Sunday, November 29, 2020

good morning jeremy



Saint Mark

Donatello     1413

Italian sculptor:     1386 - 1466


Magdalen in Ecstasy

Caravaggio     1609

Italian painter:     1571 - 1610

Chiaroscuro - dramatic use of light and dark  

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Johannes Vermeer     1665 

Dutch painter:     1632 - 1675

Masterful treatment of light  

Portrait of Madame Edmondo Morbilli 

Edgar Degas     1865

French Impressionist:     1834 - 1917

Considered himself a Realist painter  

Portrait of Edmond Maitre the Reader

Pierre-Auguste Renoir     1871

Impressionist:     1841 - 1919

Celebrator of feminine sensuality  


Paul Gauguin     1878

Post-impressionist:     1848 - 1903 

Bold, colorful design influenced Modern Art  

Writer Hans Jaeger

Edvard Munch     1889

Norwegian painter:     1863 - 1944

Highly personalized art  

Self Portrait

Vincent Van Gogh     1889

Dutch post-impressionist painter:     1853 - 1890

Bold colors and expressive brushwork 

Georgia O'Keeffe

Alfred Stieglitz     1920

American photographer:     1864 - 1946

Helped make photography an accepted art form 

Self Portrait
Lucian Freud     1985


British painter:     1922 - 2011

Stark portraits in unsettling interiors  



©  Tom Taylor


Sunday, November 22, 2020

good morning justin



Thomas Jefferson


"We hold these Truths to be self-evident,

that all Men are created equal, that they

are endowed by their Creator with certain

unalienable Rights, that among these are 

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" 

Isn't this the foundation of what we believe America to be? 




George Washington 

A shrewd leader who was able to keep his ambition in check.

Alexander Hamilton


He knew the productive capacity of flowing money better than most anyone; a self-made child prodigy, revolutionary in both politics and economics.

James Madison


Look at this thirty-two year old baby face and you see why he was easily underestimated.  This man, who four years later, would craft the United States Constitution and, soon after, see to its ratification by all the colonies.  His personality was rather faint but his ideas persuasive.

John Marshall


Until John Marshall became Chief Justice, the Supreme Court was mostly an afterthought - a dead end for unelectable Federalist politicians.  Through wily political skill, he got a hostile President Jefferson, in Marbury v. Madison, to agree that any legislation deemed outside the Constitution was therefore null and void.  In the rule of law, it is the Court that calls all the balls and strikes.



©  Tom Taylor


Sunday, November 15, 2020

good morning jacob


Thomas Jefferson has a bee in his bonnet.


It's about this vast stretch of riches out west.

And it all belongs to Spain.
Poor, feeble Spain.
Once it knew greatness.
Now it hasn't the muscle to prevent
its lands from being plucked.


How long before the British make New Orleans theirs?

You won't find a nastier gang 

waiting to kick in your back door

...if you want to know Jefferson's

way of thinking.


An even bigger nightmare 

is Napoleon finding a new appreciation

for the wealth waiting to be harvested

in the New World.


Caribbean French sugar plantations 

have been a surprising

treasure trove for Napoleon's coffers. 

And this is just the beginning.

Handwriting on the wall

Spain swaps Louisiana to France 

for a plot of European turf.

Along comes a modern day Spartacus,
Toussaint L'Ouverture,
leading an uprising of slaves 
on the island of Saint Domingue.


Napoleon dispatches his brother-in-law,

General Charles Leclerc,

with an army of forty thousand

to put an end to this slave rebellion.

The French expedition meets disaster.

General Leclerc, along with most of his army, 

die of yellow fever or battle wounds.

Only two thousand answer the final reveille

when Napoleon decides to call it quits. 

The French Emperor realizes the vulnerability

in his plans for the New World.

He hasn't the navy needed to fend off 

the fleet of his British enemy.

Of what use is New Orleans if he can't reach it?

Jefferson wants to buy Napoleon out.

He'll pay up to $7.5 million for New Orleans

and keep the French army off America's shores.

Napoleon needs quick revenue to finance

his newly planned European wars.

He offers all of Louisiana for $15 million.

That's three cents an acre.

Jefferson is thrilled at his luck.

He snaps up the deal even though

he doesn't have the money.

He simply borrows what he needs.

Just as Hamilton would have done.

It's Lewis and Clark

taking the new territory for a test drive.

They'll let you know what they found

when they get back in a couple of years.

If all goes well.



©  Tom Taylor


Sunday, November 8, 2020

good morning jack



1619     Jamestown

    • 20 Africans arrive as indentured servants
    • arrive in English colony aboard Dutch ship

1660     Slave Trade

  • Caribbean 

  • British and Dutch supplant Spanish rule

  • West Indies:     100,000 slaves

  • American colonies:     5,000 slaves  

1725     Slave Coast

  • British name for region of West Africa 

  • The Fon Kingdom of Dahomey

  • Present day Benin 

1746     Lucy Terry

  • "Bar's Fight"

  •  Ballad about conflict between colonists and Native Americans
  • excerpt:

Eunice Allen see the Indians coming

And hopes to save herself by running

And had not her petticoats stopped her

The awful creatures had not catched her 

Nor tommy hawked her on the head

And left her on the ground for dead  





1754     Banneker Clock

  • Benjamin Banneker, creator

  • self-taught scientist 

  • constructs first clock made entirely of American parts 

1770     Crispus Attucks 

  • Black Seafarer

  • First colonist killed in the Boston Massacre 

1778     Revolutionary War

  • Continental Army

  • African Americans:  5,000 enlist as Regulars 

1789     Olaudah Equiano

  •  Publishes autobiography
  •  Details experience while being enslaved
  •  excerpt:

 I was soon put under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life; to that, with the loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste anything.  

I now wished for the last friend, death, to relieve me, but soon, to my grief, two of the white men offered me eatables; and, on my refusing to eat, one of them held me fast by the hands, and laid me across I think the windlass, and tied my feet, while the other flogged me severely.

1790     U.S. Census

  • Black Population:  757,208

  • 19.3% of total population

  • 59,557 free people

  • Slavery abolished in New England  

1793     Cotton Gin

  • Gin - short for engine

  •  Eli Whitney, inventor

  • efficient processing makes cotton extremely profitable

  • Southern cotton industry rapidly expands

  •  Demand for slave labor dramatically increases 

  • U.S. Congress enacts Fugitive Slave Law

    • Crime to harbor an escaped slave 

1803     South Carolina

  • Reopens ports to slave commerce

  •  Vast new lands developed to serve growing cotton market

  •  Labor demand drives up slave prices 



©  Tom Taylor


Sunday, November 1, 2020

good morning jessicca




The Mayflower drops anchor in Plymouth Harbor, unloading 102 immigrants near Cape Cod in 1620 after ten grueling weeks at sea.  It was November 21, and the first of these English Puritans were not well prepared for the New England winter about to greet them.


Adventurers and tradesmen were among the passengers let off at Plymouth Rock.  On the day of their arrival they signed the Mayflower Compact - rules for governance to insure functioning social order.

Puritans shaped the northeast with their rigorous moralizing and their skill at building institutions of learning, with schools like Harvard and Yale.  At a time when England had two universities the colonies already had over twenty.

Here is a ticket to revivalist Jonathan Edwards.   He was recognized as one of America's top protestant intellects and had just assumed the presidency of Princeton College when he died from his smallpox inoculation. 


In 1607 the Virginia Company of London founded Jamestown, a fortified settlement atop a mosquito infested swamp with poor prospects for farming.  Most of its inhabitants died that first year but, with help from the local tribe, it survived to become England's first permanent settlement in North America.

Tobacco was the cash crop that brought investment money to the Virginia colony.  Between the years 1600 - 1766 the American colonies had the world's fastest growth rate - twice that of mother England - fueled by a vast continent of untapped wealth. 


The People of the Longhouse, Iroquois, were the indigenous people of the northeast United States.  Among this confederacy of five nations were the Seneca and Mohawk tribes.

Benjamin Hawkins was tasked with persuading the Creek and Cherokee people of the southeast to open up their vast hunting tracts of land to European immigrant development in exchange for having their own small farm.  What was referred to as the "Indian Problem" in the 1790s would remain an ongoing issue as settlers pushed west through tribal lands until reaching the Pacific Ocean.

Seneca chief Cornplanter allied his tribe with the British in both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War.  Later he briefly welcomed Quakers to educate his people but their adverse reaction to this westernization caused him to scrap the experiment and return his tribe to traditional beliefs and values.

New Amsterdam was too valuable a location for the Dutch to defend from the covetous British.  The greatest natural port on the east coast would now be known as New York.

The drink of choice in most any colonial tavern was rum.  Beer and hard cider were also popular.  Benjamin Franklin published a "Drinker's Dictionary" in his Pennsylvania Gazette that listed 228 slang terms used to describe drunkenness in Philadelphia.

Three thousand miles protected a young United States from a querulous Europe.  Besides being a rich fishery for the eastern seaboard, the Atlantic Ocean provided for efficient, albeit dangerous, trade routes to world markets.

Boston was one of only three colonial cities having a population of over fifteen thousand citizens.  The other two, Philadelphia and New York, both had populations well under a hundred thousand.  London, on the other hand, had over three quarters of a million inhabitants ...where muddy ditches qualified as an urban sewage system.

The old Tun (Beer Keg) Tavern in Philadelphia was commissioned by the Second Continental Congress to raise two battalions of Marines with Robert Mullan, the tavern's manager, named chief Marine Recruiter.  The date of the first recruit, 10 November 1775, remains today as the Corps' official birthday.

Near the outbreak of the Revolutionary War the Continental Congress printed $242 million in currency that was used by Washington to feed and arm his army.  The value of the note steadily declined over the course of the war until, by 1780, it had lost nearly all its value, or as people were wont to say, "It wasn't worth a Continental."

Whaling was big business through much of the 19th century with New Bedford, Massachusetts homeport to many in the fleet.  The demand for whale oil, though expensive, was insatiable.  Gideon Allen & Sons, whalers, had a return each year of sixty percent on their investment.

Thomas Jefferson saw himself the Revolution's natural leader having authored the Declaration of Independence.  Still he was often of the mind to bury himself in his books at his Monticello mountaintop home in Virginia.  He would always be runner-up to Alexander Hamilton in Washington's estimation when it came to companionship and ideas about the future.

Whereas Hamilton imagined a future America of dynamic commerce and industry, Jefferson placed his faith in the yeoman farmer - someone with the integrity to protect the workings of republican democracy.  Jefferson wanted to preserve an agrarian nation while Hamilton's priorities made this reality a sideshow.

The North, funded by a Hamiltonian Wall Street, developed into an industrial region.  In contrast, the South rode its prosperity in cotton trade into an ever increasing slave economy.  There undoubtedly would have been little tolerance given to the idea of owning people as property were it not for the racial element.  

What free man would willingly work the open fields in the South's sweltering heat?  Who would rejoice in being denied basic rights to an education or the relationship of marriage?  Imagine the devastation of having a loved one sold down the river, never to be heard from again.  There are a good many reasons to be a fugitive from this racist form of capitalism.

As president of the United States you certainly want to always look your best.  What better way to charm your guests at the next gala reception than with this winsome smile of finely crafted wooden teeth.  To be sure Washington found his teeth challenging.

Americans were considered the richest people on Earth in 1776, with an average individual's income being $4.71 a day in 2017 dollars.  Settlers were two to three inches taller than their European counterparts.  Women in North America had a significantly higher birthrate, as well.  However rustic frontier life may be it was still better than European peasantry.

It was a hard slog for most people living off the land.  Besides growing their own food, they spun their own cloth, made the clothes on their back, cobbled their shoes and boiled soap from animal fat.  

Politics is a calling in a democracy.  People come to know who you are and what it is you stand for.  If you are any good as a politician your argument only gets better with every telling.

Alexis de Tocqueville, aristocrat and diplomat is best known in the United States for his two volume political study titled, Democracy in America, first published in 1835.  It remains in print to this day as a political science classic.

Celebrating America's first locomotive, an import from Great Britain.  Yankee industrialists took this opportunity to reverse engineer the steam locomotive and soon the States would have a speedy rail-bound contraption of its own.  



©  Tom Taylor