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American History

Family Life of Benjamin F. Bulter


Young Benjamin F. Butler

Image result for benjamin f butlerIn 1839, Benjamin F. Butler met a man named Fisher Aimes Hildreth. Fisher lived in the next town over from Lowell where Ben lived in Massachusetts. Ben and Fisher connected immediately and developed a life-long relationship. That same year Fisher invited Ben to his family Thanksgiving meal. It was there, Ben, met Fisher’s daughter, Sarah. According to Ben, Sarah was attractive, educated, and intelligent and, she had a passion for acting. In fact, she appeared in plays in New York and Boston. Ben showed a curiosity for a romantic relationship with Sarah but she was not interested in giving up her career to accompany a small town lawyer just starting out (1).

Sarah Butler

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As time went on Sarah acquired popularity and stardom for her work. Ben, worked his way into a successful law office, and the two continued to stay in contact with one another. In May of 1844, after a long courtship, they married. Ben brought Sarah to his home in Lowell, and there they lived until she passed away from “an untimely death” in 1877 (2).

Ben and Sarah’s Children

Together Ben and Sarah created a good sized family: a girl named Blanche, and three sons: Paul, who died at age four, Paul II, and Ben-Israel. Ben-Israel decided to follow his father’s footsteps and enter into public service. He was appointed to West Point, graduated with honors and commissioned Lieutenant. Ben, proud of his son’s accomplishments encouraged Ben-Israel to take command and lead a “regiment of colored troops stationed on the Plains [so that] he might have, in addition to his instructions at the academy, the knowledge of the movement and care of the troops in actual service.” The significance of his decision by Ben Butler was that he wanted his son to acquire some military experience working as a volunteer and not someone who earned rank from being nobility (3).

Tragedy

After completing his military service, Ben-Israel planned to join in partnership with his father Benjamin’s law practice. But as Benjamin writes in his memoir, “I had hoped to lean upon him in my declining years, to take my place in that profession which I love and honor. ‘Man proposes. God disposes.'” Ben-Israel’s unexpected sudden death ended any chance of a father- son career dream for both of them. Ben’s daughter married a Civil War General, Adelbert Ames and raised a family while Paul sought a business career upon his graduation from Harvard. Ben, impressed with Paul’s accomplishment at a prestigious university, felt his choice of school would impact Paul favorably later in life if he desired to enter into politics (4).

A Valued Relationship

Throughout Ben Butler’s military and political career, Sarah, his wife, proved to be one of his staunchest supporters. She advised him from time to time. Her intelligence and education were a great asset to Ben. It allowed him to view his world not only from a humanitarian perspective but also that of a woman. Sarah related to Ben on a different level, but she never interfered and trusted Ben’s final judgment. When Ben experienced political strife and controversy, she remained by his side with poise and dignity (5).

Value of Family

Benjamin F. Butler’s credited his success as a lawyer, veteran, and political figure to the strong family support system he created with his wife, Sarah. He also credits his family upbringing as inspiration and passion for a lifetime of civil service to others. We can interpret his decisions and actions in his life through his experiences and thoughts about them.

 

1. Benjamin F. Butler, Butler’s Book: Autobiography and Personal Reminiscences of Major General Benj F. Butler : A Review of His Legal, Political, and Military Career (Boston: A.M. Thayer & Co., 1892),78-79.

2. 79.

3. 80-89.

4. 80-81.

5. 85.

 

Merry Christmas 2016


I hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas holiday in whatever way shape or form is possible. I like this time of year because I can spend quality time with family and friends. I enjoy the old traditions and look forward to making new ones.

This year I came across an American Civil War Christmas poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ( 1807-1882 ). I thought it would be fun to share. I can relate to it because of the many Christmas holidays I spent away from my family and only doom and gloom surrounded me. Those were difficult times to get through. Still, through it all, I managed to enjoy some of those holidays. Here is the poem. Enjoy!

 

 

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Photo credit Wikipedia

 

Christmas Bells

    I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.” (1)

 

  1. Reference for poem and additional information can be found at http://www.potw.org/archive/potw118.html.

 

Development of the American Pharmacy Part 2


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By the 1850s, the pharmacy became big business in America. Americans increasingly found the availability of retail drug stores convenient and affordable. When a customer entered a drug store, they would see the Apothecary (owner of the drug store) managing pharmacists, employing sales and stock clerks and providing quality product based on the United States Pharmacopeia. The future of the pharmaceutical profession looked promising for growth and potential. However, this was not simply the case. Salespeople outside of the pharmacy began imitating and selling imitations of products sold in drugstores. Not only were customers unaware of the falsehood of their purchases but that some of the drugs they purchased also posed a danger to public health. The American Pharmaceutical Association was aware that there was no effective way to regulate these false remedies. Even with this growing threat to the professional pharmaceutical business, Pharmacist’s could not find a way to combat the problem even though possible solutions were sought and discussed (1).

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Shortly after 1852, the newly established American Pharmaceutical Association dealt with some serious issues affecting the pharmaceutical profession. The financial crisis, brought on by a world trade economic problem, slowed pharmaceutical commerce, and this caused many retail drug stores to close down. Between the years 1860 and 1865, the Civil War, like other wars before, strengthened the professional side of pharmacy by the speedy fulfillment of medicine to the battlefield. The fast pace that continued in peacetime after the war allowed pharmacists to re-open the market but, capitalism once again affected the profession. The fast production of medicines and remedies meant less quality of the product. Between 1880 and 1890, state regulators addressed the problem by expediting the regulation of the manufacturing and sale of drugs. This improved the quality of pharmaceuticals, thus strengthening public safety and contributed to consumer satisfaction once again (2).

 

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As physicians and pharmacists separated their profession, pharmacists concentrated specifically on their chemistry skills to create custom medicines and remedies for patient comfort. Pharmacists labeled their medications with their name and photo and directions for use of the product. By doing this pharmacists stood by his or her product to ensure the product was legitimate and safe. Factories increased the production of pills by using a press to replicate them. However, mass production decreased the value of the product. To change this, pharmacist’s added a variety of store features in order to entice customers. These included refreshing soda fountains, photography supplies, veterinary products and women’s cosmetics (3).

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As business improved at the turn of the century, capitalism inadvertently sent the pharmaceutical profession spinning ahead to meet demands of industrialism and twentieth-century innovation. Customers could still enjoy the convenience of a speedy Medicine, and medicinal remedies and they could trust the product was worth every penny spent. The convenience of mass marketing and capitalism both supported the development of the American pharmacy into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

(1) Glenn Sonnedecker, The American Practice of Pharmacy, 1902-1952, in Gregory Higby and Elaine Condouris Stroud, American Pharmacy (1852-2002): A Collection of Historical Essays (Madison, WI: American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, 2005), 5-6.

(2) Ibid., 6.; For general information (not a scholarly source) on the financial crisis see, Panic of 1857, last modified on May 16, 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_of_1857

(3) Sonnedecker, 6.

Development of the American Pharmacy


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In 1852, American pharmacists’ met at a conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to create a pharmaceutical profession that would preserve their craft and separate it from the commercialization of drugs and remedies. American medicine was full of replication by ordinary folks who aimed to make a living selling a cheap or convenient product. Most of these products, peddled by salespersons, were not legitimate, but placebos labeled to deceive the buyer and rob them of their hard-earned money. (1)

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To understand how the pharmaceutical profession came to be, as we know it in our current time, consider how the evolution of American pharmacy influenced the need to professionalize the medicine trade. Early American doctors came to America already trained, so medicine was not new, but it was made very different than today. For example, doctors had to make medications in their kitchens. But as populations of settlers increased so did the demand for medicine. As a result, apothecary shops opened and druggists’ (commonly known at the time) began selling medications and medicinal remedies wholesale to the apothecaries and general stores. Some doctors and druggists’ began to patent their medicines because drugs, imported from overseas, were unregulated, and anyone could purchase them and sell them. The Revolutionary War, too, changed the availability of medicinal products because of high demand.(2)

1820-First-Pharmacopoeia

By the early 1800s, physicians began to attend medical schools for professional training. A portion of their courses taught them to write prescriptions for medications and send them to the apothecaries. The apothecaries could oversee the dispense of medications to many individuals at once rather than one individual or household at a time. In 1820, pharmacists’ endorsed the Pharmacopoeia of the United States of America and by 1828, they published one standard for drug production across America. Increased demand and specialization of pharmaceutical production spurred the establishment of college programs created for the specific study of medications. By taking the production of and marketing of drugs solely away from physicians, druggists’ created a way to specialize in medicine beyond doctors, clinics, and hospitals. This change was a critical turning point in the commercialization of medicine in America because specialization meant greater amount of production, and it provided increased availability to the buyer. (3)

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The commercialization of pharmacy in America inadvertently changed the relationship between physicians and pharmacists. As doctors increasingly attended medical school, they were able to broaden their clinical experiences with patients in hospitals and offices. Between 1808 and 1820, a national convention of physicians created a central book explaining all the necessary information about drugs. The book created a way for the physicians to separate themselves from the pharmacists. Doctors began to rely more on the pharmacy to dispense medications thus giving them more time to tend to patients. Druggists could now devote their time to a pharmaceutical career. The War of 1812 further spurred specialization of both careers because of the need for mass production of medicines. (4)

Soon after the end of the war, pharmacists established pharmaceutical colleges and American Pharmacy began its marketing. Between 1820 and 1860 grocery stores, apothecary shops, and drug stores all added specialized medications and treatments in order to make them more readily available to consumers. Pharmacy became big business and because pharmacists’ patented their medications they separated the real ones from fake. Patenting secured their sales because the buyer could purchase a trusted and legitimate product. However, these businesses drove a wedge between pharmacists and physicians who increasingly competed for business. Pharmacists began writing prescriptions without a doctor’s note and with the number of physicians increased by medical school training, Americans had access to more doctors than ever before.(5)

When the American Medical Association noted the amount of shoddy drugs that Europe imported into America, Congress enacted The Drug Importation Act of 1848. This act set standards for how drugs were imported, manufactured and sold in the United States. In 1852, pharmacists established the American Pharmaceutical Association.(6)

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Between 1800 and 1952 innovative physicians and druggists changed the American pharmacy from private to public enterprise. These professionals not only improved the availability but also the quality of medication for buyers. Pharmacists established business models and improved the welfare of Americans by separating the profession of doctor and pharmacy. Physicians and pharmacists made changes to better regulate how medication was to be dispensed. Even the federal government intervened to enforce laws to protect buyers against fraud. As the pharmacy became well established in American society, people could now choose for themselves which way they preferred to have their medications prescribed. They could choose physician or pharmacist for this. Either way, American consumers could trust doctors and pharmacists to sell them a product they could expect to be pure and legitimate.

1. American Pharmacy Before 1852 in Gregory Higby and Elaine Condouris Stroud, American Pharmacy (1852-2002): A Collection of Historical Essays (Madison, WI: American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, 2005), pg. ix.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid., x.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid., xi.

6. Ibid., “Significant Dates in U.S. Food and Drug Law History,” Significant Dates in U.S. Food and Drug Law History, section goes here, accessed March 26, 2015, http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/WhatWeDo/History/Milestones/ucm128305.htm.; “The Story of the Laws Behind the Labels.” The Story of the Laws Behind the Labels. Accessed March 26, 2015. http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/WhatWeDo/History/Overviews/ucm056044.htm.

History on Saturday: Ionia County, Michigan and the Depression Era


A fellow history enthusiast posted a link to a Depression Era digitized photo collection presented by Yale on the Google+ community History as Prologue. He encouraged us to look at the site and see what we could find in our community. What a great idea! History as a big picture is great, and that picture always leads back to the very spot we are at at any given time or place. Local history is ripe for exploration, and it connects us all and leads to an understanding of our origins and how the past has led us to where we are now. We can then take that information and compare it to our own current time and this helps us make decisions about where we want to go in our future.

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Farmhouse. Ionia County, Michigan, August 1941 Photo Credit, Yale, John Vachon

I decided to explore and see what I could find. As I searched the interactive map I found Ionia County, which is the closest to my current location of Belding, Michigan, also in the same county. I found one photo. It is a small blip on a large radar, but it is a start. It shows a farm house and field. It is not much different to the way the county looks now. This photo is important because it gives insight into the people who lived here during the Depression Era and how they attempted to survive economic hard times in the aftermath of a world war. Perhaps, these folks just continued on as normal. Maybe they established the property or inherited it down from family. Many more curiosities can lead from this point. Hopefully, this collection will expand to bring a clearer focus of the people and their lives in Ionia County during the Depression.

For further reading and interest of Belding and Ionia County see:

City of Belding, Michigan http://www.ci.belding.mi.us/

Images of America: Belding (2014) by local author, Cindy M. Hughes

History of Ionia County Michigan: Her People, Industries and Institutions (1916) by Rev. E.E. Branch

History on Saturday-Prologue: Pieces of History » Your photos, then and now


In honor of this Memorial Day Weekend 2014 I am reposing a blog from the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Prologue: Pieces of History » Your photos, then and now.

I have always been a huge fan of Memorial Day probably due to my service in the military. Memorial Day becomes a part of your life when you think of all the great soldiers who have gone before you and that you stand to continue their legacy. Memorial Day has a huge history that revolves around President Lincoln. He had a good heart and wanted to preserve a day for all Americans to set aside one day a year. He wanted one day a year to put away anger and recognize united grief in loss of life resulting from a warring nation. Today mostly it is celebrated with hamburgers, hot dogs and sprinklers. I am grateful to have such a day to enjoy in May to reflect or just to pause from daily life routines and enjoy relax time.

How will you spend this day? What does Memorial Day mean to you? What part of Memorial Day history do you know or would like to know about?

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