100-year-old candidate peered through ‘revolutionary’ lens

On this day in 1990: Dr. Henry Stenhouse, a Goldsboro ophthalmologist, announces his candidacy for Congress. At 100, Stenhouse is perhaps the oldest person ever to run for office in North Carolina. “I’m a revolutionary,” says Stenhouse, who opposes welfare, seat-belt laws and AIDS research.

After a campaign that includes an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” Stenhouse finishes third in a three-man race for the Republican nomination, although he handily carries Goldsboro and Wayne County. He will live to be 105.


Stephen Colbert turns state motto on its head

“In the last part of the show… Colbert typically leaps up from his desk and bounds across the set to a table in front of a fireplace with the Latin motto ‘Videri quam esse’ (“To seem to be, rather than to be”), where he interviews a guest about a new book or movie….”

— From a profile of Stephen Colbert in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Not having been aware of Colbert’s uncredited adaptation (corruption? usurpation?) of North Carolina’s state motto, I laughed out loud (sorry, kids, of course I meant LOL’d). Apparently the Latinate mantel inscription was added during a set makeover a year or so ago.


Check out what’s new to the North Carolina Collection

Several new titles just added to “New in the North Carolina Collection?” To see the full list simply click on the link in this entry or click on the “New in the North Carolina Collection?” tab at the top of this page. As always, full citations for all the new titles can be found in the University Library Catalog and they are all available for use in the Wilson Special Collections Library Reading Room.

Artist’s career turned, accelerated after Caro-Graphics

The hat tip I extended to comics historian Allan Holtz for his research on Caro-Graphics was inadequate to begin with. Now Allan has added to his Stripper’s Guide blog a fascinating — and surprising — profile of Murray Jones Jr., primary artist for the 1930s newspaper panel depicting a predigital North Carolina miscellany.

Jones, we learn, was a son of a Wilson tobacco buyer, attended Duke, earned an MFA at the Art Institute of Chicago, studied in Japan on a Fulbright fellowship, served on the faculties of Michigan State and Ohio State and in 1964 died of multiple schlerosis at age 49. One critic in 1959 referred to him as “a brilliant American abstractionist [who] drew from the traditions of Oriental art.”

In 2005 a gallery in Yellow Springs, Ohio, exhibited his work alongside ceramics and drawings by his son (and gallery co-owner) Michael. Murray Jones’ work in the 1940s was recalled as having been “immersed in the influences of surrealism as a vehicle for social commentary, and as a vehicle for engaging the subconscious….” In the early 1950s he adopted automotive lacquer as his paint medium of choice and began experimenting with collage elements in his paintings.

Thank you, Allan, for rediscovering Murray Jones’ surprising — and too-brief — career arc.

Addendum: Allan credits his colleague Alex Jay with the Jones bio.


Did arsenic in Charlotte kill 11 circus elephants?

“[In 1941, while Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey was] touring the South, 11 elephants died suddenly, most of them during their Atlanta stand. Autopsies revealed the animals had consumed large amounts of arsenic. At first a member of the circus train crew was arrested on suspicion of poisoning, but charges were dropped. Police picked up several other suspects — including a recently fired worker — then let them go as well.

“Old hands remembered that in the early ’30s several elephants had fallen sick in Charlotte, North Carolina, from grazing near a chemical plant by the lot, and one of the last stands before Atlanta had been Charlotte. While many circus folk accepted this explanation, the connection was tenuous at best. The cause was never conclusively determined.”

— From “The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy” by Stewart O’Nan (2000)

North Carolina Newspapers on Twitter

If today’s headlines have you down, trying reading old news instead. The NC Digital Heritage Center makes its first foray into Twitter with @ncnewspapers, where we’ll be tweeting a historic headline every day from that day in history. The stories we feature will span the full range of North Carolina history from the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s a fun way to peek into our state’s past, and a great introduction to the wealth of material available in these historic papers.

Occupy Charlotte, circa 1840s

Does this sound familiar?

The most odious feature in this system is that it robs the MANY, imperceptibly, to enrich the FEW;–It clothes a few wealthy individuals with power not only to control the wages of the laboring man, but also at their pleasure to inflate or depress the commerce and business of the whole country–exciting a spirit of extravagance, which it terminates in pecuniary ruin and too often the moral degradation of its victims. This system must be thoroughly reformed, before we can hope to see settled prosperity smile alike upon all our citizens.

It’s not from a modern Occupy movement or from some 1960s radical group, but from the first issue of the Mecklenburg Jeffersonian, published in Charlotte in 1841. Issues of the Jeffersonian from the 1840s are now online as part of the North Carolina Newspapers collection on DigitalNC.org.

The Jeffersonian was a Democratic paper, printing long excerpts of speeches from prominent politicians such as James K. Polk and John Calhoun, but also including the usual fascinating array of advertisements and announcements.

Sen. Bailey gives a filibuster tutorial

“Senate rules forbade members from speaking more than twice per day on a given piece of legislation, but a senator was free to offer as many amendments to the bill as he wished and could then  speak twice on each amendment. ….

[Preparing to filibuster FDR’s plan to ‘pack’ the Supreme Court, Senator Edward Burke of Nebraska] procured a stack of official amendment blanks and charged a group of young American Bar Association lawyers with the task of filling them in. After a day and half the lawyers had drafted no more than 15 amendments, each of which substantially altered the court bill.

“Exasperated, the men paid a visit to Senator [Josiah] Bailey, who laughed out loud at their paltry output. Reaching for a copy of the bill, he told one of the lawyers to take dictation. Bailey pointed to the provision that set a limit of 15 judges, and instructed the lawyers to replace ’15’ with ’14’. Then ’13’. Then ’12’. And so on through the various sections of the bill. Having received this lesson in legislative hair-splitting, the lawyers produced 125 neatly amendments by the next morning — enough to permit 250 speeches.”

— From “Supreme Power: Franklin D. Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court” by Jeff Shesol (2010)

Union troops no match for N.C. mosquitoes

“An expeditionary force of 15,000 [Union troops] landed at Roanoke Island in early 1862 and spent much of the war enforcing a naval blockade from a fort on the coastline. The air at dusk shimmered with Anopheles quadrimaculatus. Between the summer of 1863 and the summer of 1864 the official annual infection rate  for intermittent fevers [malaria] was 233 percent — the average soldier was felled two times or more.”

— From “1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created” by Charles C. Mann (2011)