Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 91

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 91


This is the grave of George Hoar.

Born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1826 to a politically prominent family, Hoar graduated from Harvard in 1846, moved to Worcester, and started a law practice. He quickly became involved in politics, first joining the Free Soil Party and then the Republicans. He was elected to the Massachusetts House in 1852 and then the state senate in 1857. He was elected to Congress in 1869 and the Senate in 1877. He aligned himself against the corruption of the Gilded Age and in favor of treating Native Americans like human beings. He opposed the Chinese Exclusion Act and argued in favor of women’s suffrage. He was an anti-imperialist and met with native Hawaiians resisting annexation in 1898. He did not support the Spanish-American War, resisting the media-driven jingoism of the time (Judy Miller would have been a hell of a yellow journalist). He strongly opposed the U.S. war on imperial conquest against the Philippines, where acts of rape, torture, and mass murder by American soldiers were a daily occurrence as we brought them “liberation.” In his opposition to imperialism, he could not have disagreed more with his fellow Republican senator from the Bay State, Henry Cabot Lodge. In 1902, he said this in a Senate speech:

You have sacrificed nearly ten thousand American lives—the flower of our youth. You have devastated provinces. You have slain uncounted thousands of the people you desire to benefit. You have established reconcentration camps. Your generals are coming home from their harvest bringing sheaves with them, in the shape of other thousands of sick and wounded and insane to drag out miserable lives, wrecked in body and mind. You make the American flag in the eyes of a numerous people the emblem of sacrilege in Christian churches, and of the burning of human dwellings, and of the horror of the water torture. Your practical statesmanship which disdains to take George Washington and Abraham Lincoln or the soldiers of the Revolution or of the Civil War as models, has looked in some cases to Spain for your example. I believe—nay, I know—that in general our officers and soldiers are humane. But in some cases they have carried on your warfare with a mixture of American ingenuity and Castilian cruelty. Your practical statesmanship has succeeded in converting a people who three years ago were ready to kiss the hem of the garment of the American and to welcome him as a liberator, who thronged after your men when they landed on those islands with benediction and gratitude, into sullen and irreconcilable enemies, possessed of a hatred which centuries can not eradicate.

He did have one bad position–he did not believe the Portuguese or Italian immigrants starting to enter the nation were fit for citizenship. He was also pretty naive, having been massively played by Senator J.Z. George of Mississippi in a debate over Mississippi’s literacy test, when the southerner got Hoar to admit that if his state applied a literacy test, it would be OK if it applied to both races. Hoar thought that was a great argument since he didn’t think that Mississippi would ever apply it to whites, when of course they would with pleasure when it suited them and would simply use it as an excuse to let illiterate whites vote and literate blacks not vote based upon the decision of the person applying the test and the mob violence behind him.

Hoar was a major player in establishing the historical profession, serving as president of the American Historical Association in 1895, as well as the American Antiquarian Society. He died in 1904 in Worcester.

Hoar also had excellent Gilded Age beard action.

George Hoar is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts.

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  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    “In his opposition to imperialism, he could not have disagreed more with his fellow Republican senator from the Bay State, Henry Cabot Lodge.”

    Given America’s still-white-hot love affair with imperialism, it seems safe to say he fought the Lodge, but the…Lodge won.

    In all seriousness, thanks Erik. I always love these, and found this one particularly inspiring.

  • LeeEsq

    George Hoar also teamed up with Henry Cabot Lodge, then in the House, in a noble but failed attempt to ensure fair federal elections in the Federal Elections Bill.

  • N__B

    I managed to tamp down my inner ten-year-old’s snickering at “Hoar” but “Frisbie” was the straight-line that broke the camel’s back.

    • lizzie

      ‘Give your father my compliments and tell him my bankers are Hoares.’ For Jack, like most other captains, managed the youngsters’ parental allowance for them. ‘Hoares,’ he repeated absently once or twice, ‘my bankers are Hoares,’ and a strangled ugly crowing made him turn. Young Ricketts was clinging to the fall of the burton-tackle in an attempt to control himself, but without much success.

      • N__B

        I binge-read all of O’Brien about ten years ago. I should probably reread him at a slower pace.

        • rea

          Read all of him several dozen times–you can’t go wrong.

          • Anna in PDX

            My stepson is named Jack Patrick in his honor.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      I thought his being buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery completed the trifecta.

      Speaking of cemetery names, I was amused to find Little Hope Cemetery near Mammoth Cave National Park. (Named after a former town called Little Hope, FYI. And The Google reveals that there are several other cemeteries with the same name. For some reason they all seem to be located in Southern or Border states.)

  • LeeEsq

    Speaking of Hawaii, does anybody know any good and relatively recently published, like late 1990s or early aughts at earliest, general history of Hawaii as a US territory and state? A lot of the recent Hawaiian history mainly focuses on the Kingdom of Hawaii and handles the post-1898 stuff as something of a rush job. I’m looking for something that covers politics, economics, society, events, etc.

  • Peterr

    Judy Miller would have been a hell of a yellow journalist

    Would have been?

    Try “was” or even “is”. William Randolph Hearst would have been green with envy.

  • Bruce Vail

    In the photo he looks…hoary.

    Wiki says he was a political adversary of Benj. Butler. What was that about?

    • rea

      George’s brother, Ebeneezer, ruled against Butler in a libel trial (a newspaper had claimed that Butler’s father hand been hanged for piracy).

      • Woodrowfan

        plus the regular Repubs hated Butler as he jumped from party to party, Democrat to republican to Greenback to Democrat.

        • Bruce Vail

          If memory serves, he deserted the Democrats again at the end of his career and was a People’s Party (Populist) leader.

      • rea

        The elder Butler, though arguably a pirate, had died of yellow fever rather than being hanged.

        • Bruce Vail

          Really? Do tell…

          Another famed Civil War figure, John Singleton Mosby, freely admitted his ancestors were pirates and cattle thieves. Of course he didn’t say it in public until he was a very old man and it couldn’t hurt his career anymore…

  • one of the blue

    “William Randolph Hearst would have been green with envy.”

    Hearst would have been green with envy over Trump. He tried three times for the Democratic nomination for President (as a progressive no less) between 1896 and 1920, and was thwarted only by the Democrats’ then existing two-thirds rule.

    • CP

      I think any one of the great political or corporate crooks of our past would be green with envy over Trump and how ludicrously low he’s put the bar. I mean, even Andrew Jackson had to have a war record to get elected. All Donny did was star in a reality show and go bankrupt several times.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        You forgot grabbing some pussy, peeking into the women’s dressing room at the beauty pageant he was staging, and marrying a former “model”. Though Hearst did match Trump in the last category.

    • Ahuitzotl

      two-thirds of a candidate can’t be a moral monster?

      ….No, because Wilson.

      Two-thirds rule?

      • one of the blue

        “Two-thirds rule?”

        Until at least the 1930’s the rule in Democratic conventions was a candidate had to get two-thirds of the delegate votes to get the party’s presidential nomination. I imagine it was put in to make sure neither the Dixiecrat faction nor the northern conservative faction could impose a nominee on the other.

    • N__B

      He tried three times for the Democratic nomination for President

      Last month: http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2017/05/weve-crossed-rubicon#comment-2760623

  • Cheap Wino

    Those couple of decades I spent as a Frisbie Hoar were in service of honoring the great man.

    Comedie is hard. I’ll show myself out.

    • West of the Cascades

      That is the Ultimate tribute one could give him …

      I’m here all week.

  • Rob in CT

    But in some cases they have carried on your warfare with a mixture of American ingenuity and Castilian cruelty.

    That’s a nifty turn of phrase.

    • Vance Maverick

      Yup, within a framework of ethnic essentialism, that’s the way to argue humanely. But it still requires you to share with your interlocutor a horror of Castile.

      • CP

        I liked the fact that in contrast with the behavior of the U.S. military during the Spanish-American War, he held up as examples not only the U.S. military of the Revolution, but also of the Civil War. Given how widespread the notions of Grant and Sherman the bloodthirsty war criminals became, it’s nice to see that little detail.

    • “and of the horror of the water torture”

      Also, Michael Palin needs to play George Hoar in the movie “Erik Visits an American Grave: Bigger, Longer & Uncut”

  • cpinva

    those are actually more like sideburns, that have taken on a life of their own, his chin appears to be clean shaven. i wonder if that’s the cemetary the headless horseman hangs out at?

    • N__B

      The Headless Horseman is from Sleepy Hollow, New York. Nice little town…

      • wjts

        I finally got around to reading some of Washington Irving’s stuff a few months back. I really love the opening description of the town in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”:

        In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of Saint Nicholas, there lies a small market town which is generally known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given by the good housewives of the adjacent country from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days. Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley among high hills which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A small brook murmurs through it and, with the occasional whistle of a quail or tapping of a woodpecker, is almost the only sound that ever breaks the uniform tranquillity.

        From the listless repose of the place, this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of Sleepy Hollow. Some say that the place was bewitched during the early days of the Dutch settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power that holds a spell over the minds of the descendants of the original settlers. They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequently hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions.

        The dominant spirit that haunts this enchanted region is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head. It is said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannonball in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever seen by the countryfolk, hurrying along in the gloom of the night as if on the wings of the wind. Historians of those parts allege that the body of the trooper having been buried in the yard of a church at no great distance, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head; and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow is owing to his being in a hurry to get back to the churchyard before daybreak. The specter is known, at all the country firesides, by the name of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

        It is remarkable that this visionary propensity is not confined to native inhabitants of this little retired Dutch valley, but is unconsciously imbibed by everyone who resides there for a time. However wide-awake they may have been before they entered that sleepy region, they are sure, in a little time, to inhale the witching influence of the air and begin to grow imaginative, to dream dreams, and see apparitions.

    • It’s an Anti-Van Dyke

  • ExpatJK

    That’s a truly epic beard.

  • Gwen

    The thing about the Portuguese seems — idiosyncratic? Or just weird. Not sure which.

    Was this rooted in anti-Catholicism or just a bias against southern Europeans?

    • Bruce Vail

      I think he was really against Cape Verdian imigration (it was a Portugese colony then). That’s a thing in Mass…

    • MikeJake

      There’s only two things I hate in this world: People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures… and the Dutch!

    • wjts

      Probably both. As I remember, in the American racial imagination of the 19th/early 20th centuries, Southern Europeans were fiery, irrational, and disposed to political extremism.

    • rea

      You notice that he doesn’t seem to approve of Spaniards, either–
      “Castilian cruelty.”

  • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

    OK, We’ll take the Irish.

  • wjts

    He looks a bit like Father Mulcahy.

  • muddy

    Your practical statesmanship has succeeded in converting a people who three years ago were ready to kiss the hem of the garment of the American and to welcome him as a liberator, who thronged after your men when they landed on those islands with benediction and gratitude, into sullen and irreconcilable enemies, possessed of a hatred which centuries can not eradicate.

    May as well have been speaking of Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

  • Davis

    This is timely. I am reading a book called The True Flag by Stephen Kinser, which is about those events in 1898, and Hoard is prominently mentioned. The book’s jacket portrays it as a Roosevelt-Twain feud, but of course there were many players on both sides. One particular hero was Karl Schurz; Kinser certainly admires him. TR was “clearly insane” as Twain said. He tried to get Congress to give him the Medal of Honor for that ride up San Juan hill, which was actually Kettle Hill. Hen also shot a Spaniard, probably in the back as he started to fee, but TR said he hit him in the chest as he started to turn.

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