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I am curious to know what everyday life might have been like for a trio of American foreigners in the northern, near-border regions of Mexico during the early days of World War Two. Specifically, I am interested in knowing how they would have been treated by the people and the government.
Note: This information is for a WWII-era RPG i'm GMing in which the players have decided to evade drafting by fleeing to Mexico (go figure).
The American Civil War, the bloodiest in the nation’s history, resulted in approximately 750,000 deaths. 1 The war touched the life of nearly every American as military mobilization reached levels never seen before or since. Most northern soldiers went to war to preserve the Union, but the war ultimately transformed into a struggle to eradicate slavery. African Americans, both enslaved and free, pressed the issue of emancipation and nurtured this transformation. Simultaneously, women thrust themselves into critical wartime roles while navigating a world without many men of military age. The Civil War was a defining event in the history of the United States and, for the Americans thrust into it, a wrenching one.
The 1860 presidential election was chaotic. In April, the Democratic Party convened in Charleston, South Carolina, the bastion of secessionist thought in the South. The goal was to nominate a candidate for the party ticket, but the party was deeply divided. Northern Democrats pulled for Senator Stephen Douglas, a pro-slavery moderate championing popular sovereignty, while southern Democrats were intent on endorsing someone other than Douglas. The parties leaders’ refusal to include a pro-slavery platform resulted in southern delegates walking out of the convention, preventing Douglas from gaining the two-thirds majority required for a nomination. The Democrats ended up with two presidential candidates. A subsequent convention in Baltimore nominated Douglas, while southerners nominated the current vice president, John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, as their presidential candidate. The nation’s oldest party had split over differences in policy toward slavery. 2
Initially, the Republicans were hardly unified around a single candidate themselves. Several leading Republican men vied for their party’s nomination. A consensus emerged at the May 1860 convention that the party’s nominee would need to carry all the free states—for only in that situation could a Republican nominee potentially win. New York Senator William Seward, a leading contender, was passed over. Seward’s pro-immigrant position posed a potential obstacle, particularly in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, as a relatively unknown but likable politician, rose from a pool of potential candidates and was selected by the delegates on the third ballot. The electoral landscape was further complicated through the emergence of a fourth candidate, Tennessee’s John Bell, heading the Constitutional Union Party. The Constitutional Unionists, composed of former Whigs who teamed up with some southern Democrats, made it their mission to avoid the specter of secession while doing little else to address the issues tearing the country apart.
Abraham Lincoln’s nomination proved a great windfall for the Republican Party. Lincoln carried all free states with the exception of New Jersey (which he split with Douglas). Of the voting electorate, 81.2 percent came out to vote—at that point the highest ever for a presidential election. Lincoln received less than 40 percent of the popular vote, but with the field so split, that percentage yielded 180 electoral votes. Lincoln was trailed by Breckinridge with his 72 electoral votes, carrying eleven of the fifteen slave states Bell came in third with 39 electoral votes and Douglas came in last, only able to garner 12 electoral votes despite carrying almost 30 percent of the popular vote. Since the Republican platform prohibited the expansion of slavery in future western states, all future Confederate states, with the exception of Virginia, excluded Lincoln’s name from their ballots. 3
Abraham Lincoln, August 13, 1860. Library of Congress.
The election of Lincoln and the perceived threat to the institution of slavery proved too much for the deep southern states. South Carolina acted almost immediately, calling a convention to declare secession. On December 20, 1860, the South Carolina convention voted unanimously 169–0 to dissolve their union with the United States. 4 The other states across the Deep South quickly followed suit. Mississippi adopted their own resolution on January 9, 1861, Florida followed on January 10, Alabama on January 11, Georgia on January 19, Louisiana on January 26, and Texas on February 1. Texas was the only state to put the issue up for a popular vote, but secession was widely popular throughout the South.
Confederates quickly shed their American identity and adopted a new Confederate nationalism. Confederate nationalism was based on several ideals, foremost among these being slavery. As Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens stated, the Confederacy’s “foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man that slavery . . . is his natural and normal condition.” 5 The election of Lincoln in 1860 demonstrated that the South was politically overwhelmed. Slavery was omnipresent in the prewar South, and it served as the most common frame of reference for unequal power. To a southern man, there was no fate more terrifying than the thought of being reduced to the level of a slave. Religion likewise shaped Confederate nationalism, as southerners believed that the Confederacy was fulfilling God’s will. The Confederacy even veered from the American constitution by explicitly invoking Christianity in their founding document. Yet in every case, all rationale for secession could be thoroughly tied to slavery. “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world,” proclaimed the Mississippi statement of secession. 6 Thus for the original seven Confederate states (and the four that would subsequently join), slavery’s existence was the essential core of the fledging Confederacy.
The emblems of nationalism on this currency reveal much about the ideology underpinning the Confederacy: George Washington standing stately in a Roman toga indicates the belief in the South’s honorable and aristocratic past John C. Calhoun’s portrait emphasizes the Confederate argument of the importance of states’ rights and, most importantly, the image of African Americans working in fields demonstrates slavery’s position as foundational to the Confederacy. A five and one hundred dollar Confederate States of America interest bearing banknote, c. 1861 and 1862. Wikimedia.
Not all southerners participated in Confederate nationalism. Unionist southerners, most common in the upcountry where slavery was weakest, retained their loyalty to the Union. These southerners joined the Union army, that is, the army of the United States of America, and worked to defeat the Confederacy. 7 Black southerners, most of whom were enslaved, overwhelmingly supported the Union, often running away from plantations and forcing the Union army to reckon with slavery. 8
President James Buchanan would not directly address the issue of secession prior to his term’s end in early March. Any effort to try to solve the issue therefore fell upon Congress, specifically a Committee of Thirteen including prominent men such as Stephen Douglas, William Seward, Robert Toombs, and John Crittenden. In what became known as “Crittenden’s Compromise,” Senator Crittenden proposed a series of Constitutional amendments that guaranteed slavery in southern states and territories, denied the federal government interstate slave trade regulatory power, and offered to compensate enslavers whose enslaved people had escaped. The Committee of Thirteen ultimately voted down the measure, and it likewise failed in the full Senate vote (25–23). Reconciliation appeared impossible. 9
The seven seceding states met in Montgomery, Alabama on February 4 to organize a new nation. The delegates selected Jefferson Davis of Mississippi as president and established a capital in Montgomery, Alabama (it would move to Richmond in May). Whether other states of the Upper South would join the Confederacy remained uncertain. By the early spring of 1861, North Carolina and Tennessee had not held secession conventions, while voters in Virginia, Missouri, and Arkansas initially voted down secession. Despite this temporary boost to the Union, it became abundantly clear that these acts of loyalty in the Upper South were highly conditional and relied on a clear lack of intervention on the part of the federal government. This was the precarious political situation facing Abraham Lincoln following his inauguration on March 4, 1861.
Harris turns focus to Mexico on trip to address migration
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris is closing out her first foreign trip Tuesday with a visit to Mexico and a meeting with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a key but complicated ally in the Biden administration’s efforts to curb the spike in migration at the U.S. border.
While Lopez Obrador committed in a previous virtual meeting with Harris that the U.S. can “count on us” to help address the issue of irregular migration, the Mexican president has in the past blamed President Joe Biden for the increase in migration at the border. And he was chummy with his predecessor, President Donald Trump, despite Trump’s hardline polcies towards migrants.
Early last month, he also accused the U.S. of violating Mexico’s sovereignty for giving money to non-governmental organizations that were critical of his government.
But Harris, in her role dealing with the root causes of increased migration from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, as well as Mexico, has sought to strengthen diplomatic relations with the Mexican president. She’s held multiple phone calls and a virtual bilateral meeting with him, and Tuesday will provide the latest indication of whether her efforts will bear fruit for either nation.
“We have a partnership, a longstanding partnership. Other than Canada, we are the closest neighbors to each other,” Harris told reporters Monday night. “That is the basis of the conversation I will have with him — is with that spirit, that we have to be partners.”
The meeting follows Harris’ Monday visit to Guatemala, where she met with President Alejandro Giammattei. To coincide with their meeting the Biden administration announced a number of new commitments to combat trafficking, smuggling, and corruption, as well as investments in economic development in the country. But on Tuesday, her meeting with Lopez Obrador isn’t expected to deliver as many concrete commitments.
The two will witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding that will establish greater cooperation between the two nations on development programs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Harris aides say they’ll discuss vaccine sharing, the economic and security relationship between the two nations, and dealing with the root causes of migration from other countries in the region. Harris speaks frequently of the need to improve economic conditions for residents of the region, so they don’t feel compelled to make the trek to the U.S. border.
The memorandum of understanding, according to special envoy Ricardo Zuniga, who traveled with Harris on the trip, marks a new level of cooperation, and is important because the two nations have “some of the same issues” when it comes to irregular migration.
“It’s very important to show that the United States and Mexico are collaborating and trying to improve conditions on the ground among our neighbors, because of the importance that other countries in Central America have for both of us,” he told reporters traveling with Harris.
Harris will spend the rest of the day meeting with female entrepreneurs and labor leaders in the nation.
The meeting comes just days after the country’s midterm elections, during which Lopez Obrador’s party appeared poised to maintain their majority in Mexico’s lower chamber of the congress, but fell short of a two-thirds majority as some voters boosted the struggling opposition, according to initial election results.
Harris is not expected to address the election results during her meeting with the president, but the bloody campaign — nearly three-dozen candidates or pre-candidates were killed as drug cartels sought to protect their interests — are certain to loom over their conversations. The government’s inability to provide security in parts of the country is of interest to the U.S. in an immigration context, both for the people who are displaced by violence and the impact it has on a severely weakened economy trying to reemerge from the pandemic.
Still, while aides say corruption was a central focus of her meeting with Giammattei, it’s unclear whether she’ll raise the issue with Lopez Obrador.
But the increase in migration at the border has become one of the major challenges confronting Biden in the early months of his first term, with Republicans seizing on an issue they see as politically advantageous as polling suggests Americans are less favorable towards Biden’s approach to immigration than they are towards his policies on the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic.
They’ve tried to make Harris the face of that immigration policy, charging she and Biden are ignoring the issue because both have yet to visit the southern border. Harris told reporters Monday in Guatemala that she was focused on addressing the root causes of migration in a way that delivers “tangible” results “as opposed to grand gestures.”
Regardless of the eventual outcome of her meetings Tuesday, Mexico will remain a key partner in enforcement efforts at the border.
llegal border crossings have increased steadily since April 2020, after Trump introduced pandemic-related powers to deny migrants the opportunity to seek asylum, but further accelerated under Biden, who quickly scrapped many of Trump’s hardline border policies — most notably the “Remain in Mexico” program to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for court dates in U.S. immigration court.
Shortly after taking office, Biden also exempted unaccompanied children from Title 42, named for a section of an obscure 1944 public health law that allows authorities to deny entry to prevent the spread of disease. Mexico agreed to take back its own citizens under Title 42 authorities, as well as people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
U.S. border authorities encountered nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children in March, the highest on record. Overall, it had more than 170,000 encounters on the border in April, the highest level in more than 20 years though the numbers aren’t directly comparable because getting stopped under pandemic-related authorities carries no legal consequences, resulting in many repeat crossings.
Mexicans accounted for 36% of encounters with people who crossed illegally in April, the largest nationality according to the latest monthly data available from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Hondurans were second with 22% and Guatemalans were third with 17%.
In March, Lopez Obrador also blamed Biden for the increase in migration at the U.S. border, charging in a March press conference that the Biden administration had created “expectations” that “there would be a better treatment of migrants.”
“And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so,” he said.
An overview of prescription drug prices in the United States
Prescription drug prices have risen dramatically over the past several decades—at a rate much higher than inflation. A 2020 study by the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing found that from 2007 to 2018, the list price for brand-name drugs increased by 159 percent on average. 2 The same study found that net prices of prescription drugs increased by an average of 60 percent over the same period. 3
Pharmaceutical companies even raised the prices of more than 800 drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing the cost of nearly 70 drugs by an average of 3.1 percent in July 2020. 4 This trend has continued in 2021: A GoodRx analysis found that in January, drug companies raised prices on 832 drugs by an average of 4.5 percent. 5 These increases have been driven primarily by increases in the prices of brand-name drugs: In both 2020 and 2021, the overwhelming majority of drugs whose prices increased were brand-name drugs. 6 While the percentage-point increase in prices was higher for generic drugs in 2020, brand-name drugs are more than six times as expensive on average. 7 This means that a smaller percentage-point increase in the cost of a brand-name drug can often result in a larger dollar amount increase for patients.
In addition to consistently increasing the prices of drugs, pharmaceutical companies often set higher prices in the United States than in other industrialized countries. A recent study by the Rand Corporation examined the list price charged for prescription drugs in the United States and 32 other countries, including Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It found that drug prices in the United States were an average of 2.56 times higher than in the comparison countries. 8 Even after adjusting for rebates and other discounts, prices for drugs in the United States were still 90 percent higher than in the comparison countries. 9 A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office arrived at a similar conclusion, finding that prices in the United States were between two and four times higher than those in Australia, Canada, and France. 10
These high drug prices and price increases have real, deadly consequences. A late 2019 poll by Gallup found that 22.9 percent of Americans reported that it was somewhat or very difficult to afford their prescription drugs, and 3 in 10 Americans did not take their medicine as prescribed because of cost. 11 Rationing medication can lead to serious negative health outcomes, including death. A 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients who rationed insulin were nearly three times as likely to have poor blood sugar control than those who did not have to ration. 12 After time, insulin rationing can lead to death. 13 A similar study published in Circulation found that high drug costs were associated with medication nonadherence in patients with heart disease. 14
High prescription drug costs also strain federal and state budgets. A 2018 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that Medicare pays nearly twice as much for physician-administered drugs than it would if U.S. prices were similar to those in many other industrialized countries. 15 In 2019, Medicare and Medicaid spent nearly $290 billion on prescription drugs. 16 A 2021 report from the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission highlights states’ struggles to contain costs for high-price drugs and the need for federal action. 17 For these reasons, policymakers must adopt reforms to ensure that prescription drugs are affordable for the patients who need them.
I first saw Wendy Red Star’s work in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s sprawling exhibit of native art that ranged from traditional – ledger drawings, headdresses- to wildly contemporary – video and photography. A large photo by Wendy Red Star made me look twice. Seated in a diorama setting with astro turf for grass and an obvious fake wallpaper backdrop, Red Star posed with a blow up deer and a sincere “I am one with nature” look on her beautiful face.
Red Star wore a traditional Crow elk-tooth dress. The elk-tooth dress, an iconic image of Crow culture is adorned with hundreds of reproduced elk teeth. Traditionally, the teeth were a symbol of wealth, as only two can be harvested from a single elk. So the juxtaposition of the sincere with faux takes this image to an otherworldly realm.
“The look pulls people in, but as you look closer you can see the image deteriorate, and if you are more privy to Native history you can see it right away,” Red Star says.
Born in Billings, Montana of Crow and Irish descent, Red Star was raised on the Crow reservation, she uses humor to confront romanticized representations. She poses popular depictions of Native Americans with authentic cultural and gender identities. Her groundbreaking work has been described as brash and surreal.
Her mother was a nurse who encouraged her daughter to pursue the Crow heritage. Her father ranched and was a licensed pilot who played in the “Maniacs”, an Indian rock band. Red Star is a niece of the artist Kevin Red Star who creates much more conservative native themed art.
In 2004, Red Star received her B.F.A. from Montana State University – Bozeman, majoring in sculpture, then earned an MFA from the University of California in Los Angeles. She now resides in Portland, Oregon.
She has continued to expand the media she works with to include photography, sculpture, video, fiber arts, and performance. She pores over archives and historical narratives to upend their perspectives, taking traditional norms and giving them an unexpected twist. The Four Seasons series, one of which was shown at the Met exhibit, is a prime example – you almost think she is just the model who doesn’t realize the absurd setting she has been asked to pose in until you realize she is the artist too and totally in on the joke.
Another series she created is the “White Squaw” a totally offensive line of mock magazine covers that mash up classic pulp images of noble savages with Red Star’s face smiling and leering in mock pin up mode.
She poses red and yellow painted coyotes with Indian blankets draped across their backs, and paints buckskin dresses black to take these traditional icons into a new unsettling realm. One series has gold deer with their heads cut off, gold tinsel streaming from the wound.
In an interview with Artnet about the Met show, Red Star said “I come from a humorous background, not just my Crow side, but my Irish side as well. I’ve always seen things through this ironic lens. I’m always laughing.
In my own Crow community, we have a whole policing system that uses teasing. To have that element in my work is quite Native, or Crow, and I’m glad that it comes through. It’s universal. People can connect with the work that way. Then they can be open to talking about race. As a brown person, as a brown artist, your work is political. Whether you like it or not. Even if you are doing abstract painting, as soon as someone finds out you’re brown they think, “This is about racism.” The first time I came across this was when I was in undergrad and I was erecting teepees around campus. I had discovered that Bozeman, Montana was Crow territory. I wanted everybody to know that this was Crow territory. I didn’t even think of it as political. I just thought, this is true. It wasn’t until years later that I realized they are saying it’s political because it’s against the colonial standard. I don’t aim to do political work, but it becomes political because it’s talking outside the colonial framework. There’s a whole notion of being ‘authentic. Your art is supposed to look like the 19th century, like we’re a dead culture that never evolved.”
“Wendy’s work isn’t about being a victim, or bemoaning colonialism,” says Terrance Houle, a Canadian artist of Blood and Ojibwe ancestry with whom Red Star has collaborated. “It has a definite Indian sense of humor, and it’s bright and beautiful, and that’s an aspect of indigenous culture people don’t often see.”
Red Star has exhibited in the United States and abroad at venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fondation Cartier pour l’ Art Contemporain, Domaine de Kerguéhennec, Portland Art Museum, Hood Art Museum, St. Louis Art Museum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, among others. She served a visiting lecturer at institutions including Yale University, the Figge Art Museum, the Banff Centre, National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Dartmouth College, CalArts, Flagler College, Fairhaven College, and I.D.E.A. Space in Colorado Springs. In 2015, Red Star was awarded an Emerging Artist Grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation. In 2016, she participated in Contemporary Native Photographers and the Edward Curtis Legacy at the Portland Art Museum, and recently mounted a solo exhibition as part of the museum’s APEX series.
Sandra Hale Schulman is an arts writer, curator and film producer. She is also a spokesperson for Native American causes on TV and radio.
O’odham traditional lands extend from the area around what is now Phoenix in the north, to Douglas, Arizona in the east, down to the Gulf of California. The Tohono O’odham Nation today is but a fraction of that ancestral territory. Following the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, which annexed 30,000 miles of Sonora, Mexico, to the United States—including O’odham territory—the US government established two O’odham reservations in San Xavier and Gila Bend. 1887 marked the passage of the Dawes Act, which allowed the federal government to break up land on reservations held in common and divvy it into individual parcels granted to tribal members listed on official “rolls.” Remaining lands were open to settlers. While this did not happen on all reservations, Tohono O’odham lands were opened to allotment in 1888. In 1916, in response to the Mexican Revolution and Pancho Villa raids, the government created the Sells Reservation, now called the Tohono O’odham Nation, and built the first US-Mexico border fence on it. 6 Then the fear was Mexican revolutionaries coming north into the United States, but implicit too was a need to imprint the idea of the American nation-state onto people for whom the border did not matter. Thus began a history of federal incursions onto O’odham land in the name of defining and securing national property, and hence national sovereignty. The division of reservation land into allotments of private property has made it easier for the US government to claim eminent domain on non-allotted land within the reservation—which it has historically done to build infrastructure. 7 Furthermore, the title to Native American reservation land is held in trust by the Federal Government, making it easy for the state to expropriate land for federal projects, or waive certain laws that apply to public lands.
Until recently, CBP viewed the desert as a hot, inhospitable expanse—a natural barrier too harsh and depopulated for many migrants to travel. From the 1990s onward, the Department of Homeland Security’s Operation Gatekeeper used the perceived unknowability and danger of this terrain to funnel border crossing towards urban areas, or toward the eastern segment of the Rio Grande where surveillance infrastructure was more robust. 8 The desert became a topoclimatic device to channel the flows of migrants. Yet, as fears of drug trafficking increased during the Obama administration, and anti-immigrant rhetoric accelerated to fever pitch under Trump, the Sonoran Desert transformed from an “empty” terrain of deterrence into one of apprehension and fortification.
With the 2001 Patriot Act, crossing the US-Mexico border along the Tohono O’odham nation was restricted to three “tribal gates.” Customs and Border Patrol manages these checkpoints where sufficient documentation—such as a passport or tribal ID, which many O’odham in Mexico do not have—is needed to cross. Crossing along ceremonial and informal paths was made illegal. The transformation of tribal gates into checkpoints has turned traditional pathways through contiguous territory into sites of encounter with state control, where CBP has to be notified ahead of time to come check documents of O’odham tribal members. This not only adds layers of state bureaucracy to routine movement, but also discourages the act of border crossing and criminalizes it for those who do not conform to the new laws. O’odham in Mexico are often unaware of these laws and can end up being apprehended, deported, and told they may no longer cross into their lands within what is now the United States. Here border infrastructure criminalizes indigenous land use and annuls claims to sovereignty on the part of residents on both sides of the geopolitical boundary.
In 2011, the US Department of Homeland Security implemented the Arizona Border Technology Plan, which planned for the deployment of tower-mounted radar, cameras, and communication equipment—both mobile and fixed—as well as ground sensors along the US-Mexican border in Arizona to assist Border Patrol with monitoring and apprehension. In 2014, the Southwest Border Technology Plan expanded the intensification of border surveillance to the rest of the southwest border. These border technology plans expanded the constricted mobility already in place as the result of border checkpoints and stops. Integrated Fixed Towers and the equipment they carry constitute a more pervasive form of monitoring and control—what CBP refers to as “persistent surveillance.” 9 Both tribal gates and Integrated Fixed Towers impinge on movement and undermine Indigenous territorial sovereignty.
Map of proposed Integrated Fixed Towers. Drawing: Caitlin Blanchfield and Nina Valerie Kolowratnik, based on information by the Department of Homeland Security.
It’s no coincidence that the proposed construction of towers coincides with the addition of detention facilities for people apprehended crossing the border. It also requires little stretch of the imagination to understand that the infrastructure apparently needed to support the construction and maintenance of towers (the truck paths latticing the desert, the movement of Border Patrol Officers to nearby stations, the tracts of housing and trailers of mobile offices) are also quite useful in the pursuit of what the Environmental Assessment terms “items of interest”—be they local residents, US citizens, or migrants entering the country legally or illegally. They are also part of a sustained harassment of the permanent population in the borderlands, facilitated through the establishment of the so-called 100-mile border zone, adopted by the US Department of Justice in 1953. While the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution protects Americans from random and arbitrary stops, it does not fully apply to the 100-mile zone, where regulations allow for border agents to conduct what courts have called a “routine search without a warrant or even suspicion.” 10
Harassment on the Tohono O’odham Nation is exercised at increasing scales, sometimes erupting into lethal violence. In addition to the CBP-regulated gates on the border itself, officers at checkpoints at the Nation’s borders with Arizona stop O’odham systematically. CBP pull people over at random who are driving on the reservation, raid their homes to see if they are helping migrants, and even draw guns on children running outside. They also have run over community members with patrol vehicles multiple times. 11 With something close to one CBP agent for every ten registered tribal members, the land feels occupied, saturated with CBP agents and equipment. Both land and people are treated with hostility. This “persistent surveillance” and its pattern of harassment creates an infrastructure of state violence in which border militarization and policing of Indigenous populations reinforce one another.
The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a 517-square-mile National Park to the west of the Nation, became a testing ground in this territorial transformation in the years after the passage of the Patriot Act. Established in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Organ Pipe National Monument required a careful construction of boundaries to redefine an ecological landscape free of human settlements and use. The Monument was established on O’odham homelands, and like many early US national parks, justified dispossession of Indigenous peoples through its preservation ethos. As described by anthropologist Jessica Piekielek, in order to create a controlled parkscape reserved for the flourishing of native fauna and flora and touristic leisure, in the 1940s and 1950s the National Park Service and Monument staff drew on resources made available through cooperating with federal agencies charged with enforcing the national border. 12 In an attempt to control ranching, the trespass of livestock, as well as hunting and wood gathering, the National Park Service collaborated with the Bureau of Animal Industry and the International Boundary and Water Commission in 1949 to establish a fence along the entire length of the Organ Pipe’s southern boundary, a time when much of the southwestern border was still unfenced. Next to the establishment of a physical border, the Bureau of Animal Industry also established several camps along the Monument’s border to Mexico to run horse patrols. The first in a series of projects by the National Park Service with other federal agencies to fence the Monument against “foreign” intrusion, its administration actively contributed to the hardening of the national border and attempts to stop a cross-border culture.
This pattern of border securitization on Organ Pipe continued throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century. As CBP was tightening its grasp on border city bottlenecks in Nogales and Yuma during Operation Gatekeeper (1994–1997), migrants were funneled toward the national park from where they would often enter the Nation seeking food and assistance. This collusion between the US Border policy and preservation practices therefore created the “high risk” situation in the Nation that today necessitates a “persistent surveillance” infrastructure. In 2003, this situation was amplified when the National Park Service closed Organ Pipe following the 2002 shooting of a park ranger it was soon after declared the “most dangerous national park.” 13 During Organ Pipe’s closure from 2003 to 2014, CBP built a vehicle barrier along the entire extent of the international boundary within the park, and erected several mobile surveillance towers near the border as well as at the very northern edge of the park abutting the Tohono O’odham Nation. In 2014, when Organ Pipe reopened, CBP proposed sixteen IFTs in the Nation, including eight along the border with the park (not Mexico), connecting to the mobile towers already installed there.
While the National Park Service’s jurisdiction over this territory has facilitated the development of the Southwest Border Technology Plan and opened up access and information sharing for CBP, it has created a bureaucratic barrier for O’odham people trying to use their traditional lands. As Ophelia Rivas explains, “Normally we do not need permission or paperwork to do our ceremony on O'odham lands. But when we have to go into Organ Pipe National Monument, we need to notify someone and we need to do the paperwork. So that is a hinderance… People stopped going there, because we were not allowed to build a fire on the ground, which is a part of ceremony … that is the connection to the land.” 14
In an interview, superintendent Ranger Brent Range touted the close and collaborative working relationship the park has with the Department of Homeland Security. 15 It’s a relationship that was undoubtedly enriched through a decade of collaboration over border infrastructure, but that also predated the closure of the park. As Rick Felger, Director of Natural Resources, told us, the park works closely with the border patrol when agents find “cultural artifacts”—which is to say, O’odham artifacts—and are required by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) to consult with the Organ Pipe archeologist and the National Park Service’s regional conservation center in Tucson. The National Historic Preservation Act was waived, however, as part of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which repealed environmental laws and created the pathway for waivers to be issued to facilitate the installation of “additional physical barriers and roads (including the removal of obstacles) in the vicinity of the United States border.” 16 The NHPA is also the framework used in the 2017 Environmental Assessment to determine Integrated Fixed Towers have no significant impact on cultural sites, contradicting the concerns of O’odham tribal members.
Elevation and plan of Integrated Fixed Towers. Image: Department of Homeland Security.
Update on ivermectin for covid-19
Back in January I wrote an article about four randomized controlled trials of ivermectin as a treatment for covid-19 that had at that time released their results to the public. Each of those four trials had promising results, but each was also too small individually to show any meaningful impact on the hard outcomes we really care about, like death. When I meta-analyzed them together however, the results suddenly appeared very impressive. Here’s what that meta-analysis looked like:
It showed a massive 78% reduction in mortality in patients treated with covid-19. Mortality is the hardest of hard end points, which means it’s the hardest for researchers to manipulate and therefore the least open to bias. Either someone’s dead, or they’re alive. End of story.
You would have thought that this strong overall signal of benefit in the midst of a pandemic would have mobilized the powers that be to arrange multiple large randomized trials to confirm these results as quickly as possible, and that the major medical journals would be falling over each other to be the first to publish these studies.
Rather the opposite, in fact. South Africa has even gone so far as to ban doctors from using ivermectin on covid-19 patients. And as far as I can tell, most of the discussion about ivermectin in mainstream media (and in the medical press) has centred not around its relative merits, but more around how its proponents are clearly deluded tin foil hat wearing crazies who are using social media to manipulate the masses.
In spite of this, trial results have continued to appear. That means we should now be able to conclude with even greater certainty whether or not ivermectin is effective against covid-19. Since there are so many of these trials popping up now, I’ve decided to limit the discussion here only to the ones I’ve been able to find that had at least 150 participants, and that compared ivermectin to placebo (although I’ll add even the smaller trials I’ve found in to the updated meta-analysis at the end).
As before, it appears that rich western countries have very little interest in studying ivermectin as a treatment for covid. The three new trials that had at least 150 participants and compared ivermectin with placebo were conducted in Colombia, Iran, and Argentina. We’ll go through each in turn.
The Colombian trial (Lopez-Medina et al.) was published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) in March. There is one thing that is rather odd with this study, and that is that the study authors were receiving payments from Sanofi-Pasteur, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, Janssen, Merck, and Gilead while conducting the study. Gilead makes remdesivir. Merck is developing two expensive new drugs to treat covid-19. Janssen, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, and Sanofi-Pasteur are all developers of covid vaccines. In other words, the authors of the study were receiving funding from companies that own drugs that are direct competitors to ivermectin. One might call this a conflict of interest, and wonder whether the goal of the study was to show a lack of benefit. It’s definitely a little bit suspicious.
Anyway, let’s get to what the researchers actually did. This was a double-blind randomized controlled trial that recruited patients with mildly symptomatic covid-19 who had experienced symptom onset less than 7 days earlier. Potential participants were identified through a statewide database of people with positive PCR-tests. By “mildly symptomatic” the researchers meant people who had at least one symptom but who did not require high-flow oxygen at the time of recruitment in to the trial.
Participants in the treatment group received 300 ug/kg body weight of ivermectin every day for five days, while participants in the placebo group received an identical placebo. 300 ug/kg works out to 21 mg for an average 70 kg adult, which is quite high, especially when you consider that the dose was given daily for five days. For an average person, this would work out to a total dose of 105 mg. The other ivermectin trials have mostly given around 12 mg per day for one or two days, for a total dose of 12 to 24 mg (which has been considered enough because ivermectin has a long half-life in the body). Why this study gave such a high dose is unclear. However, it shouldn’t be a problem. Ivermectin is a very safe drug, and studies have been done where people have been given ten times the recommended dose without any noticeable increase in adverse events.
The stated goal of the study was to see if ivermectin resulted in more rapid symptom resolution than placebo. So participants were contacted by telephone every three days after inclusion in the study, up to day 21, and asked about what symptoms they were experiencing.
398 patients were included in the study. The median age of the participants was 37 years, and they were overall very healthy. 79% had no known co-morbidities. This is a shame. It means that this study is yet another one of those many studies that will not be able to show a meaningful effect on hard end points like hospitalization and death. It is a bit strange that studies keep being done on young healthy people who are at virtually zero risk from covid-19, rather than on the multi-morbid elderly, who are the ones we actually need an effective treatment for.
Anyway, let’s get to the results.
In the group treated with ivermectin, the average time from inclusion in the study to becoming completely symptom free was 10 days. In the placebo group that number was 12 days. So, the ivermectin treated patients recovered on average two days faster. However, the difference was not statistically significant, so the result could easily be due to chance. At 21 days after inclusion in the study, 82% had recovered fully in the ivermectin group, as compared to 79% in the placebo group. Again, the small difference was not statistically significant.
In terms of the hard end points that matter more, there were zero deaths in the ivermectin group and there was one death in the placebo group. 2% of participants in the ivermectin group required “escalation of care” (hospitalization if they were outside the hospital at the start of the study, or oxygen therapy if they were in hospital at the start of the study) as compared with 5% in the placebo group. None of these differences was statistically significant. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t real. Like I wrote earlier, the fact that this was a study of healthy young people meant that, even if a meaningful difference does exist in risk of dying of covid, or of ending up in hospital, this study was never going to find it.
Ivermectin does not meaningfully shorten duration of symptoms in healthy young people. That’s about all we can say from this study. Considering the conflicts of interest of the authors, my guess is that this was the goal of the study all along: Gather together a number of young healthy people that is too small for there to be any chance of a statistically significant benefit, and then get the result you want. The media will sell the result as “study shows ivermectin doesn’t work” (which they dutifully did).
It is interesting that there were signals of benefit for all the parameters the researchers looked at (resolution of symptoms, escalation of care, death), but that the relatively small number and good health status of the participants meant that there was little chance of any of the results reaching statistical significance.
Let’s move on to the next study, which is currently available as a pre-print on Research Square (Niaee et al.). It was randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled, and carried out at five different hospitals in Iran. It was funded by an Iranian university.
In order to be included in the trial, participants had to be over the age of 18 and admitted to hospital because of a covid-19 infection (which was defined as symptoms suggestive of covid plus either a CT scan typical of covid infection or a positive PCR test).
150 participants were randomized to either placebo (30 people) or varying doses of ivermectin (120 people). The fact that they chose to make the placebo group so small is a problem, because it makes it very hard to detect any differences even if they do exist, by making the statistical certainty of the results in the placebo group very low.
The participants were on average 56 years old and the average oxygen saturation before initiation of treatment was 89% (normal is more than 95%), so this was a pretty sick group. Unfortunately no information is provided on how far along people were in the disease course when they started receiving ivermectin. It stands to reason that the drug is more likely to work if given ten days after symptom onset than when given twenty days after symptom onset, since death usually happens around day 21. If you, for example, wanted to design a trial to fail, you could start treating people at a time point when there is no time for the drug you’re testing to have a chance work, so it would have been nice to know at what time point treatment started in this trial.
20% of the participants in the placebo group died (6 out of 30 people). 3% of the participants in the various ivermectin groups died (4 out of 120 people). That is an 85% reduction in the relative risk of death, which is huge.
So, in spite of the fact that the placebo group was so small, it was still possible to see a big difference in mortality. Admittedly, this is a pre-print (i.e. it hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet), and the absolute numbers of deaths are small, so there is some scope for random chance to have created these results (maybe people in the placebo group were just very unlucky!). However, the study appears to have followed all the steps expected for a high quality trial. It was carried out at multiple different hospitals, it used randomization and a control group that received a placebo, and it was double-blinded. And death is a very hard end point that is not particularly open to bias. So unless the researchers have falsified their data, then this study constitutes reasonably good evidence that ivermectin is highly effective when given to patients hospitalized with covid-19. That’s great, because it would mean that the drug can be given quite late in the disease course and still show benefit.
Let’s move on to the third trial (Chahla et al.), which is currently available as a pre-print on MedRxiv. It was carried out in Argentina, and funded by the Argentinean government. Like the first trial we discussed, this was a study of people with mild disease. It literally boggles my mind that so many researchers choose to study people with mild disease instead of studying those with more severe disease. Especially when you consider that these studies are all so small. A study of people with mild disease needs to be very large to find a statistically significant effect, since most people with covid do well regardless. The risk of false negative results is thus enormous. If you’re going to do a small-ish study, and you want to have a reasonable chance of producing results that reach statistical significance, it would make much more sense to do it on sick hospitalized patients.
The study was randomized, but it wasn’t blinded, and there was no placebo. In other words, the intervention group received ivermectin (24 mg per day), while the control group didn’t receive anything. This is a bad bad thing. It means that any non-hard outcomes produced by the study are really quite worthless, since there is so much scope for the placebo effect and other confounding factors to mess up the results. For hard outcomes, in particular death, it should be less of a problem (although we wouldn’t expect any deaths in such a small study of mostly healthy people with mild disease anyway).
The study included people over the age of 18 with symptoms suggestive of covid-19 and a positive PCR test. The average age of the participants was 40 years, and most had no underlying health issues. A total of 172 people were recruited in to the study.
The researchers chose to look at how quickly people became free of symptoms as their primary endpoint. This is enormously problematic, since the study, as already mentioned, wasn’t blinded and there was no placebo. Any difference between the groups could easily be explained by the placebo effect and by biases towards treatment benefit among the researchers.
Anyway, the study found that 49% in the treatment group were free of symptoms at five to nine days after the beginning of treatment, compared with 81% in the control group. However, the lack of blinding means that this result is worthless. The methodology is just too flawed.
No data is provided on the number of people who died in each group. Since it isn’t reported, I think it’s safe to assume that there were no deaths in either group. Nor is any data provided on the number of hospitalizations in each group.
So, what does this study tell us?
Absolutely nothing at all. What a waste of time and money.
Let’s move on and update our meta-analysis. The reason we need to do a meta-analysis here is that none of the trials of ivermectin is large enough on its own to provide a definitive answer as to whether it is a useful treatment for covid-19 or not. For those who haven’t heard of meta-analyses before, basically what you do is just take the results from all different studies in existence that fulfill your pre-selected criteria, and then put them together, so as a to create a single large “meta”-study. This allows you to produce results that have a much higher level of statistical significance. It is particularly useful in a situation where all the individual trials you have to work with are statistically underpowered (have too few participants), as is the case here.
In this new meta-analysis, I’ve included every double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial I could find of ivermectin as a treatment for covid. Using only double-blind placebo-controlled trials means that only the highest quality studies are included in this meta-analysis, which minimizes the risk of biases messing up the results as far as possible. In order to be included, a study also had to provide mortality data, since the goal of the meta-analysis is to see if there is any difference in mortality.
I was able to identify seven trials that fulfilled these criteria, with a total of 1,327 participants. Here’s what the meta-analysis shows:
What we see is a 62% reduction in the relative risk of dying among covid patients treated with ivermectin. That would mean that ivermectin prevents roughly three out of five covid deaths. The reduction is statistically significant (p-value 0,004). In other words, the weight of evidence supporting ivermectin continues to pile up. It is now far stronger than the evidence that led to widespred use of remdesivir earlier in the pandemic, and the effect is much larger and more important (remdesivir was only ever shown to marginally decrease length of hospital stay, it was never shown to have any effect on risk of dying).
I understand why pharmaceutical companies don’t like ivermectin. It’s a cheap generic drug. Even Merck, the company that invented ivermectin, is doing it’s best to destroy the drug’s reputation at the moment. This can only be explained by the fact that Merck is currently developing two expensive new covid drugs, and doesn’t want an off-patent drug, which it can no longer make any profit from, competing with them.
The only reason I can think to understand why the broader medical establishment, however, is still so anti-ivermectin is that these studies have all been done outside the rich west. Apparently doctors and scientists outside North America and Western Europe can’t be trusted, unless they’re saying things that are in line with our pre-conceived notions.
Researchers at McMaster university are currently organizing a large trial of ivermectin as a treatment for covid-19, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. That trial is expected to enroll over 3,000 people, so it should be definitive. It’s going to be very interesting to see what it shows when the results finally get published.
When Groucho Marx asked, “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?” on “You Bet Your Life,” he was offering unsuccessful competitors, battered by his heckling and bewildered by the game, a chance for redemption and some easy money. In return for Grant’s name would come a small prize, some audience applause, and a farewell handshake. As a last effort to reward a hapless guest, “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?” soon came to symbolize the obvious.
In fact, the occupants of Grant’s Tomb are Ulysses S. and Julia Dent Grant. But had Groucho asked, “What was buried in Grant’s Tomb?” he might have touched off very different speculations. For interred within the great mausoleum overlooking the Hudson River are a series of unexpectedly bitter controversies, testimony to some unresolved and perhaps unresolvable issues facing the late nineteenth century. The debates surrounding the design of the tomb, the campaign to raise the funds, the festival created for its dedication, and, above all, the struggle over where to house Grant’s body—all involved significant choices. And some of the passions they roused have not yet disappeared.
Grant’s Tomb, of course, was and is a monument. In the 1880s, the decade of Grant’s death, monument building was relatively new to Americans. According to legend, republicans were ungrateful to their heroes. At the time of the Revolution some Americans sought, through vast and imposing edifices, to put the lie to such myths. The more ambitious proposals came to naught, but a few cities managed something. Baltimore constructed a Washington Monument impressive enough to earn it the nickname of the Monumental City. Charlestown, near Boston, erected a granite obelisk commemorating the Battle of Bunker Hill. And most impressive—and humiliating —of all was the District of Columbia’s Washington Monument, designed by the architect Robert Mills as a great shaft rising from a circular temple. Though the cornerstone was laid in the 1840s, the obelisk was not completed for more than thirty years, and the temple itself was omitted.
Despite these major efforts, memorials recalling heroic deeds or famous lives were rare. For the most part our Presidents were buried quietly, without ostentation often they lay in village cemeteries or on their own estates. George Washington’s tomb at Mount Vernon was a favorite visiting spot, but it was picturesque rather than imposing.
The aversion to impressive monuments, to pomp, and to militarism came to an abrupt end, however, in the 1860s. With hundreds of thousands dead and battlefields stretching from Pennsylvania to Louisiana, the postwar generation developed a new landscape of sacrifice. Memorials could now become links between past and present, demonstrations that heroism had not evaporated into a haze of materialism. Their style, their means of financing, and their ceremonies of dedication became important. Individual philanthropists often supported monument campaigns, but large gifts violated the need for broad community participation patriotism demanded this generation show the same spirit of sacrifice it celebrated. And far from home the states erected markers on battlefields where their regiments had fought so bravely Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, and Antietam became great open-air shrines.
These monuments were designed by a growing band of specialists. By the 1870s the once-modest corps of sculptors and architects had swelled into something like an army. Hopeful Americans sailed to Italy, France, and Germany for instruction, and many returned home with polished skills and impressive ambitions or remained abroad, awaiting commissions. While individual patronage helped immensely, only community support would do for those seeking work on a grand scale. Monument building seemed a solution to the problem of artistic sustenance. Massive and expensive statues, tombs, columns, and arches could employ a whole profession and fulfill those lavishly patriotic motives.
And it was not only the war dead who received such honor. Soon statesmen, sailors, poets, firemen, scientists, inventors, and preachers were being immortalized in marble and bronze. Their statues, along with benches, gateways, bell towers, flagpoles, shelters, and fountains, were making an Age of Monuments. The New York Times spoke darkly of the “mania for monuments.” There seemed little selectivity. “The land is cluttered with stones that try ineffectually to lift leaden names out of the dust …,” complained The Nation . Eager to demonstrate corporate recognition, Americans were increasingly celebrating mediocrity.
The “American volunteer at rest, with his hands folded on the muzzle of his gun,” William Dean Howells’s character Annie Kilburn felt, had become “intolerably hackneyed and commonplace.” The bulk of the other monuments, one New York newspaper charged in 1882, were barren and worthless. Why were American monuments so poor? The answer was threefold. First, many were created by professionally undeserving or even incompetent artists chosen by open competition. Second, many were dedicated to the memory of obscure figures. And third, quite a few were placed in unseemly settings. Some single great example might well reverse the baleful trend. But who would the figure be? And who would choose the artist? Select the place? And raise the money?
Thus, in July 1885, when Ulysses S. Grant lost his battle with throat cancer, many American sculptors and architects felt an undeniable sense of anticipation. Grant was the greatest American of his age. Twenty years after Appomattox his military accomplishments had grown into legend. The scandals of his Presidency had receded into the shadows created by subsequent political indiscretions. And he had thoroughly rescued his reputation by the heroic struggle to provide financial independence for his family by finishing his autobiography. At the time of his death Grant stood high in the hearts of his countrymen. Clearly he would have some monument, and it would be a big one.
Planning and discussion began almost immediately. Many cities would erect statues of one kind or another, but the great prize would be to house the general’s body. Unlike the cases of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or Andrew Jackson, Grant’s monument would be his tomb. There seemed general agreement about this, although the precedents were not numerous. The most elaborate presidential monument completed before the 1880s had been the one built for Abraham Lincoln in Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery. It was not a successful gesture. The awkward obelisk never became an effective symbol for the War President. That place would be filled by the log cabin until Henry Bacon created the great Greek temple in Washington forty years later. The Lincoln Memorial, not the Lincoln Tomb, became the popular icon.
A more powerful marker would, in fact, soon be under construction in Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery. The grief surrounding the assassination of James A. Garfield in 1881 spurred a large subscription drive for his tomb. The Garfield Memorial, designed by a Hartford architect, George A. Keller, was probably America’s first great mausoleum, with a 180-foot-high Romanesque turret, mosaics, bas-reliefs, and a heroic statue of Garfield, who lay buried in a bronze casket in the crypt. But this design was chosen only in 1884 and would not be completed for several years. And the procedures followed by the Garfield Monument Association did not excite universal admiration indeed, they forecast the difficulties Grant’s Tomb would face.
There was certainly little problem raising the money. Almost immediately after Garfield’s death prominent Ohioans created a committee and issued circulars banks, newspapers, and postmasters leaped to assist and governors appointed their own commissioners. With a goal of $250,000, Ohio proposed to raise $100,000 for its favorite son. Within a year Clevelanders had contributed $73,000, and by March 1882, half the total sum had been gathered. A Garfield Monument Fair, complete with military parade and attendance by President Chester A. Arthur, was actually held in the United States Capitol. It was an unprecedented action—and an unimitated one. Crowds did considerable damage to the building, and the fair brought in only $7,500. However, it was one of the campaign’s few failures.
By the fall of 1883, two years after beginning, the managers had collected $150,000 and began their efforts to obtain a design. And here came the problems, particularly for the architects. The monument trustees set aside $1,000 for the winner. Outraged by the modest sum, The American Architect and Building News , in October 1883, called on “gravestone manufacturers’ apprentices and kindergarten pupils” to compete, declaring that although the compensation was about the “meanest … offered for any artistic work,” it would pay the winner “for the time needed to stick a few ready-made ‘emblems’ and stock modeller’s figures around a block, in such a way as to pass muster among a jury of politicians and financiers.” When The American Architect discovered, several months later, that the invitation had been published in foreign technical journals, it blushed for the country “its mean and ignorant assurance appears doubly conspicuous by contrast with the terms of competition usually found there.”
The American Architect was only nine years old in 1885, but it was the most prominent periodical spokesman for the professional interests of architects. It was infuriated not only by the low award but also by the fact that the trustees consisted of nonprofessionals and reserved the right to reject all the designs while retaining the rights of ownership to any not called for within two months after the decision. American businessmen were “so accustomed to looking upon the artists or architects who scramble after their ‘jobs’ as an exquisitely helpless sort of fools [sic], that the idea of paying any regard to their weak complaints does not occur to them.…” The American Architect urged its readers to boycott the competition and assert their independence.
This professional unhappiness with the Garfield Monument Association’s procedures echoed the bitterness excited by hundreds of other competitions for courthouses, libraries, statehouses, and public monuments under way at this time in the United States. Many distinguished artists and architects opposed the open competition. They argued that it forced a great deal of free work. “A good design implies thought and labor,” wrote Frederic Crowninshield, “neither of which an artist of repute can afford to squander.” The Chicago firm of Burnham & Root, responding to a competition in which the sponsoring company was to retain the plans of unsuccessful competitors, insisted, “Our capital is our ideas, and we, of course, cannot afford to make you a present of them.” Truly accomplished designs would come in only by invitation and deserved some payment. Finally, architects and artists insisted that most members of competition committees were not properly trained and therefore could not evaluate the submissions. Again and again editorial writers argued that ordinary judgment was not sufficient to judge artistic merit. “The public,” complained The American Architect , “pleased with the new idea that everybody can do every thing, and judge of every thing, and deprived of its old standards of propriety, bestows its favors with a catholicity that makes no distinctions between the capable and the incapable.” The Nation noted that while the federal government “requires special skill in a Fish Commissioner, an astronomer, [and a] statistician,” it requires “only good intentions of an architect.”
The demands by artists and architects for official recognition and professional respect fitted the times. In the 1880s and 1890s a series of American occupational groups sought better control over their own training and recruitment, setting up examination methods and licensing procedures, establishing fee schedules, and setting professional standards. Occupational subcultures developed in fields ranging from plumbing and printing to law and medicine annual conventions, societies, and periodicals helped promote occupational interests. Artists and architects joined the trend, and they were quick to resent apparent insults. The invitation to participate in an Atlanta statehouse competition suggested to the editors of The American Architect that its committee regarded architects as “beings perhaps a little superior to field laborers, but inferior to clay-eaters.” When E. E. Myers of Detroit won the commission for the Colorado Capitol, The American Architect admitted it was a good design but expressed its astonishment that “a man of so much ability should hold his talents so cheap as to lavish them on such ill-paid and thankless work as the construction of the Colorado Capitol upon the terms proposed.” A Cleveland firm had returned the competition announcement to Denver, declaring it a “fine bit of satire as well as slightly impertinent,” and adding that no architect “of standing and self-respect” could participate.
But the system of competition did have its defenders. It was an ancient means of recognizing younger artists who could not rely on reputations or connections for clients. Hundreds of young architects endured the indignities of open competition, hoping that lightning would strike and an unknown be chosen. This rarely happened, of course. And when it did, committees often turned execution of the design over to someone who was experienced with working under deadlines and who could make necessary modifications.
Such was the state of professional opinion in 1885, when the first preliminary plans to create a burial place for General Grant emerged. Public sentiment was powerful. Grant’s funeral that August touched off waves of affectionate recollection, and a Grant Monument Committee formed within a week of his death. The members were wealthy and powerful New Yorkers. They included former mayors and governors, former President Arthur, Hamilton Fish, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jesse Seligman, and J. P. Morgan. The committee sought a million dollars, a huge sum for the day, but gifts poured in almost immediately, Western Union leading off the major donors with $5,000 and an offer of free wire service for subscription purposes. Within six months the Monument Association was incorporated and had raised $115,000.
The American Architect , to be sure, was suspicious. It thought the sum announced was unnecessarily large, and it mistrusted the judges. Thus, just two weeks after Grant’s death, it announced its own competition. Asking architects to suspend momentarily their prejudices against such competitions, it hoped to demonstrate that good designs could be relatively inexpensive and set a limit of $100,000 on projected cost. The prizes would be modest—the three winners receiving only $50 each—but it was a chance to show how architects evaluated their own. The judges included Henry Van Brunt, a distinguished Bostonian about to begin a great practice in Kansas City, and Charles A. Cummings, also of Boston. One of the winners, Harvey Ellis, of Utica, New York, became a noted designer of buildings and furniture, associated with the Prairie School and the Craftsman movement. The others, C. S. Luce of New York and O. Von Nerta of Washington, D.C., are lost to fame. But hundreds of plans and suggestions flowed in, and some twenty were published in the journal.
Although none of these was adopted for the tomb, the interest reflected a sense of pressure. Supporters of American art feared that a disastrous choice for this massive memorial would shame and humiliate American genius. The North American Review envisioned the Grant Monument as a reflection upon American civilization, which would “stamp us as the monuments of other lands and civilizations mark the power and beauty or weak ugliness of their national spirit.” Canvassing the possibilities, it rejected both the “voluptuous gloom” of Egypt and the classical Greek: “We do not live in the soft Nilotic air.” Gothic was impossible “for the modern mind to grasp” the Albert Memorial, whose allegorical groups “resemble nothing so much as the triumphal entry of Barnum’s circus into a provincial town,” demonstrated this.
Only the Roman remained, more particularly the middle period of the Roman Empire. This, said the North American Review , made sense. America and Rome were much alike both loved luxury, pomp, and size. And, too, Grant himself was a great captain in the Roman mold. The question was: Roman arch, column, or great round building? The conclusion: The Grant Monument had to be a “round Roman tomb of noble dimensions treated as to its details in Romanesque style.”
The following year the Century Magazine agreed with its competitor that the Grant Monument involved grave responsibilities for American artists. Whatever it looked like, “it will be everywhere known and will be everywhere accepted as the great typical example of American art.” Though other fates have befallen Grant’s Tomb, this has not become its destiny. But the hyperbole suggested the very urgent sense of importance surrounding the planning, the feeling that here at last lay a crucial opportunity for American architects and sculptors to demonstrate their skill.
When the terms of the actual competition were announced, the Architectural League of New York and the American Institute of Architects registered sharp protests. The provisions seemed indefinite, cost limits were unclear, designs were to be submitted in different media and in different scales, the Monument Association could assume property rights in chosen designs, the rewards were insufficient in number and amount, and there was no guarantee that the winning architect could supervise his design at the standard rate. One clause of the competition invited particular scorn. It invited architects to indicate the rate they would demand to execute the commission. “While it is in accordance with extremely mercantile spirit to endeavor to obtain the maximum of value at the minimum of payment,” the AIA lectured the Executive Committee of the Grant Monument Association, “yet such a principle applied to artistic work has a most depressing effect on talent, fails to call out high ideas, and drives eminent practitioners entirely away.” The American Architect doubted that any of its readers would take part.
Nonetheless, sixty-five drawings or models were submitted, and the Monument Association appointed a distinguished jury of experts to examine them. George Post, James Renwick, and Napoleon Le Brun were among the judges. But as of February 1890, more than four years after the death of Grant, no suitable design had been chosen. Prizes were given to five declared winners, but the experts said that no plan seemed suitable. The jury recommended that the competition be closed and nothing further be done with the designs. The New York Times now argued that the procedure had been impossible, because of a “rule of the profession … [that] men of established position shall not compete on the remote chance of the acceptance of their design.” Only novices or unsuccessful designers would enter. The Grant Monument Association, concluded the Times , had spent more than a year and $3,500 learning what architects had told them in September 1885: an invited competition was the only way. After five years the association had no monument plan and a fund of only $140,000. Things looked bleak.
There was trouble on other fronts as well. In 1890 the local rivalries that continued to shape national politics, supported by strong antimetropolitan sentiment, exploded in New York’s face. There had always been some ambiguity about where Grant’s Tomb should be. Grant died a resident of New York, but he hadn’t lived there at all before becoming President. Indeed, he came to Manhattan only after returning from his extensive world tour in 1879, a mere six years before his death.
But Grant did make the suggestion himself. In July 1885, knowing he was dying, the general handed his son, Col. Frederick Grant, a slip of paper on which he had written a few sentences. He indicated three possibilities for his grave. Illinois was one because it was there he received his first general’s commission. West Point was a second, but it was not suitable because his wife could not be buried beside him. And New York was the third because, in Grant’s words, “her people befriended me.” New York was eager for the honor, and within days of the general’s death a committee of New Yorkers took Grant’s son on a tour of various burial spots. Family agreement was secured Mrs. Grant was especially supportive. New Yorkers immediately began to raise money. Not everyone was happy, particularly residents of other cities and states that resented New York’s pretensions. But for the moment they had to accept the inevitable.
Five years later, however, there was room for doubt. Grant still lay in a temporary tomb distracted by other things and hampered by ineffective leadership, the Monument Association had raised only a third of the necessary funds. Disgruntled Grant loyalists grumbled that their hero was being insulted by a group of lackadaisical New Yorkers. In mid-1890 Preston B. Plumb, a United States senator from Kansas and a Civil War veteran himself, introduced a bill requesting the removal of Grant’s remains to Washington for burial at Arlington Cemetery. One month later, in August, the resolution passed the Senate and its sponsors immediately introduced it into the House of Representatives.
The New Yorkers, of course, were infuriated and resentful. As intense lobbying began, the New York delegation defended the association’s conduct and tried to explain away the delays. The city, after all, had been generous to disaster victims of the Johnstown flood and the Charleston earthquake, and it was outrageous to charge it with apathy. Defenders, including Rep. Rosewell P. Flower, Tammany Democrat and future governor of the state, sprang forward to champion the patriotism, altruism, and compassion of New York. Congressman John Raines, stimulated by the fact that the House resolution requesting removal had been introduced by a Pennsylvania congressman named Charles O’Neill, ransacked history to reveal that “when Pennsylvania was trembling with fear the citizen soldiers of New York rushed to her rescue. Call the role of the regiments who stood for three days at Gettysburg,” Raines cried, “and it would be found that one-third of them were from New York.”
Other New Yorkers joined the battle, one seeing in the resolution attitudes that “savored of a rancorous spirit,” flying in the face of tradition, “something abnormal and monstrous.” Many national heroes—George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Giuseppe Garibaldi—lay buried at their homes. New York had been Grant’s home, and it was absurd to contemplate removal. They added that the Bunker Hill Monument had taken some seventeen years to complete the Washington Monument, thirty-seven. The Grant delays had been minimal.
Such arguments did not melt the opposition. Resentful or suspicious of New York’s greatness, congressmen from elsewhere insisted that more people would visit Grant’s body if it lay at Arlington. He deserved to be buried within sight of the Capitol. They argued that newspaper sentiment favored removal and added that the New Yorkers defending Gettysburg had also been defending New York. And New York was not the only state to contribute to Johnstown flood victims.
In the end, after impassioned speeches, the resolution was defeated late in the year by a margin of almost three to one 92 congressmen supported it, 134 opposed. Democrats were particularly strong in their opposition to removal. But New York took note of its major regional enemies—Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois—and their leading figures, including William McKinley, who had demonstrated how eager they were, “in all matters, to vote against the wishes of the metropolis.” Resentment of the big city would continue to be a factor in American life, as would New York’s contempt for the hinterlands.
The year 1890 turned out to be critical. Not only was the congressional danger escaped, but a final design was selected. Abandoning the open competition, the Monument Committee invited a group of five well-known architects to submit plans. From these it selected John H. Duncan, designer of Brooklyn’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch. Duncan had devised a tomb based on the Mausoleum of Hadrian, a square Doric temple surmounted by a great granite dome. The desires for a Roman monument, voiced by some American journals five years earlier, had been answered.
The drawings of all the entrants—including Napoleon Le Brun and Carrère & Hastings—went on public exhibition, and there was general satisfaction at the committee’s choice. Duncan’s plan had been designed by a reputable architect and promised to stay within the budget. Moreover, as The New York Times pointed out succinctly, it “will not be ridiculous.” As far as American public monuments went, this was “much more than a negative advantage. It could not have been attained,” the Times continued, warming to a favorite theme, “by one of the promiscuous ‘open competitions’ under which the certainty of securing the service of competent architects is thrown away for the desperate chance of bringing to light some unknown genius.” Indeed, as the Times ruminated about the winning design in a series of editorials, it became more enthusiastic, praising the seventy of Duncan’s Doric, superior to the florid Roman motifs displayed in Italian Renaissance churches.
The Duncan design, finally, would be impressive from any vantage point. Seen from either the Hudson or the shoreline, north or south, the tomb was certain to impress the bystander. The struggle over the mausoleum, in fact, besides shedding light on professional self-consciousness and regional rivalry, hinted at the coming power of the City Beautiful movement, the great effort of the nineties and after to make American cities handsome and heroic. Grant’s Tomb offered New York a major environmental opportunity accessibility, grandeur, and site availability were not always so well matched.
The upper Manhattan location had been determined rather quickly. The committee formed in 1885 to get Grant’s body for New York took the general’s sons to three possible sites: one on Central Park’s Mall another on Watch Hill, near Eighth Avenue and 110th Street and a third in the new Riverside Park. This was the spot the Grant family chose. Within fifteen years the area would be bounding with activity. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine was being built slightly to the south and east indeed, it is still being built. During the 1890s McKim, Mead & White were supervising the construction of Columbia University’s new campus, which opened in 1897. Other monuments would follow. Increasingly Morningside Heights was being described as an American Acropolis, filled with cultural and educational institutions.
But in 1885, when the site was first announced, The American Architect , suspicious of every aspect of the plan, charged New York with appointing a “huge committee of its most eminent beer-sellers, brokers, politicians, and railroad-men” to persuade Frederick Grant to yield the more accessible Central Park Mall (favored by The American Architect ) for a “neglected and remote strip of unimproved land adjoining the Hudson River Railroad tracks. …” The mayor of New York, a Riverside Park supporter, argued that the dead should not lie “remote from Nature.” The American Architect agreed. But to build this “costly monument, to the most distinguished person of the age, in an uncultivated and uninhabitable strip of land in the rear of the present metropolis” was “carrying aesthetic sensitiveness too far.” The area was unreachable, “except [to] goats,” and the only beneficiaries would be the “owners of the cheap and neglected lots fronting the Park.” One New York newspaper reacted energetically, labeling this position “grotesque” and “astonishing.” And The American Architect retreated. It agreed that Riverside Drive was already the “noblest urban drive in the world,” but it continued to call the site “neglected and remote.” However, by the mid-1890s, as it became clear that the Upper West Side would be served effectively by mass transit, and as population flowed in, the debate subsided.
There were actually excellent topographical reasons for the choice of Riverside Park. Its height and visibility permitted easy view by river traffic, and it could be part of an immense natural theater for the holding of the elaborate patriotic pageants that were just then coming into vogue. The tomb’s setting permitted great crowds to look south upon processions or to look west and see great lines of ships passing in review. The Grant funeral, in 1885, hinted at what would come in 1889, with the centennial of Washington’s inauguration in 1893, with the World’s Columbian Exposition and in 1897, with the dedication of the tomb. The crowds gathering to mourn Grant were among the largest New York had ever seen. As its backers hoped, Grant’s Tomb would become an important part of the city’s public landscape, an anchor for great ceremonies. The professional concerns of American architects and the regional jealousies fighting the tomb’s location were no less typical of the period than this search for suitable civic forms. The cornerstone layings, the parades, the expositions, and the victory celebrations of the nineties summarized this larger effort and the civic culture of the day.
There was one last way in which the building of Grant’s Tomb reflected the realities of modern America, and that was through its fund raising. With the congressional crisis passed and a design selected, the Monument Association could breathe more easily. But it still had less than a third of the money in hand, and after a brief, ugly spate of bickerings, public accusations, and resignations, the association took decisive action. In February 1892 it chose for its president Gen. Horace Porter, one of Grant’s military secretaries, a vice-president of the Pullman Company, president-general of the Sons of the American Revolution, and future ambassador to France. Energetic, single-minded, and devoted to Grant’s memory, Porter set in motion a whirlwind campaign. He organized New York’s trades, professions, and institutions into several hundred committees with some twenty-five hundred members who agreed to canvass for subscriptions. Day after day, through March and April 1892, newspapers announced the new committees: Dry Goods Importers Shirt Manufacturers Wallpaper and Furniture Decorators Diamond and Silversmiths Architects Paper Manufacturers Hotelmen Physicians Attorneys Brokers and so on and on. Clubs were covered so were schools and colleges. Contribution boxes appeared in elevated railway stations, in banks, in department stores. An auction of paintings raised almost $3,500. Appeals were made in churches. Porter promised that the necessary $350,000 would be collected in sixty days. After one month of work, by April 27, 1892, Grant’s birthday, some $200,000 had flowed in, and President Benjamin Harrison laid the tomb’s cornerstone. Chauncey Depew delivered an address in which, on the one hand, he deprecated the glory of centralized power and the splendor of national Valhallas like Westminster Abbey but, on the other, seized such dignity for Gotham, asserting that Grant had selected New York for his final resting place because it was “the metropolis of the continent and the capital of the country.” Thus, the very act of building the monument caught the tensions between New York’s cosmopolitan ambitions and the hostility which they aroused.
By May 30, after sixty days of work, General Porter announced that $350,700 had been added, all but $22,000 of the total by New Yorkers. The city’s honor had been sustained. In the end some ninety thousand separate contributions created a fund reaching almost $600,000. The extra moneys paid for the great sarcophagus, a seventeen-thousand-pound piece of red granite quarried in Montello, Wisconsin.
And so, on April 27,1897, almost twelve years after Grant’s death, in an elaborate set of ceremonies, the Monument Association turned the tomb over to New York City. “Since the transfer of Napoleon’s remains from St. Helena to France, and their interment in the Hôtel des Invalides,” General Porter had written, no function equaled “in solemnity and importance” the dedication of Grant’s Tomb. With sixty thousand marching troops, a parade of ships sailing up the Hudson, with choral societies and bands, in the presence of one million spectators, the President of the United States, the Vice-President, the mayor of New York, ambassadors, generals, admirals, and thirteen governors, Grant Day arrived. Despite the enormous enthusiasm, not everyone was totally satisfied. Reviewing the finished tomb, The Critic found the superstructure well designed and proportioned but not large enough to crown the great supporting base. Column lengths were unsuitable, and the tomb lacked the necessary sculpture. Americans would “have to be content with bigness and with the dignity of the monument’s location.”
Sectional rivalries also continued to rankle. The governor of Illinois was upset his state received last position in the parade. “New Yorkers, I suppose,” Gov. John Riley Tanner told the press, “do not know that Grant came from Illinois.” Moreover, Tanner complained, he had received only three tickets for the ceremonies. Perhaps, he speculated, New York was short of money the tickets did cost five dollars apiece.
Other governors were also upset by the order of the march. New York justified the precedence they received by insisting that positions were assigned to the states in the order of their admission to the Union. This accounted for placing Illinois last among the thirteen. But it didn’t explain why New York was first.
Philadelphia newspapers raised another issue. They were worried that their National Guard units’ participation in the tomb ceremonies might lead to their boys’ missing a local Washington Monument dedication a short time later. New York’s wickedness, they warned, would expose the guardsmen to temptation. The New York Times replied tartly that Philadelphians were depressed because their troops might discover the difference “between a real city and their big town” and suggested that Pennsylvania’s reluctance was economic. Their citizen soldiers would visit New York, compare their uniforms with those of other, more generous states, and return home with expensive demands.
All this, however rancorous, was minor. The Philadelphians attended and enjoyed themselves. So did the Illinoisans. And there was little question about the splendor of the site or of the dedicating pageant. Grant Day turned out cold and blustery, but Riverside Park proved spectacular. While The New York Times admitted that the display did not quite equal the recent coronation of the czar, it insisted that this was the greatest parade in American history and demonstrated our advances in pageant making. Aided by the “sinuosities and inequalities” of the roadway, spectators throughout Riverside Park caught marvelous vistas of the land parade, and the naval display was appropriately imposing. Flowers and decorations abounded throughout the city: in churches, hotels, and shopwindows. Both the “noble pleasure ground,” as the Times called Riverside Park, and the host city apparently justified their choice.
New York, moreover, turned the occasion into an economic event as well. Merchants persuaded railroads to lower their excursion rates and permit visitors to spend time in the city transacting business before returning home. The result was so gratifying that the Merchants’ Association, originally organized on an ad hoc basis for Grant Day, announced it would become permanent, seeking semiannual excursion rates to encourage visits to New York. Modern tourism was rearing its head, and if the canonization of a President could help it along, New York accepted the advantages.
Thus, Grant’s Tomb passed into history and began its own journey into the iconography of Manhattan. Guidebooks, brochures, postcards, and advertisements soon made its features familiar to millions, and its location guaranteed flocking visitors. Today, surrounded by new and controversial forms of public art, this great mausoleum no longer focuses attention upon its intended purpose. Nor does it thrust before the public any sense of the drama its creation promoted. Grant’s famous words “Let us have peace” are inscribed upon its façade, and except for Groucho Marx and the graffitists, most have attended to this final request.
Early life and transatlantic flight
Lindbergh’s early years were spent chiefly in Little Falls, Minnesota, and in Washington, D.C. His father, Charles August Lindbergh, represented the 6th district of Minnesota in Congress (1907–17), where he was a staunch supporter of neutrality and a vocal antiwar advocate. The younger Lindbergh’s formal education ended during his second year at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, when his growing interest in aviation led to enrollment in a flying school in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the purchase of a World War I-era Curtiss JN-4 (“Jenny”), with which he made stunt-flying tours through Southern and Midwestern states. After a year at the army flying schools in Texas (1924–25), he became an airmail pilot (1926), flying the route from St. Louis, Missouri, to Chicago. During that period he obtained financial backing from a group of St. Louis businessmen to compete for the $25,000 Orteig Prize, which had been offered for the first nonstop flight between New York and Paris.
For the feat, Lindbergh in early 1927 had a single-engine monoplane built to his specifications in San Diego. Notably, it was outfitted with extra fuel tanks, including one in front of the cabin, which required him to use a periscope to see forward. On May 10–12 Lindbergh flew what became dubbed the Spirit of St. Louis from San Diego to New York (with a stopover in St. Louis) in preparation for the transatlantic attempt. Only a few days earlier, on May 8, World War I French flying ace Charles Nungesser and his navigator François Coli disappeared after beginning their effort to collect the Orteig Prize by flying from Paris to New York. They were last sighted over Ireland several hours after takeoff. The loss of Nungesser, one of France’s most charismatic and decorated pilots, highlighted the peril inherent in such an undertaking, which Lindbergh proposed to attempt alone.
Lindbergh was delayed several days by bad weather, but at 7:52 am on the morning of May 20 he took off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island (just east of New York City) and headed east. Shortly before nightfall, Lindbergh passed over St. John’s, Newfoundland, on the way to the open sea. After flying some 3,600 miles (5,800 km) in 33.5 hours, he landed at Le Bourget field near Paris at 10:24 pm on the night of May 21. There the somewhat bewildered flier was mobbed by a large crowd that had come to greet him. Overnight Lindbergh became a folk hero on both sides of the Atlantic and a well-known figure in most of the world. U.S. Pres. Calvin Coolidge presented him with the Distinguished Flying Cross and made him a colonel in the Air Corps Reserve. There followed a series of goodwill flights in Europe and America.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 5, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994.
Franklin, John Hope, Race and History: Selected Essays, 1938–1988, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1990.
Franklin, John Hope, and Alfred A. Moss, Jr., From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans, 8th edition, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2000.
Franklin, John Hope, Mirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2005.
Black Issues Book Review, September-October, 2005, Fred Beauford, interview with the author, p. 46.
Black Issues in Higher Education, January 18, 2001, Joan Morgan, "Creating a Fitting Tribute," p. 26 May 24, 2001, Wilma King, review of Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation, p. 27.
Diverse Issues in Higher Education, November 17, 2005, "John Hope Franklin Publishes Memoirs of Life," p. 16.
Ebony, August, 2005, review of In Search of the Promised Land: A Slave Family in the Old South, p. 26.
Journal of Negro History, winter-spring, 2000, V.P. Franklin, "From Slavery to Freedom: The Journey from Our Known Past to Our Unknown Future," p. 6, Debra Newman Ham, "John Hope Franklin: And the Year of Jubilee," p. 14, Darlene Clark Hine, "Paradigms, Politic, and Patriarchy in the Making of a Black History: Reflections on From Slavery to Freedom," p. 18, Thomas Holt, "From Slavery to Freedom and the Conceptualization of African-American History," p. 22, "A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration: From Slavery to Freedom," p. 65 spring, 2001, review of Runaway Slaves, p. 195.
Journal of Southern History, February, 2001, Carol Wilson, review of Runaway Slaves, p. 172.
Library Journal, September 1, 2005, Edward G. McCormack, review of In Search of the Promised Land, p. 160.
New Republic, January 22, 1977, Roy Wilkins, review of Racial Equality in America.
New York Times, November 27, 2005, David Oshinsky, review of Mirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin.
New York Times Book Review, November 17, 1985, Ira Berlin, review of George Washington Williams: A Biography June 3, 1990, Drew Gilpin Faust, review of Race and History: Selected Essays, 1938–1988 February 21, 1993, Carl Senna, review of The Color Line: Legacy for the Twenty-first Century.
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 9, 2006, Carlin Romano, review of Mirror to America.
Southern Review, spring, 1986, James Olney, review of George Washington Williams.
Washington Post Book World, January 11, 1986, Louis R. Harlan, review of George Washington Williams October 21, 1990, review of Race and History.
Duke University Libraries Web site, http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/ (February 21, 2006), biography of John Hope Franklin.
First Person Singular: John Hope Franklin (documentary film), Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), 1997.