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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Lucasville, Ohio in 1819 -- From Year One ...

The town of Lucasville Ohio was platted in 1819, two hundred years ago. The Bicentennial of Lucasville in 2019 will commemorate the history of the village with fitting pomp and circumstance. As Honest Abe once said of another very famous proclamation, “It is altogether fitting and proper” to do this.

However, it occurred to me that I (And, I assume most others.) have no conception of life in 1819 other than a few factually descriptive words found in the local journals and histories of the time. In other words, I know nothing about what was going on in 1819 in the country and how the events of the year affected the residents of the town. This article will address that issue.

What I discovered attests to the importance of 1819 in the scope of American history. The town of Lucasville, the state of Ohio, the United States of America – all were in the youthful throes of establishing identity. This time, after the wars of the Revolution and 1812, was a period of peace, yet the days were filled with uncertainty. The times of discovery in the Scioto Valley had passed, and now residents turned to settlement and to dealing with all the changes brought about by recent events.

James Monroe

In 1819, James Monroe (DR) was president of the United States. His presidency offers some key insights into the beginnings of the town. The Virginian took office in 1817 following the first election after the War of 1812 – a war directly connected to the Lucas lineage.

Of course, most people know John Lucas, the founder of Lucasville, had volunteered for service and commanded a regiment during the War of 1812. Captain Lucas returned from the war after he was released, as he and his company had been part of the forces surrendered by General William Hull. Robert Lucas, John's brother, was a Brigadier General and a key figure in the war. Both the Lucases had served with great distinction.

In particular, Robert Lucas (Who by 1819 resided in nearby Piketon.) had become famous for his resourcefulness and calm in an increasingly chaotic 1812 campaign. As one of his contemporaries stated, "As a spy he was productive and brave — as a soldier he had no superior." Lucas actually rose to national prominence during the court-martial trial of General Hull. Hull was accused of incompetence in the loss of Detroit and the Michigan Territory to the British in June 1812, and the journals Lucas kept during the campaign were used as evidence to convict Hull. Thus, the popular Lucas springboarded into Ohio politics and eventually became governor of the state.

In 1792, James Monroe had joined forces with James Madison and Thomas Jefferson to found the Democratic-Republican Party, which opposed Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists who were fighting for increased federal power at the cost of state and individual rights. The election of 1816 was the last in which the Federalist Party fielded a presidential candidate.

The previous four years of American politics had been dominated by the effects of the War of 1812. While the war had not ended in victory, the peace concluded in 1815 was satisfactory to the American people, and the Democratic-Republicans received the credit for its conclusion. The Federalists found themselves discredited by their opposition to the war. To his advantage, Monroe was popular because of his status as one of the Founding Fathers.

Monroe was of the planter class, and he fought in the American Revolutionary War. He was wounded in the Battle of Trenton with a musket ball to the shoulder. After studying law under Thomas Jefferson from 1780 to 1783, he served as a delegate in the Continental Congress.

Monroe was elected the fifth president of the United States with 68.2% of the popular vote. He was the last president of the Virginia dynasty. His presidency ushered in what is known as the Era of Good Feelings – a period in the political history of the United States that reflected a sense of national purpose and a desire for unity among Americans. These were grand ideals whose attainment continued to vex the nation. The nation was growing quickly and offering new opportunities to its citizens, citizens like those in Southern Ohio who were then settling into westward expansion.

Monroe had helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the U.S. And, as president, he acquired Florida in 1819. President Monroe also dealt with the contentious issue of slavery in new states joining the Union with the 1820 Missouri Compromise. With John Quincy Adams’ assistance, Monroe addressed Congress in 1823 with what became known as his Monroe Doctrine opposing European colonialism in the Americas. The doctrine was conceived to meet major concerns of the moment, but it soon became a watchword of U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere.

Monroe’s predecessors rarely traveled. However, he embarked on a tour of the northern United States in late May, 1817. Monroe's theme was “In the Spirit of the People.” His goal was to travel as a private citizen to examine the fortifications of the country. This was shortly after the conclusion of the War of 1812, and he was concerned about ongoing British animosity.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania reports:

"Americans came out by the thousands, thrilled by the opportunity to see the president, and newspapers across the country gave day-by-day accounts of his progress. Political differences were forgotten as Americans of both parties joined together in grand celebrations marked by parades, speeches, dinners, balls, receptions, and concerts. A Boston newspaper coined the phrase 'Era of Good Feelings' to describe the national unity created by Monroe’s tour. The term became the catch-phrase of his presidency.”

During his tour, Monroe expressed interest in visiting Ohio because of its “exposed and important frontier.” The Ohio leg lasted about 15 days and took him through Sandusky Bay, Delaware, Worthington, Columbus, Circleville, Chillicothe, and Zanesville.

During the stop in Chillicothe on August 27-28, President James Monroe was greeted with great zeal. A full account of Chillicothe's reception is included in the “Narrative of the President's Tour.” Here is a partial account:

On Tuesday evening, the 26th, he (the President) reached the boundary line between the counties of Franklin and Pickaway, and lodged at Holmes's tavern. At eight o'clock on the following morning, he was conducted to Circleville, the county town of Pickaway, by a deputation of citizens and a troop of horses, and thence to the boundary of the county of Ross. There he was met by a deputation from the corporation of Chillicothe, and a number of citizens on horseback, who escorted him to the residence of Governor Worthington at Prospect Hill, in whose mansion he lodged.

On the 28th, he entered Chillicothe, preceded by the same escort, and followed by a train of citizens from the neighbouring counties. At Watson's hotel, the mayor and corporation presented him the address which follows, and received an appropriate but verbal reply.”

(“President Monroe Visits Chillicothe.” Chillicothana Broadsheet,
No. 8. Chillicothe, Ohio. Five Cents.)

People in Lucasville in 1819 were surely acquainted with the policies and politics of President James Monroe. His actions affected life even in places like small-town Ohio.

A Virginia lady who once shook his hand said this of Monroe: “He is tall and well formed. His dress plain and in the old style…. His manner was quiet and dignified. From the frank, honest expression of his eye … I think he well deserves the encomium passed upon him by the great Jefferson, who said, ‘Monroe was so honest that if you turned his soul inside out there would not be a spot on it.’ ” Yes, friends, I understand this professed naivete of a national politician seems incredible. Perhaps my lady was overcome by her affection for the man.

It is of interest to note, like his fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson, Monroe owned slaves. Monroe had sold his small inherited Virginia plantation in 1783 to enter law and politics. He later fulfilled his youthful dream of becoming the owner of a large plantation and wielding great political power, but his plantation was never profitable. Although he owned much more land and many more slaves, and speculated in property, he was rarely on-site to oversee the operations.

In the end, Monroe's ambition and energy, together with the backing of President Madison, made him the Republican choice for the Presidency in 1816. With little Federalist opposition, he easily won re-election in 1820 – the first full year of Lucasville's existence. What was life like then? Perhaps this brief report about the man in charge will add light to that question.

Here is how President Monroe described the State of the Union in December 1819:

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

The public buildings being advanced to a stage to afford accommodation for Congress, I offer you my sincere congratulations on the recommencement of your duties in the Capitol.

In bringing you to view the incidents most deserving attention which have occurred since your last session, I regret to have to state that several of our principal cities have suffered by sickness, that an unusual drought has prevailed in the Middle and Western States, and that a derangement has been felt in some of our moneyed institutions which has proportionally affected their credit.

I am happy, however, to have it in my power to assure you that the health of our cities is now completely restored; that the produce of the year, though less abundant than usual, will not only be amply sufficient for home consumption, but afford a large surplus for the supply of the wants of other nations, and that the derangement in the circulating paper medium, by being left to those remedies which its obvious causes suggested and the good sense and virtue of our fellow citizens supplied, has diminished.”

The Panic of 1819

Without a doubt, the most important event of the year was a major panic that rocked the entire country. It marked the end of the economic expansion that had followed the War of 1812. The panic affected the entire nation.

The Panic of 1819 began in January and became the first major peacetime financial crisis in the United States. It was followed by a general collapse of the American economy that persisted through 1821.

The country at that time was young and unstable, and the economy was constantly changing. The Panic announced the transition of the nation from its colonial commercial status with Europe toward an independent economy, increasingly characterized by the financial and industrial imperatives of central bank monetary policy, which made it susceptible to boom and bust cycles.

The downturn was driven by global market adjustments in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, and its severity was compounded by excessive speculation in public lands, fueled by the unrestrained issue of paper money from banks and business concerns. Falling prices impaired agriculture and manufacturing, triggering widespread unemployment.

Those in the new town of Lucasville surely felt the strain. In fact, the Panic and the banking crisis reportedly left many Ohioans destitute. Thousands of people lost their land due to their inability to pay off their mortgages. United States factory owners also had a difficult time competing with earlier established factories in Europe.

Thus, the Panic had a significant effect on the political and social scape of America. The experience convinced a large number of Americans that the banking industry was untrustworthy. They believed the government had dropped the ball, and they came to see the Bank (all banks, really) as a symbol of incompetence and greed. Americans, many for the first time, became politically engaged so as to defend their local economic interests. Future president William Henry Harrison, then an Ohio state congressman, declared at the time: "I hate all banks..."

Ohio implemented its own tax against the Bank of the United States in 1819. In that year, there were two branches of the Bank of the United States in Ohio, one at Cincinnati and the other at Chillicothe. The tax law authorized the State of Ohio to seize fifty thousand dollars from each branch.

The Panic greatly changed the American South and king cotton production. Less cotton meant fewer cotton products to be made. Fewer cotton products meant fewer people needed in manufacturing, so a lot of Northerners lost their jobs.

As the value of land and slaves dropped dramatically in the South, many people had to sell or were even forced off of their land. So, during this time wealthy planters took advantage of the devaluation of farmland/slaves and bought out the bankrupt small farmers.

This became a turning point for the rest of the century. The South became the most unbalanced area of the country in terms of distribution of wealth, and money was concentrated in the hands of the lucky few. More and more, cotton became a rich man’s game. The Panic intensified sectionalism in the U.S. Ohio felt this division as much as any other state in the Union.

In the North, businessmen promoted higher tariffs to protect and stimulate domestic business. Higher tariffs meant that people were more likely to buy goods from within the country, which would prevent foreign products from flooding the markets again.

And, Southerners, most of whom were farmers, depended on their more industrially developed counterparts in the North for all their manufactured goods. If tariffs were raised, they couldn’t turn to European suppliers if things got pricey in the states. This led to increased resentment, mostly from the South directed at the North.

In time this resentment would peak, and the Civil War would rip the nation apart. So many Lucasville residents served to save the Union and to end the evils of slavery. The events of 1819 held a direct correlation to the future of the community in future antebellum and war days. Anti-slavery sentiments grew in the North as the South drew ever closer to secession.

In Washington, D.C. in 1819, Congress passed an act that dramatically changed the regulation of the slave trade. First, it authorized the president to send "armed vessels of the United States, to be employed to cruise on any of the coasts of the United States ... or the coast of Africa" to interdict slave traders. This was the beginning of what became known as the African Squadron, which patrolled the waters off the coast of Africa in an attempt to stop the slave trade at its source.

The law also provided that the slaves be returned to Africa, rather than being sold in the United States. This provision was directly tied to the creation of the African Squadron. The act authorized the president to appoint agents to receive rescued Africans and return them to the continent of their birth. The United States would use Liberia as a destination for Africans taken off intercepted ships.

American ships could not seize slavers off the coast of Africa and immediately return the people on board to their point of origin. The law provided an economic incentive for sailors on these ships: a $25 bounty, to be shared by the crew of the interdicting vessel, for every individual rescued from traders. The act also provided a bounty of $50 per person to any informant whose information led to the recovery of illegally introduced Africans.

Lucasville in 1819 had to be a unique place. The Scioto River Valley was one of most fertile regions in the country. It was a magnet for European immigration. Close enough to the slavery plantations of Kentucky and situated on what would become an important freedom trail for runaways escaping to Canada, the town began its existence in a time of great national hope after a bloody war and during an acute financial disturbance. The settlers faced their challenges with spirit and determination. And, the town they built is still growing 200 years later.

Other Significant Events of 1819

January 25 – Thomas Jefferson founds the University of Virginia.

February 15 – The United States House of Representatives agrees to the Tallmadge Amendment barring slaves from the new state of Missouri (the opening vote in a controversy that leads to the Missouri Compromise).

February 17 – After several days of sharp debate the House passes the Missouri statehood bill including both parts of the Tallmadge Amendment, marking the first legislation demanding the abolition of slavery. The act is sent to the Senate where the bill is never voted on.

February 22 – Spain cedes Florida to the United States in exchange for the American renunciation of any claims on Texas that it might have from the Louisiana Purchase, and $5 million. Under the Onís-Adams Treaty of 1819 (also called the Transcontinental Treaty and ratified in 1821) the United States and Spain defined the western limits of the Louisiana Purchase and Spain surrendered its claims to the Pacific Northwest. In return, the United States recognized Spanish sovereignty over Texas.

March 2 – Arkansas Territory is created.

March 6 – McCulloch v. Maryland: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Bank of the United States is constitutional.

May 22 – The SS Savannah leaves port at Savannah, Georgia on a voyage to become the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The ship arrives at Liverpool, England on June 20, although only a fraction of the trip was made under steam.

June 23 – First editions of "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent." by Washington Irving released, featuring the story "Rip Van Winkle."

July 1– German astronomer Johann Georg Tralles discovers what will be called the Great Comet of 1819. Poet John Keats noted how he and his wife Fanny had stared at the comet. Historian Nathaniel Philbrick writes about the great comet seen in July 1819 by the people on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts in his work, In the Heart of the Sea.

July 4 – Arkansas Territory is effective.

November 3 – The USS Congress, commanded by Captain John D. Henley, becomes the first American warship to visit China, landing at Lintin Island, off of the coast of Canton.

December 14 – Alabama is admitted as the 22nd U.S. state.

Some Famous Births of 1819

May 27 – Julia Ward Howe, poet and abolitionist (died 1910)

May 31 – Walt Whitman, poet, essayist and journalist (died 1892)

August 1 – Herman Melville, novelist, short story writer and poet (died 1891)

May 24 – Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (died 1901)

August 25 – Allan Pinkerton, American detective (died 1884)

The Flag

What states represented the nation in 1819? The United States flag featured 20 stars. In 1818, five stars were added, bringing the total number of stars to 20. Congress proclaimed that one star for each new state would be added on the 4th of July following the state's admission to the union and there would be a return to thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original colonies.

This flag flew from July 4, 1818 to July 3, 1819. States 16 through 20 admitted to the Union were in sequential order – Tennessee 16, Ohio 17, Louisiana 18, Indiana 19, and Mississippi 20.

In 1819, one star was added, representing Illinois, bringing the total number of stars to 21. There were thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original colonies.

This flag flew from July 4, 1819 to July 3, 1820.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Trump Mongers Fear Against Democrats: The "Sick" Bracamontes' Ad

"Democrats let him into our country and Democrats let him stay."

--Donald Trump

President Trump is busy sowing seeds of division and fear in a racially charged political ad.

A 53-second video remains pinned to the top of the president's popular Twitter feed. It features Luis Bracamontes, an illegal alien who was sentenced to death in April after being convicted of killing two California sheriff’s deputies in 2014. With a menacing smile, Bracamontes said he's going to "kill more cops soon."

The ad includes scenes of a migrant caravan moving toward the U.S., warning ominously, “Who else would Democrats let in?” and suggesting that more violence would soon penetrate the border.

The video is accompanied by Trump's own message – “Vote Republican now!” This ad comes right before the midterms as Trump pushes his hard-line anti-immigration policies in response to a mostly peaceful migrant caravan traveling through Mexico.

Unlike typical political ads, nowhere in this video does the president declare who paid for it. Thus, Trump has pushed the boundaries of campaign finance rules. Under current law, campaign ads are generally required to include disclaimers that clearly state who paid for the ads. Those rules are partly in place to address concerns that politicians could try and distance themselves from harsh attack ads, so as not to muddy themselves in the process.

"This shows there appears to be a gap in the law – a presidential candidate like Donald Trump could be blasting out these campaign commercial-like videos to millions of views, but viewers would not have real-time information about who is paying for them," Steven Spaulding of government watchdog group Common Cause told ABC News.

The ad is reminiscent of the infamous “Willie Horton” ad used against Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in 1988 and condemned as racist. Horton, who was black, raped a woman while out of prison on a weekend furlough. As Massachusetts governor, Dukakis supported the furlough program. Dukakis went on to lose to Republican George H.W. Bush.

Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called the new ad the “dog whistle of all dog whistles.” Perez told CNN: “This is distracting, divisive Donald at his worst. This is fear mongering.”

“This is a sickening ad. Republicans everywhere should denounce it,” said Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona

The Facts

How idiotic would it be to blame the Republicans for criminals who entered the country illegally under Trump or President George W. Bush?

The truth is Luis Enrique Monroy Bracamontes, who is from the Mexican state of Sinaloa, came to the U.S. illegally in in 1993 when he was 16 and Democrat Bill Clinton was president. Bracamontes was first arrested in Maricopa County in1996 for possession of narcotics for sale. He spent four months in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's tent city before he was released to ICE and deported in 1997.

Bracamontes was arrested in Arizona again in 1998 and turned over to immigration authorities, but apparently not deported.

Bracamontes was arrested a third time in 2001 for narcotics charges and transferred to ICE custody. It is unknown what ICE did with Bracamontes until he was re-arrested in Maricopa county three months later, also in 2001, for failure to appear in court.

Then Bracamontes was deported a second time for being in the country illegally. That was during the first year of the Bush administration. Bracamontes was back in America again by 2002. He married a U.S. citizen and remained in the country even as the Bush administration deported people at a record rate, topped only by the Obama administration.

When Bracamontes shot and killed the two deputies in 2014, he had been deported once under a Democratic administration and once under a Republican administration. He had been back in the United States for at least six years during the Bush administration and five years under the Obama administration.

There is no evidence that any Democrat – or any one person or party, for God's sake – allowed Bracamontes to stay in America. Democratic and Republican administrations alike have deported hundreds of thousands of people a year. What happened was a horrible tragedy, certainly a regrettable and murderous outcome, but an incident not attributable to the Democrat Party.

President Trump uses fear mongering to solidify his base and to belittle his opponents. Blame and scapegoating are tools he employs in his ever-present defense mode. The truth is Trump is not skilled at figuring out the causes of other people's behavior, or even his own, for that matter. Bracamontes is a lone-wolf killer, likely mentally ill and certainly a methamphetamine addict. He did not kill the sheriff's deputies because he was an illegal. The deranged killer has insisted all along he wanted a chance at being executed.

In America we are taught do not judge an entire group on the basis of a single association – until the reign of Trump that is. Neither should we assume all illegals are criminals or all people seeking asylum mean us harm. Is is amazing that in the aftermath of the bombs sent to Trump critics and the responsive pleas of the president for peace and harmony that the same man can use this bigoted, false political ad to accuse the opposition of murder. How small is his conscience and how great is his insensate spite?

The ad:

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Caravan -- Seeking Truth About Central American Refugees

Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading
to our Southern Border. Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States
unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our
Military is waiting for you!”

--Donald Trump

A so-called “caravan” set off from a bus terminal in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula in the early hours of October 13, 2018. The people in the caravan were hoping to find work and a better life in Mexico or in the United States away from the crime, corruption and poverty of their homeland, a place notorious for its high murder rate.

The Honduran caravan crossed into Guatemala and then then into Mexico, traveling slowly north and attracting more people as it progressed. On October 22, as the caravan regrouped on the Mexican side of the Mexico-Guatemala border, the United Nations estimated its size at 7,322 migrants. Since then, numbers have dwindled. The government of Mexico issued a statement on Wednesday, October 24 estimating that 3,630 people were continuing to travel north.

The caravan from the Northern Triangle of Central America is a godsend for President Trump. It provides him with what he believes is evidence to stoke fears about illegal immigration. The powerful images of the caravan validate conservative base fears of “invasion” by “lawless foreigners.” Trump has even alleged that “unknown Middle Easterners” may be in that group. Trump himself has been using such imagery since he started his presidential campaign in 2015, and he has talked repeatedly about Mexico “sending” rapists and murderers over the U.S.-Mexico border.

Who Is in the Caravan?

In truth, this group is not filled with “bad people.” That is unless you consider desperate human beings seeking safe refuge as lawless individuals. These people chose to face the dangers of leaving their country over facing gang death threats. Migrant advocate Miroslava Cerpas, from the Center for Human Rights Research and Promotion in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, says many are driven by deep faith and religion and hopefully “believe there will be a miracle, that some Moses will appear” to guide them.

Annie Correal, a reporter from The New York Times, met up with the convoy in Huixtla, Mexico, and found that it is actually made up of people of all ages, including the elderly and mothers with infants. The migrants are mostly Hondurans (with some Guatemalans), half of whom are girls and women.

Andrew Buncombe of the Independent characterized the group as consisting of “families pushing toddlers in strollers. A group of skinny young men who say there are no jobs in their country. A young woman from Guatemala being helped by medics by the roadside, her ankle twisted and swollen after six days of walking.”

One woman told the AP’s Sonia Perez D. that “she’d been in hiding after a local gang threatened to kill her because they’d mistaken a tattoo of her parents’ names for a symbol of a rival gang.” Another, traveling with her husband and two sons, told the Los Angeles Times’s Kate Linthicum that after her 16-year-old son refused to sell drugs for a gang, “they were going to kill him or kill us.”

Other refugees have cited their reasons for leaving Central America as extreme poverty and the inability to support their families on $5 a day. A few are trying to get back to America after having been deported, to return to their families (including US-born, US-citizen kids) and the lives they had built.

Those in exile are putting themselves at the mercy of the drug cartels, human traffickers and corrupt officials en route. They are traveling en masse because they understand there is safety in numbers. The group is making no attempt to conceal their presence on the road. This hypervisibility helps keep them from abuse and abduction. And, together, the trip is also cheaper, said the Rev. Mauro Verzeletti, a Catholic priest who directs Casa del Migrante, a shelter in Guatemala City. By traveling in groups, he said, the migrants can shake off the “structure of coyotes, of drug traffickers or organized crime” that has controlled the trail for years, charging thousands of dollars.

To date, the caravan has been met with an outpouring of support – food, clothing, shelter, medical care – from governments and ordinary citizens along the way.

The current migration raises questions about the distinction between economic and humanitarian migration, the U.S.’s ability to process asylum seekers, and the role Mexico plays in the region. Mexico has begun slowly admitting caravan members to ask for asylum: as of October 24, the Mexican government said it had processed 1,743 applications. “Undocumented migration is not a criminal act in Mexico,” Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete Prida said. “This is a vulnerable population.”

Dara Lind of Vox reports …

Asylum applications in Mexico have gone up more than 1,000 percent since 2013, and most are from citizens of Northern Triangle countries. Mexico has been accused of indiscriminate long-term detention of asylum seekers (exacerbated by a two-year backlog in processing applications), and some parts of Mexico aren’t safe for people who are already fleeing violence.

The U.S. has enlisted Mexico to apprehend Central American migrants before they get to the US. Some 950,000 Central Americans have been deported from Mexico over the past several years, and human rights groups have reported torture and disappearance by Mexican security forces.”

What does the U.S. law say about immigration in such matters? There is a firm distinction between “asylum seekers” (who are fleeing persecution because of their identity, usually from their governments) and “economic migrants” who are looking for a job. These immigrants from the Northern Triangle don't fit neatly in one of those boxes. Most fit in both categories.

Foremost, the people in the caravan are seeking asylum from persecution – safety from gang violence and fleeing desperate poverty. With Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stepping up deportations of unauthorized immigrants since its inception in 2003, especially of Mexican and Central American men, many migrants who have been deported have every incentive to try again.

Dara Ling explains: “US law treats these groups of people very differently – deportees who reenter illegally, for example, are permanently barred from ever getting legal status in the US, while people who can claim a 'credible fear' of persecution are allowed to stay and seek asylum. But as far as the journey is concerned, that doesn’t matter. They’re all facing the same dangers, so they’re all traveling together.”

According to USA Today, the number of family units – usually mothers or fathers with small children – apprehended in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley sector jumped from 49,896 in fiscal year 2017 to 63,278 in fiscal year 2018, which ended Sept. 30. That's a 27 percent increase, according to recently released agency statistics.

Compassion Or Rejection?

It should be noted that much of the killing and corruption in Honduras is linked to a hugely lucrative trade in smuggling cocaine and other drugs into the U.S. Also, the U.S. government has a history of standing on the wrong side in conflicts in the region while consistently supporting dictators over democratically elected officials. Too frequently, America has intervened in favor of U.S. business interests to the detriment of Central American civil society. Most Americans are unaware of the failed foreign and economic policies that resulted in much of the fear that Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans face daily. The mistakes of the past are a sad reality.

So ...

Instead of viewing the migrant caravan through biased and politically motivated assessments, I believe we should apply a nondiscriminatory, up-close and personal view. Then, we better understand the serious problem of human rights in the Americas. Simply put, the people left their homes because they had to. When we inspect the group with impartiality, we discover these individuals are motivated by credible fear, and they possess a sincere sense of desperation. It behooves us to better understand the present situation.

Are there felons embedded in the caravan, those who are attempting to use the group for criminal gain? I can only say that I assume any attempt of mass entry for asylum includes some “bad” people. However, I also trust that our immigration officials have the ways and means to prevent bad elements from residing in the country. I also believe it is possible both to allow necessary asylum to refugees and to deny entry to offenders. After all, droves of people seek freedom in America every day. We deal with them as part of our promise to offer refuge to the tempest-tost.

President Trump believes there is something sinister about desperately poor families looking for a better life. His xenophobic policies are based on fear and false alarms. In response to the caravan, he is sending 15,000 troops to the Mexican border – more troops than are presently in Afghanistan, America's longest conflict.

Trump now claims he is a Nationalist, and he vows to end birthright citizenship guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. He has even threatened to do this with an executive order. He and his supporters portray immigrants and refugees as a plague on society. It is an old narrative without factual support. America under this president is descending into isolation with a clear motive of serving the biased, white population.

Imagine gathering your loved ones and walking over 1,200 miles to a place you believe offers safety. Imagine facing serious threats and dangers every step of the way. Then, imagine the leader of the free world denigrating you and stirring up hatred for your desperate efforts while promising to turn you around.

Would it surprise you to know …

* For more than a century, innumerable studies have confirmed two simple yet powerful truths about the relationship between immigration and crime: immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the unauthorized, regardless of their country of origin or level of education.

(Walter Ewing, Ph.D., Daniel E. Martínez, Ph.D. and Rubén G. Rumbaut, Ph.D. “The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States. 2015.)

* Immigration is actually associated with a decline in terrorist acts. "When migrants move from one country to another they take new skills, knowledge and perspectives," the Vincenzo Bove, lead researcher writes. "If we subscribe to the belief that economic development is linked to a decrease in extremism then we should expect an increase in migration to have a positive effect."

(Vincenzo Bove, Ph.D. “Does Immigration Induce Terrorism?” Journal of Politics. University of Warwick. 2016.)

The Center for Immigration Studies – a think tank that opposes immigration – found that immigration has virtually no effect on wages. Other research even shows that new arrivals lead to an uptick in the earnings of the domestic workforce. Hardworking immigrants boost productivity, which brings paycheck payoffs to everybody.

(George J. Borjas, Ph.D. “Immigration and the American Worker.” Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. April 9, 2013.)

* A recent study by Citi Global Perspectives and Solutions concluded that migrants are directly responsible for two thirds of U.S. economic growth since 2011.

(Ian Goldin, Andrew Pitt, Benjamin Nabarro, and Kathleen Boyle. “Migration and the Economy.” Citi Research. 2018.)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Lucasville, the Scioto River Valley ... and Corn

A light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine.”

Anne Bronte

Lynn Wittenburg, Portsmouth Times Staff Correspondent, wrote in a 1931 article titled “Lucasville Known as Corn-Fed Town: “Although its size doesn't indicate it, Lucasville is a corn-fed settlement, where Jackson, Ohio, and Vanceburg, Kentucky, were born of salt, Lucasville sprouted on corn. And Lucasville's diet since has been corn.”

Food, next to water, is the most important need to support human life. Human habitation in North America expanded as settlers found land suitable not only for hunting and gathering but also for cultivating crops. The fertile Scioto River Valley was ideal for cultivation of corn. Long before the white man settled in Ohio, corn – one of the Three Sisters along with squash, and beans – was being grown as a dietary staple.

Native American Agriculture

Corn (maize) is actually a really tall grass: All corn known to humankind today originated some 9,000 years in Southern Mexico from a single-stalked, grassy plant called teosinte, meaning “grain of the gods.” The indigenous people of Mesoamerica probably bred the first corn from these wild grasses. The first ears of maize were only a few inches long and had only eight rows of kernels. Early farmers later crossed high-yielding plants to make hybrids. By systematically collecting and cultivating those plants best suited for human consumption, they encouraged the formation of ears or cobs on early maize.

Cob length and size of early maize grew over the next several thousand years which gradually increased the yields of each crop. Eventually the productivity of maize cultivation was great enough to make it possible and worthwhile for a family to produce food for the bulk of their diet for an entire year from a small area. Corn was found to be easily stored and preserved during the cold winter months. Often the corn was dried to use later. Dried corn was made into hominy by soaking corn in water until the kernels split open. These would be drained and fried over a fire.

Natives would also ground corn into corn meal. They would use mortars and pestles made from either rock or wood. Corn was placed into the hollowed out mortar and then by pounding the corn with the pestle, this would grind it up into a powdery form. Corn meal could then be used for cornbread, corn syrup, or corn pudding. Often corn meal was mixed with beans to make succotash or to thicken other foods. (

Oral traditions give us insight into the intimate relationship between people and corn. They believed corn was the mother to all human creation. The summer corn harvest was so important to the indigenous peoples of North America that many tribes held religious ceremonies to pray for a successful crop. It was and continues to be central in the arts, culture, health and lifestyle of many American Indians from New Mexico to Massachusetts.

Of course, Native Americans introduced maize (corn) to early settlers and taught them how to plant and cultivate it using fish for fertilizer. The name "corn" may have come from early European explorers, and the word originally meant any crop grown by the local people.

Lucasville – Native Americans

The land that would become the town of Lucasville had been home to people for thousands of years. As stewards of nature, the earliest inhabitants had a deep spiritual connection to the earth. As the source of all life, the land was treated with great respect. Survival depended upon the people's ability to learn the knowledge and wisdom of the natural laws.

Ohio was probably first settled by Paleo-Indian people, hunter-gatherers who lived in the area as early as 13,000 B.C. Among these were sophisticated successive cultures of precolonial indigenous peoples such as the Adena, Hopewell and Fort Ancient. A large proportion (perhaps the bulk) of their foods were still obtained by gathering wild plants, fishing, and hunting, But even early on, the Indians supplemented their diet with seasonally wild vegetables and harvested plant foods.

Like the Adena before them, Hopewell communities were participants in a cultivating ecosystem. But unlike the Adena, at many Hopewell sites there seems to be evidence of a dramatic increase in the cultivation of native plants (sunflower, goosefoot, pigweed, knotweed, maygrass, and marsh elder for their edible and nutritious seeds) as well as gourds and squash and at some sites, introduced strains of maize.

Corn, as mentioned before was first domesticated in Mexico, but it took millennia to find its way north. It probably arrived in the Midwest before 200 BC, but members of the Hopewell culture, already settled agriculturists, chose to grow it only for ceremonial purposes. Not until centuries later did people adopt it as a food crop.

According to archeological research by William Woods of Illinois Southern University …

Becoming dependent on corn, we now know, constituted a prehistoric Faustian bargain. On average, corn growers got more food for their labor than they could from earlier grains like goosefoot or knotweed, and corn stored better too. But in any given year they also faced a greater risk that the crop would fail altogether, leaving them to starve that winter.

There was another less obvious trade-off in nutrition. People living primarily on corn may not get enough protein. (No one grew beans, a complementary protein, at Cahokia, though wild beans existed and some neighboring peoples were beginning to cultivate them. "In all our excavations," says William Iseminger, "we only found half of one bean, and we're not sure of that.") Toddlers weaned on corn mush suffered high infant mortality. Those who did grow up wore down their teeth on the fragments of grinding stone left in their cornmeal.

When the Hopewell culture faded and someone invented an improved stone hoe, people did turn to corn as a major crop and daily staple. The stage was set for what we call Mississippian culture.”

So later, two culture groups claimed Ohio as their ancestral homeland – the Dhegihan Sioux (consisting of the Osage, Omaha, Kaw, Ponka, and Kwapa nations from the modern day states of Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma) and the Choctaw and Chickasaw Muskogean peoples. Many Siouan peoples claim direct connection or descent from the Hopewell. They joined forces with Algonquians who were also displaced—mainly the Illinois Confederacy—to dislodge the natives on the west side of the Mississippi, who were most likely connected to the Caddo peoples and the Mississippian Culture.

(Louis F. Burns. A History of the Osage People. 1989.)

For good reason, the Native Americans were unwilling to part with the land of Ohio. The Great Spirit had given them the beautiful valley of the Scioto for their home. It was, indeed, a natural paradise. The History of the Lower Scioto Valley, Ohio (1884) gives this historical account of the region:

It was a migratory field for the restless buffalo; the elk and the bear roamed its wooded hills; the deer and wild turkey made it their home; the valleys and the upland were filled with small game; fish sported in the cool and pellucid waters of its rivers and creeks, and in shadowy nooks, near bubbling springs and crystal fountains, the aborigines built their wigwams. It was a paradise for the hunter, and the Indians liad roamed lord of all ...

In 1795 the valley of the Scioto, with its wealth of forest and stream, with its high and rolling upland, bold bluffs and nestling valleys, became the property of the palefaces, and that which stood for centuries in its wild and rugged grandeur was, ere long, to assume a prominent place in the future of our State.

The pioneers of Ohio, especially those who settled in the valley of the Ohio and its tributary streams, like the Scioto, Hocking and Muskingum, came generally from the older States which were upon the border, like Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky, but not a few found their way from the Atlantic States, and from those composing New England.”

Lucasville and the White Man

Even in a place with such abundance of wildlife, European settlers continued to rely on agriculture as the primary means of feeding their family as they moved into the Ohio country during the mid-to-late 1700s. And, so it was that a white pioneer, Hezekiah Merritt (born in 1765 in Washington County, Pennsylvania and died in Pike County, Ohio, on January 1, 1859), found his way to the land that would become Lucasville, Ohio. There, in the rich Scioto River valley, he planted and raised three corn crops in the summer of 1796. It was maize that helped sustain a new group of immigrants to the land.

A little later people “came in pretty thickly” according to accounts, and Merritt moved to become the first settler of nearby Camp Creek Township. He made his living there as a millwright as well as a farmer, and he built a grist-mill at the head water of the Scioto River. The mill was described as “a crude structure that answered the purpose.” It “gave advantage as the settlers brought (You most likely guessed it already) ... their corn to be ground.”

History records that John and Sarah Beasley would purchase that 100 acres of land on the waters of Camp Creek from Merritt on June 10, 1805. And, later in 1810, Hezekiah willed to John Merritt, his son, everything including “land and farming utensils - 8 head horses, 10 head cattle, and 100 head hogs.” So, you know the corn in the bottom lands had everything to do with the success of farming the new settlements in the valley.

Then came John Lucas and his family. The rest is well-known history as a report in The Portsmouth Times on April 16, 1887 attests ...

“Lucasville was laid out in June, 1819, by Captain John Lucas, and the record of the survey received and recorded August 7, 1819. Captain Lucas was a brave man and a good hotel keeper, and a brother of Governor Robert Lucas. He died in 1825. The Lucasville of today is a different affair from the Lucasville of the days of the Lucases. It is now a breezy, cheery, businesslike, whitewashed little city, full of modern houses, modern people and modern ideas, and marching along in the the procession of progress.”

That article in the Times in 1931 didn't miss a beat …

“Today the town is in the heart of one of the richest corn belts in the world. Seven-eighths of Valley Township is rich corn land while the proportion of rough hill lands and wastelands is less than any township in the county.”

The next time you are driving out of Portsmouth on Rt. 23 open your eyes to the bottoms of the Scioto. Soak in the natural beauty that remains an integral part of our daily existence. Think about the industrious Americans – natives and immigrants – those human being who plied the fields, who planted the crops, who fed their families and livestock on the bounty provided by the soil. Then, lastly, think about those humble grains of corn, seeds that gave life to faithful stewards in this beautiful valley of opportunity.

It is the Scioto bounty. It has been for thousands of years. Even as it was recorded in April of 1887 ...

“Lucasville does not sit upon her seven hills, like Rome – as a matter of fact she does not sit upon a hill at all, but upon a broad and pleasant plateau, overlooking the Scioto Valley and having at ther feet the 'finest country that the sun ever shone upon,' and it must be conceded that during his long and eventful career the sun has shed his rays upon some might fine country. The Scioto River formerly washed her western border, but for some unaccountable reason that highly unreliable stream gathered up her skirts and moved haughtily over to the other side of the valley, making an inland hamlet of our picturesque village. True, she has a questionable reminder of her long lost river privileges in the shape of a savory 'old bed,' tree-grown and miasmatic, the home of the pollywog and the trysting place of the amorous mud-turtle.”

We don't own this land. Even though the proprietors of the valley in 2018 may profit, not even they can claim rightful title to the soil, the streams, and the hills. The land is a very real part of our being. Even more than our environment, the land is a significant part of our self. Therefore, we are the land. What we plant in it sustains us.

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. 
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. 
All things connect.”

Chief Seattle, Duwamish (1780-1866)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Some Gave All -- Lucasville Remembers Vietnam

Many years ago, some of my English classes in conjunction with Mr. Clarence Bender's history classes held a special ceremony at Valley High School honoring Scioto County casualties of the Vietnam War. To our knowledge, twenty-four residents died in the war. We acknowledged the name and service of each combatant, and we lit a candle in remembrance of each.

To my knowledge, no graduate of Valley High School died in Vietnam. However, three men with Lucasville addresses are listed as casualties. Lucasville residence includes an area much more sizable than the Valley School District. Please use the comment section in this entry to add information to this report.

As part of the Lucasville Bicentennial of 2019, we wish to recognize these three men. The Lucasville Area Historical Society honors these brave soldiers and their ultimate sacrifice for America. Gone, but not forgotten – Frank Allen Newman, Michael David Noel, and Gary Lee Sargent.

Frank Allen Newman

Frank Newman was born December 7, 1947. He enlisted in the army via regular military. He had the rank of Specialist Six. His occupation or specialty was Helicopter Technical Inspector, and he served with 1st Aviation Brigade, 11th Aviation Group, 62nd Aviation Company.

Newman experienced a serious casualty which ultimately resulted in loss of life on May 24, 1972. This occurred in or around South Vietnam, Thua Thien province. Circumstances of the casualty were attributed to: "Died through hostile action .. air crash on land."

Newman is buried at Lucasville Cemetery, Scioto County, Ohio. He is honored on the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, VVM Wall, Panel 01w, Line 31. 

Listed are some of the awards and medals that Specialist Six Newman either received or may have been qualified for. This is probably not a complete accounting. There may be other awards received we do not have records of:

★ National Defense Service Medal ★ Purple Heart ★Vietnam Campaign Medal ★ Vietnam Service Medal

Frank Allen Newman
Specialist Six
Army of the United States
Lucasville, Ohio
December 07, 1947 to May 24, 1972
FRANK A NEWMAN is on the Wall at Panel W1, Line 31
Frank Allen Newman
ON THE WALL: Panel W1 Line 31
This page Copyright© 1997-2018 Ltd.
  Home of Record: Lucasville, OH
  Date of birth: 12/07/1947
  Service Branch: Army of the United States
  Grade at loss: E6
  Rank: Specialist Six
Promotion Note: None
  ID No: 275462742
  MOS: 67W20: Aircraft Quality Control Supervisor
  Length Service: **
  Start Tour: 03/28/1972
  Incident Date: 05/24/1972
  Casualty Date: 05/24/1972
  Status Date: Not Applicable
  Status Change: Not Applicable
  Age at Loss: 24
  Location: Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam
  Remains: Body recovered
  Repatriated: Not Applicable
  Identified: Not Applicable
  Casualty Type: Hostile, died outright
  Casualty Reason: Helicopter - Crew
  Casualty Detail: Air loss or crash over land
  Data accessed: 7/13/2018

A Special Entry from “The Wall of Faces”

Final Mission of U.S. Army helicopter CH-47C tail number 68-15854

Crew included WO1 James A. Barefield (KIA), CAPT Harry L. Thain (KIA), SP6 Frank A. Newman (KIA), PFC David L. Brooks Jr. (KIA), and SP5 Charles W. Gaches (KIA).

In May 1972, I was an artillery advisor to South Viet Nam units in I Corps. Originally, I was the senior advisor to an ARVN 175mm gun battalion. The unit was not yet combat ready when the Easter Offensive started with North Viet Nam’s attack across the DMZ. The unit was ordered north to support the ARVN Third Division.

A day later I was ordered to replace the Third Division’s artillery advisor. I went to Quang Tri City. Just before it fell, I was rescued by a young WO1 flying an OH-6. He took me to Hue where I worked trying to get the ARVN’s I Corps Artillery’ Fire Support Center up and running. Sometime later, as an economy of force measure, a decision was made to emplace a personnel radar to cover the approaches to Hue. The plan was to lift a squad of ARVN engineers with construction materiel to a mountain top where they would build a bunker for the US manned radar. After the bunker was completed but before the roof was completed, the radar would be lifted in place.

The support of a Chinook was obtained. I now know it was from the 62nd ASHC. I marshaled the ARVN engineers and materiel on a grassy field along the Perfume River in Hue. I had a US Army sergeant advisor named Brooks and a Vietnamese sergeant from the engineer unit with me. SFC Brooks had radio contact with the Chinook while the Vietnamese sergeant had contact with the engineer squad.

All was going according to plan as the Chinook made trip after trip delivering the engineers and the materiel. I decided to get the next trip out to the site but saw an old monument at the far end of the field. As a history buff, I wanted to look at it. So, I told SFC Brooks that I would take the following lift. I walked down to the monument and using my high school French was able to decipher that the monument had been erected in the 1880’s by a Foreign Legion penal battalion. As I was reading the monument’s words, I saw SFC Brooks waving me back. I ran down the field and he told me that the Vietnamese sergeant had received a radio call from the mountain site telling that they were receiving sporadic mortar fire. Most disturbing was that the engineers reported the fire was over, short, left and right of their position.

Being artillerymen, SFC Brooks and I instantly realized the enemy’s plan. They were getting the range and would fire when the helicopter was on site. I called the helicopter and told them not to go in. I explained I was an artillery officer and knew what would happen. The pilot told me that they would go in. I again told him not to go. He said something about going in and then going back to his base to refuel. It was the last I heard from him. Moments later, the ARVN engineers reported that the helicopter had been hit, crashed, and the crew was dead. (Submitted by Brian M. O’Neill, LTC (R) FA) [Taken from]

Michael David Noel

Michael Noel was born on February 18, 1949. He was a 1976 graduate of Piketon High School. Noel enlisted in the Army via Regular Military. He had the rank of Specialist Four. His occupation or specialty was Materiel Storage (military materials) And Handling Specialist, and he served with Usasupcom, A Company.

Noel experienced a serious casualty which ultimately resulted in loss of life on September 11, 1970. This occurred in or around South Vietnam, Ninh Thuan province. Circumstances of the casualty were attributed to: "Died through hostile action."

Noel is buried at Rush Township Burial Park, Rushtown, Scioto County, Ohio. He is honored on the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, VVM Wall, Panel 07w, Line 56.

Listed are some of the awards and medals that Specialist Four Noel either received or may have been qualified for. This is probably not a complete accounting. There may be other awards received we do not have records of:

★ National Defense Service Medal ★ Purple Heart ★Vietnam Campaign Medal ★ Vietnam Service Medal

Michael David Noel
Specialist Four
Army of the United States
Lucasville, Ohio
February 18, 1949 to September 11, 1970
MICHAEL D NOEL is on the Wall at Panel W7, Line 56
Michael David Noel
ON THE WALL: Panel W7 Line 56
This page Copyright© 1997-2018 Ltd.
  Home of Record: Lucasville, OH
  Date of birth: 02/18/1949
  Service Branch: Army of the United States
  Grade at loss: E4
  Rank: Specialist Four
Promotion Note: None
  ID No: 290484111
  MOS: 76V20: Materiel Storage And Handling Specialist
  Length Service: **
  Start Tour: 03/11/1970
  Incident Date: 09/11/1970
  Casualty Date: 09/11/1970
  Status Date: Not Applicable
  Status Change: Not Applicable
  Age at Loss: 21
  Location: Ninh Thuan Province, South Vietnam
  Remains: Body recovered
  Repatriated: Not Applicable
  Identified: Not Applicable
  Casualty Type: Hostile, died outright
  Casualty Reason: Ground casualty
  Casualty Detail: Misadventure (Friendly Fire)
  Data accessed: 7/13/2018

A Special Entry from “The Wall of Faces”

Michael took my place that night on September 11, 1970


Michael and I worked at the U.S. Army Depot in Cam Ranh Bay. Michael worked the first shift from 0600hrs to 1800 hrs. I worked from 1800hrs to 0600hrs. When I reported for work on the night of Sept. 11th, I was told to go back to my barracks and report back for duty at 0600 hrs. On Sept. 12th. Michael took my place the night of the 11th. The Army depot was hit by rockets that night. And as a result Michael was KIA. I still carry guilt. Not a day goes by that I don't think about him.

RIP, brother. You will never be forgotten,
Michael P. Collins

Gary Lee Sargent

Gary Sargent was born on June 29, 1942. He enlisted in the Army via Regular Military. He had the rank of Sergeant. His occupation or specialty was Field Artillery Crewman, and he served with 101st Airborne Division, 2nd Battalion, 320th Artillery, Battery B.
Sargent experienced a serious casualty which ultimately resulted in loss of life on August 13, 1966. This occurred in or around South Vietnam, Quang Nam province. Circumstances of the casualty were attributed to: "Died through hostile action.” He had been in Vietnam about 18 days when he was killed.
Sargent is buried at Rushtown Cemetery. He is honored on the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, VVM Wall, Panel 10e, Line 2.

Listed are some of the awards and medals that Sergeant Sargent either received or may have been qualified for. This is probably not a complete accounting. There may be other awards received we do not have records of:

★ National Defense Service Medal ★ Purple Heart ★Vietnam Campaign Medal ★ Vietnam Service Medal

Gary Lee Sargent
Army of the United States
Lucasville, Ohio
June 29, 1942 to August 13, 1966
GARY L SARGENT is on the Wall at Panel 10E, Line 2
Gary Lee Sargent
ON THE WALL: Panel 10E Line 2
This page Copyright© 1997-2018 Ltd.
  Home of Record: Lucasville, OH
  Date of birth: 06/29/1942
  Service Branch: Army of the United States
  Grade at loss: E5
  Rank: Sergeant
Promotion Note: None
  ID No: 52505275
  MOS: 13B4P: Cannon Crewmember (Airborne Qual)
  Length Service: 06
  Start Tour: 07/27/1966
  Incident Date: 08/13/1966
  Casualty Date: 08/13/1966
  Status Date: Not Applicable
  Status Change: Not Applicable
  Age at Loss: 24
  Location: Phu Yen Province, South Vietnam
  Remains: Body recovered
  Repatriated: Not Applicable
  Identified: Not Applicable
  Casualty Type: Hostile, died outright
  Casualty Reason: Ground casualty
  Casualty Detail: Misadventure (Friendly Fire)
  Data accessed: 7/13/2018