The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson
Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).
Having an interest in history, and especially American history, I have written several essays on history. I hope that you will enjoy these thoughts, or a least they will provoke your own thoughts on these subjects.
- Condemned to Repeat It - (May 2019) - A perspective on how to view history and make judgements on civilizations and personages.
- The 18th Century- (Jul 2019) – An overview of a truly remarkable century in the history of mankind.
- Enlightenment - (Dec 2021) - A examination of the importance of Enlightened thinking in humanity's progress.
- Enlightenment Gone Wrong - (Jan 2022) -An examination of how Enlightened thinking got it wrong, and right, in the American Revolution and the French Revolution.
- Words of Wisdom about History - (Jan 2021) - A list and quotes, as well as my comments, from noted historian J. Rufus Fears that has insights that you may not have considered about history.
- The Life and Contributions of Benjamin Franklin - (Aug 2019) - A few years back my best friend (now deceased) and manager of the cigar lounge that I frequented sat next to me in the empty (except for myself) lounge and inquired that as I knew much about Benjamin Franklin would I tell him something about Franklin. I spent the next thirty to forty minutes telling him Benjamin Franklin stories. At the end of my stories, I inquired “So, what did you learn about Benjamin Franklin?”. He replied, “I learned never to ask you again about Benjamin Franklin!”. But here it is anyway.
- Chronological Events in the Life of
Benjamin Franklin - (Feb 2020)
-Benjamin Franklin’s life spans one of the most important
periods of American history. As such, I thought it world be
informative to present a timeline of the events of his life,
along with some images from the important events in his life.
- The Wisdom of Benjamin Franklin - (Feb 2020) - Benjamin Franklin was as revered and admired as George Washington was by his contemporaries. He was considered as one of the great and wise men of all history. As I am a Franklin-phile, ” I decided to write about some of the most important things that I have read about, and learned from, the life of Benjamin Franklin as follows:
- United States History Perspective - (May 2019) - My perspective on United States History focusing on the many turning points in U.S. history that changed our country.
- The Constitutional Founding Fathers Goals - (Jan 2020) - To understand why the Constitution was drafted and adopted you need to understand the historical governmental and socio-economic environment at the time of the founding, and the fears of the Constitutional Founding Fathers due to this environment. This article examines these issues and goals.
- The Divisions at
the Constitutional Convention - (Aug 2020) – An
examination of the accommodation and compromise that was required
to create the United States Constitution.
Meaning of the American Revolution - (Jun
2019) -What was the meaning of the American Revolution? Why was
it so important to the development of civilization? How can we
assure its continuing impact and importance to American society?
This article will attempt to succinctly answer these questions
by examining the most important documents regarding our
- The Meaning of the American Civil War - (Apr 2019) -My mullings on the most consequential meaning of the Civil War.
- The Underlying
Meaning of the Bill of Rights - ( Aug 2019) - The
reason for and the underlying meaning of the Bill of Rights in
- Slavery in the United States Constitution – (Aug 2020) - Slavery has been with us throughout human history and was an important part of the United States History and Constitution. However, slavery was antithetical to the ideals of the “Declaration of Independence”, but remained in “The United States Constitution”. This article examines the issue of slavery in the Constitution and its eventual elimination in the United States.
- Slavery and Discrimination rooted in Party Politics - (Dec 2019) - The Civil War - Slavery vs Freedom. North vs South, Industrial vs Agricultural, Union vs Succession are the common reasons given for the Civil War. There is great truth in these reasons, but the commonality of these reasons is Democrat vs. Republican party politics. This article looks at the history of this subject.
- The Truths About Slavery - (Apr 2021) - One of the seminal works on American slavery is “The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South” by Kenneth M. Stampp. Although this book was written many decades ago, its scholarship is still pertinent. It is not possible to read this book without feeling horror, revulsion, and anger about the institution and perpetuation of slavery in America. This article is a brief review of the truths about slavery.
Victor Davis Hanson, In his book, The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny, defines great military leadership as the ability to lead and inspire the troops under them to a noble cause for the wars they fought. They did this by utilizing unconventional military strategy and techniques, with a concern of their soldiers’ and sailors’ safety and minimization of casualties, while attempting to expeditiously end the war and achieve their noble cause. In my opinion, Generals George Washington, William Tecumseh Sherman, and George S. Patton are the great American Generals, while Admiral Nimitz was the greatest American Admiral. General Douglas MacArthur, on the other hand, was not so great. As such, I have written an article about each of these generals and Admiral Nimitz, and my thoughts about their greatness and not so greatness:
The most important documents to be read for the purposes of United States History are, of course, The Declaration of Independence, The United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights and Amendments, as well as the Gettysburg Address.
The following are additional letters and speeches from American history that I have found to be very wise and inspiring. I believe all Americans should read and ponder these letters and speeches, and take them to heart.
- Franklin's Speech to the Constitutional Convention
- Franklin's Letter to Ezra Stiles
- Franklin's Excellent Use of Moral Equivalency on Slavery
- From George Washington: To B. Franklin
- Washington Prevents the Revolt of His Officers
- Washington's Inaugural Address
- Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation
- Washington's Farewell Address
- Lincoln's The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions speech
- Lincoln's A House Divided Speech
- Lincoln's First Inaugural Address
- Lincoln's Message to Congress in Special Session
- Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation
- Lincoln's Proclamation of Thanksgiving
- Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
- Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
- William Tecumseh Sherman to Atlanta : "War Is Hell"
- FDR Four Freedoms Speech
- Kennedy's Inaugural Address
- Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’
- Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream Speech
- Reagan's First Inaugural Address
There are several very good books and DVDs on United States history. DVDs are a good introduction to United States history but should only be utilized as an introduction and starting point. A good book will provide a better understanding of the complexities of United States history. Here is my list of books & DVDs that I would recommend. Due to my love of music I have also included several audio CD's of American music:
- A History Of The American People By Paul Johnson
- A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic (1754-1801) by John Ferling
- The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood
- Independence: The Struggle to Set America Free by John Ferling
- Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History: 1585-1828 by Walter A. McDougall
- Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different by Gordon S. Wood
- Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis
- The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers by Thomas Fleming
- A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution by Carol Berkin
- The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties by Carol Berkin
- Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln
by Richard Brookhiser
- Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America by Garry Wills
- The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny by Victor Davis Hanson
- The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King--The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea by Walter R. Borneman
- The Generals: Patton, MacArthur, Marshall, and the Winning of World War II by Winston Groom
The Oxford History of the United States series of books are a comprehensive (read long and through) examination of 18th and 19th century American history. If you wish to fully understand American history of this period I can highly recommend these books.
- The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 (Oxford History of the United States) by Robert Middlekauff
- Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (Oxford History of the United States) by Gordon S. Wood
- What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (The Oxford History of the United States) by Daniel Walker Howe
- Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War
(The Oxford History of the United States) by James M.
- The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 (Oxford History of the United States) by Richard White
Finally, for a history of America before the 19th century I would recommend:
- American Colonies : The Settlement of North America to 1800 (Penguin History of the United States) by Alan Taylor
- The Founding Fathers by Encyclopædia Britannica
- The Heritage Guide to the Constitution: Fully Revised Second Edition – by David F. Forte (Editor), Matthew Spalding (Editor), Edwin Meese III (Foreword)
- The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution by Linda R. Monk
- The Constitution: An Introduction by Michael Stokes Paulsen and Luke Paulsen
Please note that the following books are very concise, paperback, and of a size that can fit into your pants pocket, which makes them convenient to carry and read in small bites:
- American History: A Very Short Introduction by Paul S. Boyer
- American Political History : A Very Short Introduction by Donald T. Critchlow
- American Political Parties and Elections: A Very Short Introduction by L. Sandy Maisel
- American Politics: A Very Short Introduction by Richard M. Valelly
- The Founding Fathers: A Very Short Introduction By R. B. Bernstein
- The American Presidency: A Very Short Introduction by Charles O. Jones
- The U.S. Congress: A Very Short Introduction by Donald A. Ritchie
- The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction by Linda Greenhouse
- American Experience: George Washington: Man Who Wouldn't Be King
- American Experience: John and Abigail Adams
- Thomas Jefferson - A Film by Ken Burns
- Benjamin Franklin
- Alexander Hamilton
- Liberty! The American Revolution
- The Founding of America
- Founding Brothers
And finally, the following are not documentaries but provide a very good biographical movie of the people and/or times:
- The Last Of The Mohicans
- Drums Along the Mohawk
- The Patriot
- Young Mr. Lincoln
- Abe Lincoln in Illinois
- 200 Years of American Heritage in Song
- The Voice of America
- American Sampler: Portrait of American Spirit
- Heartland: An Appalachian Anthology
- The Civil War
You may be wondering
about my qualifications to pontificate on these subjects. I believe
that I am qualified because I am a thinking human being. I utilize
my knowledge and experience in life, as well as researching both the
facts and opinions of others, including those with whom I may
disagree. I then apply my reasoning and logical skills to reach an
opinion. And it is just my opinion which I readily admit. I am also
willing to admit that I may be wrong, and if I discover that I am
wrong I am just as readily willing to change my opinion. Therefore,
check-back every so often to determine if I have changed my opinion
which can be determine by the date of the article.
light bulb has often been described as a heat source that provides
some light, given that a light bulb generates more heat than it does
light. In today's public debates we often find the proponents of an
issue providing a lot of heat and only a little light. These
observations are meant to provide illumination (light) and not
Opponents in today's society often utilize the dialog and debate methodology of Demonize, Denigrate, and Disparage their opponent when discussing issues, policies, and personages. To demonize, denigrate, or disparage the messenger to avoid consideration of the message is not acceptable if the message has supporting evidence.
The only acceptable method of public discourse is disagreement - to be of different opinions. If you are in disagreement with someone you should be cognizant that people of good character can and often disagree with each other. The method of their disagreement is very important to achieve civil discourse. There are two ways you can disagree with someone; by criticizing their opinions or beliefs or critiquing their opinions or beliefs.
- Criticism - Disapproval expressed by pointing out faults or shortcomings.
- Critique - A serious examination and judgment of something.
Most people, and
most commentators have forgotten the difference between Criticism
and Critique. This has led to the hyper-partisanship in today's
society. In a civil society critiquing a viewpoint or policy
position should be encouraged. This will often allow for a fuller
consideration of the issues, and perhaps a better viewpoint or
policy position without invoking hyper-partisanship. We can expect
that partisanship will often occur, as people of good character can
and often disagree with each other. Criticizing a viewpoint or
policy position will often lead to hostility, rancor, and enmity,
which results in the breakdown of civil discourse and
hyper-partisanship. It is fine to criticize someone for their bad or
destructive behavior, but it is best to critique them for their
opinions or words. We would all do better if we remember to critique
someone, rather than criticize someone.
I would ask anyone who disagrees with what I have written here to please keep this disagreement civil. I am open to critique and will sometimes take criticism. I will always ignore demonization, denigration, and disparagement, or point out the vacuous nature or the character flaws of those that wish to silence the messenger rather than deal with the message.
Please remember that if you disagree with the messenger it is not acceptable to kill the messenger. You may kill the messenger, but the message will remain.
If you have any comments, concerns, critiques, or suggestions I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will review reasoned and intellectual correspondence, and it is possible that I can change my mind, or at least update the contents of these articles. This is why these articles are dated. Whenever I make a change to these articles they will be re-dated. So check back and see if any articles have been updated (or perhaps I shall add articles).