A book review of The Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy
by Will Harvey for CPW News Service
What a great find! Foote and Percy open us to the world from Memphis to the Gulf of Mexico and the whole Mississippi Delta where the Percy's were/are political and literary royalty. The Foote and Percy discussion of the place of Charles Sanders Peirce (p. 152) is amazing..."I thought last year when I finished the last that I'd write a book on the theory of language. I still think it would be important as I told you. I would even say that it is revolutionary: that 100 years from now it could be the Peirce-Percy theory (not Pierce, but Peirce and so pronounced Perce-Percy). No kidding. I'm not even being vain. It just so happens that this old fellow, Charles Peirce, a U.S. philosopher very few laymen ever heard of (by contrast say, with William James who got his idea of pragmatism from Peirce).....
An Anglophile to the core, Charles Peirce was the "father of pragmatism," but is the American experiment first and foremost "pragmatic"? Democracies are by definition pragmatically sloppy. Anglophilia is exclusive moving increasingly toward less and less slop. There is a strange inconsistency, therefore, not so much with Percy or with Foote who told CSPAN's Brian Lamb (www.c-span.org/video/?165823-1/depth-shelby-foote) that he consulted no original material in his Civil War histories...."it's all been gone over before," but with our acceptance of their definition of American exceptionalism.
Equally surprising from these letters is Walker Percy's flirtation with Charles Sanders Peirce. It's as if these two died and dyed in the wool Southern princes are like Margaret Mitchell....who from the deep South was Smith College educated! In their case Peirce is going to mainline right into the Johns Hopkins order of Gilman, James and Wilhelm Wundt in the hometown of Alexander Brown, the progenitor of Brown Brother and Harriman as well as the center of the China Trader's best ship yards. Nor can we forget that it was Andrew Hull Foote, the New Haven, Connecticut naval office who returned from China to lead the naval assault on the South's two key river defenses at Fort Donnelson and Fort Henry the fall of which opened the South's rivers to Union gunboats.
Their bantering about Foote's 1,300,000 word, three volume history of the Civil War that doesn't mention the letter of Jefferson Davis to Franklin Pierce located in Davis' original documents that Foote somehow believed had "all been gone over before" punctuates the boundaries of their protected cosmos. Even if Foote hadn't caught it, Texas historians Frank Vandiver or Douglas Brinkley should have!
Davis said: "When Lincoln comes in he will have but to continue in the path of his predecessor to inaugurate a civil war and leave a soi disant democratic administration responsible for the fact. Genl. Cushing was here last week and when we parted it seemed like taking a last leave of a brother," (Jefferson Davis, "The Papers of Jefferson Davis," The PJD Project of Rice University retrieved from https://jeffersondavis.rice.edu/Content.aid+86).
Churning out the military babble about the Civil War is to take a nation's eyes off the real issues and to transfix them on the dusty past and unless a historian's history is truly circumspect with respect to motives reminiscent of Denzel Washington's character in the film Glory...."ain't none of us clean in this thing".....how can we let go and not repeat it? The past even though it is "Gone With the Wind," as we have seen with the irrelevant symbol of a Confederate Flag and an increasingly troubling....as in the film In The Valley of Elah (2007), Union pennant. So Percy was not Lost in the Cosmos, but in the Mississippi Delta and in half-baked histories. It has always been readily apparent history that Union General William Tecumseh Sherman was the pre-Civil War business partner of Confederate bumbler General Braxton Bragg whose California fort was placed in close proximity to the Frolic's final resting place near the Cabrillo Point Light House (Voyage of the Frolic: New England Merchants and the Opium Trade, Stanford University Press, 1999) and that Sherman would precede Savannah with the sacking of Vicksburg and the South's future rail crossing to San Diego, California. That was before all the rail ties east of Atlanta were torches and the rails very passionately twisted into cork screws as Sherman abandoned the recently freed slaves at Ebenezer Creek. Long before the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan....Iraq that happened to have been at Basra, the opium port of David Sassoon, the Golden Crescent's leading opium shipper during our Civil War, and long before the U.S. was....as with fugitive slave laws, John Brown's backing by the Boston lead-miner, George Luther Stearns, and the weapons purveyors who knew that the opium had a ready-made market, too, for the canon fodder of Eli Lilly's battle targets. Yes, as Shelby has told us and Ken Burns has affirmed, war is hell.....and a very lucrative one! "No," said Smedley Butler, "war is a racket!"
Historian Lowell P. Wigglesworth has explored Shelby Foote's avoidance of the original documents. "Ken Burns and Shelby Foote stand in a long line of historians and story tellers that tell half a truth, but they aren't alone," said Wigglesworth. "One of the most powerful examples of the denial that the South's proposed route across the Great Southwest can be seen in the way that the newspapers of the Northeast in the last half of the 19th Century covered-up the fact that the race was on to the Pacific and that that race was the real motive for the Civil War. You can't look at the popular and highly awarded books to discover the truth of the matter. They are spinning the proper line. It must be dug out of the original documents that Shelby Foote was not wanting us to examine. Take, the coverage of the U.S. governments' camels that were envisioned by Jeff Davis, continued under Union General Giles Alexander and Morgan Lewis Smith from the Truehart-Adriance Building in Galveston, Texas. This was one of the best kept secrets in U.S. history, not because camels needed less water, carried up to 700 pounds and could cover up to 100 miles a day, but because their acquisition at Smyrna, home port of David Sassoon's opium empire, was followed after the Civil War by the Union until the Union Pacific made the trek unnecessary. These camels were not just being prepared to carry food and supplies to the distant military forts of the Southwest. The Alta California newspaper reported this orchestrated cover-up in 1885 as it noticed that a Phoenix, Arizona newspaper had seen how the major papers of the Northeast had denied that the camels ever existed. The report begins...'Several times during the past few months the Gazette has noticed that in the Eastern press an item, copied from some Galveston, Texas paper, to the effect that the United States Government never purchased or imported to this country any camels.' The article shows an attempt to erase a significant piece of history that essentially defined what was then an East-West trade route, but which with the evolution of new drug markets like cocaine also became a North-South trade route. Galveston had been the launch pad for William Walker's expedition to Honduras, the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba and the Iran-Contra supply lines into Central America and many other ventures operating out of this petro-chemical corridor of Texas. The false report supposedly originating in Galveston where the Union Buffalo Soldiers had taken over Jefferson Davis' camel caravan after the Civil War even as they were the primary enforcers of Reconstruction in Texas under brother-Generals Alexander Giles and Morgan Lewis Smith, there was an attempt at credible deniability originating from the front lines of this historic war zone and 'Wall Street of the South'. The Editor of the Alta California paper caught it! The Fourth Estate, at least there in Alta, had not yet pinched the empire's incense. The recently liberated slaves and the poor of the South like the poor of the major metropolitan centers of the Northeast....Boston, Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis....would embrace like the poor Chinese....the coming supply of mind-altering agents," said Wigglesworth who noted the 300 percent rise in opioid addictions in the U.S. since the beginning of the "war on terrorism" and Iraq and Afghanistan wars. "It was no accident that Lance Armstrong was doping for the US Postal Service team with it history with the Pacific Mail and Steamship Company, Cornelius Vander Starr's AIG, and the post-Civil War practice of rewarding people with 'Star Routes' across America like the Russell's Pony Express way stations," he concluded.
|Government Camels: The United States Really Did Import Them--Why |
Were They Sold?
From: Daily Alta California, Volume 39, number 12996, 13 October 1885.
CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
Is this what so enamored Shelby Foote with the legacy of Col. NB Forrest who threatened to kill General Bragg and who after Forrest left the KKK to Albert Pike is like a repentant Gov. George Wallace? When Percy both chides the "fierce Caucasion-Gentile-Visigoths" for violating the "helpless" African (God and Race, p. 177)....I can almost hear Forrest saying...."my mistake was not marching North in 1859 with my Negro and Johnny Reb army, 90% of which owned no slaves, but who now each own eighty acres and two mules....not to mention shares in our new cotton and silk fabric factories up there above the MD Line!" Alas, Forrest was not Spartacus or Washington, but neither was, as Ebenezer Creek and his rail and shipping connections signify, William T. Sherman.
Reading some original material might have informed Walker Percy's estimate of the relationship between Jeff Davis and W.T. Sherman when he notes a problem with Foote's Civil War history, Vol. III, "The paragraph on page 1042.." and "Most of the last 40 pp. go to Davis. OK but it seems a departure from the almost icy neutrality of the narrator up to now (you can't tell whether he's from Ala or Ohio----maybe the later considering how he treats Sherman....." (p. 188).
Right, Percy actually caught it, and Thomas Bragg, Braxton's brother was the Confederacy's Attorney General and Braxton sat out the Battle of Atlanta in Walker County, Georgia (pretending not to surrender with Lee at Appomattox with Augusta in Walker County being home to the South's key gunpowder factory, Confederate Powder Works!) then Sherman returns to his railroad work in San Francisco after the war picking up where he left off with George F. Bragg and J. Mora Moss of the Sacramento Valley Railroad (Bancroft's Hand-book of the Pacific States, published in 1864, p. 91) with the establishment of the Transcontinental RR terminal there instead of San Diego, thanks in no small measure to Alfred Nobel's invention--Dynamite! No wonder Shelby Foote wanted to hold Forrest's sword and swing it above his head and hang his photo centrally above his Memphis desk. Forrest seems to have figured out that not only was he duped by General Bragg and his brother, but even by the KKKer's whose imported Scottish Rite leader from Wilhelm Wundt's Prussian playground, Albert Pike, who having usurped the Washington and Franklin York Riters' ethos had even incorporated through their Cincinnati, Ohio lodge, Alphonso and William Howard Taft! Did this have anything to do with Benjamin French's White House installation of Andrew Johnson as the nation's first SR President? Where are the conspiracy theorists when we really need them....or better yet, the serious historians who WILL check the original material? And what might this all say about the fact that the NAACP's founder, W.E.B. Dubois, has been widely reported to be a SR member?
Of course, these issues are shadow-dancing amid the Foote/Percy paragraphs and so much, much more, but given the evolution of U.S. history the easy reading "out of" and not "into" these conversations is what really makes them a 5 star read for those who have already read.
Charles Peirce, Walker Percy, too, was fascinated with symbols as a determinant of human inspiration. Are we seeing the careful crafting of language, symbol and mind-science pragmatism at work here.....even in the long, passionate and paternalistic embrace of Mississippi's Confederate flag and Foote's assertion that "I told some interviewer that I knew the Negroes better than Baldwin ever began to know, mainly, I said, because, I was Southern." (find it for yourself. James Baldwin didn't make Foote's index!).
When we read in The Voyage of the Frolic by Thomas Layton (Stanford University Press, 1999) that abolitionist orator, Frederick Douglass, also known as Fred Bailey, worked in the Baltimore ship yards laying the hulls of the New England China Traders whose clippers were owned by the Cushings, Russells, Huntingtons and Heards, what if the Percy's control of the Mississippi Delta from New Orleans to Memphis was to insure that the South's rail ambitions were checked and that what had been thwarted by William T. Sherman was well-managed into the succeeding centuries? Braxton Braggs' death in Galveston, Texas as well as the placement of his relative's ranch that stretched across the Jeff Davis Highway route....essentially following the flat Southwest rail route that troubled the Northern China Traders and C. Wright Mill's boyhood on the Braxton Bragg Wright ranch at Lagarta with Mill's publication of The Power Elite seems to run a nice steady stitched seam along the edges of the argument, but Foote and Percy's Mississippi Delta connect nicely to Henry Stuart Foote and to Admiral Hull Foote when you look at the kick-starting of the Civil War in Charleston, South Carolina at Ft. Sumter with Edmund Ruffin and Louis Trezevant Wigfall figuring so centrally into the fuse lighting. Suddenly the China Traders of New England and the South's rail ambitions from Savannah across the Mississippi.... through Texas to San Diego (Davis' choice) or San Francisco becomes clear(the New England Brahmin's first choice and to which Henry Stuart Foote will go before the Civil War like Wigfall's close Texas allies, John Coffee "Jack" Hays and Ben McCulloch....elected sheriffs of San Francisco and Sacramento on November 1, 1850, respectively, only to see Henry S. Foote return to Vicksburg where William T. Sherman arrived shortly, leaving George F. Bragg to hold down the San Francisco railhead. Missippian, Edward C. Walthall, was aide de camp to Jeff Davis, but William Tecumseh Walthall whose ancestors were of the British East India Company connected Mercer family and Company with outpost on Virginia's James River was Caleb Cushing companion during his China treaty expedition. Edward will become Jeff Davis' aide in Mississippi with Davis working for the Trezevant-connected Carolina Insurance Company after his defeat).
Cushing and his buddies duped Jeff Davis, but not the Bragg or Foote insiders....not until they were....to their chagrin....left in the China clipper's wake in the backwaters of American life. Surprise!
Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind was a vacuum cleaner for erasing the real source of the South's traumatized memories under the mythology of the noble slavers and it was spun by Smith College graduate, Margaret Mitchell, in concert with the Vanderbilt/Whitney fortune that underwrote the Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh blockbuster via John Hay "Jock" Whitney. Braxton and Thomas Bragg attended the wedding of Unionist slaver, Cornelius Vanderbilt, to Mobile, Alabama Confederate socialite with the male name, Frank Armstrong Crawford, in 1869 and Vanderbilt had battled with both William Walker and friend, the enigmatic friend of Fred Baily/Frederick Douglass, the rich Caribbean freedman, Wall Street tycoon, Jeremiah Hamilton.
Controlling the South's memories started with controlling its river ways and for that job the North had imported for the initial river assault on Forts Donnelson and Henry, Admiral Andrew Hull Foote, from his fort-clearing twin project on China's Yangtze River. It was there at Forts Donnelson and Henry that Nathan Bedford Forrest got his first big taste of Braxton Bragg and Simon Bolivar Buckner. Buckner attend the funeral of Ulysses S. Grant with Bragg's pre-Civil War business partner and supposed Civil War opponent, William Tecumseh Sherman, both pallbearers. Little has been made of the relationship of the Civil War historian who admitted "I used no original material in my research. It's all been gone over before," Shelby Foote, to Admiral Andrew Hull Foote or to Henry Stuart Foote from Mississippi, Texas and San Francisco.
In his Paris Review interview Walker Percy speaks of artists and writers "making" while moralists are simply "doing". The power of language is that, seems to me, words and language, like other art does both. Like with James Powers' Greek Slave, come to think of it, or the place of James Hamlet, a name with a fine Shakespearian ring to it....."To be or not to be," James Hamlet the Brown's Merchant Shot Tower worker in Baltimore, making lead musket balls and then becoming the subject of the war-baiting test case of the Fugitive Slave Laws.
Making inspires doing and vice versa. When the words and works of the poets and novelists, historians, religionists and scientists keep us locked in a failed system....."what goes up? Must come down!" (Not in zero gravity)....which both Foote and Percy do as fierce pedagogues (perhaps giving us a strong clue as to why Percy's Lost in the Cosmos was poking such fun at Carl Sagan for envisioning a wide open and positive future where survival of the fittest was not about brute strength, but adaptability), then what I wouldn't give to have heard Percy with his interest in linguistics in a discussion with MIT's linguist, Noam Chomsky. That would have helped all of us who sometimes feel lost in our own little corner of the cosmos.
Historian Lowell P. Wigglesworth charted the Foote connections from the North's river campaign against Forts Donnelson and Henry at the outbreak of the Civil War, kick-started as it was at Fort Sumter by Edmund Ruffin and Louis Trezevant Wigfall from Texas where Ruffin's descendant, Paul Ruffin, is the editor of the Texas Review Press which would make a great platform for Wiggleworth's assertions. Jefferson Davis, Braxton Bragg, William Tecumseh Sherman, Henry Stuart Foote....all in Mississippi or Texas and their rolling attention directed, as with Caleb Cushing and North's power elites toward the China Trader's prized opium market in China from where Admiral Andrew Hull Foote had returned to lead the river campaign against the South and we see why Walker Percy and Shelby Foote leave us lost in their well-controlled, but mythical cosmos that's fit mainly for chameleons.
|Click to Enlarge Lowell P. Wiggleworth's chart|
Received an email from a reader who sent your review to Noam Chomsky for his reaction.
From: William Carr [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2015 3:50 PM
To: Noam Chomsky
Subject: Reference to you in review of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy letters
Dear Mr. Chomsky,
Greetings from Texas. Could you comment....particularly on the reference to your work in linguists and Walker Percy's interest in the same?
From: Noam Chomsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: William Carr <email@example.com>
Sent: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 4:48 PM
Subject: RE: Reference to you in review of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy letters
Not much here about Percy’s thoughts, so can’t comment.
To: Noam Chomsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: William Carr <email@example.com>
Sent: Wednesday, July 9, 2015 5:48 AM
Subject: RE: Reference to you in review of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy letters
Dear Mr. Chomsky,
Yes, he points to his interest in linguistics as a tool for establishing a lasting Peirce/Percy legacy. When you consider the context of his concerns for this line of thinking along with Foote's flawed management of the Civil War proper line, I believe that Percy and Foote were, together, extending like a large literary/linguistic net across their part of the nation, part of a bigger bamboozle. With the fourth estate essentially dead....who....exactly has been controlling the bamboozle? From your position with a front row seat at MIT and Cambridge, I was hoping you could tell us.
I am of the opinion that Anthony Sutton, as Brzezinski affirmed, was correct in that the Order is with respect to politics and ethics, agnostic. That they have had their articulate mouth pieces left and right like the fight promoter, Dana White of the Ultimate Fighting Championships, controlling both corners and the lucrative ticket sales and concessions. Historically, by way of example and not currently accurate.....from the right.....Senator Joe McCarthy or Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy. From the left William Sloane Coffin and ?