29 February 2020

29 February 2020


 29 February 12020 is Leap Day, the one day of the year nobody wants to put a holiday on because it only comes around a little less than once every four years. The composer Rossini, responsible for the Lone Ranger radio-show theme, was born on this date. So was Tony Scheuren, responsible for the remarkable Neil Young parody “Old Maid,” a.k.a. “Southern California Brings Me Down.” Stock markets are crashing around the world as people attempt to cope with the economic devastation wrought by the novel coronavirus from China, while the Disaster in Chief insists that everything is under control, thanks to his management, and the whole epidemic will blow over by the time summer starts. And the Smithsonian has released nearly three million images for free use by all and sundry. Enjoy it while you can; the end of all good things is in sight.

28 February 2020

28 February 2020


 28 February 12020 is Peace Memorial Day in Taiwan, Day of Andalucia in Spain, and People’s Sovereignty Day in Benin. (Thank you Time and Date for bailing me out on this one!) As far as I know it is still Linus Pauling Day here in Oregon. And I guess we can all rest easy now knowing that Mike Pence is in charge of meeting the coronavirus challenge here in the United States. His is a record that inspires—well, not confidence, exactly, but some emotion. Loathing, maybe. Or laughter. God, I’m bored. And hungry—it’s the end of the month and the refrigerator is not inspiring. I think I have some instant soup somewhere. Fuck this shit—I’m going to look for something to eat.

27 February 2020

A More Pacific Aspect [guest post by Edward Fox, 26 February 1873]


[From the New York Herald, 1873; story by Edward Fox]
T
hings appear to have a more pacific aspect to-day, as, after I returned yesterday, Messrs. … Shack Nasty Jim, Hawker Jim and Curly-Headed Jack rode into Fairchild’s, to have a big talk with the Klamath chief, Lalake. They had a talk this morning with the Peace Commissioners and General Canby, and appear anxious for peace.
Judge Rosborough and Elijah Steele are on their way from Yreka, and will probably arrive to-morrow.
The Peace Commissioners have not decided when they will hold their first meeting, but it will probably be on Friday or Saturday. Judge Rosborough will act on the Peace Commission, and Mr. Elijah Steele will be present as a friend of the Indians.
The sooner the meeting is held the better the chances for peace, as the Indians do not wish any delay. There will be no trouble, unless the Peace Commissioners insist upon claiming the Indians that killed the settlers on Lost River to be tried for murder. The three Modoc [men] returned to Captain Jack’s camp to-day.
The Peace Commissioners instructed these Indians to allow nobody to hold any communication with them unless they had a written order signed by them. They are very indignant at the Herald correspondent for having dared to furnish news and truth to the public with its coming through their hands.
The presence of Judge Rosborough and Elijah Steele will greatly facilitate the prospects of peace, as the Indians have confidence in them and will believe what they say.

27 February 2020


 27 February 12020 is Independence Day in the Dominican Republic. It’s also Ellen Terry’s birthday. I see in the news that the leader of the team that developed the Graphics Interchange Format wants everybody to pronounce the acronym GIF with a soft g (as in gin, ginger, or gibberish) rather than a hard g (as in gift, give, girl, gill, gigawatt, gingko, gig, etc.). I don’t know under what circumstances I would want to pronounce GIF, but assuming that I did, I would definitely pronounce it with a hard g—both because that’s the natural English pronunciation, and because the g in question stands for “graphics”—which is not pronounced “jrafix.” Giff is hard to confuse with any other English word, whereas Jiff sounds like a brand of peanut butter, or like the word jiffy. If he wanted it pronounced with a j sound he should have spelled it “JIF”. The acronym could then stand for Jraphics Interchange Format—something that makes a lot more sense than pronouncing GIF jiff.

26 February 2020

26 February 2020


 26 February 12020 is Ash Wednesday. It is also Liberation Day in Kuwait. And it’s Theodore Sturgeon’s birthday—also the date of Christopher Marlowe’s baptism (7 March 11564 on the proleptic Gregorian Holocene Era calendar used on this site), which is as close as we get to a birthday for most Elizabethan notables. I see in the news that professional village idiot Rush Limbaugh is claiming that the coronavirus that has killed nearly 3000 people is nothing but the common cold being hyped to make the Dopey Don look bad. Who knew that the cold was so deadly? And I suppose lung cancer is nothing but an allergic reaction to smoke. In an incredibly dumb move two men have filed a lawsuit in Florida to keep Bernie Sanders out of the primary on the ground that he is not a Democrat. (Of course neither is Bloomberg, if it comes to that.) I will note however that the party is entitled to run whoever it selects; I’ve seen local races where the Republicans and Democrats are running the same candidate for an office. There’s nothing to stop the Democrats from running an Independent, or a Socialist, or even a Republican for the office, if that’s the person they feel best suited for the position. What a fucking waste of the court’s time.
On this day in history Trayvon Martin was stalked and killed not long after his seventeenth birthday by an armed man who described him in a 911 call as a “fuckin’ coon” “on drugs or sump’n … walkin’ around, lookin’ about … starin’ at all the houses….” The stalker claimed self-defense in the killing, and a jury bought it, and since then this loon has tried to get everybody else to buy his story by suing all and sundry into submission. It’s a bizarre miscarriage of justice, to say the least, but that’s Florida for you.

25 February 2020

A Visit to the Stronghold [guest post by Edward Fox, 25 February 1873]


[From the New York Herald, 1873; story by Edward Fox]
I
 write this despatch in Captain Jack’s cave, in the lava beds, having at last reached this spot, though not without considerable difficulty. In my last despatch I stated that John Fairchild, Bob Whittle and the two [women], Matilda and Artena, were to leave on the morning of the 24th for Captain Jack’s camp, with instructions to arrange a meeting between the Modocs and the Peace Commissioners. I also stated that I had applied for permission to Mr. Meacham to accompany these men into the lava beds, in order to give the public, through the Herald, some idea of this band of warriors and the stronghold which they defended so bravely. As you already know, my request was peremptorily denied, and Whittle had given the most decided orders not to permit any member of the press to accompany his expedition. I finally concluded that Mr. Meacham had no authority to govern my going and coming in this section of the country, and, therefore, determined to make an attempt to go on my own responsibility. Knowing that my movements at Fairchild ranch would be rather closely scrutinized, I left there on the afternoon of Sunday, the 23d, saying that I intended riding over to Van Bremer’s ranch and stopping through the night with the officers of the Fourth artillery. This movement was not suspected, and before leaving I casually asked Fairchild at what time they intended to start next morning, and he replied:—
“Seven A.M.”
I felt considerably relieved when I got clear of the headquarters of the Peace Commissioners, as Mr. Meacham might have asked General Canby to give orders that I was not to leave the neighborhood, which would naturally have left me in rather an awkward position. After a good night’s sleep at Van Bremer’s, I got up at reveille and made a start at 7:30, riding down the road towards Fairchild’s in order to meet the party. It had then been snowing some two or three hours, and the ground was covered with a white, fleecy coating. When I arrived at the bridge over Willow Creek I found, as there were no tracks, that the party had not yet come up, so I rode on to meet them. They finally came in sight, Fairchild and Artena leading and Whittle and Matilda bringing up the rear. I immediately rode up to Fairchild and told him I wanted to accompany him. He replied that personally he had no objections, but as the party was under the charge of Bob Whittle I must get his permission. I then rode back to Whittle, and my request was very firmly but politely refused. He said:—
“If you had spoken to me before I was engaged by the Peace Commissioners I would have been happy to have gone with you, but now I am in the government employ, and you know yourself what my instructions were.”
I talked to him for about five minutes, until at last he said:—
“I am very sorry; but either you or I must go back.”
I thought at first of going in alone, but after mature consideration I concluded to turn back, as to hunt for a place twenty miles distant without any further ideas as to the locality to be found would probably result in a failure.
I then said, “Goodby,” and started to ride back, and after trotting along for about half a mile my eye fell on the freshly imprinted horse tracks that were so clearly seen in the newly fallen snow.
I immediately wheeled round, as in an instant I saw my guide to the lava beds. Those tracks would take me there. I rode slowly at first, and was always cautious going up hill to peep over the top before I exposed myself and horse to the plain that lay before me. After a ride of about two hours along the southwestern shore of Klamath Lake the tracks turned sharp to the right up a hill and led through a mass of loose rocks, which proved rather an obstacle to fast travelling. At the top of the hill, seeing nobody on the flat before me, I quickened my pace, as I thought the Modoc country could not be very far off. My judgement was not in error, as from the next eminence I saw the party about a mile and a half ahead, with … Artena in advance. I then concluded that they were in Indian country, and so rode on pretty fast, and presently Fairchild and Whittle caught sight of me. They immediately pulled up and waited until I came up. Whittle appeared rather annoyed at first, but finally said—
“Well, well, now you have come, you had better keep up close, as we have been seen by the Modocs before now.”
He added, “If I had seen you a couple of minutes further back I would have turned back; but as we have been seen it would be unwise to return now.” We all rode on quietly, and in about three-quarters of an hour arrived at the bluffs overlooking the lava beds, without having seen an Indian. As Whittle expected to meet the Indians on that spot, he gathered some brush together and lit a fire in order to let them know we had arrived. In about twenty minutes’ time we saw a couple of horsemen and a man on foot coming across the plain below in the direction of the foot of the bluff. They finally came up the hill towards us, and I had the pleasure of an introduction to Hooker Jim, Modoc Dave and Steamboat Frank.
These three gentlemen were all armed to the teeth. Two of them had Springfield rifles, and the other, Frank, had a cavalry Spencer carbine, with equipments. Each of them had a revolver and large sheath knife. After a little talk and smoke round the fire Frank said that Captain Jack wanted to see Mr. Fairchild in camp. We then walked down the bluff, leading our horses, and on arriving at its base I discovered what I had taken to be a flat plain was a rolling surface, covered with sharp-edged rocks, and interspersed with large and deep holes, half filled with broken scoria. The trail was very rough, and we walked slowly along, our horses feeling the travelling rather bad. We came presently on one of Captain Jack’s scouting parties, and found half a dozen warriors warming themselves around a fire, while their horses were nibbling at the bunch grass in the vicinity. We got off and I was again introduced and went through some more hand shaking and more smoking. My smoking qualities were evidently much admired by the Modocs, and they also expressed themselves favorably of the quality of my tobacco. This party were also well armed and all painted.
They were all painted pretty much alike—that is, the entire lower part of the face was smeared with a brownish red or black composition of a greasy nature. It gave them a very hideous appearance, and coming upon this group standing round the blazing fire, each with a musket in his hand and revolver and knife in the belt, they were not calculated to reassure the visitors of the pacific nature of the inhabitants of the lava bed. We did not make a very long stay, however, and moved along, our party being now reinforced by these half dozen scouts. About a half mile further on we came upon another camp of about fifty men, women and children.
They were nearly all lying in a rocky spur, around a blazing fire, but as we approached they rose and came down to meet us. Their costume was of a very heterogeneous nature, showing that their clothing was collected at different epochs of time. Most of them, however, had soldiers’ overcoats, and the [women] appeared very partial to red petticoats.
Here I was introduced to John Schonchin, the brother of Schonchin, the old chief of the tribe, and several other notabilities. After a delay of about five minutes we started again, accompanied by our new acquaintances, which consequently swelled our train considerably.
The road became worse and worse, and the country more hillish-looking every minute. It defies description, and now I can perfectly understand how these forty or fifty men so demoralized the three hundred regulars and volunteers that attacked them on the 17th January. The Modocs appeared to skip nimbly over the rocks, but our horses were completely nonplussed, and my quadruped required considerable persuasion in order to induce him to move forward. We were presently met by Bogus Charley, one of the Old Hat Creek Indians, who was evidently glad to see Fairchild, and a few minutes afterwards a most diabolical-looking Indian, called Charley Miller, came riding down towards us, motioning us back with his hand. A lively discussion then ensued in the Modoc tongue, a language with which I have not yet become acquainted; but … Matilda, acting as interpreter, told me that Captain Jack had sent orders for us to camp where we were and not advance any further. Bogus Charley, Frank and Dave appeared considerably exercised over this order, as Charley stated that Fairchild should come and sleep at his house. Dave added that Whittle and the Herald correspondent should stop at his. I cannot say that at the moment I was very grateful to Mr. Dave for this exercise of hospitality, as I concluded that, should these gentlemen come to blows over this little question of etiquette, the guest would probably fare the worst of all. At this juncture, however, Scar-faced Charley came up and immediately settled the matter by saying we all could come into camp. Fairchild and Artena here left us, taking the left hand trail to go to Captain Jack’s house, and we went to the right, led by Mr. Dave, who was quite happy at having captured his guests. I now dismounted, as the trail became nearly impassable, and after passing through a wild-looking gorge, with walls of craggy rock, about twenty-five feet in height, we climbed up some rocks, and then, suddenly descending a nearly perpendicular wall of broken scoriæ landed in a chasm, surrounded by walls about thirty feet in height, formed of broken rock, apparently piled indiscriminately one on top of the other. There were three or four Indian rancherias located in this wild-looking spot. As our guide entered one of these primitive habitations we dismounted, and, taking off our saddles, made our horses fast to some of the large rocks that had evidently been scattered around with a liberal hand. We then entered the rancheria and squatted down in Indian fashion round the fire, which was built in a cavity formed by two rocks that nature had placed in a position similar to the apex of an equilateral triangle. This rancheria, or “wikkiup,” was only built up to the rocks, so that the fire was really in the open air, and I afterwards found, when the fire was out, the keen, frosty air was rather biting and sharp when it attacked the pedal extremities. After sitting for about half an hour round the fire, which time was passed in distributing tobacco and making the acquaintance of several other painted savages, I was told by Matilda that there was a little difference of opinion as to whether the Herald correspondent was to be admitted to the council. To the credit of the Modoc nation, I am happy to say that the friends of literature predominated, and a messenger presently arrived with orders to convey our party to the council cave, accompanied by Bob Whittle and his [wife]. I followed our guide, and after clambering up the rough walls of one chasm we walked, or rather crawled, about one hundred yards over some broken rocks, when the guide suddenly disappeared down a dark hole. The Herald correspondent followed, but, not being acquainted with the nature of the country, went down faster than necessary, and found himself in a large cave, lit up by the blaze of a fire, which was burning in the centre, and gave sufficient light to enable me to see some fifty or sixty Modocs seated round in circles four or five deep. Edging my way through this motley throng, I came to a vacant spot in the front circle, but before sitting down shook hands with Captain Jack and Scar-faced Charley, on whose left, with considerable courtesy, I was placed. I took my seat there like the rest. It was a strange scene, and a fit subject for some figure artist, for certainly no troop of Italian bandits could have made a wilder or more picturesque picture. As soon as I had recovered from the first flutter, which the presence of so many celebrities had excited, I ventured to take a quiet look around, and found that I was the object of general attention, and, judging from the favorable glances received, it appeared the party were inclined to tolerate my presence. Mr. Fairchild explained that I was a paper man, and that I had come from far off, from the big city by the sea, and that I was anxious to hear the Indians’ own story of their troubles, and that I had followed their trail in the snow. This speech was translated by Bogus Charley, and was received with general approbation, expressed by a chorus of grunts, sounding like a guttural pronounciation of the letter “A.”
Captain Jack looked very sick, and was sitting with a blanket around his limbs and supporting himself by resting his hands on the handle of one of their root diggers, which was stuck in the ground before him. Bogus Charley sat on his right, and officiated as interpreter, and Schonchin was to the right of Charley. Shack Nasty Jim sat to the left of Captain Jack, and then came Fairchild, Scar-faced Charley, the Herald correspondent and Bob Whittle in the order named here. The rest of the Modocs were seated around in circles, and I noticed that many had washed off their paint and come to the council without their arms.
Shortly after my introduction Mr. Fairchild produced his instructions from the Peace Commissioners, and read them by sentences in English, and Bogus Charley translated them. They simply informed Captain Jack who comprised the Peace Commissioners that the President had sent, and how they were willing to delay the grand council until the arrival of Judge Rosborough and their friend Elijah Steele, of Yreka. It also alluded to Ben Wright’s treachery, and said that Ben Wright was a bad man. This allusion was, however, rather an unhappy one, as, when it was translated, the noble savage evinced the most decided disgust at the introduction of such a reminiscence. After Fairchild had got through, and stated he had come to make arrangements for the meeting, John Schonchin, brother of Schonchin, the old chief, spoke. He talked for about two hours, and in this despatch I will only give the pith of his remarks. Bogus Charley, assisted by Steamboat Frank, officiated as interpreter. Schonchin said “he knew Mr. Meacham. He says he big chief. I see him long time ago. He talked well; told me straight. He told me I was a big chief. Come with me; make you good home. Showed me good home. Said ‘You like that?’ Took me to live at Fort Klamath; then he tell Captain Knapp treat him good, this Modoc Indian. Captain Knapp no like me. Go Meacham; told him watch them good. Give plenty of grub. Captain Knapp bad man; he come my door; I say, ‘Don’t come to my house; no like you;’ saw Mr. Meacham long ago put the axe in the ground; no want to take it out. I know Mr. Meacham; tell him talk straight. I want to live in good place at Klamath, where I live first. Meacham go away. Agent make it bad; hang Indian, that Captain Knapp.”
Mr. Schonchin made a diversion in my favor to give an account of the first fight on Lost River.
He spoke about the fight when the citizens attacked the Indians. He said:—
“White chief tell your people white men shoot first. I tell no lie. I give away all. My country keep little piece on Lost River, yet they shoot me. I don’t know what for I thought. I gave them all my land, water, grass, everything. I don’t charge nothing for my country; give away all, yet they shoot me; want little piece on Lost River. I don’t like to fight; I told them so. They shoot [women], children, little girl. My friend there, white man, shoot him. I got up early in the morning, went out to shoot geese, come back, see so many men both sides of river. What the matter? Bad place. Now Applegate’s son tell me lie; children scared; nobody in house.
Bogus Charley now talked and said:—”Applegate’s son and One-armed Brown one day talk good; next day all lie on the other side. Major Jackson don’t know what the matter with him. Come before day, plenty soldiers with him, pistol in hand, like to see Captain Jack. I said ‘stop!’ He say, ‘Like to see Captain Jack in bed.’ They tell me plenty of men coming. I asleep house. Come out see soldiers. Say, ‘Stop, boys! I don’t want you come near.’ Go camp. Children scared. Still they come closer to house. All carry gun and ask for Captain Jack. Captain Jack no clothes on, no gun loaded, no pistol loaded. Old [woman] give Jack shirt. He go out; have no gun. I go down to see Major Jackson. I say, ‘Why you come, what you come for?’ Scar-faced Charley come down side of river from Dennis Crowley’s; so soldiers now fall down; gun go off 400 yards away. Soldiers hear shoot. One man shoot me. Shoot me in side fifty yards away. All soldiers shoot. Two Indians dead. Few Indians shoot; only two or three guns. Then one [sic] other side bad men took guns from Indians. George Fiock shoot first and Dennis Crowley. Both shoot. Shot woman. Ivan Applegate come down with Brown before. Says I, ‘Come back, three men, and talk till Big Tee he come back with soldiers.’ Major Jackson so quick shoot quick. Scar-faced Charley asked him what chief he come from? He say he come from the mountain.”
As Captain Jack was very sick the council was then adjourned until morning, and I returned to my house and got some supper. I then gave an audience and received John Schonchin, Scar-faced Charley, Bogus Charley and several others, and heard more about the way the Indians were treated in the reservation. They were moved three times from place to place; were only given half a blanket and the squaws none at all. It was the Winter season. They were given no food and had to dig in the hard, frosty ground for camus roots and kill their horses for meat. I only give the facts now, as my report in detail will be forwarded by mail. Before lying down I went back to Captain Jack…
[Something appears to have dropped out of Fox’s account, as it cuts immediately to Captain Jack’s speech the next day.]
Captain Jack then went over the story of the fight on Lost River and directly denied that the Indians shot first, and then said:—
“Tell Meacham I want him to come to no gassing. Tell him not be scared this man from paper afar off. He come to hear me talk. He hear no lie. He hear no more hard stories about me. Did not make first fight. I want every good. I am not ashamed of first fight. Glad to see white come to talk.”
Mr. Fairchild then put a series of questions in order to find out where they wished to meet, how many they were going to bring, and whether they objected to the Commissioners bringing soldiers, and Captain Jack answered, saying that “all his boys wanted to hear the talk. White men might come, but no soldiers. Soldiers make his boys feel bad. Twelve or fifteen white men come; want paper man to come. No want Lalake, Jim Parker or Modoc Sally. No like them. Keep soldiers where they are. Come to-morrow; come first day ready. Come soon; tired waiting. Want to talk.” Schonchin then spoke for a little, chiefly against Meacham and the Commission bringing soldiers. “Indians bury the hatchet. No want to see soldiers, make him feel bad. Meacham not be scared. Boys waste all the blood. Mean good. Talk truth. Meacham mean peace; soldiers no good for peace. Afraid somebody your side wants to make blood again. Don’t like it. Perhaps tell lies. I want to make all good; tell no lies. Soldiers like dogs—they come want blood. White men come all right.”
As soon as Schonchin had finished we started for our horses, and I arrived here about seven P.M. Although the route is only twenty miles it is over a very rough country. From what I have seen of the Indians in the lava beds and from what I have learned of their history I think they have been badly treated and that the origin of the war can easily be traced to a few Oregonians. The California settlers have never had any trouble with these Indians. They are now in a stronghold that is nearly impregnable, and, as they have many men and good marksmen, it will require a force of a thousand men to clean them out, and it cannot be done without a fearful sacrifice of life. They hold themselves innocent of any crime, as, after the white men attacked, they do not consider it any wrong to kill white men, and when they made their raid they spared women and children. If the Peace Commissioners expect them to give up the Indians that killed the settlers, they need not for one moment flatter themselves of obtaining such a result, as the Indians will fight to the last man, believing they have done no wrong. They are, however, willing to go on a reservation, and if the whites only keep faith with them and the Indian agents do not rob them of their supplies, for which the government pays, they will remain quiet like the rest of their tribe and give no further trouble. It is very doubtful, however, whether the present Peace Commission will do any good with these Indians, as I am satisfied from what I have seen in the lava beds that they distrust them. I sincerely trust that peace will be made, as more war can only result in much bloodshed and very little honor. I send this by special messenger to Yreka.

25 February 2020


 25 February 12020 is National Day in Kuwait (celebrating Kuwait’s independence from Great Britain in 1961), and Soviet Occupation Day in Georgia (celebrating the crushing of Georgia’s independence by Soviet troops in 1921). Notable people born today include Zeppo Marx (1901), Jim Backus (1913), Anthony Burgess (1917), and George Harrison (1943). In the headlines I see that Hosni Mubarek has died, that Harvey Weinstein has been found guilty of rape, and that tensions are still high in Delhi despite a visit from the Dopey Don. Memo to people still using the obsolete African-American slang term woke: Knock it off—especially if you’re using it “ironically” or derogatorily. You’re embarrassing yourself. How pathetic and out-of-touch do you want to look? To put it in what I assume is your own linguistic vernacular: It aint hip to be square, man—you dig?
On this day in history Cassius Clay (who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali) defeated Sonny Liston in Miami Beach for the Heavyweight Championship. The year was 1964, and it was widely predicted that Liston would retain his championship, probably with a knockout punch in an early round. In fact he lasted through six rounds, and it was Liston who gave up at the beginning of the seventh. The result was unexpected enough that at least some people felt confident that the fight was fixed. (Not necessarily anybody that had a right to an opinion, but that such people existed I recall distinctly.)

24 February 2020

24 February 2020


 24 February 12020 is Estonian Independence Day. In Mexico it is Flag Day. It is August Derleth’s birthday as well. Future President Sanders has apparently triumphed in Nevada and looks increasingly likely to be the Democratic nominee. The current president says that the nation owes him four more years in the office because of all the time he had to waste dealing with investigations of his conduct (former president Clinton might have something to say on that subject) and indicates that he has no intention of handing the office over peacefully. Is this some kind of joke? I would assume so—but apparently for our current crop of Republicans the Republic is a joke and its Constitution so much birdcage lining.

23 February 2020

Peace Talk Progress [guest post by Edward Fox, 23 February 1873]


[From the New York Herald, 1873; story by Edward Fox]
Y
esterday Captain O. Applegate and Captain Free left for Yainax reservation in order to attend to the delivery of some supplies to their Indians. Lalake, a Klamath chief, John Parker, Klamath Indian, and Modoc Sally, arrived from the reservation per order of the Peace Commissioners. They will be used in the negotiations with Captain Jack’s Indians, as Modoc Sally speaks tolerably good English. At eleven o’clock P.M. Bob Whittle and his [wife Matilda] returned from Captain Jack’s camp, bringing with them a Modoc named Dave, who had been sent by Captain Jack to hear what the Commissioners had to say. Bob Whittle says that the Indians appear willing to talk and that he thinks Captain Jack is still in power. They asked him how many citizens had been whipped in the fight, meaning how many were killed. Whittle told them, and then asked how many Indians had been whipped. Captain Jack said none, He thought white man no try to kill Indian; lay on back and fire in air. Whittle said he counted between forty-two and forty-three bucks present at the talk, which will verify their statement, as that is about the number the settlers thought were in the fight.
A telegraphic despatch was received yesterday from Secretary Delano stating that Judge Rosborough, of Yreka, had been appointed on the Commission. There are fears, however, entertained here that, as the Judge is now on the Circuit, he will be unable to come. His presence would certainly be of material benefit, as the Indians have confidence in him and would believe any promise he made. At present there is no man on the Commission in whom they have confidence.
The Peace Commission met this morning and heard Whittle’s report. The [women] Matilda and Artena and the Modoc Indian Dave were present. Mr. Whittle stated that when he got within a mile and a half he saw some mounted Indians riding along the crest of a hill. I then saw about twenty Indians on foot, who stopped when one hundred yards distant. I got off my horse, and Long Jim and Steamboat Frank came up and I shook hands with them. They then laid down their guns, and the rest of the Indians on foot then came up and I shook hands with them. Captain Jack then rode up with his party, dismounted and shook hands. They all sat down, Captain Jack in the centre, John Schonchin on the left and the Curley-Headed Doctor on the right. I told them what Mr. Meacham had said about his trying to get them that land on Lost River, and also that he was away when they were put on the reservation, and was not responsible for their treatment when there.
Captain Jack remembered his meeting with Jesse Applegate and Judge Rosborough and their talk about the Lost River land. I then told them about the other Commissioners, and they said they were glad they had come, as they wanted to talk. They said they were willing to meet on the Platte [flat in other accounts], about twenty-one miles distant from Van Bremer’s, and have a talk on Tuesday at noon. They would all come, as they wanted to hear what the Commissioners had to say. They wanted to talk to their friends, Fairchild, Steele or Rosborough; did not know these Commissioners, whether their hearts were good. Wanted especially to see Fairchild.
… Matilda then pointed out to the Indian Dave who the Commissioners were, and he went back to-day, bearing the instructions that Fairchild, Whittle and the two [women] would come to see them to-morrow and have a talk and make arrangements for the grand meeting.
Mr. Meacham and the Commissioners appear to be throwing every obstruction in the way of a public investigation of this matter, and ordered Whittle and Fairchild on no account to allow any reporters to go with them. This is not the first attempt that has been made to prevent the press from obtaining direct information, as we were excluded from the examination of … Matilda after her return from the first visit to the lava beds.

23 February 2020


 23 February 12020 is Carnival Sunday. I read in the news that the Trump administration—like those before it—is upset by the existence of encrypted messages that can’t be intercepted and read by the authorities. Such “right-to-tap” legislation is now considered standard for voice communication for some reason, but there is software out there that makes it impossible (for all practical purposes) to decrypt digital data. Government officials (like Clay Anderson of Humphreys County Tennessee) insist that ordinary citizens don’t need “that kind of encryption”. As the FBI’s Darrin Jones explains, lack of privacy for us commoners makes it easier for government officials like him to hunt down criminals, and we should just accept that. Secure encryption offers “some small incremental increase in security in … messaging … but I have to accept the premise that there are going to be people that are victims? No, I can’t go there.” And if the government were allowed to install small cameras in every room of every building in America I’m sure it would make solving some crimes simpler, but to give up privacy across the board? No, I can’t go there.

22 February 2020

Results of the First Mission [guest post by Edward Fox, 22 February 1873]


[From the New York Herald, 1873; story by Edward Fox]
T
he weather has moderated slightly during the past few days, and a warm sun has cleared the low lands of their white and fleecy covering, substituting the most unromantic slush. The Peace Commission are busy in the discharge of their duties and hold mysterious talks together, which result in more work for the clerk, Captain Oliver E. Applegate, who left his reservation at Yainax in order to devote his services to the cause of peace. The settlers in this neighborhood have not much confidence in the Peace Commission, and openly assert that the Indians will not talk with either Meacham or Applegate, as both these men have broken faith with them before. In justice to Meacham, however, I believe he states that he is not responsible for their being starved on the reservation, as, though he was Superintendent of Indian Affairs, the agent on the reservation was Captain Knapp and he had charge of them.
Some time was lost here arranging to send in a messenger, but at last a Klamath [woman], Matilda, the wife of Bob Whittle, and the Modoc [woman] Artena were sent off last Thursday morning with the following message:—
That the President of the United States, General Grant, had heard about the war and was very sorry his children were fighting. He looked upon all the people, of every color, as his children, and he did not want them to spill each other’s blood. He thought this might have been a misunderstanding between the whites and the Indians, and he wanted to see about it. That he was trying to have a new kind of law made that would do away with war, and that’s why he said “Stop until we talk awhile.” Then he sent a man, A. B. Meacham, all the way from Washington, and another man, Samuel Case, that was a friend to Indians and acquainted with their character, to have a talk. They must not mistake the reason why he “done” it, and think that he was weak or a coward, or think that he was whipped, because he was not. The soldiers were beyond the Indians’ power in number; if he had to fight and had not enough here he could send enough; he never failed to win in war; that he would rather settle it without blood.
Matilda was instructed to deliver the above message and to talk with the Indians, ascertain their feelings and see if they were willing to have a talk. They both started about eleven o’clock, Artena in her war paint, with a white handkerchief tied round her head, and Matilda in a neat-fitting red dress, with a white cloth tied round her chest. Matilda was evidently a little nervous as to the result of her mission, as she was afraid she would find the Indians rather wild, and, although she is related to some of them, her brother was fighting against them in the last battle. She, however, was gifted with the indomitable Indian pluck, and started off to make good her promise, but first left all her jewels and trinkets with her husband, in case she should not come out again. As soon as these emissaries of peace had fairly started, the ravens around the camp-fire began to croak as to the danger they would encounter and spun yarns about the visit of One-eyed Dixie—how they licked her when she went in, although she was closely related to many of the leading [men] and sister of the charming Mrs. Shack Nasty Jim.
This ranch is now filled with attachés of the Indian Department, as we have Captain Free [possibly Captain D. J. Ferree, A. B. Meacham’s brother-in-law], one of the contractors supplying the Yainax Agency; Captain Oliver E. Applegate, Indian Agent and Commissary at Yainax; Captain Ivan Applegate, late Interpreter and Messenger; Mr. Samuel Case, Peace Commissioner and Indian Agent at Alsea Reservation; Mr. A. B. Meacham, Peace Commissioner and ex-Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Oregon, and some others. Mr. Jesse Applegate, the other Peace Commissioner, is also here, and General Canby and Aide-de-Camp Captain Anderson have their quarters in the same building. The rest of our party consists of a newspaper correspondent, settlers and the vaqueros attached to the ranch.
Accommodations are rather limited, as about fourteen occupy the floor of one room, fifteen feet square; seven sleep in an adjoining apartment, nine by fifteen, and General Canby and staff have an adjoining shed about eight feet square. We have two meals per diem, one at eight A.M. and the other at four P.M. These meals are decidedly simple in their nature, and are served with a fair allowance of dirt. The sugar bowl is an article of antediluvian extraction, coated with a brown crust of dirt, which has accumulated by its constant service during the past few years without being introduced to water. Although the proprietor of this ranch, Captain Fairchild—a very good fellow, by the way—is the happy possessor of over three thousand head of cattle, the lacteal produce of the bovine race has never been used in the ranch, and even the butter that graces the hospitable board is brought all the way from Yreka. The staple article of food at both meals is beef, fried in grease in the morning and boiled in fat in the afternoon. Flour made up in the style of hot biscuits is also used at each meal, as vegetables have not yet made their appearance here. The fluid in use is called coffee, and has a brown appearance resembling a liquid we have seen before bearing the same name; but perhaps, on the whole, a man might make a campaign under worse auspices.
On Friday I rode with Captain Anderson to Van Bremer’s camp and stopped there all night. It is very neatly laid out, at the foot of Van Bremer’s hill, which overlooks the lava beds. The little shelter tents are all laid out in streets, and everything around the camp is kept clean and orderly. Colonel Miller, of the Fourth artillery, is in command. He arrived about a week ago and relieved Major Throckmorton, who was in command at that time. I returned on Friday morning, and passed a rather dismal afternoon awaiting the return of the two [women], Matilda and Artena.
As the afternoon passed away and anxious gazers discerned no sign of approaching horsewomen on the distant knoll over which the trail mounted and fell, the ravens began to croak again with redoubled energy and uttered fearful prophecies as to their fate. Shortly after five P.M. a solitary horsewoman was seen riding over the crest of the hill, followed immediately afterwards by another, and the quick eye of a looker-on discerned the expected messengers. Uncle Jesse Applegate walked down to the corner of the fence to meet them, and, for fear that unhallowed ears should first receive the message from the famous Captain Jack, ordered the [women] to ride straight to the ranch and speak to no one before they saw the Peace Commissioners.
After they had partaken of one of the standard ranch meals they were escorted by the Commissioners and General Canby to an outlying hut, where the session was to take place. As I was rather anxious to hear the [women] tell their story in their own language I asked Mr. Meacham for permission to be present. He said he had no objection and would ask his colleagues. Mr. Meacham finally returned and said his colleagues objected. I then asked Mr. Jesse Applegate, who said he did not mind, but Mr. Meacham objected. Mr. Case said bluntly and honestly he objected, but finally agreed to admit me if Mr. Meacham did not object. As all three by this time had decided not to admit me they finally concluded to throw the onus of the refusal on General Canby, and having extracted a mild negative to my request from that gentleman, I was politely informed that the interview would be strictly private.
The Star Chamber was thereupon convened, and the grand inquisitor, Mr. A. B. Meacham, put the [women] through a most interesting “course of sprouts.” After about two hours’ talk the session was closed, and they all came up to the ranch. Mr. Meacham then came forward and said that the Peace Commissioners were willing to give the press the following information:—
The Klamath [woman] Matilda made the following statement to them:—When she arrived in the camp the Modocs received her kindly. Said they were glad she had come. Were tired of waiting. Out of clothes, out of provisions. They wanted no more war, and were ready to wash their hands of blood. Captain Jack, John Schonchin, brother of the old chief, and another old [man] were the only speakers. Captain Jack commenced by complaining that the Indians were pitched into when asleep. They did not intend to trouble citizens. Wanted to fight soldiers. Citizens should not have troubled them. They went to the rocks for safety, and soldiers came and hunted them as if they were coyotes. Did not want to live like that; wanted the blockade raised. They were tired of seeing women come to them; women did not understand; often lied [“women did not understand when men lied” according to other accounts]; he was a chief still; Squire Steele had made him a chief; he did not want to talk to little Ty‑es [Chinook Jargon for “chiefs”], or people who had been in the fight; wanted to see them come in there; they would not be hurt. I am ready to talk, and I want to talk to these men that come from a long way off.
John Schonchin, the brother of the old chief Schonchin, and one of the surviving Modocs that took part in the war of 1852, then spoke and said:—He was very tired waiting for some one to come and talk, because he could not go out and talk. He remembered the Ben Wright treachery. These boys (pointing to the other Indians) have all grown up since then. He wanted to wash everybody’s hands of blood—all the past buried. He was the oldest there, would control the boys and bring peace. He was glad men had come to talk to him from a long way off. The Ty-es and those who had fought with them could not talk with them. Wanted to see Mr. Case because he had come from a distance; wanted to see Mr. Meacham because he had come from a distance. A man of his name, or like it, had talked to him before and made his heart strong. Since then very much blood shed, and he did not want any more.
He had given up all his country, but a very little place at Lost River. Soldiers pitched into him there. Always tried to be friendly with citizens. Boys got wild when soldiers pitched in; could not control boys then, but could now. His heart had been wild; getting better now; thought the wild got out of boys the same way. He liked the talk sent by the woman from the President. “All the people were his children; he did not want them to fight.” He felt like being a peacemaker among his own children; breaking the trouble as he would break a string in the middle. These men were coming to do that. When troubles came among his people he tried to separate them and prevent blood. He had a red skin, but a white heart.
His heart was wild while fighting, but good news sent out wild spirit. He was ready to see and talk at any time; did not want any more women; they did not understand things well. When next messenger came they would arrange to meet the men from afar off, where there were grass and water. They were to come and not be afraid. I can control my people, but I am afraid you cannot control your people. My men will do what they agree; we are afraid your people will not. I am not afraid myself, and these men need not be afraid; they will not be hurt, nobody will kill them. Went on the reservation promised place by Link River Jack; no let stop there only little while; Captain Knapp move me to Williamson River, and then again between the Klamaths; had to live on mud (meaning roots, etc.); could not see happy home and rest, and came away. Did not want any time lost about council; clothes worn out, sent men and women to our caches for roots on Lost River; got scared and turned back. Send this woman Matilda back with the next messenger, and they will all come out of roots [rocks?] and talk. We like all the words that have been sent to us; they did not send very many—we have replied all we want to send; when send more talk we send more aback. Tell the white men not to be afraid.
The other old Modoc that talked did not say much, but the drift of his observations was in favor of peace, but he was afraid of treachery like Ben Wright’s. All the Modocs were very attentive to the speakers, and grunted their approval at the words that had been sent to them. There were no dissenting voices to the speeches, and the Indians seemed all to be in accord, except a little jealousy on the part of Captain Jack lest he should not be recognized as Chief. [Matilda Whittle] was of the opinion he had lost his influence, and that John Schonchin was the acknowledged leader by the majority of the bucks. She did not think that the jealousy would result in a conflict, as Schonchin had a large majority on his side. She has the utmost confidence in their pretensions for peace. The Indians sent no propositions.
I afterwards learnt from Mr. Whittle, who had a talk with his wife, that Captain Jack appeared more anxious to talk with Elijah Steele or Judge Rosborough, and that he also spoke very bitterly about being attacked by soldiers in the dark. He also said the citizens on the other side of the river fired the first shot, and killed a [woman] and two [children], which so maddened the young men that five of them started on the raid and killed the white men, but spared the women. He also complained about the broken treaty, and how they were frozen out and starved on the reservation. The other [woman], Artena, also said that Captain Jack would not make peace unless he was given a portion of land on Lost River.
The result of this first mission to Captain Jack formed the subject of discussion last evening, and all the settlers appeared surprised at finding the Indians so anxious for peace. There were many opinions as to what terms the Indians wanted, but the majority were impressed with the belief that nothing except a general amnesty would effect peace. This morning Bob Whittle and his [wife] Matilda started off to meet the Modocs and arrange for a meeting with the Commissioners. This meeting will probably take place next Tuesday somewhere between Van Bremer’s and the lava beds.
[Fox consistently refers to Oliver Applegate as Oliver E. Applegate; Oliver’s middle name, however, was Cromwell. sbh]
[Probably Matilda Whittle and Artena were accompanied by another Modoc woman, One-eyed Dixie. The Gillem Report asserts that three women went in to the lava bed on this mission, and this is confirmed by Bogart, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle for 1 March 1873. One-eyed Dixie had previously acted as a messenger between Captain Jack and John Fairchild. sbh]

22 February 2020


 22 February 12020 is Independence Day in Saint Lucia. It is also Marni Nixon’s birthday. In the news I see that Patriot Prayer speaker Jeremy Christian has been convicted on all counts for exercising his first amendment “free speech” rights by stabbing three men (two of them fatally) on a Portland MAX in 2017. The North Portland comic-book seller will now spend the rest of his life in prison. (That’s what being a murderous thug gets you, guy. Enjoy.) While I’m sure that President Trump regards this piece of garbage as a «very fine person» and would love to give him a pardon, that’s not an option, as he was convicted under Oregon—not federal—law. Memo to Jeremy (in the only language he would understand): here’s hoping you get stabbed in the eye with a homemade shiv, jackass. You got a painful life ahead of you unless somebody does you a favor, motherfucker, and puts you out of your goddamn misery. Signed: a Trimet rider.

21 February 2020

Matilda Whittle’s Report [guest post by Edward Fox, 21 February 1873]


[From the New York Herald, 1873; story by Edward Fox]
Both Whittle’s [wife] Matilda and the Modoc [woman] Artena returned this evening from Captain Jack’s headquarters in the lava beds. They report that they had a talk with Schonchin’s brother, an old [man] who figured in the war of 1852. He appeared to be recognized by the other [men] as being in authority, as they all sat round, listened and grunted approval at his remarks. He said he wanted to see the white men and talk; they did not want any more fight.
Captain Jack said he wanted to talk; he was a chief, but appeared jealous of the position taken by John Schonchin, who has got the control of the majority of the tribe. [Matilda Whittle] says they were all in a good humor and appeared anxious for peace.
A messenger will be sent in to-morrow to arrange for a meeting between the Indians and the Commissioners.

21 February 2020


 21 February 12020 is International Mother Language Day according to my notes, and I’m really not up to figuring out if that’s correct or some weird screw-up. And it’s the ancient Roman holiday of Feralia. It is Arthur Darby Nock’s birthday. On this day in history Malcolm X was assassinated during National Brotherhood Week 1965—as Tom Lehrer noted in the introduction to his song on the album That Was The Year That Was. And I’m done with the day.
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