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HIST 442: We’ve Been Talkin’ ‘Bout Jackson Ever Since the Fire Went Out

25 February 2020

HIST 442: We’ve Been Talkin’ ‘Bout Jackson Ever Since the Fire Went Out

In his age, Andrew Jackson’s military career and administration left a weighty and widely interpreted mark on the American mind. During the immense changes of the time, Jackson represented a strong and unbending force which rallied the common-man and the patriot and the businessman alike. Through his vast popularity during and beyond the War of 1812 and his controversial actions in office, Jackson symbolized an all-American, non-European, self-made and natural man who stood with his iron will for democracy—and a man plucked out and elevated as the instrument of Providence.

Markedly and to his great success, Jackson was the effective opposite of European refinement. His campaign against John Quincy Adams proved to be, as Ward puts it, a problem of the “simple West versus the effete East; …the United States versus Europe” (67). The two pitted together, with an ivy-league, allegedly elitist, Northeastern, wealthy Adams on the one hand and a rugged, ‘unlettered’ man of the South on the other, made for a clash of ideals, of two distinct cultures in America, the professor against the plowman, as Ward says (46). Jackson, of course, won largely because of his lack of refinement and his distance from all the classical learning of the East. However, it should be noted—and Watson does not—that Quincy Adams still won nearly half of the popular vote in the election of 1828; there was substantial support on Adams’ side for the traditional presidential ideal and substantial antagonism towards Jackson thereafter, as we can see in Ward’s account of the case of the decapitation of Jackson’s wooden figurehead (Watson 94; Ward 116-122). Watson points out that it was not a hot issue or a favorite candidate that got voters to the polls, but a scintillatingly close race in which one felt like his vote would really count, e.g., the case of 1828 (94). Moreover, Jackson represented a return to the Founding Fathers’ intentions, a conquering of corruption or our fall from grace—a grace which need not be learned or cultivated, but which is God-given. Ward asserts, “Underlying the rejection of education and training, which were personified in John Quincy Adams, was the assumption that, at best, training was unnecessary and, at worst, it corrupted reason, which is intrinsic and not acquired” (Ward 71). Served a bitter reminder of the taste of dependence and British control in the War of 1812, self-conscious and wary America called for a revival of mores.

Jackson was a man of intuition, and he didn’t wait for the government’s approval. Americans in the nineteenth century had a desire for “the law [to] conform to deeds rather than that deeds conform to the law” (Ward 77). He justified his means by his ends, and this philosophy promoted a “freedom of action” (Ward 77). This is evident in the Seminole scandal and Jackson’s execution of two British officers before any substantive approval from above, which, Ward points out, was an issue of both “the philosophy of American expansionism as well as international law” (Ward 58). One could stipulate that the people flailed so in search of a higher, intrinsic set of morals which every man possesses—confident and unapologetic morals embodied by Jackson—because the law was failing them so basically.

In this way, Jackson was a “self-made man” whose reputation preceded him. This success and this evidently dramatic opportunity for social mobility appealed to the common man. His individualism was shown in the victorious Battle of New Orleans and the various legends and tales that resulted. Much like the miasmic myth that followed Tennessee Congressman David Crockett, Jackson was told about. This is evident in Samuel Woodsworth’s poem, “The Hunters of Kentucky,” subsequently made a song which exalted Jackson-the-symbol: “But Jackson he was wide awake, and /wasn’t scared with trifles, /For well he knew what aim we take /with our Kentucky rifles;…” (qtd. in Ward 14). Such folkloric songs and tales paint Jackson as both a larger-than-life figure and a common man who well knows the American people and their hardships, which aided his push for democracy. Watson points to this understanding in the case of broadened enfranchisement under the Jackson administration:

“In a rapidly changing economic environment, it was hard for conservatives to convince others that one form of property was more influential than another in persuading an owner to defend free government…Reform did not supplant republicanism in American political thinking, but significantly shifted its emphasis toward majoritarian democracy” (Watson 50-51).

Despite this idea of Jackson as a folklorish mystical man who also understood the backwoods-grit of the common man, just like in the case of Davy Crockett the figure never really belonged to Jackson. As Ward points out, “[i]f ‘The Hunters of Kentucky’ reflects a prevailing assumption about the positive force of nature in the universe, it only indirectly connects Andrew Jackson with that force” (       30). Arguably, Jackson happened to be the symbol for an age and a spirit which was riding the natural pendulum of things; the British were again on American soil, only about 40 years after the Revolutionary War, fighting for the resources and the land, and there was some uncannily threatening déjà vu at hand. The Americans needed to distinguish themselves finally from the British, and Andrew Jackson was as different from the British as anyone. In other words, the Jacksonian movement could have gone by any other name. All that mattered was to stand with a man as vividly different from the European tradition as possible (—but not a savage, by any means.)

On top of that need for a distinct all-American leader was the Panic of 1819 which put the people in a certain eponymously obvious state, and Jackson-the-symbol swept the newspapers with his victorious battle which had defeated the British. Although somewhat contradictory in light of his repertoire as the “self-made man,” it is not going too far to compare Jackson to a savior of sorts, a deliverer. The Jacksonians shared this sentiment: “in [the age of Jackson], the people of the United States were predisposed to find God’s special favor in nearly every passing event…The nation, expanding violently, needed confidence to carry on its gigantic task” (Ward 110). The idea of Jackson as a savior was partially the need for such confidence and partially some sort of hangover following the sweep of intense (albeit short-lived) nationalism in America; like the saccharine taste of spiritual medicine Jackson lingered after a disappointingly short Era of Good Feelings. This was the pillar of fire by night, and pillar of cloud in the day; God was believed to have chosen the American people and would see to it that they went on (Ward 111). Jackson was God’s strong, rugged instrument to carry out His Divine Justice (and His Divinely Profitable Topographical Schemes.)

Jackson was not a mute and hollow symbol, however. During his campaign and presidency, there developed the second party-system, enfranchisement of more men, and campaigns for Indian relocation, among other things. One could argue again that these could have and probably would have taken place under any other administration, but they are proof nonetheless of Jackson’s fusion of self-sufficiency and unbending will. Alongside the symbol of Jackson as the instrument of Providence was Jackson as the man of iron will on whom “adversity can make no impression” (qtd. in Ward 190). In a time of such turmoil, when profits were largely concentrated in the hands of few, during the rapid and turbulent Market Revolution, in pervasive desperation for real, true executive action on the behalf of the majority, “[t]hought was made subordinate to action” (Ward 210).

Such a broad set of shoes to fill, it seems. Perhaps it doesn’t matter if Jackson made a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ administrative or military decision, or if he won the Battle of New Orleans, or if he kicked out the Indians as long as he confidently did so and “’had no thought of failure’…because Jackson was a Hercules of action’” —the people needed this Andrew Jackson and so created him (Ward 212). This natural and divinely chosen and unbending idea of a man need not be true as long as these traits were ascribed to him, and thus it was feasible for America to go on, cutting itself finally from Europe and its traditions, believing in the individual, pushing West under God’s pointing finger.

Works Cited

Ward, John William. Andrew Jackson: Symbol for an Age. Oxford University Press, New York,

  1. pp. 14-212.

Henry Watson. Liberty and Power. Hill & Wang, New York, 1990. pp. 50-94.

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HIST 442: The Myriad Complications of an Indian Removal Procedure

Ella Corder

2 April 2020

HIST 442: The Myriad Complications of an Indian Removal Procedure

The Jacksonian era flowed with industrial progress and booming industry. This market revolution sent ripples across the country. One of the more notable ripples is the Indian Removal Act of 1830, a complex affair of racial tension on behalf of whites, the fortitude of ‘mixed-blood’ warriors, the fight and plight of the Indians, and the subsequent Trail of Tears. On the face of it, the Indian Removal was a matter of progress, security, and protection against savagery. Underneath, it was about the money which was waiting to be tilled from the rich, cotton-farming land of the South. Beneath the shield of whichever claim, the Indians were pushed off the cotton-padded South and over the Mississippi in one of the most convoluted tales in American history.

The decade of the 1830s was one of rapid change. People experienced “an abrupt and decisive commercial revolution in agriculture, rapid territorial expansion, the beginnings of industrialization and sustained urban growth, the democratization of politics—a generation of change that transformed Jefferson’s republic…into Jackson’s boisterous capitalist democracy” (Johnson 9). In such a time, there were more and more opportunities in the fertile, wide South. As more surplus crops were sold, subsistence-farming declined, and agriculture grew more commercial, vast, rich farmland became more valuable. Cotton was a popular crop in high demand internationally, and it grew especially well in the South; people followed the money. As the population grew, however, land began to run short.

About 125,000 Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole Indians lived east of the Mississippi River in 1820 (LaFantasie, “Democracy and Race”). In the face of an influx of white settlement and pressure to assimilate and isolate, the Indians had cultivated a peaceful and flourishing life—a life lived atop of millions of acres of fertile farmland, ripe for cotton-growing. In other words, they were sitting on a pile of green cash, and, to the white people, this was a financial waste, an obstacle to be hurdled. As the population kept increasing, as whites began putting pressure on their respective governments, and as the financial opportunity had made itself evident, the southern states, led by Georgia, began to demand the federal government to revoke the Indians’ titles (LaFantasie, “Democracy”).

But, perhaps blinded by the dollar-bill signs in their eyes, or otherwise persuaded, whites did not attribute this push for removal simply to the vast financial gain that lay wait in the cottonfields. Instead, they invented a holy war against savagery, a collision of fronts between ignoble primacy and progress. The Indians were considered ignorant, brutish savages whose innate principles (or lack thereof) served as a pesticide for progress. Thus, rather simply and in an age-old fashion, the whites’ campaign against the indigenous tribes was cemented.

INTERPOLATION ON THE APPARENT ABSENCE OF PRESBYTERIANS

Something that I find curious, in light of all this, is the evident lack of sympathy on behalf of the mission churches and revivalists of the 1820s. During the Second Great Awakening, Christians across the country were lit up in an ecumenical renaissance, working towards their newly prioritized ideals of perfectionism, free will and discipline in the face of the cold, lonely, industrial, mass-manufacturing reality, according to Paul E. Johnson’s A Shopkeeper’s Millennium. These Christians, who “stressed the equality of all before God, regardless of wealth, social standing, or education” and who believed the millennium could “only take place when the true believers and all converts made the world a truly Christian place to live in” seem to be rather silent about this major development in the South, despite their fervent anti-Jacksonian beliefs (LaFantasie, “Revivalism and the Social Order”). I suppose we cannot expect them to be forward-thinking simply because they are holy, but even on the grounds of ‘converting the savages’ or some other agenda, one would think the Revived would step in.

Or maybe even the rapidly developing African Methodist Episcopal church organization which had made such leaps and strides in white-dominated arenas, who had taken up their own space in America, one might think would help the cause of the marginalized and attacked Indians. I suppose they, unlike the whites, had no political power and couldn’t have helped if they tried.

The absence of the whites remains suspicious.

END INTERPOLATION

The problem with the anti-Indian campaign was that the racial lines in the South were blurry at best; Indians dressed and acted like whites, whites married Indians, Indians married whites, and the Indians, Spanish, French, and Africans who had settled there in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries left little room for any sort of monoracial culture. The Cherokee especially grew to live like whites; under Chief John Ross, the Cherokees were advised to assimilate as much as possible to the white man’s world to avoid discrimination and/or removal—they had houses and cotton plantations of their own, a written language, a newspaper, a written constitution, and, as they increasingly sold their own surplus crops, they stopped living communally as they once had (LaFantasie, “Democracy”). The Cherokee Nation in the South became sort of a city within a city, a Vatican, a microcosm within America that reflected the larger white world: the Cherokee’s disposition towards their black slaves became increasingly tense and harsh. In short, they adopted the white man’s way, a very individualist, capitalist culture—they began to play the game.

The Indian identity itself became complex in light of all the intermarriage and ‘mixed-blood’ offspring. William McIntosh, to name one ‘mixed-blood’, who had aligned himself with Jackson during the war of 1812, was a Creek chief whose portrait pictures him wearing “a ruffled shirt and cravat of a white gentlemen, while also wearing an Indian robe, sash, leggings, and moccasins” —his mother was Creek, his wife was Cherokee and his father was Scotch-Irish (LaFantasie, “Democracy”). Such mixing of not only blood but of culture belies the substantially acculturated and blended state of the South at the time. This makes an argument for Removal more complex; how to define an Indian? Where does the Indian blood stop and the white blood begin? Simply based on color—the “one-drop” rule of the early nineteenth century? It was already evident that ‘mixed-bloods’ functioned more easily in a white society, developing into wealthy plantation-owners: “Largely of mixed ancestry, slaveholders were wealthier, had investments in other enterprises such as gristmills, ferries, and way stations along the Natchez Trail, raised crops for markets, and were more likely to read English, and were the driving force behind acculturation” (LaFantasie, “Democracy”). Naturally, tension grew between the Indians, the whites, and this spectral group of everyone in-between.

Tension became somewhat infectious; as it grew between whites and Indians and between Indians and blacks, so it grew between factions of Indian tribes (LaFantasie, “Democracy”). This is evident in the case of McIntosh, who was murdered by another Creek faction after ceding land. Perhaps this internal deterioration, this conflict within the American Indian nation on top of all the external conflict, helped whites to divide and conquer. Perhaps they could have withstood all the pressure and the attacks had they not been so fractured over money—but, then, they would not be playing the game.

Or perhaps any resistance was futile when on top of the food chain sat President Andrew Jackson. Jackson had gained a reputation by this time, after forging his way through the Tennessee frontier, fighting and defeating Indians and opening up vast expanses of land; to America’s great face he added about a third of Tennessee, three-quarters of Florida, three-quarters of Alabama, a fifth of Georgia, a fifth of Mississippi, a tenth of Kentucky and a tenth of North Carolina (LaFantasie, “Democracy”). He was a defender of America, a warrior, a boisterous, rugged, self-made man who would not tolerate an Other standing in the way of progress and profit. And above all, a landowner, a landlover. Perhaps he pushed for Indian Removal simply in the interest of preserving his reputation amid all the pressure from his devotees underneath: “By attacking the Indians, Jackson impressed Americans with his powerful blows for white equality, states’ rights, and frontier values” (Watson 112).

Either way, Jackson’s disposition towards the Indians was clear. He never saw them as competent adults but as his “red children” who must be protected paternally and, most importantly, legislatively (Watson 112). Jackson began to push for Removal funds with support from his followers, and “the Jacksonians beat back all amendments and passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 by a thin margin, less than three months after its introduction [sic]” (Watson 110). To crush any opposition from the strong-headed Cherokee, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia that the Cherokee Indians did not have standing to bring a suit against the State of Georgia (LaFantasie, “Democracy”). The deed was essentially done, and the golden fields of cotton were opened thus, officially solving the problem of the whites’ Infested Destiny. In an extremely convoluted proclamation, Jackson said about the Removal, “While the safety and comfort of our own citizens has been greatly promoted by their removal, the philanthropist will rejoice that the remnant of that ill-fated race has been at length placed beyond the reach of injury and oppression, and that the paternal care of the General Government will hereafter watch over them and protect them” (qtd. in Watson 111).

The execution of the Indian Removal Act and the orchestration of the Trail of Tears was certainly not a simple answer. But, lost in the complexity of it all, morale fell further and further, as “in the process, Indians unaccustomed to white law and notions of private property ownership fell victim to shameful frauds, as land-hungry schemers cheated countless tribal members out of their lands” (LaFantasie, “Democracy”). Chief John Ross was kidnapped and imprisoned, the treaty was deemed unnegotiable, and “[w]ithout effective political power, [the Indians] found themselves at the mercy of the pressure of the marketplace and the hardening racial attitudes of white Americans” (LaFantasie, “Democracy”). The long and short of it is, it was a dirty affair; the Removal was not a clean cut.

One may stop to wonder what sort of happenstance, what gathering of forces or karma or succession of dominos could result in passing such an act in fewer than three months and subsequently result in eighteen thousand captive Cherokees trudging through the cold at bayonet-point just eight short years later. Could it be that the only answer to those freezing red corpses is profit? A cash crop? Perhaps cotton blew in the southern breeze like tufts of Jackson’s white hair. One would like to believe that there was more to the land than money, more to the removal than money, that the Indian problem was too complex, that cities simply cannot exist within cities.

Works Cited

Johnson, Paul E. A Shopkeeper’s Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837. Hill and Wang, 2004, pp. 9-

LaFantasie, Glenn. “Democracy and Race,” Lecture No. 009. COVID-19-era March 2020.

LaFantasie, Glenn. “Revivalism and the Social Order,” Lecture No. 014. COVID-19-era March 2020.

Watson, Harry L. Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America, revised ed. Hill and Wang, 2006, pp. 110-112.

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A Lesson from Donald W. Gately on Making the Hard Choice


David Foster Wallace’s gigantic novel Infinite Jest is centrally about America’s disastrous addiction to pleasure. The novel is a cacophonous and beautiful assessment of American values: where are we going? why are we going there? and are we really going anywhere at all? That the work is genius and complicated and splendid is indisputable, but one particularly splendid instrument Wallace uses in the novel, one of its best and most moving parts, one of the best characters ever thought into fictional existence, is Donald W. Gately, 29, chief counsellor at the Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House, ex-burglar, ex-narcotic-addict, and one of the novel’s main protagonists. Gately makes Infinite Jest optimistic—you have to dig, really dig to find it, the optimism in the sad and lonely and creepily-prophetic novel, but it’s there: Gately is the model, the paradigm, what Wallace strives for and suggest we strive for, a man with simple and aware and melancholy honesty with himself and the world.

We mainly see Gately in one setting, a very important one: the Boston, MA’s Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House (redundancy sic.) The House, just down the hill from the Enfield Tennis Academy which is arguably the second-most important setting in the novel, is a halfway house for recovering addicts, acting as a sanctuary from the harsh world (and often from the law) for those who live there, as a moronic and dull and repetitive prison for those who live there and don’t want to, and as a fascinating bacteria-like cultivation of various substance-abusers in the novel. It’s an amalgamation of ex-coke-addicts, ex-alcoholics, ex-etcetera’s, which leaves the House chaotic and tense and constantly neurotic. When the novel begins, Gately is serving as counsellor of the House, working the night shift and a janitorial job at a homeless shelter where he has to, seriously, clean up shit.1 Gately arrived at the House roughly fourteen months prior and has been totally, painfully sober since.

One of Gately’s main struggles and one of the main motifs of the novel is the system, the actual mechanics of the largely cultish Alcoholics Anonymous2 program. Wallace spends a lot of time explaining, through Gately, AA clichés, their repetitiveness, shallowness, simplicity, cheesiness. Mantras like ‘Here But For The Grace Of God,’ ‘The truth will set you free, but not until it’s finished with you,’ ‘My worst day sober is better than my best day drinking,’ ‘Have an attitude of gratitude,’ etc., and the stages of the system—all proper nouns, of course—like ‘Coming In’ and being ‘in Denial’ and, as Wallace says in footnote 132, “The word Group in AA Group is always capitalized because Boston AA places enormous emphasis on joining a Group and identifying yourself as a member of this larger thing, the Group. Likewise caps in like Commitment, Giving It Away, and c.,”—all of these clichés Gately has an enormously difficult time accepting, blindly believing in, trusting his life and sobriety in. He’s a practical guy, and it’s very hard for him to dedicate himself to this seemingly impossible and overly-simple system.

But it works. In his article on the mechanics of Gately’s character from a mental health perspective, Allan Wood writes:

When he first Came In, Gately dedicated himself to “this unromantic, unhip, cliched AA thing”, but had no clue how “corny slogans and saccharin grins” and “the limpest sort of dickless pap” could actually make him forget about Substances and remove his overwhelming desire for them. And then maybe four months in, when he out of the blue realized he had not thought of oral narcotics or even “a cold foamer” for several days, Gately ‘hadn’t felt so much grateful or joyful as just plain shocked. The idea that AA might actually somehow work unnerved him. He suspected some sort of trap’ (qtd. in Life And How To Live It).

And that’s where Gately’s nobility lies, I think, in his working day in, day out, trusting the honesty and simplicity of the system, trusting his elders,3 following the rules, stoically, humbly. He realizes that he has a choice between doing it, devoting himself to AA, or falling back in and presumably eventually dying, and it’s a hard choice, believe it or not, in an addict’s mind. The addicted human brain sans-substance is so insectile and impulsive, and is boiled down by said addiction to the more simple and primitive human state, one completely controlled by the substance, like a rat on cocaine, constantly getting high, crashing down, going back for more, living every day for the substance, finding it, finding the money for it, through whatever means, ingesting it, and ingesting it, and ingesting it, and anything that comes between the ingester and the ingestion must be removed one way or the other.

And that’s why it’s such an amazing feat, for Gately, for any addict, to hit rock bottom and conquer his addiction the hard way. It is so difficult for Americans to take the hard way. In any addiction, whether drugs, alcohol, sex—geez, television, consumerism, Americans4 seem to have a really impossible time conquering it. Whether an inevitable cultural trend, a softening of the mind and willpower, a technologically advanced and easier lifestyle, I don’t know, but the normalcy of this weakness is growing, and Gately unfortunately is a representative of the few.

Admittedly, most Americans do not share the intensity, drug-wise, of Gately’s addiction. He was a frequent ingester of Dilaudids, a form of opium two to ten times the strength of morphine. The Addiction Center says the drug is “one of the more powerful synthetic narcotics in the opioid class of drugs and an addiction to Dilaudid can rapidly develop through continued use…It is not uncommon for Dilaudid abuse to lead to criminal activities in their search to get more of the drug” (Dilaudid Addiction and Abuse). That last bit is a very important part of Gately’s past, when he would burgle houses for drug money. Wallace writes:

But he was a gifted burglar, when he burgled — though the size of a young dinosaur, with a massive and almost perfectly square head he used to amuse his friends when drunk by letting them open and close elevator doors on, he was, at his professional zenith, smart, sneaky, quiet, quick, possessed of good taste and reliable transportation — with a kind of ferocious jolliness in his attitude toward his livelihood (60).

This substantially taints Gately’s nobility and morality as a character, and Wallace structures his development so that this exposition comes first, and we gradually see how Gately has progressed and grown bigger than his substance, so we still end up admiring him in spite. But when he details Gately’s burglary, we are both frustrated with the early Gately and sympathetic with how truly awful the whole situation turns out. Upon one catastrophic burglary, Gately accidentally kills5 Guillaume DuPlessis, a significant leader in the anti-O.N.A.N. Organizer north of the Great Concavity,6 during a botched robbery, which is a grotesque scene that has to do with gagging the Québecer and really very unfortunate nasal congestion and torn rib ligaments, all very Wallacean and sick and far too detailed for the gentle-stomached.

And so post-botched-robbery Gately ends up in the House to avoid jail. He’s at rock bottom. He finds the house to be disgusting and unnerving and full of absolute freaks who have no sense of pride, personal space, or really any sense that there is anyone else in the world besides them, a common trait among addicts, it turns out. Except the people aren’t necessarily the most characterizing parts of the house, Spencer Baum argues, but the lessons Gately learned there:

Ennet House is, arguably, the most important location in Infinite Jest, so when it comes time to introduce it in the reader’s mind, Wallace takes his time, allowing himself multiple pages to introduce the setting…Wallace gives the reader a moving and beautiful list of the things one learns while living there…: “If, by the virtue of charity or the circumstance of desperation, you ever chance to spend a little time around a substance-recovery halfway facility like Enfield, MA’s state-funded Ennet House, you will acquire many exotic new facts. You will find out that once MA’s Department of Social Services has taken a mother’s children away for any period of time, they can always take them away again, D.S.S., like at will, empowered by nothing more than a certain signature-stamped form. I.e. once deemed Unfit — no matter why or when, or what’s transpired in the meantime — there’s nothing a mother can do…That sometimes human beings have to just sit in one place and, like, hurt. That you will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do. That there is such a thing as raw, unalloyed, agendaless kindness. That it is possible to fall asleep during an anxiety attack.” (qtd. in Writing Lesson).

This is where we abide with Gately for a long time as he lives in the House and manages his daily charges, putting his head down and continuing on. He has no idea what the future holds and has major doubts that it holds anything at all. He’s a complicated character in his despair and ultimate pessimism, but the very fact that he lives on, substance-free, admittedly, yes, with a lot of fear, but without pride or laziness or rat-on-cocaine-type daily life, all the pieces of modern American life, that is what is optimistic, if not Gately himself. He is the one character who learns what to say yes and no to. Wallace holds him up as the ideal, although not an incredibly happy, colorful, bright, spirited man, he lives life honestly, without depending on booze or drugs or television or sugary, vacuously constant pleasure to make life something else. He can look life straight in the eye and assess it truthfully.

And so, sweetly vulnerable Gately leaves us with his fate in question. He ends up in the hospital nursing a gunshot wound and the last we hear of him is his final struggle, his supremum certamen, to communicate to the doctors that he is a drug addict and to not, under any circumstances, even if he begs them to, put pain-killers in his IV bag. Wallace ends the novel with a dream of unconscious-hospital-Gately’s, of which Fiction Advocate makes the analysis:

The book ends with Don Gately on a beach after a massively unpleasant experience with his old crew and some Dilaudids…If this isn’t rock bottom, it’s hard to imagine any experience tough enough to chip down to lower level of shittiness than watching your friend get his eyes sewn open while you lay in a puddle of piss and M&M dye listening to Linda McCartney vocal tracks…Of course, Gately is actually in his hospital bed dreaming of all this…I have wondered (but found no firm supporting evidence) whether Gately was given painkillers in the hospital against his uncommunicative will. On the one hand, it would explain why he dreams of taking massive doses of substances. On the other hand, if reintroducing Dilaudid into his system sends him straight back to memories of his rock bottom, let’s hope it means he won’t be getting back on the horse when he wakes up (The Infinite Jest Liveblog).

A toughly-swallowed pill with a character we’ve invested so much hope in. On this singular section of Gately’s story rests the significance of his entire role in the book, all of his meaning, whether he turns rat-like and falls back in to the deep, dark hole, whether that reflects absolute and total despair in the real future in America. And it leaves us questioning, if he did fall back in, whether he’ll ever be able to brave it back out again. Or if he’d even have any strength or desire left to get back out. But a little hope lies in the back of our minds as we think of our favorite square-headed shit-cleaner curled in the floor in the numbing and seizing and skull-shattering pain of withdrawal, focusing on trying to abide in the pain that each passing second brings, gritting his teeth, and making the hard choice.

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HIST 241: The Amputation of U.S. Arms

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HIST 241 Essay: Question No. 10

Pacifists vs. Patriots on How to Avoid a Second World War; Or, The Amputation of U.S. Arms

March 27, 2020

In the years following World War One, the United States and the world’s leading countries began negotiating arms limitations for European powers. All agreed to prevent a second world war; all disagreed on the means. Joining these leaders for the first time in history with significant political power were the newly enfranchised American women. However, a thick, bitter and political line ran between the two major women’s political organizations, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom (WILPF), simultaneously crippling women’s potential power during the decade while sparking diverse and productive dialogue across the country and world.

The Washington Armament Limitation Conference was to be held in 1921 to discuss disarmament. This was the stage on which the ladies prepared to silently fight. On the surface, the conference “marked a shift from a system of opposing defense alliances that caused the outbreak of World War I to a multilateral treaty system designed to avert the emergence of competing power blocs.”[1] But beyond that, it was the ultimate opportunity for the DAR to flex their metaphorical muscle; to establish their traditional values, i.e., patriotism, national security, and isolationism; and to stand up as a strong but polite counterpart to the male patriotic political groups of the early 20th century. The Daughters were keenly aware of their influence and the power with which they led millions of American members: President General Anne Rogers Minor instructed her sheep: “Let us try to keep cool heads and a sane, calm attitude, and impart them to others… Every argument there is, is against war, yet we cannot argue war out of existence, nor end it by disarmament…Peace must come before disarmament.”[2] One might note here that the U.S. played a pretty minor role in World War One in terms of fighting— it cannot be the loss of life or any intense sort of economic destruction that is at the root of this fierce patriotism and isolationism. If not this, then what? Waldo H Heinrichs, Jr. in his review of Peter Dingman’s Power in the Pacific, says, “Dingman makes it abundantly clear that political power is an inescapable factor in arms limitation.”[3] Could this also be the case for the women activists of the twenties?

The point then seems to be, for the DAR, not about European disarmament but about American armament. The problem then was that the DAR “had previously refrained from purely political activities, instead devoting themselves to promoting patriotic celebrations and erecting monuments and markers to honor Revolutionary forefathers.”[4] In fact, leader Rose Moss Scott chastised small DAR chapters for merging with other philanthropies/organizations, claiming this confused and defiled the DAR’s true goals. First and foremost, she claimed, the Daughters were patriots, whose duties were to further the patriotic agendas of their oft-named ancestors: “Both in spirit and in purpose the Daughters of the Revolution should be true to the heritage of oppor-tunity which was theirs through the devotion, patriotism, and heroism of those whom they have succeeded.”[5] Why then the sudden exception? It may have been the stirring spirit of American patriotism; it may have been eagerness to exert their newfound power. It may have even been insecurity and anxiety over the way that the war played out; a fear of Germany; a fear of the loss of authority. As President Minor said, “Pacifism is willing to see the world stand defenseless before a nation that is still obsessed with the passion of militarism and the policy of ‘blood and iron.’ The world cannot yet dispense with the police.”[6] For whichever reason, the traditional DAR was dead, and the women’s voices grew louder in its stead.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, headed by Jane Addams, former leader of the Woman’s Peace Party, believed differently. The women of the WILPF thought that peace could not be achieved in a militaristic world, and they called for complete disarmament. The WILPF’s arguments were just as fierce as those of the DAR—perhaps fiercer—and were complex in nature, calling “governments to realize the intimate connection between armaments and the serious economic and industrial difficulties with which all the world is faced to-day.”[7] Spread across Europe and the States, the WILPF had an international advantage and quite a following —the barren and recently demolished European countries certainly would take a liking to the WILPF’s peacetime dialogue. According to LoCasto and Sklar, The Civilian and the Military by Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr. “provides information about the presence of the military in American life and the public’s varying reactions from the Revolutionary era through World War II.”[8] Ekrich argues that events after WWII provided “little hope of any sudden return to real peacetime modes of living,” resulting in a surge of pacifism; however, Ekrich ultimately concludes that it is “difficult to believe that the society of the future will be governed by the antimilitarist traditions that (have) guided three centuries of American history.”[9] Nonetheless, the women of the WILPF began to thrive; soon was released their Manifesto of Disarmament.

The manifesto details a particularly sensitive victim of the destruction which militancy brings; i.e., America’s billfold. In the document, the WILPF illustrates the economic downfalls of war and “the wasteful and devastating expenditure on military force which is impoverishing the world and debasing international relations.”[10] Meanwhile, members of the DAR were avidly celebrating the loot and glory which war brings (at least, that is, for the exceptional and undefeated U.S.A.) and on which warhorse-sentimentality they built their platform in the first place. This is illustrated in their magazine’s October 1918 issue, in which they spent a total of eighteen pages on war medals: their beauty, their tradition, and their glory.[11] Beyond print, the DAR fulfilled many calls to patriotic activism. For example, in the April 1918 edition of  The DAR Magazine, the group broadcast their promotion and funding of young women to serve the military as farmers and “to teach maimed and crippled soldiers and sailors who thus will not be obliged to leave their homes to receive instruction in ambidextrous work, chair-caning, weaving on looms, modeling and pottery work, and enable them to earn a livelihood”—quite literally supporting the troops; thus, supporting militancy.[12]

Ironically, between these two vastly different women’s groups, there was mutual celebration over the result of the Washington Conference which produced a relatively moderate decision on arms limitation, but this celebration was the eye of the political hurricane. There followed immediate tension—most notably, the DAR began openly accusing the WILPF of a socialist and/or communist agenda; the accusation was catastrophic to the WILPF’s reputation because it was during the Red Scare of 1919-20. The Scare already had the country in a frenzy: “May Day riots in several major US cities, summer race riots in others, the Boston Police Strike in September, followed by the…coal strike heightened animosity against socialists and radicals who were already held to be pariahs because of their pacifist stance during World War I.”[13] A very brief but very revealing correspondence between DAR member Helen C. Travis and Addams not only shows sympathy between the polarized sides but the failings of 1920s journalists. Travis consoles Addams: “I note the [Chicago] Tribune has taken a policy of ignoring [rumors about the WILPF] altogether.”[14] This biased gap in journalistic policy could only serve to increase polarization and cheat the WILPF out of a chance to speak against, or even to confirm, the rumors, while the DAR had their very own national magazine—the equivalent of a political megaphone—for both offense and defense. One of the most infectious accusations of communism against the WILPF was published by New York Legislature, known as the Lusk report. This extensive report documents the state of socialism and communism in nearly every place in Europe, Russia and America at the time.[15] According to LoCasto and Sklar, however, the writers were later “discredited.”[16]

Further blowing the tension out of proportion, Addams, who, it is revealed, is a member of the DAR, says that the few extreme and accusatory Daughters spoke on behalf of the many silent, moderate members. Addams writes back to Travis, “I too am a member of the D.A.R. and am happy to report that at the National meeting in Washington they refused to condemn the League. I think it is only some of the local chapters that have indulged in this sport.”[17] This misrepresentation coupled with the lack of journalistic mediation and the Red Scare left WILPF nearly defenseless.

On top of that, the DAR began to send out some less-rosy and -cheery patriotic messages: they warned that America had a dire need for self-defense against hostile attacks from other countries—and, worse, attacks from inside the U.S., the “insidious forces now at work within our borders attempting to undermine our Government.”[18] This fear-mongering very effectively framed a victim and attacker; a self and other; an us and them. This is prima facie evidence of the self-injury this caused for women’s political mobility; no such divided nation of women could possibly stand. Members of the DAR continued to lobby vigorously to keep the WILPF meetings and lectures quiet or cancelled. Furthermore, Kim E. Nielsen points out an immensely powerful group of WILPF-enemies and proud DAR-supporters: WWI veterans. “Local opponents of the WILPF—largely World War One veterans who were members of the local American Legion—thought [the WILPF’s] goals were radical, un-American, and outside the realm of female expertise. Instead, they praised women who exercised female citizenship in ways that bolstered community veterans and national military strength.”[19] This critique raises an important point: the members of the WILPF were not only concerned with peace and disarmament. They had an extensive, thought-to-be progressive platform, calling for the “full integration of women into society; a commitment to ‘unity within diversity’” especially because they were headed by the veteran Addams—the radical changes of the decade were already disconcerting to many Americans.[20] Jill Lepore writes, “Beginning in the 1880s, reformers like Jane Addams…had been leading a fight for legislative labor reforms for women, including minimum-wage and maximum-hour laws, and the abolition of child labor…yet each of these Progressive reforms, from social insurance to protective legislation, faced a legal obstacle: their critics called them unconstitutional.”[21] This accusation is reminiscent of the label that the DAR liked to use: ‘un-American’—Simon Wendt argues that the DAR promulgated “liberal commentators and activists [who] repeatedly appropriated this label to express more forcefully their alternative vision of the American nation.”[22] The hits just kept on coming for the WILPF, but, whether to stay true to their philosophy or because they had no opportunity, they did not pose a counterattack.

However, as the DAR’s attacks began to up, Emily Greene Balch, the U.S. WILPF’s Vice-Chairman, fired from professorship at Wellesley College for her pacifist remarks, wanted to clear WILPF’s name. Balch politely wrote a powerful and ambiguous letter to a chapter of the DAR: “[Militant] preparedness does far more to create ill-will and distrust that it can do to protect against the dangers of war—to put the question only on the ground of expediency and safety and not on the ground of morality, Christianity, and principle.”[23] Weaved so gently into such pacifist terms, Balch brought the DAR’s morality and—worse—Christianity into question. This may have been the most aggressive move on behalf of the WILPF—a sign of sure strife between the women’s organizations. But, as often happened with the WILPF, the powerful and personal message rang out largely in silence.

In the climactic release of the DAR’s article, “Dossier on Jane Addams,” the WILPF and their president were veritably ripped to shreds. The Daughters published a list of every socialist and/or communist insinuation against Addams and her organization. “[A]ll her actions have tended toward the strengthening of the hands of the Communists to make for the success of a Communist war in our country,” they wrote.[24] The author painstakingly described every time Addams did not renounce socialism and/or communism, in addition to listing every time a socialist and/or communist or even a socialist- and/or communist-by-association attended a WILPF lecture or conference or general gathering.

And yet, in the thick momentum of all this adversity, there stood up resistance within the DAR, a seeming glimmer of hope. DAR Member I.E. Evans wrote to Addams a letter of defense, saying, “I wish to apologize to Miss Addams for any discourtesy received by her from [the] D.A.R. and will say I am not in sympathy with this attack.”[25] I.E. Evans’ letter is so important because she was one moderate Daughter of many; she exemplifies in one letter the vast, unimaginable potential of a united women’s front, the powerful tower that could have been. The crumbling and burning organizations at hand, spewing at each other in blind ambition, not-naively crazed with the fresh power of enfranchisement, the stupendous opportunity of which still lingered in the air, fell stillborn in their divided clawing for political power. Still, in their remains, one can see hope in that very blatant disproportion of the loud few and the silent many, because the many went on with their jobs and continued their noble responsibilities and continued the good fight in their respective places. Perhaps this is also a sign that the extreme, enticing and dramatic quarrels between polarized groups are not representative of the whole or really of the true issues with which the parties are concerned. Either way, “in World War One, women displayed independence and determination to participate in the public arena,” and perhaps that was enough. [26]

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[1] Anissa Harper LoCasto and Kathryn Kish Sklar, “Introduction,” Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women’s Organizations in the 1920s: How Was the Debate Shaped by the Expansion of the American Military? (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 1998).

[2] Anne Rogers Minor, “A Message From the President General,” DAR Magazine (November 1921), Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women’s Organizations in the 1920s: How Was the Debate Shaped by the Expansion of the American Military? by Anissa Harper LoCasto and Kathryn Kish Sklar. (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 1998).

[3]Waldo H. Heinrichs, Jr., Review 18; no title, review of Power in the Pacific, by Peter Dingman, The Journal of Asian Studies (Pre-1986), 37(4), 760, 1978, italics added, WKU Libraries, https://login.libsrv.wku.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libsrv.wku.edu/docview/218123019?accountid=15150.

[4] LoCasto and Sklar. “Introduction,” Pacifism vs. Patriotism.

[5] Rose Moss Scott, “Illinois State History: Daughters of the American Revolution,” (Danville, Illinois: Illinois Printing Company, 1929), pp. 179, retrieved from HathiTrust, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=wu.89058637166&view=1up&seq=189.

[6] Anne Rogers Minor, “A Message From the President General,” DAR Magazine (December 1921), 688, Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women’s Organizations in the 1920s: How Was the Debate Shaped by the Expansion of the American Military? by Anissa Harper LoCasto and Kathryn Kish Sklar, (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 1998). Italics added.

[7] Catherine E. Marshall to Jane Addams, 5 October 1921, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1 (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel 14, #243-244, #125), by Catherine E. Marshall, Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women’s Organizations in the 1920s: How Was the Debate Shaped by the Expansion of the American Military? by Anissa Harper LoCasto and Kathryn Kish Sklar, (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 1998).

[8] Anissa Harper LoCasto and Kathryn Kish Sklar, “Bibliography,” Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women’s Organizations in the 1920s: How Was the Debate Shaped by the Expansion of the American Military? (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 1998).

[9] qtd. in Richard C. Brown, Military Affairs 20, no. 4 (1956): 231. Accessed March 27, 2020. doi:10.2307/1983708.

[10] Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, “Manifesto on Disarmament,” 1921, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1 (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel 14, #243-244, #125), Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women’s Organizations in the 1920s: How Was the Debate Shaped by the Expansion of the American Military? by Anissa Harper LoCasto and Kathryn Kish Sklar, (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 1998).

[11] D.A.R., “The War Medals of the Allies,” Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, Vol.

LII, No. 10, October 1918, The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, (J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1918.) Retrieved from Hathitrust, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.b2873578&view=1up&seq=205

[12] D.A.R., “Women to Train as Practical Farmers,” Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, Vol. LII, No. 4, April 1918, The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, (J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1918), retrieved from Hathitrust, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.b2873578&view=1up&seq=205

[13] William H. Siener, “The Red Scare Revisited: Radicals and the Anti-Radical Movement in Buffalo, 1919-1920,” New York History 79, no. 1 (1998): 23-54, accessed March 27, 2020, http://www.jstor.org/stable/23182288.

[14] Helen C. Travis to Jane Addams, 2 May 1924, Jane Addams Papers, Correspondence, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel #16, 639-640, 800), by Helen C. Travis, Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women’s Organizations in the 1920s: How Was the Debate Shaped by the Expansion of the American Military? by Anissa Harper LoCasto and Kathryn Kish Sklar, (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 1998).

[15] New York (State), Legislature, and Clayton Riley Lusk, “Revolutionary Radicalism: Its History, Purpose and Tactics with an Exposition and Discussion of the Steps Being Taken and Required to Curb It, Being the Report of the Joint Legislative Committee Investigating Seditious Activities,” filed April 24, 1920, Senate of the State of New York, J. B. Lyon, 1920, retrieved from HathiTrust, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/ssd?id=mdp.39015014148269;page =ssd;view=plaintext;seq=406;num=1526

[16] LoCasto and Sklar, “Introduction,” Pacifism vs. Patriotism.

[17] Jane Addams to Helen C. Travis, 5 June 1924, Jane Addams Papers, Correspondence, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel #16, 639-640, 800), by Jane Addams, Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women’s Organizations in the 1920s: How Was the Debate Shaped by the Expansion of the American Military? by Anissa Harper LoCasto and Kathryn Kish Sklar, (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 1998).

[18] Daughters of the American Revolution to Jane Addams, ca. July 1924, Jane Addams Papers, Correspondence, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel 16, #958), by Daughters of the American Revolution, Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women’s Organizations in the 1920s: How Was the Debate Shaped by the Expansion of the American Military? by Anissa Harper LoCasto and Kathryn Kish Sklar, (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 1998).

[19] Kim E. Nielsen, “Dangerous Iowa Women: Pacifism, Patriotism, and the Woman-Citizen in Sioux City, 1920-1927,” The Annals of Iowa 56, (1997), 80-98, WKU Libraries, https://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=10997&context=annals-of-iowa

[20] Leila J. Rupp, review of Reconstructing Women’s Thoughts: The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom before World War II, by Linda K. Schott, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), The American Historical Review, Volume 104, Issue 2, April 1999, 596–597,WKULibraries, https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/104.2.596

[21] Lepore, Jill. These Truths: A History of the United States. New York: W. W. Norton, 2019, 377.

[22] Simon Wendt, “Defenders of Patriotism or Mothers of Fascism? The Daughters of the American Revolution, Antiradicalism, and Un-Americanism in the Interwar Period,” Journal of American Studies 47, no. 4 (2013): 943–69, WKU Libraries, doi:10.1017/S0021875813001321.

[23] Emily Greene Balch to the Kaskia Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 10 July 1924, Jane Addams Papers, Correspondence, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel 16, #956-957), by Emily Greene Balch, Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women’s Organizations in the 1920s: How Was the Debate Shaped by the Expansion of the American Military? by Anissa Harper LoCasto and Kathryn Kish Sklar, (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 1998).

[24] D.A.R., “Dossier on Jane Addams,” Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1 (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel 18, #1307-1315, #1317-1318), by Daughters of the American Revolution, Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women’s Organizations in the 1920s: How Was the Debate Shaped by the Expansion of the American Military? by Anissa Harper LoCasto and Kathryn Kish Sklar, (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 1998).

[25] I.E. Evans to Jane Addams, ca. February 1927, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1 (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel 18, #1307-1315, #1317-1318), by I. E. Evans, Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women’s Organizations in the 1920s: How Was the Debate Shaped by the Expansion of the American Military? by Anissa Harper LoCasto and Kathryn Kish Sklar, (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 1998).

[26] qtd. in Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, “American Women’s Activism in World War I (Book Review),” Review of “American Women’s Activism in World War I,” by Barbara J. Steinson, The Journal of American History, 1 June 1983, 177–78. Web.