for the president of this great nation to tinker with the sacred religious day with the specious excuse that it will help Christmas sales. The next thing we may expect Christmas to be shifted to May 1st to help the New York World’s Fair of 1940.”  Did anybody point out to Norman, that the bible never mentioned which Thursday Thanksgiving should fall on?
Twenty-three governors went with the President’s switch, and twenty-two did not. Texas and Colorado couldn’t make up their minds and recognized both days as the holiday in question, although the Republican Governor of Colorado, Ralph Carr, announced he would eat no turkey on the 23rd. 
The 30th was labeled as the Republican Thanksgiving, while the 23rd became the Democratic Thanksgiving, or, as "Nucky" Johnson, the recently indicted Republican mayor of Atlantic City called Franklin Roosevelt’s holiday, “Franksgiving”.
There were a few real problems hidden under this haze of invented political outrage. Calendars could not be changed in time for the 1939 switch over. And schools were suddenly uncertain of vacation schedules. Some families found their bosses forced their holiday dinners to be split between the two dates. But it turned out that the real problem had been identified by Simon Lazarus, the angry brother - football.
The headline in the New York Times said it all; “PRESIDENT SHOCKS FOOTBALL COACHES” The coach of Little Ouachita college in Arkansas warned, “We'll vote the Republican ticket if he interferes with our football.'” Chairman of the Athletic Board at New York University wrote to Roosevelt, “…it has become necessary to frame football schedules three to five years in advance, and for both 1939 and 1940 we had arranged to play our annual football game with Fordham on Thanksgiving Day…” And then Roosevelt had changed the date!
A Gallup poll found that 62% of Americans wanted the President’s decision reversed. But it was too late for Roosevelt to change his mind in 1939. And FDR was too stubborn to admit defeat in November 1940, which also had five Thursdays, and was a Presidential election year. Despite the addition of even more politics into the mix, nine states switched from the Republican Thanksgiving (the last Thursday) to the Democratic one (the fourth Thursday) in 1940. 
That left just sixteen celebrating the “old” Thanksgiving. And that seems to have been enough of a victory for Roosevelt, that looking ahead to November 1941 (which surprisingly also had five Thursdays), he asked New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia to study the sales figures. Was that extra week of shopping really helping the economy? In fact it had, but not very much; certainly not enough, considering all the angst and confusion the move had cost.
In early May of 1941, LaGuardia’s report informed the White House that “the early Thanksgiving date has not proved worthwhile".  So on  20 May 1941, Roosevelt set Thanksgiving 1941 back to the last Thursday in November. And in a rational world, that would have settled that. But, of course, politicians are not rational beings.
Being lawmakers the politicians in the House of Representatives decided to get involved by writing a law. House joint resolution 41 justified itself by pointing out that there was nothing to designate the day as a holiday except the annual President's Proclamation (which Roosevelt had mentioned at the start of this mess!). Henceforth, said the Representatives, the last Thursday in November would legally be Thanksgiving. But when HR 41 got to the Senate, those gentlemen felt compelled to improve upon it.  They did this by changing one little word. Thanksgiving would now be not the last Thursday in November as the House had intended, but the fourth Thursday in November. As Connecticut Senator John A. Danaher pointed out, in four out of five years, the last Thursday in November was the fourth Thursday in November, anyway. The House went along and Roosevelt signed the new law into effect on December 26, 1941. And amazingly, since that date, the Republicans had been determined not to notice that Roosevelt and the merchants had won.
No matter what conservative or liberal sympathizers may chortle about on their blog posts, the merchants' got their earlier date for Thanksgiving, and that extra week of Christmas shopping..  They got it by allowing the politicians to choke on their own press releases. Money always wins every political arguement. And most moral arguements, too.  And the great political storm of 1939 - 1940 seems quaint and gentle, in a world where the Christmas shopping season begins shortly after Halloween! .
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Sunday, November 24, 2013

ET TU Part Eight A NIGHT AT THE THEATRE


I find it very telling that on March 13, 44 B.C., just two days before the planned assassination of Julius Caesar, the driving force behind the plot, Gaius Cassius Longinus , warned his fellow conspirators that, should Caesar uncover their plans, all of them would have to commit suicide. This was not the advice of a ideological leader. Rather, it indicates conspirators haunted with second thoughts. Simply put, there were too many who knew too much. Estimates of members in the plot range up to 40  And to galvanize the plotters and hold them to their purpose, Cassius did not appeal to their patriotism, but to their sense of class. A serf suffers humiliation every day. It is the staff of their lives. But an aristocrat, faced with loss of privilege, prefers death to humiliation. This was the warning Cassius delivered to his nervous conspirators; we succeed or we die. It never seems to have occurred to the privileged forty, that victory could also be fatal.
The object of Cassius' hatred, Giaus Julius Caesar, elected Roman dictator for life, intended on leaving Rome on the 18th. But even Caesar, at 56, must have been daunted at the prospect of campaigning in the Parthian desert, which 12 years before had consumed his old patron Crassus. Every year for the last five years opposition by the Senate aristocrats, first in Italy, then Spain, Greece, Egypt, Anatola, North Africa, and Spain again had forced Caesar into a military campaign. On this day, the Ides of March, which was until this very year, New Years Day, Caesar had intended on staying close to home. The historian Plutarch says he was not feeling well, and everyone agrees his wife was having nightmares Whichever the excuse he used to dissuade his followers, it seems clear he wanted a little down down time. Someone had to get him out of the house, someone close, someone he could not deny.
The obvious choice was Marcus Junius Brutus, the son of Cesar's long time mistress, and so often forgiven by Caesar that it was rumored he must be Caesar's illegitimate son. But Brutus had a new wife at home, Porcia Catonis. They had been married just the year before, in 45 B.C. Porcia was the daughter of the aristocratic Senator Cato, who hated Cesar so much that when cornered in North Africa in 46 B.C., he had chosen suicide. It must have been her, aided by Crassus, who had stiffened Brutus back, and drove him to murder.  But even Brutus was not willing to lure Caesar to his death. So that job fell to his younger brother, Decimus Brutus.
On the morning of March 15, 44 B.C., Decimus was welcomed into Caesar's home, and extended an invitation to a gladiatorial display in one of the larger halls at Pompey's theater It was a subject certain to pique Ceasar's interests. Before crossing the Rubicon, Caesar had been checking up on one of his own gladiatorial schools. He agreed to accompany Decimus to the theatre. He had no intention of attending the Senate, even though they were meeting in the Curia Pompey, part of the same complex.
As the pair entered the complex through a side entrance, crowds pushed toward Caesar, forcing petitions into his hands, comments on government policy and requests for assistance. One of the messages handed to Caesar was from his lieutenant, Mark Anthony, warning of rumors concerning the Senate meeting today. Like the others notes handed to Caesar this morning, it would not be opened until it was too late.
Was there a man in the street warning Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March”? Probably, given the depth of religion in the pagan world, there were people wandering the streets of the largest city outside of China, prophesying doom about every dawn, and in particular about the dawn of an abandoned New Years Day. But Caesar had become Dictator by ignoring such ominous warnings. Today the soothsayer was right. The previous ten thousand mornings he had been wrong.
Once inside the walls of Pompey's Theatre, Caesar and Decimus, made their way along the walks toward the meeting room to inspect the gladiators. But as they passed the Curia they were waylaid by Decimus' older brother, Brutus. He urged Caesar to stop in the Curia,  to allow the Senate to wish him gods' speed on his invasion of Parthia. Exasperated, Caesar acquiesced, and the three men crossed the portico and entered the temporary Senate Chambers.
As he sat down, Caesar could not have missed the electric tension in the room. But what did it mean? Many were avoiding eye contact with him. A few were looking at their feet, or fingering the daggers hidden in their Senatorial robes. But even those Senators who were not in on the plot must have recognized that something was wrong. And when Senator Lucius Tillus Cimber thrust forward a petition asking that Caesar allow his brother to return from exile, Caesar pushed it away, into the hands of an aide. Whereupon Tillus grabbed the hem of Caesar's toga, and pulled. Caesar pulled away, demanding, “Be careful, there is no need to use force!” As Caesar turned to a guard to seek assistance, Senator and Tribume Publius Servilius Casca Longus, slashed forward, stabbing Caesar in the neck, just missing his throat.
Caesar grabbed Casca's arm and stabbed him with a pen. Startled, Casca screamed, “Help, brother!” As he tried to stand, Caesar was stabbed again. He now realized the aristocrats had surrounded him, and they all had knives. He tried to run, but fell, and was brutally stabbed over and over as he lay on the floor. The autopsy would reveal 23 wounds. So many knives were slashing that Brutus was stabbed by one of his allies.
Rather than being proud of their act, the aristocrats fled the scene as quickly as they could, escaping back inside the city walls, where Cesar's soldiers were not allowed to carry arms. And the abandoned body of Julius Caesar lay a crumpled heap on the floor of the Curia Pompey, his robes soaking in his blood, for three hours. Finally three slaves worked up the courage to gather his corpse, load it on a litter, and carry him home to his wife. Thousands stood in shock to see the body pass on the street, one arm hanging off the litter, uncovered , bouncing to the steps of nervous slaves.
The site of Caesar's murder did not become a shrine. It became a public toilet. Pompey's theatre remained in use for almost 1,500 years. Eventually the large latrine which had shared a wall with Curia was enlarged, and engulfed the spot on the floor Caesar had bled upon. Finally it was walled off and forgotten. And when the theatre, and the latrine, fell on hard times midway through the fifteen century A.D., the populace turned it into a quarry, scavenging building stones for their homes and shops. Even today, those who come to look upon the space where Giaus Julius Caesar died, will find only an arch, and an ancient concrete wall
Within two years most of the aristocratic assassins were dead. Cassius, Casca, Cimber, Brutus - all died by their own hands. A few of the forty were killed in battle, and a few even fought for their lives in the courts, and won. They were allowed to return to Rome and live in somewhat reduced privilege Caesar's will left his fortune to his nephew Octavian, and eventually the boy overturned the rotten remains of the Republic and disposed of the tawdry trappings of its dead democracy, killed by the aristocrats. Octavian became Augustus, the first Roman Emperor. Retroactively, he made his uncle divine. The deceased Julius Caesar had become the thing the aristocrats said the feared the most, a god.
But the dream of a representatives government, giving the people a voice in their own governance, had been set back by 2,000 years.
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