The Bloodstoppers of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

One winter’s evening in the late 1930s, in the town of Shingleton, a small logging community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or U.P., two local laborers, one by the name of Mike Bobic, the other George White, got into a knife fight over an old dispute aggravated by an evening of heavy drinking. When White, by far the larger of the two, challenged his opponent, Bobic slashed him across the chest, leaving a deep wound from which White lost a lot of blood.

Staggering through the snow, the injured White collapsed into the doorway of a local tavern, where patrons quickly dragged him inside and sent for the doctor. Although they tried to make him as comfortable as they could, nobody in the tavern believed the wounded man would survive; the doctor lived almost ten miles away and at night, in the snow, he would surely be unable to reach them before White bled to death.

Suddenly, a man named Archie Clark, of Native American descent and who just happened to be in town, stood up, walked toward White and, according to witnesses, uttered a prayer that immediately stopped the flow of blood. When the doctor eventually arrived several hours later and was told of this feat, he simply replied ‘Oh, I see.’ The people of Shingleton and the doctor were impressed but not surprised, they recognized Archie Clark as one with ‘the power’. He was a Bloodstopper of the U.P.

The land time forgot

Michigan Upper Peninsula 1849The state of Michigan was the 26th state to enter the union of the United States of America on January 26 1837, and is the only US state to consist of two separate peninsulas. It was just before statehood, following a boundary dispute with Ohio known as the Toledo War, that Michigan was awarded the Upper Peninsula as concession for territorial losses to the south.

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Franklin D Roosevelt and Churchill – a summary

America’s longest serving, President, Franklin D Roosevelt, proved an absolutely crucial ally to Winston Churchill and Britain during the early years of World War Two. Later disagreements about strategy meant that the relationship between the two men cooled from 1943, and Churchill declined to attend Roosevelt’s funeral. They shared an understanding of the threat posed by Nazi Germany, although in Roosevelt’s case, operating in a society deeply isolationist in sentiment. Despite this, he facilitated American rearmament, lend-lease, and a robust naval policy towards Germany that came very close to war.

Franklin D RooseveltIt was Roosevelt who struck up the personal correspondence with Churchill which proved so productive. In those years they had a strong rapport, sharing an interest in naval affairs. Like Churchill, Roosevelt had been responsible for naval policy prior to and during World War One. Hence, once he became Prime Minister, Churchill’s famous  ‘former naval person’ sign-off. In fact, they were both former naval persons.

Roosevelt came from a wealthy New York family and was a lawyer by profession. Both he and his wife Eleanor were active Democrats. In 1910 he entered the New York Senate and in 1913, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary for the Navy. By 1920 he was on the vice-presidential ticket for the Democrats, though they lost the election. The following year he contracted the polio which was to partially paralyse him.   Roosevelt tried to hide his condition whenever he could, yet it changed him psychologically as well as physically. Many around him noted a much more compassionate, less arrogant man.


As Governor of New York state during the Great Depression, Roosevelt was critical of the Hoover administration and introduced a raft of policies to actively tackle unemployment. Notwithstanding this, he fought the 1932 Presidential election on a platform of national deficit reduction. It was only once in office, as the 32nd US president, confronted with the enormity of the economic slump, that Roosevelt was persuaded by his advisors to change tack. His famous New Deal measures included employment programmes, bank reform and public works. He also scrapped the Prohibition laws.

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Edwin Stanton – a summary

Edwin Stanton was the son of an Ohio physician and a storekeeper.  Born 19 December 1814 in Steubenville, Ohio, Stanton’s father, also named Edwin, died in 1827.  Stanton, who was the oldest of four children, was fourteen years old.  He quit school to help support the family by assisting his mother in running her general store.  Stanton later returned to school, attending Kenyon College.

Edwin StantonIn 1833, Stanton returned to Steubenville where he studied law and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1836.  He married Mary Lamson on 31 May 1836.  Stanton built a home in Cadiz, Ohio, where he and Mary had two children, Lucy and Edwin.  Lucy died in 1841.  Edwin survived his father, dying in 1877.  Mary Stanton died 13 March 1844.  Stanton’s brother, Darwin, committed suicide in 1846.  The loss of five loved ones in five years sent Stanton into a depression so deep that it changed him.  The good-humored Stanton became an intense man.


After Mary’s death, Stanton moved from Cadiz to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he met his second wife, Ellen Hutchinson.  Stanton then moved to Washington, DC, in 1856 where he practiced law before the United States Supreme Court.  He was one of the first attorneys to successfully use the insanity defense.  Stanton gave up his law practice in 1860 when he was appointed Attorney General of the United States under President James Buchanan.

Stanton was a Democrat who strongly opposed secession.  During the Lincoln administration, Stanton was legal advisor to Secretary of War Simon Cameron.  When Cameron was accused of corruption, Lincoln reassigned him and replaced him with Stanton on 15 January 1862.

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George Ball – a brief summary

A diplomat easy to dub ‘the man who was always right’, George Ball’s reputation as a critic of US policy towards South East Asia during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations often cast him to the fringes of decision-making, but eventually saw him vindicated when the ‘Wise Men’ group of senior advisors decided to halt US escalation in the Vietnam War following the 1968 Tet Offensive.

George BallBelieving that the main arena for USA Cold War policy should be Europe, George Ball argued against growing escalation from 1961. When the Taylor-Rostow Report recommended the dispatch of 8,000 US troops in October, Ball predicted that 500,000 would be required within four years. Although President Kennedy famously described him as being crazy as hell for this prognosis, the experience of Americanization 1965-68 vindicated Ball’s original fears.

In spite of his attitude to the Vietnam War, Ball was not a pacifist, but argued that developing strong relationships with her western European partners should be America’s prime objective, which in turn would lead to a rapprochement with the Soviet Union. He also claimed that the US should build closer relationships with China, whose threat to US interests was seriously over-estimated in Washington.

After resigning in 1966, George Ball maintained a strict silence over the administration’s approach to the war, only returning to his critical theme after Lyndon B Johnson had left office. Ball became US Ambassador to the UN for a brief period during the last few months of Johnson’s presidency, before working as an investment. He continued to write and speak on international issues, gaining a new reputation as a critic of America’s relations with Israel.

George Ball died aged 84 on 26 May 1994.

Vietnam WarNeil Smith

For more about the Vietnam War, see The Vietnam War: History In An Hour published by Harper Press, and available in various digital formats, and as downloadable audio.

See also articles on William Westmoreland, Ho Chi Ming, Ngo Dinh Diem and Domestic opposition to the Vietnam War.

The Last Surviving Veterans of the American Civil War

The U.S government pays out $40 billion a year to war veterans and their survivors. The bulk of these benefits ($22 billion) go to Vietnam War veterans, while $12 billion is earmarked for those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of the balance is distributed among veterans of Korea and the World Wars. Surviving spouses and even children of deceased vets can apply for smaller allowances.

According to a piece in the LA Times, Washington is still paying $5,000 a year to children of the 1898 Spanish American War vets, while amazingly two surviving offspring of U.S. Civil War veterans continue to receive $876 each from the federal government. U.S. News reports that Veterans Affairs refuses to divulge the identities of the two, but confirms that both are quite elderly and in declining health.

The Civil War’s last living veterans


An aging Confederate veteran demonstrates the famous “rebel yell” at a reunion in 1930.

Presumably, the fathers of these benefit recipients would be among the Civil War’s last living veterans, someone like Albert Woolson of Antwerp, New York, for example  – the final surviving veteran of the Union Army who died more than 50 years ago.

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Edward Almond – a summary

Edward Almond was one of the more controversial of America’s twentieth-century generals. A Virginian by birth, Almond was to attend that state’s prestigious Virginia Military Institute, before joining the US Army as an infantry officer and serving in the 4th Division on the Western Front in 1918. Despite his brief period on the frontline he saw extensive action, commanding a machine gun battalion.

Edward AlmondAlmond had reached the rank of brevet Colonel by the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Between the wars, after a spell teaching at a military institute in Alabama and a brief tour of duty in the Philippines, he took up a series of staff roles. He worked in intelligence with the General Staff in Washington and then with the VI Corps in Rhode Island.

World War Two

During the Second World War Almond was promoted to Brigadier General and spent the first half of the war training his command – the all black 92nd Infantry Division. Almond led the division in the Italian campaign from 1944 until the defeat of Germany. The conduct of his unit – the last all black division in a previously segregated army – has been subject to controversy ever since. Some have attributed its poor performance to arrogance and racism on Almond’s part, while others have cited other factors such as neglect from the high command. He is alleged to have advised the Army against using black soldiers in combat roles as a result of this experience.

Almond also suffered personal tragedy during the war: both his son and son-in-law were killed in action.

After the war, Almond spent a year back in the USA, before transferring to General Douglas MacArthur’s Far East Command in Tokyo. There he was promoted to the rank of Major General and entered MacArthur’s inner circle, serving as Chief of Staff.

Korean War

Intimately involved in the planning for the Inchon invasion during the Korean War of 1950 to 1953, Almond was rewarded with the command of the X Corps, which MacArthur had tasked with the assault. When the X Corps was later switched to the east of the country, Almond’s troops fared markedly better than their colleagues in Walton Walker’s 8th Army during the surprise Chinese attack at the close of 1950. Yet Almond argued repeatedly with his subordinate, General O. P. Smith, whose Marine division did most of the tough fighting. He continued in command until July 1951, by which time the war had stagnated.

Back in the USA again, Almond spent the remainder of his military career leading the Army War College in Pennsylvania. He retired from army service in 1953, but kept up his interest in military affairs by serving on the board of his old college, the Virginia Military Institute.

Edward Almond died on 11 June 1979, aged 86, and is buried at Arlington cemetery, Virginia.

Korean WarAndrew Mulholland

The Korean War: History In An Hour published by William Collins, part of HarperCollins, is available in various digital formats, only 99p / $1.99, and downloadable audio.

The Jim Crow laws – a brief summary

The Jim Crow Laws were created in 1876 simply to segregate black people from the white population. Some English Dictionaries define ‘Jim Crow’ as the name for an implement that can straighten or bend iron rails; or, along with ‘Jim Crowism’, systems or practices of racial discrimination or segregation.  The American English Dictionary suggests that the name only emerged in dictionaries in 1904, but it was clearly used generally in 1876, at least.


The origin of Jim Crow goes back to the 1820s and is credited to a song-and-dance man, Thomas Dartmouth ‘Daddy’ Rice.  He implied that he had seen a limping black slave singing the following verse:

‘Come listen all you galls and boys

I’m going to sing a song

My names is Jim Crow

Weel about and turn around and do jis so,

Eb’ry time I weel about and jump Jim Crow.’

Jim CrowIn 1828 Rice was the first man to blacken his face, dress as a plantation slave and perform such a routine, using his own compositions.  As he gained fame he expanded his repertoire and gradually penned forty-four verses, most of them extremely insensitive.  Indeed, his mockery of black people grew to the extent that his derogatory Jim Crow verses helped deepen the gulf between black and white communities.  In 1838, the Southern States passed various laws of racial segregation, focused against the black sectors.  By the turn of the century those laws were called the Jim Crow laws, both north and south.

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Ralph Abernathy – a brief summary

Reverend Ralph David Abernathy, a grandson of a slave, became a highly respected pioneer who, alongside Martin Luther King, strove for civil rights for African Americans.

Early Years

Ralph AbernathyAbernathy was born on 11 March 1926 in Linden Alabama.  He was one of William L. Abernathy’s twelve children and the family lived on his 500-acre farm.  Well respected, William was the first black man to serve on a grand jury in his county.  Ralph attended the Linden Academy, a Baptist school founded by the first Mount Pleasant District Association.  Whilst there he led his first demonstration – protesting against the dire state of the college’s science lab.

Encountering Racism

During World War Two Abernathy enlisted in the army.  Before the war he had not been aware of the blatant and widespread hostility towards black people and was stunned by the strict black and white segregation.  Despite the disadvantage of his skin colour he achieved the rank of Platoon Sergeant; but a bout of rheumatic fever finished his army career. He was given an honourable discharge and a flight back to America.

Higher Education

After the war Abernathy enrolled at the Alabama State University; where he gained a Science Degree in Mathematics (with honours).  Also, he earned a Master of Science Degree in Sociology while building the foundations of the Civil Rights Movement with Martin Luther King, Jr.  His thesis, The Natural History of a Social Movement: The Montgomery Improvement Association, was later published in book form entitled The Walking City-the Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955-1956.  During his studies Abernathy joined the ministry, delivering his first sermon on Mother’s Day, 1948.

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Dred Scott – a summary

Dred Scott was a slave who, through the courts, tried to obtain his and his family’s freedom. Eventually, in 1857, after eleven years of fighting, the US Supreme Court found against him, declaring that as an African descendent he was not an American citizen and therefore could not use the courts to sue for freedom. The decision further widened the gulf between the pro and anti-slavery movements. Less than three years after the decision, the US was at war.

Born in Virginia about 1799, Dred Scott was born a slave and brought up on the St Louis estate of his master, Peter Blow. In 1832, Blow died and Scott was purchased by an army surgeon, Dr John Emerson. In the course of his work, Emerson was posted to various different posts, and each time he took Scott with him. From Missouri, Emerson was posted to Illinois, a free state, then, after a stay of two and a half years, to the Wisconsin Territory, a free territory. It was in Wisconsin that Scott met fellow-slave, Harriet Robinson. Upon their marriage, Robinson also became the property of Dr Emerson. The Scotts were to have two children.

Dred ScottAfter several years away, Emerson, and his new wife, Irene, returned to Missouri, a slave state. Dr Emerson died in 1843, and Scott attempted to buy his freedom from Emerson’s widow, offering her the princely sum of $300. She refused.

Scott v Emerson

Not to be thwarted, in 1847, Dred and Harriet Scott took their case to court, arguing that as they had resided in two free states they, and their children, should be rendered freed from the bonds of servitude. The Scotts lost the case on a technicality but, in 1851, they were allowed a re-trial within the lower court. This time, the court agreed with the Scotts and granted them their freedom. But in 1852, the higher court, the Missouri Supreme Court, overturned the decision. Mrs Emerson moved away from Missouri, leaving her late husband’s estate, including its slaves, to her brother, John F A Sanford.

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Native Americans and the Civil War

The American Civil War was a years-long battle that divided the United States into two: north versus south. The war is most often remembered for its role in the end of slavery in the South, but many other political issues affected how each side was supported. The process of taking sides in the battle split families and friendships and created conflict between once-peaceful communities. But the Civil War was especially complex for Native Americans.

Native American tribes living in warring states were forced to make choices that affected their future. Tribes understood that aligning with the losing side could eventually put their freedom at risk. They also risked losing the ancestral lands they occupied. But there was disagreement over which side was the right one to follow, and that caused Native Americans to split their support. In some cases, individual tribes split to support opposing sides, creating another layer of conflict in the already complex fight between states.

Divided interests and allegiances

Native Americans and the Civil War  In total, more than 28,000 Native Americans participated in the American Civil War. (Pictured, an unidentified Native Indian during the Civil War, photographed by Mathew Brady). In many cases, the motivations for entering the war and choosing a side depended on perspective. For example, in the Union states, Native Americans had greater latitude in deciding whether to fight or stay out of the conflict. There were incentives to get involved, such as building goodwill with the government and continuing the tradition of fierce, brave tribal warriors. Perhaps most importantly, participating in the war carried the potential to earn Native Americans increased respect and ultimately help them preserve their culture within a growing country.

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