In a small, dimly lit back room of the Onondaga Historical Association in Syracuse, New York, is a unique and priceless treasure…a civil-war era decorative eagle. [It is] made entirely out of hair, contributed by leading politicians, and their wives, most notably…President Abraham Lincoln and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. The artifact came about when the US Sanitary Commission, a volunteer agency working for the health of Union soldiers during the war, needed money for its efforts. [They] reached out to President Lincoln soliciting, a lock of hair as large as he [could] spare. Lincoln communicated the request to other members of the parliament and a surprisingly large number of politicians, and their wives, responded positively. [They donated] their hair for the Brooklyn jewelers Spies & Champney to weave a national symbol out of it.
The large showpiece, nicknamed the Hairy Eagle, featured an American eagle, perched on top of half a globe, spreading its wings and, surrounded with swirls and flowers. The eagle’s head was made from Lincoln’s hair, its back, from Vice President Hannibal Hamlin’s hair, its beak, from Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase’s hair and, its wings, from the various senators’ hair. The wives’ hair, meanwhile, was used to create the floral arrangement, surmounted by the eagle and globe. The eagle became an immediate attraction when it was debuted at Metropolitan Sanitary Fair, organized to raise funds for the benefit of Union soldiers. Running for three weeks in April 1864, the fair featured events, attractions, auctions, raffles and more. For the entry fee of $2, visitors could view spectacular floral arrangements in the Temple of Flora, watch dances performed by the Fair’s Native American Troupe, enjoy Dutch cuisine at the Knickerbocker Kitchen and even buy a piece of Plymouth Rock. Tens of thousands of people visited the Hairy Eagle during this time. Underneath it, a small visitor book was kept, in which guests were able to sign their name on the payment of one dollar. The goal was to raise $1,000.
It’s not known whether the goal of $1000 and 1000 signatures was reached but, reports of the fair compiled three years later noted that the book was so popular that, 400 signatures and $400 were collected within the first three days of the Fair. The Hairy Eagle was meant to be presented to the Lincolns as a gift after the fair ended but, the wreath never made its way to the White House. Instead, it hung in the window of the Champney & Smitten shop in Brooklyn for many years before disappearing for decades. In the 1920s, F.T. Champney’s wife Ida donated the eagle to Onondaga Historical Association, where it has remained ever since.
Civil War Era Eagle Sculpture (Smithsonian Magazine/Jason Emerson/September 23, 2021)
Five years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was Captain America: Civil War. Directed by the Russo Brothers and produced by Kevin Feige, the all-star cast is extensive (and well known). If you are unaware of this blockbuster film, it took in $1.15 billion.
The basic plot is one that weaves thru much of the Marvel Comics (and DC Comics, as well) regarding mutant and superhero discrimination and the government wanting to register and track them. The idea was alluded to in the Uncanny X-Men issue #141, published in January of 1981 and the specific words “Mutant Control Act“ showed up in the Uncanny X-Men issue #181, published in May of 1984. It was featured prominently in the movie X-Men (2000).
In Civil War, the Sokovia Accords is a United Nations version of a registration act to monitor or control the superheroes. Tony Stark (Ironman) agrees with this registration out of remorse for Ultron and the destruction of Sokovia. Steve Rogers (Captain America) disagrees and wants no part of political intervention or any form of registration. Complicating matters, Rogers’ childhood friend Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) is responsible for the death of T’Challa’s (Black Panther) father and Stark’s parents. The Avengers split along ideological and loyalty lines. Unlike the comics, Captain America isn’t killed off but, he does walk away from the job. He returns during Infinity War & Endgame.
I find all of the above quite prophetic considering recent insane events taking place. Society, once again, finds itself being driven towards more discrimination, tracking/registration with vaccine passports (shall we return to gold stars on lapels and “your papers, please?”) and possible civil war? Please…wake up. ~Vic
♦ The film coincides with the 75th anniversary of Captain America, the 10th anniversary of the original Civil War comic book and Black Panther’s 50th anniversary.
♦ This is the live-action debut of T’Challa, the Black Panther, one of the first black superheroes in American comic books, which debuted in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966).
♦ By the end of the movie, The Avengers logo on Captain America’s arm is no longer there, representing the fact that The Avengers are no longer his.
One hundred, fifty-seven years ago, today, President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous speech at the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery in Gettysburg. The Battle of Gettysburg had just been 4 1/2 months prior. Lincoln was in the early stages of a mild case of small pox.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
I usually do movie posts in five year increments but, this one kinda fell in my lap. Sixty-three years ago, today, Elvis Presley made his acting debut in the film Love Me Tender. Directed by Robert D. Webb, it was originally titled The Reno Brothers and was based on a story written by Maurice Geraghty. When Presley’s single Love Me Tender passed one million copies, a first for a single, the title to the film was changed. This was the only movie in which Presley played an historical figure and the only movie in which he did not receive top billing.
Elvis plays Clint Reno, one of the Reno Brothers who stayed home while his brother went to fight in the Civil War for the Confederate army. When his brother Vance comes back from the war, he finds that his old girlfriend Cathy has married Clint. The family has to struggle to reach stability with this issue. Vance is involved in a train robbery, while a Confederate soldier, of Federal Government money. There is a conflict of interest, when Vance tries to return the money, against the wishes of some of his fellow Confederates.
♦ Originally, this movie had no singing in it. Songs were added to cash in on Elvis Presley’s stardom.
♦ Priscilla Presley reportedly copied Debra Paget’s unique hairstyle from this film to attract Elvis in 1959.
♦ According to Penny Stallings‘ “Flesh and Fantasy”, Presley developed a crush on co-star Debra Paget, which went unreciprocated because she was seeing Howard Hughes at the time.
♦ When the film played in theaters, Elvis Presley’s fans were screaming so loud that audiences couldn’t hear any of his lines.
The Actual Movie
Today was Living History Day. I didn’t make it to the festivities but, my buddy Ray did. The weather was just too damp for me and I was busy with other things. He graciously provided me with copies to post and four short video clips.
This area (a five county span) was a hotbed of struggle during the War of the Regulation, the Battle of Alamance, the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Guilford Court House, the Civil War and was the site of the last & largest Confederate Surrender. We, collectively, have seen a lot.
We also have a lot of actors and reenactments. Some of the uniforms and gear are quite impressive. Hopefully, I will make it next year.
Ray had a little trouble keeping his filming steady. Overcast skies can interfere with viewing ability. Apologies.
Eighty years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was Kentucky, a Romeo & Juliet type film with elements of the Hatfields & McCoys thrown in. Starring Loretta Young, Richard Greene and Walter Brennan, the backdrop of the story is horseracing.
During the Civil War, two of the oldest families in Kentucky, the Dillons and the Goodwins, begin a long and bitter feud that has lasted into 1938. When Jack Dillon refuses to enter his father’s banking business he, under an assumed name, gets a job as a trainer in Sally Goodwin’s stables. A romance develops between them. When Sally’s father dies, the entire estate, including the horses, has to be sold at auction to pay his debts. A note turns up left by Sally’s father that, according to a wager made between him and the elder Dillon, any one horse in the Dillon stable can be claimed by the Goodwins. Complications arise when Sally finds out that Jack is a Dillon.
♦ A number of famous Kentucky-bred champion racehorses are presented including Gallant Fox, Omaha, Hard Tack, Chance Play and Man of War, who is called the greatest racehorse.
♦ Two Kentucky Derby winners, Willie “Smokey” Saunders and Charlie Burrell, were employed for the film.
♦ Don Ameche was originally cast for the male lead but, was replaced by Richard Greene after undergoing a tonsillectomy.
♦ Arleen Whelan was originally scheduled for the female lead.
There’s not really a trailer for this movie but, I did find this:
[From: Wikipedia & The History Channel]
One hundred and sixty-five years ago, today, The Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the Southern U.S., occurred September 17, 1862, at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland. It pitted Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia against Union General George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac and was the culmination of Lee’s attempt to invade the north. The battle’s outcome would be vital to shaping America’s future and it remains the deadliest one-day battle in all American military history, with a combined tally of 22,717 dead, wounded or missing.
McClellan had halted Lee’s invasion of Maryland but, Lee was able to withdraw his army back to Virginia without interference from the cautious McClellan. McClellan’s refusal to pursue Lee’s army led to his removal from command by President Abraham Lincoln in November. Although the battle was tactically inconclusive, the Confederate troops had withdrawn first from the battlefield and abandoned their invasion, making it a Union strategic victory. It was a sufficiently significant victory to give Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which discouraged the British and French governments from pursuing any potential plans to recognize the Confederacy.
[From: Emerging Civil War…another take…]
Fortunately, for the sake of debate, the outcome of Civil War battles is not as clear-cut as that of a football game, where one can look at the scoreboard at the end of the game and easily determine who won, who lost, or, in some cases, if the outcome was a draw. Historians endlessly debate whether certain battles were overwhelming victories, marginal victories, or draws. Perhaps no other battle’s tactical outcome is more misunderstood than the bloodiest single day battle of the war: Antietam.
No one would doubt Antietam’s significance in the larger picture of the war. However, the common conception of Antietam is that the battle was tactically a draw, with neither side having gained a significant enough of an advantage to have claimed the victory. This article will challenge that commonly held belief, using particular instances from the battle and the Maryland Campaign to demonstrate the Army of the Potomac’s victory at Antietam.
[Had this battle been a Confederate victory, this country might look very, very different. ~Victoria]