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Tammy's All Things History

Bringing the Past to Life!

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June 2012

Kearney Cross


Loreta Valazquez and Annie Etheridge

Bonnie Tsui describes in her book, She Wen’t To The Field: Women Soldiers Of The Civil War, that Annie Etheridge and Marie Tepe were two women awarded the Kearney Cross for valor during their service to country. Both of these women, disguised as male soldiers, participated in the Battle of Chancellorsville, subsequently earning the award. The Kearney Cross award was established to recognize Non-Commissioned officers and Privates who distinguished themselves amongst their fellow troops. I wanted to learn more about this medal.

Kearney Cross Medal

The Kearney Cross was derived from the “Kearney Medal”, which was awarded to officers for valor during the civil war. The Kearney Cross was used to establish the same kind of merit that could be awarded to enlisted men. The medal is named after Philip Kearney, son of General Stephen Kearney, known for his participation in the US-Mexican War. I learned from the readings that Philip hailed from a long line of distinguished gentlemen of means who volunteered themselves to the service of their country.

Philip Kearney

The selfless service and the untimely death of Philip during the 2nd Manassas Campaign (Battle of Chantilly) led to the medal of honor in his name to show respect bestowed upon him by those who served with and under him.

Black Buffers


In 1968, the Black Buffers were a group of ex-convicts formed by fundamentalists William Porter and John Staggers. The purpose of this group was to patrol the streets of Washington D.C. along side the radical political group, the Black Panthers. The men were installed to preach and recruit for fellowship with the fundamentalists. They were called Black Buffers because they essentially buffeted the Black Power movement against an all white police force that used brutality to control of Black citizens.

To keep the buffers from being seen as a fundamentalist group to establish their own right, Doug Coe, fundamentalist group leader, created The Young Life program. This program was literally run by white leadership but camouflaged with black men to appear as a normal civil rights activist group. It was an experiment in social conservatism. The experiment set up the conservatism using the control of a social group, the black ex-cons in Washington D.C., then manipulating the public into believing they were not a group capable of uprising and producing hysteria which was rampant in the 1960’s. The group did not ignite the flame it intended to do but fizzled out about a year later when revenues could not be obtained for its continuation through fund raising.

Split Rock Lighthouse


Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock lighthouse or the Split Rock Light station as it was historically called, sits upon a huge rock overlooking part of the Great Lakes harbor water transit system. Located along Minnesota’s North shore and constructed between 1909 and 1910, this lighthouse’s sole purpose was to stand guard and protect steel frigates navigating through the dense fog that often hovers just above the water there.

During the industrial age, Two Harbors and Duluth-Superior sat next to a massive iron mountain range. The iron deposits in the mountains played a vital role in enabling America to compete and successfully become a world steel magnate. Unfortunately, the routes that ships transporting the ore faced were rocky bottoms and narrow passage ways and often dangerous to navigate. Weather changes added to the many threats shipmen faced daily  transporting the ore.

In 1905, a devastating storm blew through the harbor corridor, overturning a helpless barge, the Madeira. The storm was so strong and violent it caused it’s tow ship, William Edenborn’s line to snap. Loss of life and the tragic struggle of the crews on both vessels witnessed by onlookers ashore, encouraged the lobbying of Congress for the Split Rock Lighthouse to be built. Support for new, safer measures and laws were needed due to the poor visibility by the ships of the far away shore that made navigation treacherous.

In 1907 funding poured in, granted by congress, for the building of the lighthouse. Support for the funding was provided by documentation of past accidents by the Lake Carrier Association.

This lighthouse has seen many repairs and renovations on its surrounding property but the building itself is a remarkable piece of architecture soundly built. It has withstood the years and retained its pre 1930’s appeal. It is a great piece of living history to visit. The lighthouse and the grounds it sits upon tell the story as it continues to do its duty standing guard over the harbor to this day.

Eugenics


Eugenics began as a science studied by Francis Galton and Charles Darwin, his relative, in 1883. The reason for the study was to find a way to make sure human beings in the future evolved into socially acceptable members of society. This meant both in physical form and intellect. The eugenics idea came from ancient times but became popular during Europe’s enlightenment period. It was a time when scientists began questioning who we are and where we come from. SinceDarwin’s theory of evolution explained how species evolved through natural selection, Galton theorized the same could also be done artificially in humans. It caused scientists and fellow enthusiasts to think about what society would look like if scientists could directly manage its members by either promoting yearned for characteristics or preventing unwanted ones from occurring.

In the first part of the 20th century, eugenics was seen as a tool to control a persons living environment so that they could live disease-free. Studies were done and the result provided information for better nutrition, new medical remedies and health education, to include prenatal care.

From the popular characteristics that were considered to be good, scientists began studying how genes could be identified and singled out in the later part of the 20th century. This study coupled with the evidence gathered of individuals who displayed high intellect and their results began to spread across scientific communities. Much was learned from them but the studies did not always yield positive results. Sometimes they drew wedges in social circles when it was deemed that bad behavior was due to having bad genes. Studies showed the bad genes as well as good were found in abundance in different areas of societies.

Ethical problems arose as well when arguments against the rights of women to bear children or use birth control as part of informed choices emerged in political discussions. One question that was raised was how would birth control contributed to the spread of genes good or bad if controls on sex were not social enforced? This gave radicals further fuel to debate with and placed a moral monkey wrench into the picture.

Forced sterilization emerged as a solution to the spread of bad genes that burdened society and deemed certain people unfit to reproduce. People started advocating new laws to prevent immigrating families of people with bad genes from entering the US. The Immigration Act of 1924 was passed in Congress to set rules and guidelines on immigration. Eugenics influenced this passing. The idea of forced sterilization and control of reproduction however met with resistance among those who opposed it in 1930 to include the Catholic Church. The science was reduced to that of genetic study under a microscope rather than delivered measures forced upon individuals. It remains as a foundation of genetic study that is done today.

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