Sunday, October 9, 2011

Back to the Point!

Thank you for indulging me--I thought the story of Dr. Minor was worth the telling.

Now--back to the purpose of this blog! This was a big week for First Fallen. We have over 1,000 hits! I don't know if one person has hit 1,000 times, or if someone is actually reading what I write, but 1,000 was good for me. has accepted another guest blog from me, about embalming. I thought this a fitting topic for October. They have promised me the premier Hallowe'en date of October 31, so look for it. It has a good title: "Civil War Zombie Apocalypse Not Likely!"

I just read a book called Wedding of the Waters, by Peter L. Bernstein. One loyal reader of my nascent chapters suggested I do some research about the Erie Canal in connection with the area where Ellsworth was born and grew up. I did, and it blew the chapter wide open!

I am NOT a financial historian. I know some general stuff about Hamilton, and Andrew Jackson. I know about increases in transportation affecting Northern prosperity. I did not know just how the Erie Canal affected the growth of the North as an up-and-coming business powerhouse.

I have held all along that Elmer Ellsworth was not the "child of poverty" he reported to be. I work daily with children of poverty--I know that subculture pretty well, on both coasts. My initial feeling was that there was no way Ellsworth could be so completely accepted socially by the Northern political elite (and social elite, if you factor in the support he got from wealthy New Yorkers like the Astors) if he had not had a reasonably decent beginning.

This foray into financial America is providing a lot of evidence for an emerging middle class that was defined by employment rather than inherited wealth. Ellsworth was a truly exceptional individual in many ways, but his generation--perhaps begun by Lincoln's--was the first generation, since the very first Europeans to arrive in the New World, to be "Self-Made Men." He is a wonderful lens through which to view America before the War.

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