Friday, November 28, 2014

Suggestion for young scholars and bibliophiles

Don't overlook the used book sections of thrift stores. Seriously! In the past year I have found some great books in good condition. And they were really cheap.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Thought on FDR's Polio

Still plugging away at Ken Burns's The Roosevelts.  Doris Kearns Goodwin pushed the idea
that polio made FDR more sympathetic to the troubles and concerns of other people, and hence more liberal. By extension, this line suggests that FDR's polio made the New Deal. She is not the first person to suggest this, of course, but I have always been a little suspicious of this assertion. Obviously, such a monumental event in an individual's life will affect their outlook. There is no doubt that FDR was a changed man, and that he shed some of the haughty arrogance that many detected in the younger FDR. It was humbling for athletic FDR to rely on others to help him in the toilet, to get dressed, and to move. He dragged himself across his bedroom floor. Yet, parts of his outlook did not change. He remained ebullient and optimistic, and hid his fears and negative feelings very deep.

On a political level, polio might have made him feel greater genuine empathy and sympathy for the problems of common people. However, he was very much a progressive before polio deprived him the use of his legs. As a politician, he craved popularity and the New Deal was nothing if not very popular with voters, as is clearly evident in his four elections. If anything moved FDR left it was public opinion and the desire to win votes. Social Security is a great case in point. FDR wanted to draw the support Dr. Townsend was building around his proposal. The Social Security Act that FDR signed was different in many ways from what we now know as Social Security. It covered far fewer people and was setup as a self funding program (demonstrating a fiscal conservatives that lurked in FDR). It is hard for me to see how the New Deal would have been very different, or that FDR would have not adopted old age insurance, if had not been afflicted by polio.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Gilded Age Tariff Snafu

Here is an interesting story of  Gilded Age tariff comma snafu that cost the United States government $2 million, the equivalent to $38 million today. I wonder what that could have paid for?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Benedict XV: Pope during World War I

On September 3, 1914, Cardinal Giacomo Della Chiesa, the Arch-Bishop of Bologna was elected to The Unknown Pope: Benedict XV and the Pursuit of Peace, John F. Pollard paints a favorable portrait of the pontiff during the Great War. Pollard argues that although Della Chiesa was relatively unknown, even to his fellow Cardinals, he was far from a dark horse candidate. His election was seen as a compromise between the ultra conservatives represented by Pope Pius X and the more liberal faction of Pope Leo XIII. Just five days after his election, Benedict XV issued his first call for peace.
the seat of St. Peter and took the name Pope Benedict XV.  In

The war had noticeable effects on the Vatican. Travel restrictions, especially after Italy entered the war, essentially stopped transnational pilgrimages. The war also disrupted the flow of tithes from the parishes to Rome, causing financial hardships. Benedict professed neutrality, but the diplomatic situation for the Holy See was complicated to say the least. Traditionally, the Church had a close relationship with the Austrian monarch, who had until 1904 a veto over papal elections. Relations with Italy had been antagonistic since unification in 1870, and the Italian government intercepted and inspected all incoming and outgoing mail. Relations with England, France, and Russia were also poor for a variety of reasons. Benedict's efforts at mediation in 1917 also alienated England and France because they were interpreted as being too favorable to Germany (who incidentally was angry at the Pope for his condemnations of atrocities in Belgium). Pollard believes that Benedict XV acted in good faith, but that his position was somewhat compromised by an effort to prop up the doomed Austrian monarchy. Papal denunciations of atrocities against civilians, use of weapons of mass destruction, and the expansion of the war sadly fell on deaf ears. The most tangible impact Benedict XV had on the war, was in the treatment of prisoners of war, a cause the Pope took to heart. The Church arranged for chaplains, mail delivery, care packages, food, medical care, and an information clearinghouse for prisoners and their families.

In a 1920 encyclical, Pacem Dei Munus, the Pope displayed his displeasure with a peace settlement that he felt sorely lacking in Christian principles. Reparations, nationalism, and vulnerable successor states were among his criticisms of the Treaty of Versailles. He remained sensitive to human suffering and spent funds from the depleted Vatican treasury on famine relief in Russia in 1921. Conscious of the poor relations with the western allies, he made some efforts to improve relations with the English and French governments.

Although not a towering figure in Church history, Pope Benedict XV had some noticeable impacts, including taking the first steps towards the publication of the Catechism (although it would not be published until 1993!), reaching out to non-Catholic Christians, codifying canon law, and establishing native missionaries in Africa and Asia. A pious and generous man who could be irascible at times, Benedict XV died unexpectedly in 1922 at the age of 67.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Recent Reads: Michael Kazin, A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan

I must admit that I have never been a big William Jennings Bryan fan. He always struck me as a bit a whack job. In A Godly Hero, Michael Kazin reminds us that the Great Commoner played an important role in transforming the Democratic Party from the conservative, states-rights policies of Grover Cleveland to the liberal, national party associated with Franklin Roosevelt. Ironically, Kazin sees Bryan as a conservative figure that considered corporate-driven industrialization a radical force that could destroy American families, the Jeffersonian economy of farmers and mechanics, and the very project of democracy itself.

Kazin dismisses any lingering claims that the Boy Orator was selected as a dark horse in 1896, arguing instead that the crafty and ambitious Bryan had been actively working for the nomination for a year prior to the convention. By 2014 standards that would make him a late- comer, but in 1896 it was an early start. Having been nominated by the Democratic Party, Bryan ran an electrifying and novel campaign, but one that had only the slimmest possibility of success. In defeat Bryan’s supporters bonded to their hero. No other losing politician enjoyed such devoted loyalty. So potent was his spell, that the Democrats wheeled him out for two more drubbings. When not campaigning, Bryan worked his way through the lecture circuit advocating prohibition. Although his third loss more or less disqualified him from a fourth nomination in 1912, he was instrumental in steering the convention towards New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson. Kazin argues that Bryan exercised some influence on the New Freedom, and it should be as much a part of his legacy as his other projects. A Godly Hero finds one major flaw in its subject: He failed to stand for racial justice and too often sided with Jim Crow.

President Wilson acknowledged both Byran's support in the 1912 convention and his standing in the party by appointing him secretary of state. Bryan, who had campaigned in 1900 on an anti-imperialism message, wanted the United States to deviate from Roosevelt's jingoism and Taft's dollar diplomacy, by adopting a moral foreign policy. He succeeded to some extent in tempering Wilson's heavy hand in Latin America. But Kazin draws attention to the tension this created for the nation's chief diplomat. Despite his own views and preferences, he still had to serve his president.

When it comes to World War I Bryan stumbled badly in the estimation of his biographer. Bryan argued that the British bore prime responsibility for the loss of American life when a German submarine torpedoed the Lusitania in May 1915. Even before the sinking, he expressed concern that Wilson's British-leaning policy compromised American neutrality. Critical of both the British blockade and the German U-Boat campaign, he argued before the cabinet that any American citizens who traveled on belligerent ships did so at their own peril. Then, when the crisis occurred, Bryan choked. Instead of using the sinking as a platform to protest the American failure to uphold neutrality, he bowed to the president's wishes and signed a strongly worded threat to Germany that he himself had objected to. Then, he resigned in such a friendly manner that it did nothing to sharpen the differences between him and the chief executive. Following his departure from the cabinet, Bryan continued to serve Wilson. Bryan campaigned for Wilson in the 1916 election, and might have played a decisive role in the president's reelection. 
After the United States entered the war, Bryan attacked profiteers and made it a point not to castigate German citizens.

Bryan's reputation might have been improved if he had gone down in a blaze of glory protesting Wilson Administration's policy. Of course, such a course was complicated by the fact that he had signed the note to Germany, a fact that leaves Kazin scratching his head. On the other hand, Bryan was a politician and wanted his party to remain in power. He had worked his whole life to see a strong Democratic administration in the White House that would use the federal government as a tool to bring about economic justice. Wilson might be wrong on war, but he was still vastly superior to a Republican president in either the mold of either Roosevelt or Taft. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Recent Reads: Russians and Dunsterforce

A couple of primary source accounts that aided me in my understanding of World War I.

Nikolai Golovin, The Russian Army in World War I (1931). Golovin served on the Russian General Staff during the war. He wrote of the many challenges facing the Russian army, but the one that stuck out the most for me is his attitude towards the western allies. According to Golovin, the Russians responded to French pleas for assistance by assaulting the Germans, and suffered enormous losses doing so. Yet, when the Russians begged for assistance in 1915, the French and English ignored the requests. I wonder if Comrade Stalin was familiar with this book, and if it sharpened his sense that Churchill and Roosevelt did not do enough for Mother Russia.

Lionel Charles Dunsterville, The Adventures of Dunsterforce (1920). If there is a forgotten front in
World War I it is the Middle East. Dunsterville led Indian troops in the northwestern frontier against tribes rebelling against British rule during most of the war. In late 1917 he was tasked with a new assignment in the wake of the Russian Revolution. He was to take a special motorized force of 400 men (all officers and NCOs) from Baghdad to the Russian city of Tiflis. The British were concerned that the Turks would drive deeper into Central Asia and that Germany would obtain access to vital oil fields in the region. Dunsterforce was to go to Tiblis, rally disaffected Russian troops (paying them as mercenaries) and anyone else they could find, and build a strong enough defense force to halt the Central Powers' drive east. The trip north from Baghdad through Persia is an odd one in the annals of warfare. They slept both in the field and in hotels and met both friendly and hostile Persians (some of whom took shots at their passing convoy). When they finally arrived in Russian territory, the local Soviet treated them as enemies, not allies. The Germans turned the tables on Dunsterville, by telling the Russians that the British were coming to take their oil. Dunsterforce's mission was abandon in September 1918.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

World War I Recent Reads: Decisive Battles Edition

In The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle that Changed the World (New York: Random House, 2009), Holger H. Herwig wrote, "The Marne was the most significant battle of the twentieth century." (p. xi) It really wasn't a single battle, but a collection of bloody engagements that marked the opening two months of the war in the west and set the tone of the conflict to come. Herwig covers the French offensive into Lorraine, known as the Battle of the Frontiers (which, like the Marne, was made up of many engagements), as well as the German attacks to the north through Belgium and in the center towards Nancy. The casualties were enormous, and the German drive on Paris was stopped. The soldiers dug in and settled into their trenches, and there would be no appreciable move in the front lines until 1918. This is an exciting read, well argued and sourced. To me, Herwig's account depicts the campaigns as a series of errors and missteps. None of the commanders come off well, with Helmuth von Moltke coming off the worst. Herwig gives attention to the German fascination with the Battle of Cannae, Hannibal's crushing victory over the Romans in 216 BCE. This fixation with a decisive knock out punch made it difficult for the Germans officers to play the kind of small ball warfare that developed. They let opportunities slip away so that they the could try to set the stage for the next attempt at a Cannae-like victory. One other thing I learned in this: I did not know that the original Schlieffen Plan called for Italians to man the Lorraine front against the French, while more German soldiers would be put in the main attack force through Belgium. Of course, the Italians opted out of their alliance with the Central Powers, and the Germans had to guard their own frontiers.

In Breakthrough: The Gorlice-Tarnow Campaign, 1915 (Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger, 2010) Richard L. DiNardio covers the decisive battle of the eastern front. In fact, he argues that the Gorlice-Tarnow campaign re-set the war on all fronts in Germany's favor. The Central Powers regained the upper hand that they lost on the Battle of the Marne, and dealt the Russian army a blow that they did not recover from. Unlike Moltke's grand plan to reach Paris in one swift movement, Field Marshal August von Mackensen's plan moved from one objective to the next as a series of independent offensives. The first target was Przemsyl, then Lemberg, and finally Warsaw. Each one fell into their hands more easily than they thought, setting the stage for the next drive east. Unlike the Battle of the Marne, these battles were masterpieces of operational art that utilized the latest technologies, like the telephone. DiNardio has high praises for Mackensen and his staff, and takes a few swipes at General Erich von Ludendorff. Ironically, despite the clear military success of the campaign, it failed in its diplomatic objectives of persuading Italy and Romania to remain neutral. Considering their liabilities to the Allies, that might not have been a total diplomatic defeat for the Germans.

My big takeaway from these books is how difficult operational planning was during World War I. They did not always effectively utilize the latest technologies (railroads, telephones, automobiles, planes), had very limited intelligence, and little experience moving the vast formations under their command. If Herwig's book shows the failure of the Germans to set realistic and obtainable objectives, DiNardio's shows that they learned that lesson well enough. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Paths of Glory

World War I began a century ago. In memory of this extraordinary event -- it shaped the twentieth century, and in many ways we are still living in its shadow -- by dedicated this month on the Dynamo and the Virgin to the Great War.

I usually enjoy a good war game on Friday evenings. It is a good way for me to unwind after a tough week at work. This week it was Paths of Glory (POG), Ted Racier's classic card-given game on World War I published by GMT games. Prior to the publication of this game, Avalon Hill's Guns of August (GoA) was the standard game for the war. GoA, however, had what seemed to be thousands of counters. It broke the units into divisions and corps, and it was hard to move anything without knocking something over. The variable neutral entry, however, was a nice feature to mix things up. By focusing on armies, PoG has far fewer counters which makes for a neater, easier to play game. The cards offer some variability, but not in the same range as GoA.

The Germans won this war in Fall 1916. They mauled the French. It was a bloodbath. Following a variation I read about on Board Game Geek, I strategically deployed the German 8th Army from the east front to the west. This left a lone German corps to defend against the Russian bear. However, the Russians can not attack German fortresses in the first turn. When they finally did, it was a disaster for Tsar. Meanwhile, the brave British Expeditionary Forces and the Belgians held up the Germans for two turns in Brussels. It looked like the Kaiser had made a mistake in his gamble to strike a knock out blow against the French, but once the BEF was out of the way, the Germans went to work on the French. In the north, the Germans pushed to Amiens and threatened Paris. British troops stabilized the line, but could not push the three entrenched armies out of Amiens. The main German efforts were deployed in the south. Three attacks on Verdun bled the French dry, as every reinforcement was sent to the meat grinder, only to be destroyed. The Germans pushed through the frontier, capturing Belfort, Verdun, Nancy, Dijon, and Bar le Duc. These last two gave the Central Powers their 20 victory points.

Most of the action happened in the west with the British and French hastily building reinforcements and trenches. The Russians could do little to the Austro-Hungarians with few operations points. Once the Germans deployed more forces in the east, the Russians collapsed. Nonetheless, they only captured two Russian victory point cities and the Tsar survived the war. Austria-Hungary mauled Serbia.

Winston Churchill's idea of expanding the war to stretch the Central Powers failed. The British landed at Gallipoli, but the game result was very similar to the real one. With so much going on in the west, the Allies made no headway against the the Ottomans, This is unusual, as the Ottomans have a notoriously fragile glass jaw. Many players have complained that there are too much low-hanging fruit for the Allies in the Ottoman Empire. Italy proved no value to the Allies. And, Romania proved a complete liability as the Bulgarians captured Bucharest and the Austro-Hungarians captured Ploesti.

All this, of course, made me wonder what a settlement would have looked like had the Allies sued for peace in 1916. Would newly re-elected Woodrow Wilson have brokered the peace? France would have probably been strapped with huge reparations. Both England and France would have surrendered some colonial possessions to the Germans. I imagine there would have been some adjustments in the Balkans, including the destruction of Serbia. Belgium would probably have been gobbled up by Germany. While the Tsar survived the war, I imagine that he would have been deposed by the liberals under Kerenesky.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The surrender at Port Hudson, July 9, 1863

One hundred and fifty-one years ago today,  the rebel forces surrendered Port Hudson, Louisiana to the Union. Five days after the capitulation of Vicksburg, the capture of Port Hudson secured complete Union control of the Mississippi River.  My Great-great-great Grandfather Mathias J. Petry was present at the surrender. As a Lieutenant in the 173rd New York regiment, he saw the elephant, as Civil War soldiers referred to their first battle, at Port Hudson. According to his muster roll, he was assigned to brigade commander General Charles Jackson Paine's staff in May and June 1863. Following the surrender of Port Hudson, Mathias moved to the divisional staff. He returned to New York in August. Although his regiment remained in Louisiana, and later participated in the Red River campaign of Nathaniel Banks, it looks like Lieutenant Petry returned to New York, where he remained for most of the rest of the war on what his muster roll described as "detached service." He was honorably discharged in June 1865.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Two Reflections on the meaning of Independence Day

Two reflections on the meaning of Independence Day:

Our first reflection comes from the very author of our founding, or as William F. Buckley sometimes referred to it as, enabling document. To Thomas Jefferson the Declaration was an annual reminder of what made the United States unique in a world still dominated by monarchy, a theme that Abraham Lincoln most eloquently expounded on in the Gettysburg Address. "For ourselves," Jefferson wrote in 1826, "let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them." This commemoration of what the document says is so much more an important part of the day than fireworks and hot dog eating contests. Our third president wrote these lines in a letter regretfully declining an invitation to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. As we all know, Jefferson died that day, as did John Adams.

The second reflection comes from the Civil War, the fight to preserve the principles enshrined in the Declaration. On July 4, 1863 a young Rhode Island soldier at Gettysburg named Elisha Hunt Rhodes proudly exclaimed in his diary, "Was ever the Nation's Birthday celebrated in such a way before." There was rejoicing in the nation's capital as news of the great victory enhanced the normal celebration of the holiday. Walt Whitman, who served as a nurse, got some bottles of cherry and blackberry syrup, which he described as "good and strong, but innocent," and served celebratory drinks to recovering solders. Outside the hospital the celebration continued. "Meanwhile the Washington bells are ringing their sundown peals for the Fourth of July," he wrote, "and the usual fusilades of boys' pistols, crackers, and guns." It seems that neither men knew the other half of the story, that in faraway Mississippi rebel general John Pemberton surrendered his force at Vicksburg to Ulysses S. Grant, making it perhaps the greatest of Independence days. It is a reminder that millions before us have fought and died to preserve, protect, and expand the rights that Jefferson wrote of. We should also always remember that there have been times when we seemed so close to losing them.


Thomas Jefferson to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826, Writings, ed. Merrill D. Peterson, (New York: Library of America, 1984), 1517.

Robert Hunt Rhodes, ed., All for the Union: The Civil War Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes (New York: Vintage Books, 1992), 109.

Walt Whitman, "Specimen Days" in Writings, ed. Justin Kaplan (New York: Library of America, 1982), 729.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Gavrilo Princip

One hundred years ago today Gavrilo Princip murdered Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. A little over a month later -- days drought with nationalistic bluster and fatally flawed diplomacy -- the most
catastrophic war in history began. Of course, in those early August days of 1914 the belligerents did not know how badly it would turn out for them. They expected a short, glorious war. Instead, they got a protracted, draining conflict that killed millions of their people, and opened the doors of social upheaval that we are still living with today! I always make clear to my students that World War I was the pivotal moment of the twentieth century.

There is a good article here from the Guardian discussing the assassin who more or less set off the chain of events that led to the Great War. Was he a villain for a murderous deed that plunged the world into war (although this was not his intent), or a hero for liberating subjected people from the yoke of a harsh foreign regime in Vienna that gave them no voice? I always thought the most ironic outcome of the war (and their are many) is that Princip got what he wanted, a Slavic state free and independent from Austrian control.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Who is your Charles A. Lindbergh?

Charles A. Lindbergh is buried behind a small church on the south shore of the Hawaiian island of Conde Nast voted world's best island for 19 of the last 20 years (it came in second place once), but it is still a remote location where residents don't have electric, telephone, or water service. It was the perfect place for the reclusive Lindbergh to spend his last years, and a quiet spot for a final resting place.
Maui. It is a stop on the "Road to Hana," a common tourist destination. The road is winding, narrow, and, in parts, unpaved. This part of Maui might still be on the island that

I find Lindbergh a puzzling historical figure. He was both famous and later infamous. Lindbergh skyrocketed to fame as "Lucky Lindy" for his daring, solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927. Thirteen years later, the symbol of American spunk, innovation, exceptionalism, daring, individualism, and countless more attributes, warned his country to stay out of the European war. As the biggest spokesperson for the American First Committee, Lindbergh became the nation's most prominent isolationist. Errant foreign policy views might be more easily forgiven if they had not been compounded with so many favorable comments about nazi Germany. Although he flew combat missions in the Pacific after Pearl Harbor, his pre-war pro-nazi statements are what stand out. He picked a very poor issue on which to step out of the shadows and stake his enormous prestige.

To draw on popular representations, can the Lindbergh of Jimmy Stewart's The Spirit of St. Louis (1957) and Philip Roth's The Plot Against America (2004) be the same person? The same question can be asked of other historical figures, particularly our presidents. How can Lyndon Johnson be responsible for ushering through long overdue civil rights legislation, and, at the same time, the catastrophic policies in the Vietnam War? How could Woodrow Wilson successfully compromise to gain passage of key pieces of legislation that served as the foundations of the liberal state fail to do so over the League of Nations? There are countless other examples, but I think you get the point. The answer is, of course, we, as humans, are full of contradictions. Exploring them is one of the things that make being a biographer and historian so fun and interesting. Was the good a person achieved more beneficial than the harm they are responsible for? I thought about this question a lot as our tour bus meandered along the Road to Hana, and I have to admit, that I think I will remember Charles A. Lindbergh more as "Lucky Lindy" than as the "ex-hero" or the "copperhead."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Recent Read: Natan Sharansky, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror

I finally got around to reading Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to
Overcome Tyranny and Terror (2006). Sharansky's argument is that freedom is good for everyone. The more freedom, the more security. Everyone will be happy and peaceful. Dictatorships are bad for their people, and threats to peace. It is an argument that President George W. Bush repeated during the invasion of Iraq.

Sharansky's struggle for freedom began as a dissident in the Soviet society of fear, where after years of agitation he was labeled a spy, and sent to the gulag. After Ronald Reagan personally mentioned Sharansky in a conversation with Mikhail Gorbachev, the dissident was fattened up, released, and allowed to immigrate to Israel. Sharansky entered politics in his adoptive land, and formed a party whose objective was to assimilate the massive influx of Soviet emigres into Israeli Society. The party was so successful, that it lost its purpose. A powerful figure in Israeli politics, Sharansky was active in the negotiations with Yasser Arafat throughout the 1990s. He believes that peace in the Middle East is elusive because of the dictators hold such tremendous power over their fearful and subjected people.  These regimes are propped up with a false ideology ruthlessly supported by state organized media, and maintained by a brutal oppression of civil rights and free thought. Sharansky sees the same pattern in Syria or the Palestinian Authority as he saw in the old Soviet Union.  These authoritarian regimes are abetted by the foreign policy realists in the West. As an example, he recounts a conversation he had with former president Jimmy Carter. In discussing his experience advocating peace in the Middle East, Carter stated he had a good partnership with Syrian dictator Hafez Assad because he felt that he could always trust the dictator to keep his word. To Sharansky, this line of thinking lacked moral clarity. Even if one could take a dictator's word to the bank, it still did not change the fact that they crushed human freedom and degraded the humanity of their peoples. The entire book is an argument for idealism in foreign policy and against realism or relativism.

Historians will find interesting insights on US-Soviet Detente (he opposed it), Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan (he speaks highly of the Gipper), his arrival in Israel (he was shocked by the division he found within a democratic society), and the Middle East peace negotiations in the 1990s (he wanted to couple concessions with guarantees of more open, transparent government). Future historians will undoubtedly look to this book to gain an insights into early year of the Global War on Terror.

Friday, June 6, 2014

70th Anniversary of D-Day

If you have a few minutes to spare on this 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, I recommend that you check out the Big Red One online museum HERE. They have a bio of the Medal of Honor recipient, Theodore Roosevelt Jr's cane, and some other items. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

AHA Conference Review: Sunday January 5, 2014, 11:00-1:00

The last panel of the conference for me was "New Perspectives on American 'Internationalism' and 'Isolationism' from World War II to the Cold War."

In "Will to Lead the World: Planning Peace before Entering the War, 1939-41," Stephen Wertheim argued that while war waged across Europe in 1939 and 1940, elites in the United States laid the foundations for a post-war superiority. The Fall of France in June 1940 showed how fragile the old order had been, and Nazi Germany's Blitzkrieg across the borders of what, Donal Rumsfeld would later famously call "Old Europe", demonstrated to these elites that the United States had to assert itself as the dominant global force. This new attitude to domination was captured by Henry Luce's famous editorial, "The American Century." Isolationism was discredited as dangerous, inimical to American interests, and selfish. Internationalism would be built on military might and international organizations that emanated from the crucial alliance between the United States and Great Britain.

In "Beyond Isolationists versus Internationalists: Rethinking Conservative Foreign Policy in the Early Cold War," Christopher McKnight Nichols made a case to take the post-war isolationists as serious thinkers about the role of America in the world. He further argued that the term isolationist should be discarded, and the debate recast as one between nationalists and transnationalists. He outlined six arguments used by the nationalists (formerly known as the isolationists) that centered on the bad experiences under Wilson, the expense of maintaing a global military presence, the threat it posed to American exceptionalism, and the threat of domestic tyranny. Nichols discussed Robert Taft's position on foreign policy in detail, making the case that Taft was a nationalist, not an isolationist, who favored some forms of international engagement (United Nations and courts) but not others (NATO). I came away with a much deeper understanding of the post-war anti-internationalist viewpoint.

In "The Great Debate of the Korean War, the Republican Party, and U.S. Cold War Internationalism: Origins, Significance, Legacies," Kevin Kim examined the post-war foreign policy proposals of former-president Herbert Hoover. I have to admit I knew next to nothing about Hoover's post-presidential views of international affairs, and it was a little surprising to hear about them. He opposed war in 1939, and favored negotiation with Germany. His attitude in the Pacific was very much the same, and, according to Kim, Hoover proposed "unconditional peace" with Japan after the fall of Germany. A strong Japan, he felt, could block Soviet expansion into Asia. The use of the atomic bomb revolted him. In Korea, Hoover preferred an air war with no US ground troops. As a Cold War strategy he preferred a "fortress America" approach to the Cold War, with an emphasis on air power. Kim argues while his version of fortress America looked a lot like the New Look policies adopted during the Eisenhower administration, Hoover wanted to also pull US troops out of Europe, greatly reduce foreign aid, and tie assistance to specific policies. It was an interesting discussion, but I think the title of the paper should have named Hoover.

Three distinguished historians called into question some of the assertions of the panel. Melvyn Leffler argued that Wertheim's vocabulary was a little too strong. By arguing that American elite sought global superiority, he overstated their position. It was a case of survival, Leffler argued, not establishing superiority. John Milton Cooper felt that isolationism was still a useful descriptor, and that Nichols had gone too far in trying to paint Taft as not being the isolationist he in fact was. There still are isolationists, Cooper argued, naming a few including Pat Buchanan. Justus Doenecke questioned if Hoover and Taft had really thought out their positions. Both had some nutty ideas. Did Hoover really think anyone in the United States would have supported a president in 1945 who called for "unconditional peace" with Japan?  

Monday, June 2, 2014

AHA Conference Review: Sunday January 5, 2014, 8:30-10:30

Back to the AHA conference. I was up early on Sunday and ready to hit two panels before heading for home. The first panel I attended was entitled, "Clashing Claims to Expertise in Environmental and Energy Controversies: Peak Oil, Acid Rain, and Climatology, 1930-2010." I really enjoyed this panel. All the papers were well done and memorable.

In "Redrawing the Boundaries of Flood Control: Climatology, the New Deal, and the Debate over the Government's Role in Land Use Planning" James Henry Bergman discussed how the deepening understanding of weather patterns, particularly on the creation of moisture, during the 1930s affected government policy. By the end of the decade the notion that rain followed the plow had been replaced with a more nuanced understanding of moisture as the product of weather fronts. This new knowledge validated federal efforts at soil conservation and watershed protection.

In "How Long Can We Keep That Up? Peak Oil as Contested Object in Competing Narratives of Growth, Abundance, and Scarcity" Connemara Doran chronicled M. King Hubbert's (I think I have that name correct) formulation of peak oil theory in 1956, and his subsequent modifications of his theory in the 1960s and 1970s. All I knew about peak oil theory prior to Doran's paper was that some conspiracy theorists have argued that a massive drop in oil availability sometime this century will lead to a catastrophic collapse of civilization with the death of tens of millions. Hubbert, however, was much more optimistic. He predicted  a softer landing. As oil reserves became depleted, he argued, new sources of energy would emerge, and lessen the demand on petroleum.

In "Scientific Uncertainties as Political Escape Routes: Negotiating the 1979 United Nations' Convention on Transboundary Air Pollution," Rachel Rothschild discusses the thorny diplomacy surrounding the European acid rain mitigation agreement. Following a familiar pattern, the nations producing the sulfur dioxide that created the acid rain feared the economic toll that strong regulations would have on their industries, while those that suffered the most from  ill effects of dead lakes and streams were powerless to mitigate the ill effects of the airborne poisons. In this case, the UK played the role of the former and Scandinavian nations were cast in the role of the latter. Positions changed only in 1979 when the United States put significant pressure on the UK, France, and West Germany to come to the table. Nevertheless, the subsequent agreement contained no binding reduction targets. If nothing else, the experience of a regional transnational effort at pollution control highlights the enormous obstacles that obstruct a global agreement on carbon emissions.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Whoa! The History Channel is actually airing a history program this week. "The World Wars" is a three episode story that connects World War I and World War II through the lives of several key players, including Churchill, FDR, Hitler, MacArthur, Mussolini, Patton, and Stalin. There are, of course many key players like Dwight Eisenhower, George Marshall, Harry Truman, and any other German, Briton, or Soviet not mentioned above, who were overlooked, but I guess that the show would have lost its focus if it included too many characters.  Overall the first episode of the series, which aired last night on Memorial Day, is entertaining. There were some amateurish mistakes (maybe because the History Channel is out of practice making history shows?), such as using World War II tanks in World War I and indiscriminate use of firearms (all sides used the the British Lee-Enfield .303). There is some cheesy overacting and strange cinematography. Patton rode the outside of his tank into combat without even a helmet on. In another strange scene Benito Mussolini snipes at three German soldiers. Wearing what appears to be a dress uniform (and, again, no helmet) loads the rounds individually like a big game hunter, as he fires at his quarry. One wonders why the Germans didn't drop into the tall grass and return fire. In another scene, I wondered if FDR was really alone with Woodrow Wilson when the president received a copy of the Zimmermann Telegram. And there was some misleading overemphasis to move the story along. For example, one might get the impression that George Patton was the only one who recognized the importance of the tank in warfare. In fact, he was a fairly minor player in developing the tactics to suit the new technology. British thinkers like Fuller and Hart had a greater impact on armored warfare, and, of course, we cannot ignore the German commanders who implemented the Blitzkrieg. In the United States Adna Chaffee had more influence on developing the armored branch.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Chester A. Arthur's bed

File this in the category of "you never know where you will run into presidential history, even for Chester A. Arthur." This is his bed, which is displayed at the Ghost Town Museum in Colorado Springs. According to Carl Anthony the bed was passed down to Arthur's son and grandson, who both lived in Colorado Springs (by-the-way you can read about more presidential bed history at the list link).

Saturday, May 24, 2014

AHA Conference Review: Saturday January 4, 2014, the rest of the day

After our panel concluded on Saturday, I went to the book exhibition, visited the poster session (which I did not easily find), and finished the day by attending James McPherson's Society of Military History lecture, "The Rewards of Risk Taking: Two Civil War Admirals." Like many historians I could easily recognize McPherson. In addition to having read several of his books, I have seen him numerous times on television. His lecture focused on the subject of his most recent book, a naval history of the Civil War, which I admit I have not read. Not sure if I ever will, but that is a statement on my limited reading time, not on the value of McPherson's work. Craig Symonds's Civil War at Sea, which I have read, covered the subject masterfully. Symonds's was present in the audience and McPherson acknowledged him and his expertise. McPherson's lecture compared Union Admirals Samuel DuPont and David Farragut to  Generals George McClellan and Ulysses Grant. In this analogy DuPont and McClellan are the dilatory commanders who sought to mitigate risks, while Farragut and Grant were more gutsy commanders willing to take a gamble and double down in the next move. The main point being that in engagements that involved thousands of men on both sides, the outcome often depended on the personality and command traits of the leaders. I enjoyed the lecture, but I have some qualms with an approach that puts all the agency in the hands of the Union commanders. In my humble opinion chance and luck are underrated factors in historical events, especially in military history.

I then waited an hour for a shuttle back to the Hilton that never came. I missed the last one of the evening by a couple of minutes, but did not see the sign until later. It was a cold, dark walk across the bridge, but only a 20 minute walk.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

AHA Conference Review: Saturday January 4, 2014, 11:30-1:30 pt 2

Now for the rest of the panel, with gratitude to Jonathan Anzalone for organizing our panel and guiding it through the approval process.

In "In Search of a Skier's Paradise: New York State and the Development of Skiing in the Adirondack Park, 1932-67" Jonathan cataloged the misadventures of state sponsored recreation. In this case, New York sought to promote skiing, which gained in some popularity after the 1932 Winter Olympics were held at Lake Placid, NY with a state owned and operated resort. At the same time, the state sought to goose the economy of the Adirondack region, which enjoyed a unique status as a state park. Very poor execution undermined these lofty ideals. After a decade of hard work, in which supporters obtained a successful state referendum to revise the state constitution to allow the construction of a resort on protected land. It was only after the state constructed a highway to the resort, built the resort, and promoted it throughout the region, that it was revealed that they had put all their hopes in the wrong place. It was a disaster. The mountain was too steep for inexperienced skiers to safely manage. It was also too dry and windy, which resulted in a dangerous, ice-covered course. In the early 1960s the slope was among the first to utilize artificial snow blowers. The community experienced no economic benefits, and the experience left such a bitter taste in the minds of voters that a referendum to create another state operated sky resort failed in 1961. The site is currently a weather station.

In "Disneylands with Trout: Environmental Change and Conflict on Tailwater Fisheries" Jen Corrinne Brown described how the promotion of recreation led to environmental consequences for a range of native fish species. As dams stopped the flow of a river, they created a still area referred to as tailwater. Adaptable and valued trout thrived in this new environment with its warmer water. States sought to promote recreational fishing by stocking these areas with trout. This is where the Disney Land reference comes in. Abundant trout created a cheap thrill of easily getting some keepers. Jen argued that this created an artificial experience of nature somewhat akin to Disney Land. The cost for this policy was paid for by the local species that thrived in the cooler water of the freely flowing rivers and streams. Deemed "trash fish" and poorly valued by anglers, no effort was made to protect or propagate the native species. A more subtle ecological impact effected other parts of the ecosystem as well. Alterations in flow and fish species led to changes in plant and insect life. There was a human cost to increasing numbers of fishermen. In the case of the Bighorn River in Montana, the Crow Indians lost control of the river through their reservation as well as their ability to regulate the anglers on their reservation.  Once again, Native Americans were screwed.

In "Run the Caldera: The Contested Politics of Wilderness Recreation in Northern New Mexico" Sarah Stanford-McIntyre chronicled the conflict over the first land trust established by the United States government. Created in 2000, the Caldera trust piloted a unique government-private cooperative effort at environmental protection. This approached, however, was plagued with problems. In its effort to become economically sustainable by 2015, the trust raised fees; marketed several recreational activities, including a marathon, van tours; hunting, and fishing; and maintained a working ranch. Leaving the land in a wild, untrammeled state or allowing free or unrestricted hiking did not fit into the plan to create a sustainable trust. The situation was ripe for a political contest between the conservative, profit-minded trust and its more liberal ecologically-minded critics. As the trust struggled to make money with increasing fees and more activities to attract paying customers, the conflict escalated.  At this point the trust will not hit its 2015 target. On the other hand, efforts to turn the land over to the Forest Service for management have also made no progress. Thus, the conflict over the use of the land has resulted in paralysis.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My tenuous genealogical connection to the 1916 Easter Rising

John A. Kilgallon was born in the Village of Far Rockaway in 1891. His father Luke Kilgallon and
mother Nora Walsh Kilgallon immigrated from County Mayo. They married in the United States, and I cannot say whether or not they knew each other in the old country. John was their only son. My connection (remember I said it was tenuous) to the Kilgallon family is that my grandmother's half-sister, Agnes Cosgrove, was Nora Walsh's niece. Agnes immigrated to the United States in 1912 at the age of 16 and lived with her aunt's family.

Luke was a blacksmith who wisely learned how to fix cars and built a prosperous auto repair and gas station in the Far Rockaways. He patented a device to put tires onto the rims. In 1914 he sent his son to St. Enda's school in Dublin. There John was decisively influenced by the school's founder, Patrick H. Pearse, one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rebellion. Known as "The Yank" John drilled as part of a unit known as "Pearse's Own" consisting of current and former St. Enda's students. He was in the Post Office during the thick of the combat, and surrendered with Pearse after six days of heavy fighting. After his capture, the British sent John to Frongoch Prison Camp in Wales. The authorities offered to release him if he swore an oath of allegiance to the British crown. John rejected this offer. As he stated in a letter to his father that was later published in the Brooklyn Eagle in February 1917,  he could not make such an oath without violating the principles that he had and his comrades had fought to uphold. America's Ambassador the Court of St. James, Walter Page, pressed the British government to release "The Yank." The British government yielded to the pressure, most likely thinking of the larger political picture, and Kilgallon was released on Christmas Day 1916. John served his country in World War I as a machinist in the United States Navy. From his service record, it appears that spent the entire war in stateside naval bases. John died in 1972 at the age of 80.

My mother who had known John described him as a very quiet, almost meek man. She could not believe he would have participated in such a violent event. One wonders how the this youthful experience shaped the rest of his life.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

AHA Conference Review: Saturday January 4, 2014, 11:30-1:30 pt 1

Now it was my turn to present at the AHA Conference. My paper "Disagreement, Debate, and Discussion over the Meaning of Nature Protection: Wildlife Conservationists and the Battle over the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929" was first up in our panel A Place to Play: Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Conflict in the Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century United States. Thank you to Jonathan Anzalone for organizing our panel and including me.

My paper focused on a little known, but I feel important, piece of legislation to create wildlife refuges that dragged on for most of the 1920s. My argument is that this bitter debate between different groups of wildlife protectionists shattered a coalition that had achieved striking success in the decade before the introduction of the refuge bill. In short, the goals that the preservationist wing (led by William Hornaday) and the sportsmen or utilitarian wing (led by John Burnham) differed in fundamental ways, which created mistrust between the two groups. I won't say anymore; you can read the full version below.

My presentation did not go as well as I would have liked. For some reason, I stumbled over several words and lost my place once or twice. I felt I was reading too fast, even though several practice runs at a slower pace had me coming in well within the time limit.

The theme of our conference today is “disagreement, debate, and discussion.” My paper focuses on the disagreement, debate, and discussion within the conservation movement over three bills between 1923 and 1929 to establish federal migratory bird refuges. In the short term, this acrimonious, internecine battle stalled an important piece of legislation. This delay exacerbated the conditions that the legislation sought to relieve. In the long term, it wrecked a coalition that had only a decade before achieved historic victories to protect American birds.
As John Reiger points out in his seminal American Sportsmen and the Origins of Conservation, the early enlightened hunters – men like George Bird Grinnell and Theodore Roosevelt -- supported forest and water conservation largely because they understood the importance of habitat to the protection of their game. By 1921 many sportsmen concluded that they deserved to enjoy the fruit of their conservation labors after several decades of hard work. Their leading spokesperson was John Bird Burnham, president of the American Game Protection Association (AGPA), [and this is a very important part of the story] a conservation organization financed by a conglomeration of gun and ammunition manufacturing companies such as DuPont, Remington, and Winchester. Burnham also served as the chairman of the influential Migratory Bird Advisory Board, which was created in 1913 to advise the secretary of agriculture on federal hunting policy and regulations. Burnham believed that American wildlife was in what he in 1923, called, “a vigorous and hopeful renaissance,” largely due to the efforts of sportsmen to put sound conservation measures in the local, state, and federal statute books. Echoing his idol Theodore Roosevelt, Burnham wanted hunting to be an accessible sport to all Americans, not just the wealthy who could afford costly excursions to remote areas. He wished to expand, as he said, "the [American] system that aims to preserve for all the people the benefits that otherwise will accrue only to those blessed with considerably more that an average share of wealth."
Burnham envisioned a refuge system paid for by hunters through a $1 federal license to shoot migratory waterfowl. He reasoned that if sportsmen financed the refuges, they should benefit from them in the form of public shooting grounds on or adjacent to the refuges. Public shooting grounds would provide good hunting opportunities to Americans of all income levels.
If Hornaday had not been thinking deeply about the New-Anthony Bill, he did formulate his own proposals for hunting regulation. He envisioned himself as the representative of the millions of Americans who did not hunt. This predominately urbanite constituency mirrored the 44 million people who visited the zoo over his thirty-year tenure. Unlike Burnham, Hornaday believed American wildlife was in a state of precipitous and dangerous decline. He was alarmed by the growing numbers of hunters who took the field, like so many George Babbitts, with their new gadgets, more effective guns, and most especially their automobiles that granted them unprecedented access. He knew he could not stop them from taking the field, but be believed strongly that some restrictions could counter the negative effects that growing numbers of hunters were having on wildlife populations. At the December 1923 meeting of the Migratory Bird Advisory Board, Hornaday introduced a measure to reduce the daily bag limits on duck and geese. Although he was voted down by the decisive vote of 16-2, the issue of bag limits became thoroughly entangled with discussion of the migratory bird refuge legislation.
In early December 1924 Hornaday and Edwin Nelson met at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City to discuss bag limits. Nelson felt caught between rival conservation factions. On the one hand he did not want to anger the hunters. The federal government had too few wardens and Nelson was forced to rely mostly on their voluntary compliance to fairly new and not necessarily popular federal hunting regulations. On the other hand, Nelson gave some consideration to Hornaday’s position that waterfowl populations were declining in number, if only because it seemed the logical effect of shrinking breeding grounds. Before committing himself, however, Nelson wanted to conduct a population survey. In 1925 he issued a report that supported Burnham’s position wildlife increase and claimed that game populations were in fact increasing between 10 and 200 percent depending on location. As a result of this report Hornaday came to view Nelson as a dishonest broker standing in the camp of the gun makers and their minion, John Burnham. As Chairman of the Permanent Wildlife Protection Fund — a well endowed organization of which he was essentially the only member — Hornaday issued a press release that found its way into a front page article in the New York Times. Hornaday publicly proclaimed that Burnham and Nelson were nothing less than "paid agents of the big corporations who make and sell guns and ammunition." The tone of Hornaday’s inflammatory comments weighed heavy on the wildlife protection community. While not defending Burnham, some newspapers felt that Hornaday’s rhetoric was entirely too scathing and too personal. Two years later Burnham successfully sued Hornaday for libel over the press release.
Within several weeks of Hornaday’s attack on Burnham, a convention of state game commissioners met in Denver, Colorado. The atmosphere was tense bordering on hostile. "A gleaming spear was poised at every tepee entrance," T. Gilbert Pearson, the secretary of the Audubon Society, wrote later. Through several difficult meetings the factions forged a deal, referred to as the Madsen Compromise, after Utah game commissioner David Madsen that removed the hunting license provision from the refuge bill. This compromise would give the sportsmen the public shooting grounds they demanded and Hornaday an alternative revenue stream he demanded. Ironically, neither Hornaday nor Burnham trusted the other enough to support the deal. Hornaday felt that without a bag limit reduction to offset the public shooting grounds, the compromise was nothing more than an empty gesture designed only to disarm him and his supporters. "John Burnham's influence for evil is perfectly amazing," he wrote in disgust to Will Dilg of the Izaak Walton League. To an extent, Hornaday was correct to be suspicious. Burnham openly admitted to friends that he felt no obligation to be bound by the "compromise" for he felt that, as he wrote, one correspondent, that Hornaday and his allies had "laid a trap" for him in Denver.  As the two most dominating, powerful, and respected personalities in the wildlife protection movement grew more divided they drowned out the vast majority in the middle who were willing to work with each other in good faith.
            In 1926 a migratory bird refuge bill was re-introduced into the Congress with the hunting license and public shooting grounds provisions. Supporters were cautiously optimistic that it would pass this time. Capturing this mood, T. Gilbert Pearson of the Audubon Society wrote to Frank Chapman in February 1926, “Altogether I feel the situation is pretty good for its passage this year, if no one of a dozen or more flourishing monkey-wrenches do not happen to land in the works.” Inopportunely Hornaday lobbed such a monkey wrench in the form of a bill sponsored by Senator Royal Copeland of New York and Representative Schuyler Merritt of Connecticut to reduce bag limits. Hornaday viewed the reduction as absolutely essential to equalize the impact of the proposed public shooting grounds, but it seemed to his adversaries as nothing more than an irresponsible provocation. The bag limit bill was highly controversial among conservationists because it challenged the Progressive Era assumptions that policy was best made by interested parties and trained experts. Putting nuts and bolts wildlife management decisions in the hands of untutored Congressmen seemed downright dangerous.
On April 29, 1926, during a debate on the Migratory Bird Refuge bill in the House, New York Congressman Fiorello LaGuardia denounced the public shooting grounds proposal as a sham, “under the guise of conservation.” Then he proceeded to read into the Congressional Record excerpts of confidential correspondence between John Burnham and the bigwigs of the gun and ammunition manufacturing firms. Burnham wrote in one such missive in 1924, "The sentimentalists led by Doctor Hornaday are demanding cuts in the bag limits and seasons, which if carried to the logical conclusion means the reduction of shooting opportunities to the vanishing point. Of course, if this happens, the sale of firearms and ammunition will be seriously affected." Such comments impeached Burnham's credibility, and seemingly validated all that Hornaday had been saying about the conflict of interest between Burnham's role as Chairman of the Migratory Bird Advisory Board and his position as president of the conservation organization funded by the nation's largest gun and ammunition corporations. Speaking of the effect of the publication of Burnham's correspondence on the pending legislation, Massachusetts state Ornithologist and stalwart Hornaday ally Edward Howe Forbush commented, "If he wrote those letters, he has killed the game refuge bill."
Four weeks later Hornaday announced his retirement as Director of the Bronx Zoo, a position he had held since 1896. It was rumored at the time that he had in fact been forced to resign. Frederic Walcott of the Bronx Zoo's Board of Managers wrote that Hornaday had paid what he called “the extreme penalty” for both the bag limit proposal and the LaGuardia attack. Over the course of three decades Burnham and George Bird Grinnell wrote often to Hornaday's superiors at the zoo, arguing that the Director's inflammatory public comments embarrassed their pubic-spirited, family oriented organization. Burnham must have felt enormous satisfaction when he learned that his adversary had finally received his just desserts.
Regardless of what was rumored at the time, it is open to debate if the seventy-one year old director was pushed out or retired on his own accord. Nevertheless, Hornaday’s departure from the zoo did not diminish his voice or dampen his vigorous opposition to public shooting grounds. The House voted down the migratory bird refuge bill shortly after LaGuardia's performance. After failing for the second time to shepherd a favorable migratory bird refuge bill through the Congress, the gun and ammunition corporations withdrew their funding from Burnham's AGPA. Now it was Hornaday's turn to feel immense satisfaction at his rival's fall from grace.
In January 1928 Senator Peter Norbeck, a progressive Republican from South Dakota, introduced a migratory bird refuge bill. Hornaday saw Norbeck as an honest player and wrote to the Senator to inform him that his proposed legislation based on the principles of the New-Anthony bill, “is not at all the good-conservation bill that you think it is.” Furthermore, Hornaday appealed to the senator’s progressivism by declaring in a bit of overstatement that the public shooting grounds provision would “put the federal government into the business of founding and maintaining duck-shooting resorts.” Convinced that the most important feature of the bill was refuge creation, Norbeck responded that in his bill only 10-30 percent of the refuges would have public shooting grounds. This mollified Hornaday who accepted it as something of a compromise. But Hornaday’s adversaries were alarmed by his seeming influence on Norbeck. Carlos Avery, an ally of Burnham’s, warned the senator to be careful of taking advice from Hornaday, “because if you do there will be not much left of the bill.” As it turned out, Avery was right to be concerned. Daily Norbeck received disheartening letters from all the key players in the wildlife protection movement expressing vehement support for one provision or another and casting aspersions on other conservationists. Surprised and exasperated over such infighting over what he considered secondary issues, Norbeck barked to Edmund Seymour of the Camp-Fire Club and a staunch Hornaday ally, “I am for the Sanctuary bill with our without shooting grounds.”
If Norbeck found the conservationists frustrating to deal with, his colleagues in the Senate presented additional obstacles. It is beyond the scope of this paper to examine them in detail, but in the end Norbeck’s bill was amended to resemble all that Hornaday had wanted. The public shooting grounds provision and hunting license were struck from the bill. Instead, treasury would pay for land requisition like any other Congressional appropriation. The revised migratory bird refuge bill passed the Senate in late 1927 by a unanimous vote, a fact that Hornaday described in his memoirs, Thirty Years War for Wildlife, as, “an AMAZING MIRACLE.” The bill’s sponsor did not share Hornaday’s sense of triumph. To the contrary, the former governor and experienced legislator vented, “I am frankly sick over the whole situation.” “I have wasted so much effort on this matter and I look upon it as the biggest failure I have ever been connected with,” he wrote to another. Norbeck vowed that he would not lift a finger to get a comparable version through the House.
Hornaday feared that Burnham and his allies would outflank him in the House by restoring the hunting license and public shooting grounds provisions in the lower chamber and then using the conference committee to refashion the Senate bill. Speaking on behalf of the National Committee of 100 – a lobbying front he formed with Edmund Seymour after retiring from the Bronx Zoo in 1926 – Hornaday launched what could only be described as a media blitz in support of the Senate version. This vociferous campaign throughout 1928 made the Committee into something of an obnoxious pariah. Even Hornaday's ardent admirer, author Thornton Burgess, commented that he was "bitterly assailed" for being associated with such an organization and that "men whom I had long looked up to, and whose regard and good opinion I cherished, turned against me."
Hornaday’s fears proved unfounded. The entire conservation movement was too tired and drained by the long battle to fight anymore over these issues. There remained absolute consensus on the need for refuges, and the devastating effects of drainage and drought had only worsened. On February 9, it passed the House unanimously by a vote of 219-0. President Coolidge signed it shortly thereafter.  Within a decade, the migratory bird refuge system consisted of 85 refuges containing nearly 700,000 acres.
Hornaday had won an impressive victory against difficult odds, but his success came at a price. The conflict between he and Burnham, which they both must share blame, wrecked and exhausted a powerful coalition of scientists, sportsmen, nature enthusiasts, bird watchers, and urbanites, who had achieved so much working together, during the progressive era. A decade later President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted a grand bargain of sorts to recast the movement. The result was a duck stamp to pay for land acquisition and a reduction in the bag limit, among other reforms, favored by Hornaday. Structurally, the administration sponsored the National Wildlife Federation, which was designed to serve as an umbrella organization to unite sportsmen and non-sportsmen. Despite these efforts, the coalition could not be resurrected to resemble its former self and the divide between these groups, first sharpened during the debate over the Migratory Bird Refuge Act, echoed throughout the remainder of the twentieth century.