Sir Walter Raleigh: The Man Behind the Myths and Legends

Cover of Sir Walter Raleigh in Life and Legend

You’re invited to join us Thursday night for a look at Sir Walter Raleigh. Here’s a description.

Soldier, voyager, courtier, colonizer, politician, poet, historian, possible traitor—Sir Walter Raleigh (1554–1618) played many roles on the public stage of Elizabethan England. Historian Mark Nicholls, President and Librarian of St. John’s College, Cambridge University, will discuss a new biography of Raleigh he has co-authored that offers fresh insights and observations about a man whose spirit of adventure helped set the course of the history of North Carolina—a land he never visited but whose capital city bears his name.

5:00 p.m. Reception with display of items from the Library’s Sir Walter Raleigh Collection, lobby of Wilson Library on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

5:45 p.m. Program, Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Oops! ‘What I supposed to be solid’… wasn’t

On this day in 1865: As Raleigh awaits Sherman, Union Lt. George Round is sent ahead to set up a Signal Corps flag station. Scaling the eerily empty Capitol, Round makes a crucial misstep: “I … leaped gently to what I supposed to be the solid top of the dome,” he will write later. “I heard a sudden crash, and the top of the dome gave way beneath my feet. I had actually jumped into the circular glass skylight….

“The next instant I found myself grasping at railing and stonework and heard the broken glass of the skylight ring sharply on the stone floor of the rotunda one hundred feet below me.”

Round’s fall is broken by a wire net, and he survives with only “a terrible fright, a lacerated wrist and, on the next day, a lame shoulder.”

An idea someone should’ve nipped in the bud

“”The WPA gave its enemies more ammunition than they needed in tiny Mount Airy, North Carolina, when workers there built a lake that proved not to have a water source.

“Sardonic stories in the press described the 200-yard-long, 40-foot-thick dam of native rock and concrete holding back a six-inch puddle, the order placed for 30,000 fish to stock the lake and the town residents who had built boats in anticipation of going fishing.”

–From “American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA” by Nick Taylor (2008)

Such questionable New Deal projects came to be known as “boondoggles” — check out the word’s colorful origins.

Mississippi, land of opportunity for blacks?

“During the last years of slavery, planters and slave traders transplanted tens of thousands of Negroes from the depleted fields of the upper Southeast to the newly cleared and fertile lower portions of Mississippi’s river counties. The advent of freedom did not end this population movement….

“In 1866, Jefferson Davis negotiated a shipment of such workers from Charlotte, North Carolina. Three years later the Raymond [Miss.] Gazette reported that Negroes in North Carolina were still seeking opportunities for settlement in the Mississippi Yazoo Delta.”

— From “The Evolution of the Mississippi Delta: From Exploited Labor and Mules to Mechanization and Agribusiness” by James Bell (2008)

“[In 1895] a black newspaperman found himself on a New Bern-bound train among several elderly black men and women who had just experienced six years of debt peonage in Mississippi.

“They had left North Carolina for the promise of a better life in the deep South, but they quickly disovered to their horror that ‘escape’ was the only way out of sharecropping ‘those bottoms.’ Even then ‘they will hunt you, catch you and bring you back and give you a good thrashing, just as they used to do in slavery times,’ said one sharecropper.”

— From “Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920″ by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore (1996)

Gov. Goat Gland Brinkley — how’s that sound?

Harry McKown has dusted off (careful, Harry, with that detached cover) a surviving ephemeron from Dr. John Brinkley’s medical practice. Here’s one in the collection from his political career.

After losing both his medical and broadcast licenses, Brinkley conducted significant write-in campaigns for governor of Kansas in 1930, ’32 and ’34.  This homemade pinback surrounds his image, snipped from a palm card, with felt petals symbolizing the Sunflower State.

Here also, courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society, are a laugh out loud (excuse me, I meant LOL) campaign piece and two even stranger mementos of his yachting career.

However, Eileen’s efforts to secure Wayne’s release turn out to have been in vain, as Wayne was murdered by Arnold early in the kidnapping. Eileen’s ordeal takes place over the course of a week, while Wayne is only held for a day before he is killed. The time discrepancy is only revealed towards the end of the movie, and until then it seems that Wayne and Eileen’s experiences are occurring simultaneously.

Deadline deal averts link dump shutdown

— Reconsidering North Carolina’s oldest known landscape photo.

— “It certainly would be nice to have another Ohio native become part of our basketball program here at Chapel Hill.

— Bellum Charleston’s elite retreat. (Are East Flat Rock, Savannah and the Masters  “actually part of Charleston”? )

— Great-grandpa sends a Tweet from Gettysburg.

— Number of Raleigh women listed in 1860 census as prostitutes: 46

‘That Lean and Hungry Look’ of immortality

“I take my hat off to those contemporary writers who manage again and again to crack the college anthology market. [Suzanne Britt‘s] name will be instantly recognizable to anyone who teaches English 101 as the author of ‘That Lean and Hungry Look,’ the comic comparison of fat people and skinny people that can be found in the compare-contrast section of whatever textbook one happens to be using; ditto for [her] ‘Neat People vs. Sloppy People.’ The author’s bio tells me that Britt teaches English part-time at Meredith College in North Carolina: an adjunct made good!…

“It’s a sweet deal for a writer, to have such ephemera reprinted year after year, thereby hardening into classic work…. Britt could easily have been forgotten completely, but her whimsy lives on, tucked away in a corner of thousands upon thousands of collegiate minds….”

— From “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: Confessions of an Accidental Academic” by Professor X (2011)

Professor X (probably not the Marvel Comics superhero by that name who “can project powerful mental bolts of psionic energy enabling him to stun the mind of another being into unconsciousness”) is causing a stir as “an academic hit man” who believes many of his students “have no business being in college.”

The problems of being property: Marriage is out

“Although most masters encouraged (and some forced) their slaves to pair up with each other, courts refused to grant these relationships any formal valididity.

“As a North Carolina judge explained in 1858, ‘Marriage is based upon contract; consequently the relation of “man and wife” cannot exist among slaves. It is excluded, both on account of their incapacity to contract, and of the paramount right of ownership in them, as property.’ ”

– From “What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America” by Peggy Pascoe (2009)

‘A rich repository of religious dissent’ indeed

“By 1750 Baptists had built more churches [in North Carolina] than Anglicans, and they joined with Quakers and Presbyterians, with Moravians and German Reformed, to make that colony a rich repository of religious dissent….

“One especially acerbic Anglican cleric, Charles Woodmason (c. 1720-1776)…  found himself in something of a guerrilla war with backcountry dissenters. They mocked him, stole his horse and noisily disrupted his preaching, ‘halloing and whooping’ outside the church doors. They tore down the handbills announcing the places and times of his worship services and sometimes even put up fake ones to misdirect the Anglican faithful. At one point some hooligans broke into one of his churches and placed a pile of ‘their Excrements on the Communion Table.’…

“Woodmason’s sense of true religious order was doomed. Baptists, spurred by the ongoing simmering of evangelical revival and the gathering strength of revolutionary politics, raced all across North Carolina and eventually through all of the South.”

— From “The Religious History of America” by Edwin Scott Gaustad and Leigh Eric Schmidt (2002)

Gaustad, who died March 24 at age 87, is remembered by Bill Leonard, professor of church history at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity.

And They Talked–Always They Talked

Chambers of the Dialectic Society, circa 1935

We hope you’ll join the North Carolina Collection for a special talk this Thursday. Kevin Cherry, North Carolina Miscellany friend (i.e. a regular reader, commenter and source of many leads), is scheduled to deliver the Gladys Hall Coates University History Lecture in the Pleasants Room of Wilson Library here at UNC. Kevin’s talk is titled,“And They Talked–Always They Talked: 215 Years of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies.”

The title may conjure up memories of an occasion when a speaker blathered on and on. But, rest assured, you won’t find that the case on Thursday. Kevin is a dynamic speaker and his talk is chock full of anecdotes about the two oldest student organizations on the UNC campus. He’ll recall Thomas Wolfe’s first speech before the Dialectic Society and share some of the offenses for which society members could be fined. No doubt, the censor morum, the person responsible for monitoring the behavior of fellow society members, would have found today’s flip-flop wearing students frequent offenders of the rule requiring stockings be worn to meetings. Kevin, a program officer for the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington, D.C., was president of the Joint Senate of the Dialectic and Philanthropic societies during his days as an undergraduate at UNC, so he has insider’s view and appreciation for the long history of these two vaunted, debating organizations.

Kevin’s talk takes place in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room at Wilson Library on April 7th at 5:45 pm. The event will be preceded by a reception and viewing of the exhibition “From Di-Phis to Loreleis: A History of Student Organizations at UNC” in the North Carolina Collection Gallery at 5 pm. We’ll also be featuring a performance by the Loreleis, a female a capella group of UNC students.