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Primitive Delaware

For anyone who claims the New York Times is biased, or looks down upon certain areas of the country, it’s impossible to imagine them calling a state “primitive” as they did to Delaware in 1919.

This opening passage is brutal:

When Caesar Rodney put to blush all the other historic Caesars and Czars and Kaisers by signing the Constitution of the United States, he also put Delaware, whose representative he was, into the very forefront of the thirteen Colonies, for she was first to ratify. That was nearly a century and a half ago; and Delaware, having a contented sigh at this indefeasible proof of her initiative and progress, thereupon went away back and sat down.

The article lists several supposed examples of the state’s backward ways:

Delaware alone has the whipping post. It is not so very long since she abolished the pillory. She even retains the ancient system of indenture, whereby children are “bound out” to masters until they reach maturity; and in not other State, even in the “benighted” South, was it stipulated, say, a year ago, as it was in Delaware, that white men should not be taxed to help educate the negro.

Why was this the case?

Wilmington, with 105,000 inhabitants, is the only city having a population of more than 10,000. The peninsula between the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays was settled by English stock, and until within the last quarter of a century no railroad disturbed its agricultural tranquility.

The peninsula stock, in Maryland as well as in Delaware, was almost undefiled with the passage of a century. The families intermarried. They retained many quaint locutions of the England of an earlier day. They were a people apart, somewhat like the mountaineers of Kentucky and Tennessee, a people of singular frugality and piety, among whom it was a special creidt to be a “meetin’ man” and who, when the charter was granted for the railroad which now forms the Maryland Division of the Pennsylvania, specified that no trains should run on Sundays. It was not until ten years ago that a law was passed amending that chart. The rural population takes its Bible verbatim.

It wasn’t just that those people existed in the state, but that their political power was disproportionate:

Each of the three counties is now represented equally in each branch of the General Assembly: so that Wilmington, which has half the population of the State and pays 95 per cent of its income tax, is outvoted two to one by the rural down-State Senators and Representatives, who cherish toward the “city” legislators that cordial animosity common to all such State Assemblies.

Interestingly, Wilmington’s population has actually declined in the past century. 105K at the time, it’s now about 70K, according to a 2018 Census estimate.

As for Delaware being backwards, they seem to have largely shed that reputation over the past century. (Although some Republicans might disagree.)

What is America’s stupidest state? In a series of segments a few years ago, Bill Maher tried to find out:

Arizona vs. South Carolina

California vs. Oklahoma:

Montana vs. Florida:

 

Primitive Delaware: State of the Whipping Post and “Bound” Children, Awakened Now, Is Fighting Hard for Decent Schools (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 30, 1919

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Written by Jesse

November 30th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Biggest Wheel of Fortune

Biggest Wheel of Fortune: Will Allot $60,000,000 in Bonuses for Paris City Bond Issue (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 22, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 19th, 2019 at 4:34 pm

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Kaiser’s Heir, Prince of Failure

His father was Wilhelm II, the last kaiser of the German empire. As the oldest son, Crown Prince Wilhelm became crown prince at age six and held the title for three decades until the fall of the German Empire in November 1918, three months after this article was originally published.

During WWI, he was one of the top military commanders despite being in his early 30’s and never having previously commanded a military unit larger than a regiment. It… did not go well. This article, filled with ludicrous exaggerated drawings depicted the Crown Prince as a bumbling fool, describes the man:

As a menace to the success of German campaigns, he has not missed a point in the game. He is known as the best friendly enemy the Allies ever had. His being ousted by Foch from the Rheims-Soissons salient is the most recent of a long series of errors which have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of his fellow-countrymen.

But that didn’t stop him earning illustrious prizes thanks to nepotism:

There have been plenty of telegrams of congratulation and awards of medals. It is said that on occasion the headstrong and ill-balanced heir has overruled experienced commanders, making necessary an undue haste to chide failure with medals. The first German drive toward Paris in 1914 was hardly smothered before the Crown Prince got his Iron Cross. That was soon followed by the Star of the House of Hohenzollern.

In later years Crown Prince Wilhelm would go on to befriend Adolf Hitler, who promised to restore the German monarchy, but their relationship soured once Wilhelm realized Hitler would actually do no such thing. The Crown Prince died in 1951.

 

Kaiser’s Heir, Prince of Failure: The Sad Military Career of Frederick William, Who Stops Losing Battles Only Long Enough to Accept Decorations and Study the Strategic Value of Frogs (PDF)

Published: Sunday, August 4, 1918

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Written by Jesse

August 5th, 2018 at 12:33 pm

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Total Eclipse of the Sun Next Saturday

We all remember the total solar eclipse last August, which passed over the United States. June 1918 saw one as well, starting in Washington state and moving southeast until it reached Florida. Actually, it started in a rather unusual way, as this contemporary article described:

And here comes an odd point about this eclipse; it really begins at sunrise on June 9, at the Island of Borodino, off the coast of Japan, and rushes out across the Pacific; then the circle of shadow (the point of the moon’s shadow-cone) crosses the “road to yesterday” (the 180th meridian of longitude) and finds itself on June 8, reaching our Pacific Coast in what is there the afternoon.

No word on whether Woodrow Wilson looked directly into the sun during the eclipse, as our current president did.

Total Eclipse of the Sun Next Saturday: Jet Disk Will Move Swiftly from Pacific Coast Southeastward Across Continent — Partly Visible in New York Early in the Evening (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 2, 1918

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Written by Jesse

May 31st, 2018 at 10:31 am

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Is Spelling Reform, Ten Years Old, a Success?

From August 27, 1916

Is Spelling Reform

Is Spelling Reform, Ten Years Old, a Success?: Professor Brander Matthews Finds That the Public Has Had a Change of Heart and Is No Longer Contemptuously Hostile (PDF)

In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt tried to shorten the spellings of about 300 words. Although the presidential directive was overturned by Congress, there was still a surge of support for this measure pushed by the Simplified Spelling Board. This article checked in a decade later to see whether most of the shortened spellings took off. But what about a century later?

In 2016, we indeed use honor instead of honourcheck instead of cheque or checquehiccup instead of hiccoughmaneuver instead of manoeuvre, and plow instead of plough. But we haven’t substituted stedfast for steadfast, or wo for woe.

I particularly enjoyed this masterfully crafted sentence from the 1916 article, about proposed spelling changes:

But thru and thruout aroused the most excited protests. They were denounced as diabolical specimens of orthographic mayhem.

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Written by Jesse

August 27th, 2016 at 11:31 am

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Why Don’t College Women Marry? Only One-Third Of Wellesley Graduates Wed

From January 22, 1911

WHY DONT COLLEGE WOMEN MARRY? ONLY ONE-THIRD OF WELLESLEY GRADUATES WED

WHY DON’T COLLEGE WOMEN MARRY? ONLY ONE-THIRD OF WELLESLEY GRADUATES WED: Interesting Facts Gathered from the Records of Other Institutions, Together with Some Analysis of Them. (PDF)

Oh, sure. I could make the obvious joke about Wellesley girls not getting married because they’re all lesbians. But instead I’ll just point you to the 2001 Rolling Stone article by Jay Dixit called The Highly-Charged Erotic Life of the Wellesley Girl and you can make your own jokes.

True, 90 years passed between the two articles, and the atmosphere at Wellesley was probably quite a bit different back then, but Dixit’s article is a more interesting look at the school than this one. Here’s an excerpt from his article:

Sandra North explains the process: “For a while, someone might go around telling people she’s asexual, saying, `I’m not attracted to anyone,’ which sometimes is a cover for starting to become attracted to women.” If she develops a crush on somebody, she might check the woman’s “résumé,” the electronic profile on Wellesley’s e-mail system. “That’s actually a pretty big part of Wellesley’s sex culture,” says Sandra. “That’s where a lot of flirtation goes on.” It can also act as an informal registry of who’s straight and who’s gay or experimenting. “One girl wrote on her resume, ‘I am now open to dating women. If you want to talk to me, here’s my extension,’” Sandra explains.

It helps that dating women is so convenient. “You just run upstairs and there’s your girlfriend,” says Jess. “Here, you can practically have an apartment set up with your girlfriend. At most coed places, a girl would probably have trouble getting a room with her boyfriend.”

And the atmosphere is so open that even the more conservative groups on campus tend to be socially liberal. Sarah Spurgeon, a member of the Wellesley Republicans, says, “I don’t care what someone does in their bedroom or whom they marry, and I also think women should be able to play like men do in the battle of the sexes. It is simply a matter of personal freedom.” Heather Gay says, “It’s an environment where being a lesbian is considered almost cool.” Growing up, Heather was always embarrassed about her name. “But once I came out at Wellesley, it became a big joke,” she recalls. “We’d have posters advertising the Café Hoop that would say BE GAY and just have a big picture of my face.”

That’s a good one to add to your Instapaper reading list.

cc: longform.org

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Written by David

January 21st, 2011 at 9:30 am