Category Archives: history

Circe the siren?

Patrick Henry said in 1775:

It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts.

Was he aware that he conflated two episodes of the Odyssey?

sometimes there are no good possibilities

Years ago, in a Usenet thread about Lincoln’s unconstitutional reconquest of the South, someone asked me (I paraphrase): “As a descendant of slaves, why should I prefer to live in that alternate history where the CSA continued to keep slaves after 1865?”

I had no answer then, but one has recently occurred to me:

For several reasons I believe that slavery was more likely to end if secession was successful than if the secession had never happened. If the end of slavery were not tied to a tremendous grudge of blood and devastation, might not social equality come sooner even if formal liberation came later?

where was Waterloo?

I have twice raised the question: “In what country was the battle of Waterloo fought?” Waterloo is now in Belgium, but that state was created fifteen years later. Well, I finally bothered to go looking for an answer to the question . .

Waterloo was fought nine days after the end of the Congress of Vienna, during which the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, which included what we now call Belgium, was created.