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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 91

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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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