Monday, September 19, 2005

Works of Nathaniel Greene, pt. 1

Book-length works by Nathaniel Greene (1797-1877):

  • Bauernfeld, Eduard von; Nathaniel Greene, trans. Theatre von Bauernfeld translated by Nathaniel Greene, Boston. 1838. [manuscript at Penn State.]
  • Blair, Hugh; Greene, Nathaniel, ed. An abridgment of Lectures on rhetoric. Boston : True and Greene, 1824.
  • Greene, Nathaniel. Address at the first celebration of the Aquidneck Agricultural Society, Middletown, R.I., Sept. 21, 1852. New York, 1852.
  • ---. An address delivered before the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, at the celebration of their ninth triennial festival, October 10, 1833. Boston, The Association, 1833.
  • ---. The Boston statesman. Vol. VII, no. 136. Boston, (Mass.) January 3, 1828. Boston, Mass. : N. Greene, 1828. [4 pages; "Carriers' address praises Jackson and ridicules Adams and Clay."]
  • ---. Improvisations and translations. Boston : Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1852.
  • ---. Reply to a letter published by Henry Orne, in the Boston evening bulletin. With an appendix. Boston [Mass.]: Printed by True and Greene, 1829.
  • ---. Tales and sketches. Boston : C.C. Little & J. Brown, 1843.
  • Greene, Nathaniel; Crosby, William George. An address, delivered at Faneuil Hall, Boston, January 8, 1828. Boston : Richardson & Lord, 1828.
  • Greene, Nathaniel; Richardson, Benjamin Parker. Boston, June 24, 1823. Sir, I have the honor to inform you, that at a meeting of the Republican Committee of Arrangements, for celebrating the approaching national anniversary, on the 23d inst. you were unanimously elected one of the marshals of the day, and the secretary was directed to inform you of the same. [Boston : s.n., 1823]. [4 pages]
  • Lamennais, Félicité Robert de.; Nathaniel Greene, trans. The people's own book. Boston : Charles C. Little & James Brown, 1839.
  • ---. ---. Boston : Published by E. Littlefield, 1840.
  • ---. ---. 3rd ed. Boston, Lewis and Sampson, 1842.
  • Mühlbach, L[ouise]; Nathaniel Greene, trans. The daughter of an empress; an historical novel. New York, D. Appleton and Co., 1867.
  • ---. ---. New York, D. Appleton and Company, 1868.
  • ---. ---. New York, D. Appleton and Company, 1875.
  • ---. ---. New York, D. Appleton and Company, 1890.
  • ---. ---. New York, D. Appleton and Co., 1893.
  • ---. ---. Akron, Ohio, Werner Co., 1893.
  • ---. ---. New York, Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1893.
  • ---. ---. London, New York, Chesterfield Society, 1893.
  • ---. ---. New York, D. Appleton and Company, 1897.
  • ---. ---. New York, J.W. Lovell Co., 1897.
  • ---. ---. New York ; London : D. Appleton, 1898
  • ---. ---. New York, D. Appleton and Co., 1900.
  • ---. ---. New York, A.L. Fowle, 1905.
  • ---. ---. New York, A.L. Fowle, 1906.
  • ---. ---. New York, Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1907.
  • ---. ---. Akron, Ohio : Werner Co., 1908.
  • ---. ---. Chicago : Riverside Pub. Co., 1909.
  • ---. The story of a millionnaire. New York, D. Appleton and Company, 1872.
  • ---. Two life paths, a romance. New York, D. Appleton and Co., 1869.
  • Sforzosi, L[uigi]; Nathaniel Greene, trans. A compendious history of Italy. New York, Harper & Bros., 1836.
  • ---. ---. New York : Harper & Bros., 1860.
  • Velde, C F van der ; Nathaniel Greene, trans. Tales from the German. Boston : J.B. Russell, 1837.

The reprint histories here are fascinating. Three editions of the Lamennais, at a time when there was at least one other, competing translation of the same text advertised for sale in Boston. (See the Liberator, July 8, 1842, p. 107, for an advertisement of the "manuscript translation" by R. Douglas, Jr., "Portrait and Miniature Painter," who, besides translating French Christian socialist texts, sketched Prince Albert "from life.") The success of The Daughter of an Empress is a bit mind-boggling.

Greene is supposed to have written "hundreds" of poems and submitted numerous other translations to Boston-area papers, many of the submissions under the name "Boscawen." We know that he published a number of poem in the Token, where William B. Greene's "Song of Espousal" also appeared.

Orl Korrect? "OK," says Charles Gordon Greene

Charles Gordon Greene (1804-1886) was the uncle of William Batchelder Greene. Like Greene's father, Nathaniel Greene (1797-1877), he was born in Boscawen, New Hampshire (also the home of Daniel Webster.) After the death of his father in 1812, Charles was raised by his brother Nathaniel, who saw to his education at Bradford Academy, and brought him into the publishing business in Haverill, Massachusetts (where William was born) and Boston. Charles was involved with a number of newspapers in Boston and Philadelphia. [Expect details of the newspaper careers of the brothers in a later post.]

According to Appleton's Cyclopedia :
"Mr. Greene was on several occasions a Democratic candidate for office, at one time a member of the state legislature, and naval officer of the port of Boston for two terms, having been appointed in 1853 by Franklin Pierce, and reappointed by James Buchanan in 1857."

As a partisan Democratic journalist, Greene was at times inclined to a rough-and-tumble, not entirely "correct" rhetoric and even to the occasional fabrication. Indeed, while his brother Nathaniel contributed hundreds of poems to various papers and translated European literature, Charles obviously prided himself on a certain solid, straightforward nature. Unsurprisingly, of the works of Melville, he liked Redburn and Typee. Mardi he disliked to the point of "disgust," and of White-Jacket he wrote:

For it is unfortunately true, that because a man produces a spirited and beautiful romance like Typee, or an autobiography like Redburn, running over with a Defoe naturalness and verisimilitude, it does not follow that he is competent to discuss the fitness or unfitness of the "Articles of War," the propriety or impropriety of "Flogging in the Navy," or the whole system of government and ceremonials of our "National Marine." The discussion of these great practical subjects requires practical men -- men of character, wisdom and experience -- not men of theories, fancies, and enthusiasm....
Pierre inspired him to the following:
Comment upon the [plot] is needless. But even this string of nonsense is equalled by the nonsense that is strung upon it, in the way of crazy sentiment and exaggerated passion. What the book means, we know not. To save it from almost utter worthlessness, it must be called a prose poem, and even then, it might be supposed to emanate from a lunatic hospital rather than from the quiet retreats of Berkshire. We say it with grief -- it is too bad for Mr. Melville to abuse his really fine talents as he does. A hundred times better if he kept them in a napkin all his natural life. A thousand times better, had he dropped authorship with Typee. He would then have been known as the writer of one of the pleasantest books of its class in the English language. As it is, he has produced more and sadder trash than any other man of undoubted ability among us, and the most provoking fact is, that in his bushels of chaff, the "two grains of wheat" are clearly discernable. --Charles Gordon Greene, in Boston Post, August 4 1852

The Melville site, alas, lacks a review of The White Whale (Moby Dick), but the review of Pierre dismisses it in passing. In Greene's defense, of course, most of his contemporaries agreed about the merits of Melville's more difficult works.

In any event, it is not through his literary criticism or his political work that Charles Gordon Greene achieved his most lasting legacy. Instead, it was born in a jokey editorial about, of all things, the ringing of dinner bells--and it's possible abolition--where Greene made the first known use of the slang term "OK."

The earliest example of O.K. . . . is from the Boston 'Morning Post' of March 23, 1839. It appears in connection with a note by the paper's editor, Charles Gordon Greene, about a visit to New York of some members of the local Anti-Bell-Ringing Society. (The A.B.R.S., as it was usually known, was itself something of a joke, having been formed the previous year to oppose -- its name to the contrary -- an ordinance of the Boston Common Council against ringing dinner bells.) In an aside, Mr. Greene suggested that if the Bostonians were to return home via Providence, they might be greeted by one of his rivals, the editor of that city's 'Journal,' who 'would have the 'contribution box,' et ceteras, o.k. -- all correct -- and cause the corks to fly, like sparks, upward.'.Thus, it appears that O.K. was invented, possibly by Greene, as an abbreviation of the jocular 'Oll' or perhaps 'Orl korrect,' meaning "All right.' This explanation would seem farfetched, except for Read's finding that it dovetails with such coinages of the period as O.W. for 'All Right,' as though spelled 'Oll Wright' (this appeared in the Boston 'Morning Post' in 1838, the year before O.K.'s debut); K.G. for 'No Good'; and K.Y. for 'No Yuse.'."

As a poster reported, in one thread where this explanation appeared, the joke was "that neither the O nor the K was correct."

Add one more real character to the Greene family tree.

Alfred B. Westrup, Pt 2

Here's a few more items from Westrup. Folks with access to APS Online can follow the links.

Articles in Liberty:
See also:
  • Let Us Emancipate the Race! The North American Review (1821-1940). Boston: Jul 1918. Vol. VOL. CCVIII, Iss. NO. 752; p. 159.
  • The Auditor. Chicago, Ill.: Auditor Pub. Co., 1891[?] [free banking journal edited by Westrup. Copies of at least some issues are in the Labadie Collection, UMich.]

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Homeland Security: now we see what we're paying for

Perhaps the hardest thing to take about the botched federal response to Katrina is that it was largely perpetrated by the Department of Homeland Security. Since 9/11, we've been encouraged to believe that the erosion of privacy rights and civil liberties was part of a trade-off, and in return we would get greater security at home. Yet we see what appears to be a weakened FEMA and a national economy already strained by the "war on terror" abroad. We see no signs of an intelligent response to oil dependency, global warming or Gulf Coast wetlands degredation and land loss. It certainly seems that greater insecurity is likely to be our end of the" bargain."

It's time for all of us to start thinking very hard about what sorts of securities and what sorts of freedoms matter to us, and to formulate, together with our neighbors, the kinds of genuinely civilian defense organizations (friendly societies, cooperatives, etc) it will take to reach those goals.

"Taking Responsibility"

These days, even Dubya may be guilty of a little strategic Bush-bashing, what with this strange admission of "responsibility" for delays in the Federal response to Katrina. And it is a strange admission:

"And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility. I want to know what went right and what went wrong," Mr. Bush said."

Erm. Yeah. Well, he at least took responsibility for the actions of the federal government "to the extent" that they screwed up. That's not exactly saying, "Hey, I know some things didn't go well--and people died who might not otherwise--and I assume responsibility for that." Not even close, really.

If the President really does feel "responsible" for the results of misteps and delays by FEMA and the rest of the federal emergency response apparatus, to whatever "extent," then maybe he could do us a favor and just spit it out, own up. But it's obvious that Bush is not really accepting any specific responsibility, since he still doesn't know "what went right and what went wrong." He's painting himself as abstractly responsible, in a fairly hollow buck-stops-here gesture, while waiting to find out what the specific screw-ups were.

Let me be clear: I'm not certain that George W. Bush is particularly at fault in the specific failures that plagued the federal response. He could have rushed back to work, encouraged action and facilitated the mobilization of resources. I'm sure he could have smoothed the road considerably, and, as President, he probably should have do so. But the tardiness and clumsiness of the federal response suggests broader problems. The professionals don't seem to have had their act together, and no amount of presidential cheerleading and facilitation can make up for that. So if Bush says "I'm sorry" tonight, in hope of salvaging his dwindling approval ratings, I hope someone has the sense to ask him: "Sorry for what, Mr. President? Can you tell us what your contribution to the tragedy was?"

Monday, September 12, 2005

Alfred B. Westrup, mutual banking reformer

Alfred B. Westrup was one of the mutual banking reformers active in the circles surrounding Liberty after the death of William B. Greene.


  • The abolition of interest a simple problem: the pending crisis the death struggle of a moneyed aristocracy and the labor pains of a new birth to industry. New York : M. Hill, 1897. (18 pages)
  • Address on a new system of money: given at the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Banking : held in the Northwestern University Building, May 23, 1916. [Chicago? : s.n.], 1916.
  • Citizens' money, a lecture on the "National banking system." Delivered in Chicago and published in "Liberty," of Boston, in 1888. San Fran: Equity publishing co, 1890. (21 pages)
  • Citizens' money, a critical analysis in the light of free trade in banking a lecture by Alfred B. Westrup ... delivered in Chicago, Sunday, June 3, 1888, and in Toledo, O., under the auspices of the Society for Economic Inquiry, Feb. 19, 1891. Chicago: Mutual Bank Propaganda, 1891. (27 pages)
  • The Financial problem, its relation to labor reform and prosperity :the principles of monetary science demonstrating the abolition of interest to be unavoidable. Chicago : Mutual Bank Propaganda, 1891. (30 pages)
  • ---. 2nd ed.Dallas, Tex. : Pub. by the author, 1886. (32 pages)
  • ---. 3rd ed. Chicago : Mutual Bank Propaganda, 1891 (30 pages)
  • The new philosophy of money: a practical treatise on the nature and office of money and the correct method of its supply. Minneapolis: F.E. Leonard, 1895. (192 pages)
  • ---. 2nd ed. Chicago : B. Canode, 1915. (174 pages)
  • Plenty of money. A new and scientific plan by which credit in the form of paper money is provided and substituted for credit in the form of goods. New York, L. Weiss & Co., printers, 1899. (13 pages)
  • Plenty of money (a synopsis of the "New philosophy of money")
    A new and practical plan by which secured credit in the form of paper money is provided and substituted for unsecured credit in the form of book accounts. 2nd ed, rev. Chicago, Ill., 1915. (28 pages) [with Mrs.Maud Denning Westrup]
  • Sex slavery: an essay presenting some practical helps for the perpetuity of happiness after marriage, the borning of better babies and how parents should deal with their children regarding the question of sex in accordance with the doctrine of egoism. Chicago, U.S.A. : By Alf. B. Westrup, 1914. (39 pages)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

A New Two-Front War?

Now that Hurricane Katrina has probably killed thousands of Americans and threatened our oil supply, I suppose that we can expect the Bush administration to formally declare the War on Mother Nature. This unprecedented attack--for which there was, as in some other cases, some precedent and plenty of warning--should simplify things considerably for the administration. Assaults on the environment need no longer be justified. Right-thinking citizens will, in fact, demand that the government take action to subdue this newly-revealed enemy. There are precedents now, and we need to show that, once again, these colors don't run--even when very, very soggy. That a "War on Nature" (or shall we call it something like a "a global struggle against violent inclemency" from the outset?) isn't likely to reduce such destructive acts of nature, and might in fact increase them, shouldn't deter us. Right? As I said, there are precedents. . .

FAQs! What is Anarchism?

OK. I've been meaning for some time to tackle some basic sorts of questions folks ask me about anarchism, so here goes. I'll be breaking up the deep historical stuff with some very present-oriented, opinionated bits, which you can think of as gradually answering parts of the "why bother?" question - which is what people usually ask me about my historical work. I'm going to be uncharacteristically breezy here. If you want the footnotes, someone else can supply them for a change. I suggest the Anarchist FAQ and the Mutualist FAQ for more serious study.

I was sitting outside a coffee shop yesterday, sifting through printouts about Bessie Greene, when an older gentleman sat down at the next table. He asked me something about the stuff I was reading, and it came out that I was working on a bit of anarchist biography. He snorted a bit at that, and then proceeded to roll out all of the usual surface-level objections: anarchists as bomb-throwers; anarchy as impractical (though later he owned that it might just be personally inconvenient, since he was pretty happy in his own "groove"); terrorism as equivalent to anarchism (though, again, he had to admit that there wasn't much anarchistic about fundamentalism)--and so on. I'm used to that sort of thing. I tend to do a lot of patient explaining. Oddly enough, however, no amount of patience, or specific knowledge, for that matter, seems to clarify things for many folks. What's up with that?

So I guess that's two questions: What is anarchism? And why can't people hear the answer when you say it?

The first one isn't all that hard. Anarchism is a political tendency with a long history, the core truth of which is that we all get along better--individually and collectively--if we keep the processes of social organization simple, local and responsive to new conditions and desires.

I think that's a fair sort of plumb line for the movement, one that cuts to the heart of the matter better than many of our slogans. In his entry for the 1910 Encyclopedia Britannica, Kropotkin defined anarchism thus:
ANARCHISM, the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government - harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being. In a society developed on these lines, the voluntary associations which already now begin to cover all the fields of human activity would take a still greater extension so as tosubstitute themselves for the state in all its functions. They would represent an interwoven network, composed of an infinite variety of groups and federations of all sizes and degrees, local, regional, national and international temporary or more or less permanent - for all possible purposes: production, consumption and exchange, communications, sanitary arrangements, education, mutual protection, defence of the territory, and so on; and, on the other side, for the satisfaction of an ever-increasing number of scientific, artistic, literary and sociable needs. Moreover, such a society would represent nothing immutable. On the contrary - as is seen in organic life at large - harmony would (it is contended) result from an ever-changing adjustment and readjustment of equilibrium between the multitudes of forces and influences, and this adjustment would be the easier to obtain as none of the forces would enjoy a special protection from the state.

That sounds alright, doesn't it? We're not talking about Eden here. A lot of conflict, and a constant labor for liberty, is tucked away in that phrase about "ever-changing adjustment and readjustment of equilibrium." Reading Kropotkin it's hard to imagine why folks so immediately back away from the very thought of anarchism. After all, the "no government system" ought simply to be the vanishing point--which is to say, the point of perfection--of any government truly of and by the people. And isn't that what we're fighting for?

Maybe not, actually. I was sitting in my favorite diner the other day, and heard a really amazing exchange between a couple of high school students. Someone at the table said, in response to some bit of news, that "religion is evil." A young man replied that, no, religion was good because "without Catholicism, I would do bad things." Another chimed in, suggesting that the values didn't come from the religion--and I thought perhaps that there was going to be an appeal to individual values and convictions. But, no. . . . What really keeps us from doing bad stuff, apparently, is simply fear of getting caught.

Now, I suspect that the guy arguing for fear as a moral compass might be willing to make some finer distinctions, under other circumstances and perhaps a little prodding, between, say, "doing bad stuff" and disobeying authorities. Some of our daily transgressions are really things we think of as in some sense "bad," but many are simple punishable (in one sense or another.) I'm not sure that young Catholic really believes that without religion, he would be evil. In practice, most of us are a whole lot more likely to believe the other guy is innately depraved than we are to think that way about ourselves. This is naturally, a boon to all sorts of authoritarianisms, since our fear of the other guy keeps us buying into social schemes that limit our liberty.

The political--or anti-political--aspirations of anarchists don't differ that much from those of any number of other nominally liberty-loving ideologies. Be anarchists are a bit relentless--at least at their best. The 19th century individualist anarchists opposed their mutualism to capitalism's version of the "free market" on the grounds that they were, in the words of Benjamin Tucker, "consistent Manchesterians." In July 2002, the anarchy-list was home to a lengthy debate on this and related subjects. At that time, I described that rheterical move in this way:
When Tucker speaks of being "a consistent Manchesterian" the emphasis is on *consistency.* The implication is that the Manchester crowd are not consistent in their Manchesterianism, so to be consistently Manchesterian is to be *opposed* to the Manchesterians.

It was also Tucker who explained, using a similar move, that:
The Anarchists are simply unterrified Jeffersonian Democrats. They believe that 'the best government is that which governs least,' and that which governs least is no government at all.

Anarchism, imagined this way, starts to look like the most ordinary aspirations of freedom-loving people, but intensified and taken seriously in a way that can be frightening.

Perhaps anarchists would cover more ground toward their goals if they contemplated more seriously both the ordinary nature of the aspirations and the extraordinary demands their attainment is likely to make on us all.

Which may or may not answer either of my questions. . .

Friday, September 02, 2005

Finding, and losing, Bessie Greene

I spent my research time yesterday reading a regimental history of the 1st Mass. Heavy Artillery, and was pleased to be able to confirm that the wife and daughter of William B. Greene had visited his camp near the Long Bridge on the approaches to Washington, DC, during the Civil War. This daughter seems to have fallen out of many of the biographical sources. I first discovered a mention of her in a footnote to an essay on Orestes Brownson, in the Catholic World. Today, I was able to confirm her death, in the wreck of the Schiller off the Isles of Scilly in 1875, an event that is said to have significantly colored the last days of William B. Green's wife.

Elizabeth "Bessie" Greene was friends with pioneer woman surgeon Susan J. Dimock, who also died in the wreck of the Schiller, as well as Lilian Freeman Clarke (probably the daughter of one of her father's friends.) Bessie was at the New England Hospital for Women, where Dimont was resident physician, in the winter of 1872-3, "recieving treatment for an accident to her knee which caused a temporary lamness. She became interested in the patients in the Maternity Department [where Dimock was particularly concerned with young, unmarried mothers], and, instead of being afraid to attack a difficult problem and feeling excused by youth and inexperience from handling it, she determined that something should be done [to improve the lot of the patients, particularly after their discharge.]" The last two years of her life were spent pursuing that work.