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Telemachus Press, LLC is pleased to offer a venue for its author’s blog postings and other writings. This portion of our website is automatically fed with material provided by our authors who are third parties and are not employed by Telemachus Press, LLC. This externally provided commentary and any opinions contained therein are solely those of the author and not necessarily supported by Telemachus Press, LLC or any of its employees or subcontractors.

16
George Washington (#1) was born February 22, 1732. The celebration of his birthday became Presidents Day, the third Monday of February, which became a celebration of Washington and Abraham Lincoln (#16), which morphed into a celebration of all of our presidents, which--in my opinion--should actually be a celebration of the institution of the presidency and its original intent.  No president was revered in his day and after as Washington was and is. He was an American hero, even if he never actually chopped down a cherry tree, even if his teeth were not made of wood. He epitomized the original intent of the presidency. A mediator who lives in a big white house. This is, of course, ignoring the question, should a slave holder be entitled to a day in his honor?  (As an aside, New York City was the capital during Washington's initial term and he lived on Cherry Street. He then moved to Philadelphia after Thomas Jefferson (#3) and Alexander Hamilton orchestrated a deal to reloca......

Read More of Detour: Presidents Day, Kindness Chain, American History, President x President...

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04
I am reading a book on each president with a few detours in order to learn more about American History and to try and decode how the past influences the present. "First Ladies of the Republic" by Jeanne E. Abrams was one such detour in my passion project. I couldn't imagine making my way from Washington (#1) through Madison (#4) and then jumping to Monroe (#5) without first learning more about Martha, Abigail and Dolley, our first first ladies.  I enjoyed the book but wished it was shorter and longer. Let me explain. The book is broken into 5 sections: an introduction, a section on each of the women, and a conclusion. It is well researched and thoughtful. I trusted Abrams, which is important to me as a reader. However, I found the book to be repetitive. Not only within each section, but from section to section. It seemed like half the book could be left on the editing room floor and the same information would have been imparted. As an example, I grew weary of reading about t......

Read More of Detour: Our First First Ladies, American History, President x President...

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15
A friend told me she does not plan on voting in November 2020. She's sick of the corruption in Washington, has lost faith in the system, and believes her vote will not count. Why should I waste my time going to the polls or mailing in a ballot, she asked. I attempted to explain why that was a really bad decision but she wasn't hearing me. Now, as I write this, I realize I wasn't hearing her either. As the adage goes, voting is a right and not a privilege. Likewise, not voting is equally a right. Who am I to feel disappointed, even outraged, when someone pronounces they will not vote in the 2020 election? That answer comes to me easily. I have every right to feel this way since I am a person who votes. Those who don't vote insure that my vote, and the votes of others, will not matter. Is this a fair accusation toward my non-voting brethren? History confirms that it is. In 2016, I campaigned for Hillary. I did the usual stuff: walked door to door, made phone calls, licked envelopes. I ......

Read More of Detour: Why Everyone Must Vote, American History, President x President...

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03
Choosing which book to read on our 4th president was a bit challenging, but I settled on Richard Brookhiser's "James Madison" partially because it was only 250-pages versus the 800-page tomes I have been tackling. I opted for this "beach read" (as one reviewer called it) and I was not disappointed. There was little about Brookhister's book I did not like, including the length. I have read books by other accomplished biographers including McCullough, Isaacson, Chernow and Meacham and have fretted that they often failed to take their subjects to task. Not Brookhiser. He called out Madison on his lack of taking a stance on slavery, on his (and Jefferson's #3) major miscue in believing Florida was included in the Louisiana Purchase, on his ineptness as commander in chief that led to the British being able to burn Washington City to the ground during the War of 1812 (Madison's War), and for his overall poor performance as president. Brookhiser often slipped into "I" and gave his concl......

Read More of #4 James Madison, American History, President x President...

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22
A little over fourteen years ago I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I never cried over fear of dying. Instead, I cried because I missed my childhood poodle, Jennie. A couple of days after I completed my final chemotherapy session, I set out to buy myself a gift. It took a few weeks to find him, but I eventually came home with Frisco, a ten-week-old, three pound grey poodle. He was a fiery sort. The veterinarian told me at our first appointment that if he were a Rottweiler she would suggest I put him down. Bah-humbug!  Like Jennie when I was growing up, Frisco was my service dog and I was his service person. We comforted each other, traveled together, fought at times, and cuddled. He was a perfect blend of monster and angel.  2019 began with Frisco acting unusually aggressive – even for him. I took him to several vets and was mostly told it was behavioral issues. I knew this to be false. I finally found a specialist that listened to me and confirmed what I feared. He......

Read More of RIP: Frisco Lewis...

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22
Ona Judge was enslaved by the Washingtons. When she was to be given to Martha's very difficult daugther, Ona escaped. Despite the Washingtons' efforts, she was never recapatured. "Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge" by Erica Armstrong Dunbar tells the story of this amazing woman. My friend told me about Ona Judge and I knew learning about her was a necessary detour from my presidents project. As you know if you have been following my blogposts, I have been very disturbed by our founding fathers' claims to want to end slavery while owning slaves. This book presented George and Martha as ruthless slave owners. I knew this was so although other biographers stopped short of calling the Washingtons to task on this. While speaking to a friend of mine about this, he said--as have many others--we should not look at the circumstances of the past with today's eyes. In other words, how can we judge the acts of persons in the 18th and 19th centurie......

Read More of Detour: Ona Judge and George Washington, American History, President x President...

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07
"Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power" by Jon Meacham was the 4th book I have read in my quest to read a biography on each president in order, with some detours. Having read and blogged about Chernow's book on Washington, McCullough's book on Adams and Isaacson's bio of Benjamin Franklin, I was not looking forward to reading about Jefferson since the predecessor books did not always paint him in a favorable light. I was pleased, however, to find Meacham's book to be thorough, thought-provoking and, of course, educational. As a friend of mine once said, it's best not to see everyone naked. Nonetheless, I did not look away while Meacham presented a 500-page stripped down Jefferson, as a biographer ought to do.  We all know about TJ being a slave owner and the accounts of him and Sally Hemmings (who was not only his slave but his deceased wife's half-sister). Rightfully so, such well known and unconfirmed information was not given a lot of ink by Meacham. It feels gossipy and, ......

Read More of #3 Thomas Jefferson: American History, President x President...

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24
For the third book I've read in my passion project on the presidents, I chose  "John Adams" by David McCullough and complimented it by watching "John Adams", the mini-series on Amazon Prime (never going ahead of the book) and by reading letters written between Adams and Abigail published at the Massachusetts Historical Society website. (Letters by Jefferson are there too, plus a host of other interesting stuff).  McCullough crafts a sentence with finesse. Not a word is wasted. As a writer, I learned as much about Adams as I did about writing.  This was the fourth or fifth time I started the John Adams mini-series. It's slow-moving and failed to grip me past the Boston Massacre and Adams' representation of the British soldiers at trial until I began learning about who Adams truly was. Then, as I read the book and watched the series, studied every nuance Paul Giamatti put into his portrayal of our second president (Damn the bad reviews of hi......

Read More of #2 John Adams: American History, President x President...

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13
In my quest to read a book on all the presidents, I finished Chernow's "Washington, A Life" and decided to detour to Walter Isaacson's "Benjamin Franklin, An American Life" to get the full flavor of this time in American history. Isaacson's writing style is conversational, not pedantic, and challenging enough for me to have to look up a few words. This book was the perfect meat between a George Washington and John Adams literary sandwich. I most enjoyed Isaacson's conclusions, including a very satisfying end to the life story of one of our most innovative statesmen.  Putting Franklin's imperfections aside (mostly his desertion of his wife and some odd political ideals), his ideas permeate around us to this day. Not only his inventions and his civic discoveries but also his belief in the middle class as the backbone of American society. He is known, and often parodied, for flying a kite with his bald dome and long hair prominent, but Franklin was a complex man who probably was the......

Read More of Detour: Benjamin Franklin, Leather-Aprons Unite, American History, President x President...

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31
Book: "Washington, A Life" by Ron Chernow Podcast: American History Tellers, Season 5, Revolution If you have been following my blog series on American History: President x President, you are aware that I have been wondering, how did we get from the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution to where we are today? How have our political parties evolved into a torrent of conflict and violence? How has our country become so divided? Or, I wonder--4 presidential biographies and 2 detours into my passion project--have I been naive in viewing the birth of our nation in a romantic hue? Do I need to come to terms with the fact that little has changed over the last two-and-a-half centuries?  Is the answer to my questions as simple as, people remain the same and the only change from the days of our founding fathers and mothers is the current ease of disseminating information, the narrowing of the wide-reaching world, the unchecked availability of automatic weapons......

Read More of #1 George Washington: American History, President x President...

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