Restrained criticism of an unrestrained caning

The uppermost topic in the papers, North and South, is the recent chastisement of Senator [Charles Sumner of  Massachusetts] by Mr. [Preston] Brooks of South Carolina. The affair has been a perfect Godsend to the Abolitionists… Sumner will be glorified into the dignity of a persecuted patriot.

“Sumner deserved what he got, but Brooks caned him in the Senate chamber, and took him, moreover, at an advantage — while sitting in his chair.

“Mr. Brooks should have sought a different time and place for his meeting with Sumner.…  He has given a good handle for the Northern people to seize, in denunciation of his course, and deprived the South of the opportunity of justification.”

— From the Wilmington Daily Herald, May 26, 1856

The Senate chamber is, certainly, no place for brawls and fights… But the Senate chamber, also, is no place for foul language, abuse, taunts, and opprobrious epithets. One evil leads necessarily to another. The Senate must preserve its own dignity, in order to command the respect of the public.”

— From the Raleigh Register, June 6, 1856

Link dump: Apocalypse not now — it’s ‘Idol’ time!

— Jack Betts, the Great State’s foreign correspondent in Raleigh for the past two decades,  debarks more suddenly than but just as gracefully as his positively-addicted readers would expect. Jack will dispute this — of course! — but it was his unrelenting editorials and columns that took the lead in sparing Eastern North Carolina the Navy’s ill-sited landing field.  In his un-bow-tied hours, he has been an unrivaled fool for tools, managing to wring romance out of an aluminum pot that “perked coffee in five states, on four boats and in at least three houses,” a C-ration can opener brought home from the Army and on his last day a humble tin cheese grater. Happy retirement, Jack.

— Yet another remarkable entry in the New York Times’ Disunion blog, this one about North Carolina’s wrenching decision to secede. Overall, it’s been exciting to see historians and journalists in 2011 probing the way to war so much more ambitiously than in 1961.

— Surely someone saved Garner’s historic last Slim Jim for the North Carolina Collection Gallery.

‘Nothing… one of the best feelings in the world’

“The most striking pages…  tell the tale of Texas Rangers All-Star Josh Hamilton’s astoundingly precocious talent.

“At the age of 6, Hamilton could throw a baseball 50 mph — his first peg from shortstop in Little League knocked his bewildered first baseman to the ground. Shortly thereafter, he was elevated to a ‘Majors’ team in North Carolina’s Tar Heel League, where his manager (also his dad) batted him ninth behind boys twice his age for the sake of propriety. The first-grader punched his first home run over the left-center field fence off a pitcher who must have had at least the beginnings of pubic hair.

“It was Hamilton’s earliest spiritual moment: ‘It’s hard to explain, but on contact, I felt nothing. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.’ ”

— From a review of “Beyond Belief” in the literary magazine n + 1 (June 16, 2009)

Hamilton, born and reared in Raleigh, turns 30 today. Not the happiest of birthdays: The Rangers have sent him to the  minors to rehab a leg injury.

Link dump rejects return to ’67 borders

— Remembering Charlie Justice’s last interview.

— “If you chase barbecue dreams, someday, somewhere you’ll find yourself this way, too, sitting on a rusty folding chair in a town you’d never driven through before, eating vinegar-drenched lukewarm meat and sweet fried hush puppies from a foam tray. There’s no music. There’s no beer. But you take another bite with your plastic fork and think, damn, this is good.

— Ah, to be birdwatching when they don’t flock together.

— Walt Disney’s dubious detour.

— C’mon, you can’t resist clicking on “The Mormon Jersey Shore.”

We collectors are “funny ducks sometimes”…. sometimes?

Reynolds Price: ‘Paradise Lost,’ connection found

“Reynolds Price was doodling on a paper placemat in a Harvard Square cafe on a spring morning in 1992 when he told me about the copy of ‘Paradise Lost’ he had bought for himself five years earlier after surviving extensive treatment for spinal cancer. Price… teaches a course on John Milton at Duke University, but stressed that the thin volume means considerably more to him than love of the great poet’s work.

” ‘Milton as in his early 40s, and I was in my early 50s when we both underwent a physically devastating illness, and in both our lives the experience led to some kind of mysterious renewal of good work,’ he explained. ‘Milton wrote his best books after he lost his sight. I have written 11 books since I had cancer, and it represents some of the very best work I have have ever done.

” ‘My copy of “Paradise Lost” once belonged to Deborah Milton Clarke, the daughter who took Milton’s dictation after he went blind. For me, it was like the apostolic succession. I was touching the hand that touched the hand that touched the Hand.’ ”

— From “A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes and the Eternal Passion for Books” by Nicholas A. Basbanes (1995)

Until his death Jan. 20 at age 77, Price continued to produce novels, essays, poems, plays and children’s books.

Duke today celebrates his life.

Edenton, 1852: Conduct ‘unbecoming’ a slave

“In December 1852, William Pettigrew reported to a slaveholding correspondent, the town of Edenton, North Carolina, was still full of talk about a rebellion said to have been planned by Josiah Collins’s slaves in October.

“Those  implicated had been sold to a trader and gathered into a coffle [that is, a line of slaves chained together] when they broke out into song. ‘The town has been much shocked,’ Pettigrew wrote, ‘at the unbecoming manner in which Mr. C’s Negroes…. conducted themselves… [Those slaves not in the coffle] spent their time singing and dancing until Hempton the landlord threatened to confine them in the dungeon….

” ‘One of their favorite songs was “James Crack Corn I Don’t Care.” Their  object was said to [be to]  set their master at defiance, and to show their willingness to leave him…. The good people of the place were rejoiced when they left, feeling apprehension of the insubordinate influences such conduct might have on their [own] Negroes.’ ”

— From “Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market” (1999) by Walter Johnson

8,000 and still growing

Postcard of Dorton Arena

You ask, “8,000 what? 8,000 square feet? Is Dorton Arena planning an expansion?”

No. We’re not aware of such.

“Is someone hoping to set a world record by cramming 8,000 people into the building once derided as the ‘Cow Palace’?”

Again, no. The fire marshal need not worry that anyone is trying to include more people than the 4,750 permanent seats and 360 box seats can accommodate.

Okay, no more guessing game. We’re talking about 8,000 postcards. This image of Dorton Arena marks the 8,000th card we’ve posted to our North Carolina Postcards online collection. Although we’ve just about finished putting up cards from the Durwood Barbour Collection, we’ve got plenty more to add from the holdings of the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archive. Don’t yet see a postcard of your favorite Tar Heel person, place or thing? Keep checking back at NC Postcards.

As for Dorton Arena–the building’s parabolic design was envisioned by N.C. State design professor Matthew Nowicki, a native of Poland. Unfortunately Nowicki died in a plane crash before plans were complete and Raleigh architect William Henley Deitrick was hired to create architectural drawings for the project. The building opened in 1952. But not under the name by which we know it today. What was its original name?

A professor who battled Confederates and Nazis

“Born on October 21, 1869, at his parents’ home in the tiny hamlet of Clayton, North Carolina, [William] Dodd entered the bottom stratum of white Southern society….

“He fought his way upward, at times focusing so closely on his studies that other students dubbed him ‘Monk Dodd.’… He got his bachelor’s degree [from what would become Virginia Tech] in 1895 and his master’s in 1897….

“In 1902 [while an instructor at Randolph-Macon] Dodd published an article in The Nation in which he attacked a successful campaign by the Grand Camp of Confederate Veterans to have Virginia ban a history textbook [for failing to present] the South as ‘altogether right in seceding from the Union.’ ”

— From “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” by Erik Larson (2011)

Later, as a professor at the University of Chicago, Dodd desired mainly to complete a three-volume “History of the Old South.” In 1933, however, he accepted FDR’s unlikely appointment as ambassador to Germany, where his naivete soon gave way to alarm and to undiplomatic resistance to the incipient Third Reich.

Rabble-rousing with the Ten Commandments

“Jesse McBride was an antislavery preacher from the Wesleyan Church. He came to North Carolina from Ohio and preached to congregations in Guilford and surrounding counties. [In 1850] McBride gave a young white girl a pamphlet [suggesting] that slaveholders lived in violation of the [Ten] Commandments. He was charged with violation of an 1830 North Carolina statute that made it a crime knowingly to circulate or publish a pamphlet with a ‘tendency’ to cause insurrection or resistance in slaves.

“The press account does not discuss McBride’s legal arguments sufficiently to know how guarantees of free press and religious liberty were applied or even if the issues were raised….At any rate, McBride was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for one year, to stand in the pillory for one hour and to 20 lashes. He was released as part of an agreement that he leave the state.”

— From “The 1859 Crisis over Hinton Helper’s book, ‘The Impending Crisis'” by Michael Kent Curtis, Chicago-Kent Law Review, 1993

‘A newspapering nugget that seldom glitters’

“Charlotte’s Observer, the biggest (circ. 138,183) daily in the Carolinas, is a newspapering nugget of gold that seldom glitters. Its news pages are a typographical mishmash, its editorial voice a whisper. Yet because in its leisurely stride it picks up every crumb of news in its territory, the 82-year-old Observer is one of the biggest profitmakers of its size in the U.S.

“Since its longtime publisher, Curtis Johnson, died last October, the rich daily has been run by an editorial board, overseen by banks, has had no top boss. Last week it got one. In as publisher and part owner stepped Hoosier-born Ralph Nicholson, 52, who has made a reputation for picking up bargains on a shoestring.

“The deal was sealed so secretly that not even Observer editors knew it until they were handed the story to run. If they had any Tarheel resentment at an outlander moving in, they covered it with Southern tactfulness: ‘Mr. Nicholson,’ said the Observer story, ‘was born in Richmond, Ind. [where] his ancestors migrated from North Carolina during the early part of the last century.’ ”

— From Time magazine,  Aug. 13, 1951

Two turbulent years later, Nicholson was gone, squeezed out during a struggle over the estate of former owner Curtis Johnson. Most memorable moment of his tenure: a radical page redesign that temporarily cost the paper more than 8,000 subscribers. But he also air-conditioned the newsroom.

The Observer, where I labored happily, proudly and sometimes productively for more than 34 years, is now celebrating its 125th birthday.