In 1834, Amos Bronson Alcott founded a school for children in Boston. His assistant, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, began writing a book about it, called Record of a School. One of the school’s students, noted in the book is Louisa May Alcott. Claire Beam at The Millions describes how that school experience formed the backdrop for Little Women.
In 1850, it’s estimated that five percent of the population of New York City was abandoned children. There and in many other cities, the problem of orphans had reached crisis proportions. And one solution was “orphan trains,” in which abandoned children were placed on trains and sent west, stopping in various cities so the children could be paraded and possibly adopted. By 1929, some 250,000 children had ridden an orphan train. See “The Heartbreaking Tale of Orphan Trains” at Notes from the Frontier.
History can be, and often is, messy. Humans are flawed beings; we make mistakes, we sin, and we can cause pain and misery to others. But we can also do heroic things, deeds that inspire and lift up. Sometimes we can do good and bad at the same time. Frank Jastrzembski at Emerging Civil War reminds us of one such individual – a Union general who was a Civil War hero and within two years of the war’s ending became a corrupt carpetbagger. Should General Milton Littlefield be honored? Frank Jastrzembski at Emerging Civil War asks if it’s the right thing to do.
In 1987, Allan Bloom wrote a book that became a national sensation: The Closing of the American Mind. It detailed how American higher education had failed both students and democracy. Academics and the higher critics dismissed it as a rant from the right. Joseph Horowitz at The American Interest takes another look, and he says the book now looks prophetic.
Years ago, a friend suggested rereading the Lincoln-Douglas debates, substituting the word “abortion” for the word “slavery.” I took his advice and read one of the debate reports. It was an eye-opener. Jesse Johnson at The Cripplegate takes a look as well, and he finds some disturbing connections between the arguments defending slavery and the arguments defending abortion.
More Good Reads
Life and Culture
‘1917’ and the Ruin of Beautiful Things – Jeb Ralston at The Soul of a Sparrow (H/T: Nancy Franson).
Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite – Michael Lind at The Wall Street Journal.
A Nation with No Memory Has No Future – Joseph Pearce at The Imaginative Conservative.
Saving Persuasion: America's rhetoric problem reflects a wider cultural malaise – Carnes Lord at the Claremont Review of Books.
On Being Kind – David Heddondorf at Front Porch Republic.
Leviathan, Zarathustra, and the End(s) of Liberalism – Brian Mesimer at Mere Orthodoxy.
5 Features That Made the Early Church Unique - Tim Keller at The Gospel Coalition.
An Annotated Guide to Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail – Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition.
All This Useless Beauty – Jessica Hooten Wilson at Church Life Journal.
Love in Ordinary Form – Jennie Cesario at Dappled Thoughts.
‘Song at Sunset’ and ‘Poor Gluteus’ – Connie Phillips at Society of Classical Poets.
On hearing the swallows’ song – Joe Springza at Joe Spring Writes.
The pleasant mandolin(e): T. S. Eliot’s musical enthusiasms – N.S. Thompson at The Times Literary Supplement.
A Vicar Saves His Flock – Dr. John Little at English Historical Fiction Authors.
It’s Hard to be a Patriot – Amitai Etzioni at CityJournal.
A moment in time: Yankees at Washington Circle in April 1865 – John Banks Civil War Blog.
Address to the City of London – Dwight Eisenhower via The Imaginative Conservative.
Writing and Literature
Getting to the next level as a writer – Janet Reid, Literary Agent.
Searching for a Los Angeles Cop Novel of My Own – Lee Goldberg at CrimeReads.
A Constellation Near and Wide: Thornton Wilder and Sigrid Undset – James Como at The Imaginative Conservative.
Rediscovering the Lost Power of Reading Aloud – Meaghan Cox Gurdon at Literary Hub.
Jerusalem – CityAlight
Photograph by Aris Sfanianakis via Unsplash. Used with permission.