Friday, October 23, 2009

The Rhyme of History

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
                                                                        -  Mark Twain

Since the founding of Baxter County on March 24th, 1873, the Spanish–American War was the first multi-national military conflicts Baxter County men had the opportunity to serve in. This convenient war took place between the United States and Spain between April & August, 1898. To many Americans, this was not a war of aggression, but it was a needful war for peace on behalf of the liberation of Cuba from Spain.

Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt & the Rough Riders
charging up San Juan Hill

The acting Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas was the Honorable Jerry C. South of Mountain Home, Arkansas. He led a 65 mile march with 17 young men from Mountain Home, Arkansas, to the train station at Newport, Arkansas. The contingent that left on the spring morning on April 29, 1898 consisted of not only young men from Baxter County, but men from Baxter, Fulton, and Izard County .It was a true sampling of the Ozarks.
Lt. Governor South was commissioned as a Captain in the United States Army. Captain South led Second Arkansas Voluntary Infantry, Company M, until they were mustered out on February 25, 1899. Of the 75 regiments enlisted in the Spanish–American War, Arkansas was well represented with two of them.
How can this be a representation with distinction?
During training for combat, a target competition was made, and the boys from Baxter County won the distinction as the best shots. The title of “Highland Sharpshooters” was conferred on the small group from the Arkansas Company by Major General John. W. Brooks, commanding officer at Camp Thomas, Georgia.

Model 1898 "Krag-Jorgensen" bolt-action rifle .30-40
manufactured by the Springfield Armory in 1898.

On the national scope, it was a small war with 208 men killed in action. Our boys came back without the need to serve outside in continental U. S.  Yet, it was the careful and crowning jewel of a war that enabled us to flex our military might in the Gilded Age. Our young men saw machinery, weapons, cities, and organizations that would forever transform their thinking.
Political partisanship in the U. S. was diverse.

1900 McKinley / Roosevelt
Presidential Campaign Poster

After President William McKinley's assassination on September 14th, 1901, the Progressive Republican Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, came into his own right. There was also a sense that government intervention in the economy inevitably led to favoritism, bribery, kickbacks, inefficiency, waste, and corruption. Mudslinging gained as a favored ploy for the polls. Republicans carried the North; Democrats garnered the South.  The Ozarks showed its’ diversity as border regions with a fair representation for both parties. Local 1900 newspapers reported debates in Baxter & Izard Counties were spirited & cordial.

Here in Baxter County, the Republican Committee was lead by Captain Bodenhamer advanced the charge of this new change in our nation. Many men who supported the advancing efforts of this progressive thinking were members of this club. When McKinley & Roosevelt ran for the Republican ticket, their campaign advertisements were ran on the adage of “Change.”
This continued through 1908 according to The Baxter Bulletin.

August 14, 1908: Political Speaking…Notice. The Democratic and Republican Nominees for the various offices in Baxter County will address the voters of Baxter County on the political issues of the day. Signed B. F. Bodenhamer, Chairman of the Republican Committee & W. F. Eatman, Chairman of the Democratic Committee.

September 18, 1908: There probably never was a race in Baxter County on any cleaner grounds than the representative race in this election between Hon. Ed Smothers, Chairman, and Capt. B. F. Bodenhamer, Republican. There was no personal abuse, no mudslinging. Both of their talks on the stump were forceful talks on the issues, both state and national, of both parties. Such campaigning is a pleasure to the voters and was much enjoyed by the large crowds that greeted them.

There are so many similarities to this era I have been drawn to…it’s almost eerie. Karl Marx said history is linear. But, I  have to agree with Mark Twain. If history doesn’t repeat itself, it must unquestionably rhyme.
Its’ cadence can be seen, pulse felt, and stanzas reverberate.
With the rise if Progressivism…
The veneration of the past Republican Progressive Teddy Roosevelt by today's Hilary Clinton, John McCain, and Barak Obama…
Partisans in Politics…
The mantra of “Change”…
The chant for a war for “Humanities’ Sake”…
And the Banking & Financial chaos in the midst of profit.

As ideas ebb on the scale of history, it is always inspiring to look out and see the past dedication & patriotism that has made the Ozarks History part of the American song.

Krag-Jorgensen Model 1898, bolt-action rifle .30-40 of the Springfield Armory, Springfield Massachusetts. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington D. C., 1898.

Marx, Karl. Selected Writings. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, pp. ix-xxxv, 54-68, 209-213. Dean, M. 1994.

(1900) Neill, Arthur. Report of the Adjutant General of the Arkansas State Guard, 1897-1900: Including the Period of the Spanish-American War. Thompson Lithograph and Printing Company. Little Rock, AR.

Remington, Frederic S. Charge of the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington D. C.. 1908.

Shiras-McClelland, Francis H. History of Baxter County to 1939. Mountain Home, AR: J. W. Daniel and Shiras Bros. Print Shop, 1940.

Shiras, Tom “Political Speaking.” The Baxter Bulletin 14 Aug. 1908, Volume 7, Number 35 ed.: 1A1-1.

Shiras, Tom “The Debates.” The Baxter Bulletin 18 Sept. 1908, Volume 7, Number 40 ed.: 1A1-5.

Twain, Mark. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington D. C.. Photograph of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. 1907.

William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt Campaign. Advertisement. Administration's Promises Have Been Kept. Aug. 1900.

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