AP History Notes

The world's best AP history notes
Posts Tagged ‘iii’

250-year-old pretzels found in Bavaria

Archaeologists excavating the Danube Market location of Regensburg, Bavaria, have discovered the charred remains of two pretzels, three bread rolls and a croissant that date to the 18th century. Radiocarbon dating placed the baked goods to between 1700 and 1800, but historical research suggests they were made in the second half of the century. While very ancient bread products have survived thanks to charring — Herculaneum leaps to mind — these are the oldest pretzels ever found.

The Danube Market site has been a rich source of archaeological finds. The waterlogged soil next to the river has preserved a swath of history that would otherwise have decayed, like the remains of wooden house that is 1,200 years old (the only Carolingian home ever found in Bavaria), a medieval place of execution and a wooden jetty that is at least 1,100 years old.

The site was excavated between 2012 and 2014 to thoroughly explore its archaeological layers before construction of the Museum of the Bavarian History to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Free State of Bavaria in 2018. Archaeologists found the bakery goodies in the remains of a house that once stood at number 3 Hunnenplatz which was demolished in 1964 along with much of the neighborhood. City archives indicate that the house at 3 Hunnenplatz was bought by one Johann Georg Held, a master baker, in 1753. He used it as his shop for years. The house remained a bakery for more than a century even as it passed through different hands. The last known baker to reside there was Karl Schätz in 1881.

Archaeologists believe the pretzels, rolls and croissant were burnt to a crisp under Held’s tenure, probably part of a tray of failed baked goods that were thrown away. They were found in a waste pit dug into the soil in the corner of the house. Once dumped into the pit, the charred breads were covered with soil. With the moisture firmly burned out of them and the soil they were buried in low in oxygen, the discarded pretzels and friends survived intact for 250 years and now Mr. Held’s trash is our treasure.

There are many origin stories for the pretzel with Italy and France in the running as the starting point as well as Germany. Whichever country it was in, it was likely a monastery kitchen that baked the first pretzels in the early Middle Ages. The looped form of the pretzel was said to be inspired by the crossed arms of monks, and a simple flour and water pretzel became a traditional Lent food since Catholics were forbidden from eating eggs and dairy. By the 12th century pretzels were firmly ensconced in the secular culture of southern Germany where the pretzel was the symbol of bakers and bakery guilds. Pretzels were a special issue in the beginning, baked and sold on Saturdays only. In 1532 that changed when the Duke of Bavaria ordered all bakers to make and sell pretzels daily.

The baked goods are now on display at the Historical Museum of Regensburg.


Richard III Dig Site Yields Interesting Coffin

Do you remember the car park where archaeologists, against all odds, found the bones of Richard III of England? Well digging is still going on, and now the team have found an interesting burial. There are two layers, one a stone casket two metres long, with a lead coffin inside. Both are intact.

Read Full Post

How they Remade Richard III’s Face

If you’ve been following the news on the discovery of the bones of Richard III of England, you might have seen the lifelike reconstruction of his face. If you have, you’ll probably find this BBC article interesting, as they take a ‘who, what, why’ approach to how it was (re)created.

Richard III Found

It was an archaeological longshot but it captured the public imagination: could a dig in a Leicester car park find the lost body of Richard III, England’s most unpopular king? Killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, Richard’s body would theoretically contain the marks  of certain wounds and deformities, and when the archaeologists found a skeleton which seemed to fit the world took notice. Now a careful study on every aspect of the bones, including DNA tests on descendants of Richard’s relatives (Anne of York

Read Full Post

Book Review of Edward III and the War at Sea: The English Navy, 1327-1377

Reblogged from International History:

Click to visit the original post

Graham Cushway. Edward III and the War at Sea: The English Navy, 1327-1377. Warfare in History series. Woodbridge, England: Boydell Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-84383-621-6. Notes. Illustrations. Maps. Appendices. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xxii, 265. $99.00.

The English navy played a key role in the Hundred Years War.  Dr Graham Cushway, a maritime historian and Associate Analyst for the United Nations, explores the English navy and the war at sea from the accession of Edward II (ruled 1307-1327) to the death of  Edward III (1327-1377). 

Read more… 1,168 more words

England’s Richard III Found?

A few weeks ago I reported on the dig taking place in Leicester to find the Greyfriars Friary and, at the more wishful end of the search, the body of one of England’s most unpopular kings: Richard III (it’s a tie between him and John). Well, the University of Leicester have just announced they found a skeleton which “appears to have suffered significant peri-mortem trauma to the skull which appears consistent with an injury received in battle.” Indeed “a barbed metal arrowhead was found between vertebrae of the skeleton’s upper back” and the skull was smashed. The next step is to a close study: “we are clearly very excited but the University now must subject the findings to rigorous analysis. DNA analysis will take up to 12 weeks.” (Quotes from the University of Leicester Twitter feed.)

England’s Richard III Found?

A few weeks ago I reported on the dig taking place in Leicester to find the Greyfriars Friary and, at the more wishful end of the search, the body of one of England’s most unpopular kings: Richard III (it’s a tie between him and John). Well, the University of Leicester have just announced they found a skeleton which “appears to have suffered significant peri-mortem trauma to the skull which appears consistent with an injury received in battle.” Indeed “a barbed metal arrowhead was found between vertebrae of the skeleton’s upper back” and the skull was smashed. The next step is to a close study: “we are clearly very excited but the University now must subject the findings to rigorous analysis. DNA analysis will take up to 12 weeks.” (Quotes from the University of Leicester Twitter feed.)

Archaeologists look for Richard III

This story is really about archaeologists looking for the lost Franciscan Friary in Leicester called Greyfairs, but the minor Richard III aspect has stolen the headlines so I’ll play along. Basically, after Richard III – a King of England so unpopular there’s never been a Richard IV – was killed in 1485 his body ended up being buried at Greyfriars.

Read Full Post

Locavangelism: Eating as Spiritual Practice, Part III

Editorial note: This is Part III of Rachel Wheeler’s discussion of what she calls “locavangelism.” Part I is here; Part II is here. The last couple of paragraphs here are a repeat from Part I, which I repeat here as a summary of the series.

by Rachel Wheeler

Why now?

Having attempted to show how various wings of the modern food-centered environmentalist movement draw on patterns of evangelicalism, I’d like to take a stab at answering two questions: why food now? and what does it all mean? The immediate answer to the first question, I believe is 9/11 and the 2008 financial meltdown. Growing your own tomatoes, people are discovering, is a way to economize, enjoy better food, and connect with a past that feels safe during a time of great uncertainty. Locavangelism seems to represent a sort of personal declaration of isolationism. The past decade, beginning with 9/11, has persuaded many that globalization represents a threat rather than an opportunity, and this sense of threat has led many to want to seek a closer connection to the dirt in their own back yards. But I think we can’t stop there. The 1990s were crucially important in laying the groundwork that would eventually produce the locavore movement.

The turn to food, I believe, marks a desire to marry belief and practice, it represents a backlash against an era that liberals and conservatives are seeing as superficial: the go-go-90s witnessed the make-over of many American cities. Everyone celebrated the decreased crime rates, and the cleaner subways – both unquestionably good developments—but the 90s also brought a new era of consumerism and suburbanization with the growth of sprawling McMansion studded developments gobbling up prime farmland on the outskirts of many cities (particularly in the Midwest). Shopping became the number one leisure activity among Americans, and suddenly people traded in their under a dollar coffee habit for $3 (and more) grande skinny caramel macchiatos.

Political liberals got their President in 1992 with Clinton’s election, while Conservatives were laying the groundwork for a Republican take over that came in 1994. Republicans and Democrats had great reason for hope in the 1990s. On the left, the 1990s marked the high point of the “politically correct” or PC movement, when liberals learned to call black people “African-Americans,” and Indians “Native Americans” and feel they were doing their part to right the wrongs of prior, unenlightened times. The 1990s also saw the growing influence of the Religious Right. The Republican Revolution of 1994, and the election of a born-again Christian – George W. Bush– in 2000, swelled hopes among America’s evangelicals that a conservative Christian agenda would finally be implemented. His election marked an astounding and seemingly unassailable alliance of conservative Christians, fiscal conservatives, and big-business. But neither Clinton nor Bush accomplished what their supporters hoped, leading to a suspicion about the meaning of professions of faith, whether of the PC or the evangelical variety: does calling a person in a wheelchair “physically challenged” rather than handicapped change their experience of being handicapped when public buildings are not accessible? Will a politician who professes to be born again necessarily be above political compromise? Some Conservative Christians began having second thoughts about their enthusiastic alliance with big-business. Liberals and conservatives were dismayed by their leaders’ political (and moral) compromises, though perhaps more often, they were inclined to see the problems as coming from the other side of the political aisle.) As Rod Dreher writes in Crunchy Cons, “Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.”

The writings of locavangelists, of the lefty and Christian Agrarian variety, are rife with professions about the incongruity of belief and action. All the authors considered here write of the impulse to bring belief and action together. The financial implosion has lent further impetus to the desire for change: the promise of ever increasing wealth, of ever increasing house values, has proved illusory and this realization has prompted many to reconsider the meaning of work. If it is not to make more money and buy a bigger house, what is it for? So, I think there is something of a widespread re-alignment of values going on, with many people opting to focus their energies on the familial and the local, shunning the plastic and the consumerist, and seeking above all, the authentic, however that might be constructed. Beavan, the No Impact Man, writes: “I want my work to align with my values. I want to write about what’s important. I want to help change minds. The blurb for Year of Plenty (by Goodwin, the Presbyterian pastor) announces, this is the story of “one family wrestling with what it means to re-integrate life and faith.”

What locavores on the left and right seem to have in common is their emphasis on the importance of practice. It seems to me to be a commentary on what many now see as the superficiality of the 1990s. Both sides are seeking ways to realize their beliefs through actions. It is telling, I think that the environmental movement is growing not by more people heading for escape to a pristine wilderness, but through rediscovering the ancient traditions of agriculture, a turn that seems eminently more practical in a precarious world. As Ragan Sutterfield writes, “the problem with our role in creation is that we don’t remember it. In our fallen state we have forgotten our place, both within God’s will and love and also in our love and care for creation. We need to be reminded of who we are and what we are about. Practices and disciplines are our primary way of learning to remember, of being recollected to our place and call as creatures. I would like to offer farming, done well, as one of those disciplines.”

I find it fascinating, that a predominantly Protestant country has suddenly discovered “practice.” I don’t know quite what to make of this: it could be a response to the broader political and cultural forces, or it could suggest the assimilation of important religious ideas and practices from other religions. Americans are clearly hungry for practical guidance: Michael Pollan’s prescriptive book Food Rules, was quickly vaulted to the top of best-seller lists. Americans seem to want to be told what to do and many are finding new spiritual rewards in practicing the discipline of eating according to Pollan’s rules. Locavorism may well be the new Kosher, but it is being embraced with evangelical fervor.

Fourth “Great Escape” tunnel found under Stalag Luft III

Archaeologists excavating Stalag Luft III, the Luftwaffe POW camp in Lower Silesia made famous by Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, have found a fourth tunnel dug after the failure of the attempt immortalized/fictionalized on film. Although historians knew about the existence of this fourth tunnel, named George, and that it was dug underneath the camp theater, its exact location was a mystery.

Using ground-penetrating radar and information from POWs who survived internment, archaeologists spent three weeks looking for George. Now they’ve found it and it still contains a number of artifacts left behind when the Germans hastily evacuated the camp in the middle of the night on January 27, 1945, forcing the 11,000 remaining POWs to march 50 miles in below freezing temperatures deeper behind German lines.

[Artifacts] include yards of wire that inmates stole from the Nazi searchlight power-lines to make electric light in the shaft and tunnel. Also found were numerous “klim tins” – powdered-milk containers – which were hollowed out and used as fat lamps stuck into the side of the tunnel walls when the electricity failed.

Others were joined together to form tubes along which air was pumped for the men digging at the face. Numerous bedboards were used to shore up the workings, and many jagged hinges, bits of old metal pails, hammers and jemmies, used to scour away the sandy soil of the camp, were also excavated.

“It is hardly a treasure in the conventional sense,” said Marek Lazarz, director of the museum that has been built to honour the men of Stalag Luft III. “But it is priceless to us and a time capsule of what life was like back then.

The location turns out to be on the other side of the theater from where experts thought it would be. It ran from under the theater towards the section of the camp where the guards were housed. That’s a counterintuitive choice if your plan is escape, but they could have been aiming for a wooded area between the prison camp and the guard camp. Historians also speculate that perhaps the prisoners were planning to break into the guard barracks to steal weapons to fight their way out and/or to defend themselves from a massacre should Allied troops be closing in.

Since 50 of the 76 prisoners who were able to escape had been executed at Hitler’s personal command, the remaining POWs had very good reason to fear that their jailers would kill them all if it looked like the camp was close to liberation. After the Great Escape, British Intelligence was able to convey orders to the POWs that they were to cease all escape attempts.

According to Squadron Leader Ivor Harris, a prisoner at the camp who ran the makeshift air pump they used to ensure the diggers at the end of the tunnel had breathable air, George was apparently not meant to stage another escape, but rather to be used as “for emergencies only,” which sounds to me like a last resort either for running like hell, fighting or for hiding until Allied troops freed them.

These tunnels really were astonishing pieces of ingenuity and engineering. Underneath the blackish topsoil of the camp was golden sand. The German command had specifically chosen the area because of this contrast, so that if anyone was digging the color of the sand would expose them. Sand is also easy to dig through but very hard to shore up; if you’ve ever dug a tunnel with your hand on the beach you know how it just collapses when you pull your hand out. The Germans also put all the prisoner barracks on stilts to make digging more visible and they put microphones underground so they could hear any excavation noises.

In March of 1943, POWs decided to attempt the impossible. They started digging three tunnels, Tom, Dick and Harry (Nova has a neat interactive map of Harry). They hid the entrance to the tunnels under a chimney, a sewage outlet and a stove in three different barracks. To bypass the microphones, they dug a vertical shaft down deep enough — 9 meters or 30 feet — that the actual tunnel would be dug outside of mic range. They shored up the walls with wooden planks from their bunk beds.

At the base of the shaft, they built three small rooms, a storage chamber for tools and bags of excavated sand, a workshop where they MacGyvered up equipment they needed, and an air pump room where a man constantly pushed a handmade bellows on runners back and forth to send air to the remote digger. The ventilation pipes were made out Klim milk cans, tops and bottoms removed then stuck together.

Those milk cans were also used as lamps initially, filled with mutton fat with a pajama fabric wick. They were so rank and noxious in the confined space of the tunnel, however, that they were soon replaced by actual electric wiring, stolen from German workers who had left it unattended. (The Gestapo executed all those workers after the escape.) The wires were then tapped into the prison circuit board.

Once the POWs started digging the long tunnels, they devised a rope-pull trolley cart system so the digger could send back all the sand he was excavating. That trolley system would also be used to transport the diggers as the tunnel got longer, and transport men the night of the escape. Since the entire tunnel was just two feet by two feet — the size of bed boards used to shore up the walls after digging — and since Harry ended up being the length of a football field, that trolley system was key to the escape plan.

Six hundred POWs worked on the tunnels, but only 200 of them would get a chance to use Harry. The men who were judged to have worked the most, ones who could speak German, ones who had a history of escape were all given priority. The rest drew lots. Once the 200 were selected, they waited for a moonless night to make their attempt. March 24, 1944, was that night.

It didn’t go well from the beginning. The trap door to Harry was frozen shut. It took them an hour and a half of precious time to get the damn thing open. Harry ended up just a little short, 30 feet from the forest, 45 feet from the guard tower, so even once they were able to start sending POWs through, they had to slow down the process drastically to avoid sentries spotting them. Then an air raid killed the power and part of the tunnel collapsed and had to be rebuilt. That’s why the planned 200 escapees ended up being just 76.

Seventy-three of them were promptly recaptured, 50 of them executed, 17 returned to Stalag Luft III, four were sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp where they promptly proceeded to dig a tunnel and escape four months later. Sadly, they were again recaptured. Two Norwegian RAF pilots made it to neutral Sweden after three and a half months in Nazi territory. One Dutch RAF pilot escaped through France to the British Consulate in Spain.

In the aftermath of the escape, the Germans took inventory and discovered just how much material had gone into this daring plan: 4,000 bed boards, 90 double bunk beds, 635 mattresses, 192 bed covers, 161 pillow cases, 52 20-man tables, 10 single tables, 34 chairs, 76 benches, 1,212 bed bolsters, 1,370 beading battens, 1219 knives, 478 spoons, 582 forks, 69 lamps, 246 water cans, 30 shovels, 1,000 feet of electric wire, 600 feet of rope, 3424 towels, 1,700 blankets and over 1,400 Klim cans.

It’s a testament to the massive testes on these guys that as soon as the heat died down a little, they started all over again with George even though the guards were now counting bed boards every day.


The Gospel of the Working Class: Gellman/Roll Interview, Part III

By Heath Carter

The final installment of my interview with Erik Gellman and Jarod Roll: _________________________

HC: What factors best explain why some were attracted to this radical gospel and others were not? Are there underlying unities within the diverse spectrum of persons that populate your narrative?

EG: Embracing this radical gospel was not the easy path. It meant risking your livelihood and defying the dominant cultural norms of Jim Crow, not to mention class and gender assumptions about who had the right to lead and wield power in America. Many people who embraced this gospel did so during the 1930s when deprivation had become so widespread that people had the ability, as a result of dire circumstances, to radically reorient their cultural identity. Thus, working people and poor people, who often were cast out or dismissed by liberals and middle-class professionals, often listened to this radical gospel. But many people in the working class also listened to Charles Coughlin, Gerald L. K. Smith, and hundreds of other right-wing religious preachers of their day, because their explanations of the injustice in the world had simple solutions. Embracing fascist ideas, including the hatred of other races, was easier than the alternative of interracial and militant organizing against the American mainstream. Meanwhile, others embraced what Whitfield denounced as “sky pilot” and “pie-in-the-sky” type preachers who did not orient them for action but provided them with personal and emotional styles of worship.

JR: One aspect of the research that really stood out was the power both Whitfield and Williams possessed as speakers, the way that the Spirit seemed to move through the words they spoke, at least in the sense that they moved hearts and minds in their direction. They each had a remarkable ability to convince those who heard them preach, whether the hearer was a coal miner, a sharecropper, a factory worker, or a sympathetic liberal. They also did well with those who opposed them, if they could get in earshot. Williams converted a number of Ku Klux Klan members to work alongside blacks, while Whitfield commonly moved secular or nationalist African Americans to his side. The power of their speech, when delivered in person, also impressed a range of more well known people, including Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Ralph Ellison, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie. Some were leery of this ability and likened it to demagoguery, perhaps not without cause. Williams used his oratorical skills to propel the STFU membership to vote to join the CIO against the wishes of some union leaders. Whitfield, on the other hand, could inspire rank-and-file union members to take wildcat action during the war despite the no-strike directives handed down by his bosses in the CIO.

Williams even had this effect on historians who met him in the 1960s. Donald Grubbs, for example, interviewed him in the course of the research that would become his book on the STFU and the New Deal. He was not sure there was any point, since he considered Williams to be an unreliable self-server (a view he got from talking to H. L. Mitchell, the STFU leader, who fell out with Williams in the late 1930s). But during the course of the interview Williams worked his magic on Grubbs, who left with no doubt about the preacher’s religious conviction. Moreover, he came away certain that Williams was far more important than he had ever given him credit for and that historians had to take his view of the southern labor movement seriously if they were to understand it properly.

Sadly no recordings exist of Whitfield and Williams preaching in their prime, so we can’t really know what they sounded like in full flood. There is a recording of Williams talking to civil rights activists in the 1960s, and one can get a sense of the power that the then aged preacher must have had in his heyday.

Both were such impressive writers and speakers that we wanted the book to provide space for each to speak, or at least for the reader to get a good sense of their voices in the pulpit. We decided to do this with two interchapters that each delivers a sermon, one by Williams and one by Whitfield, with as little interjection from us as possible. I think they work really well in the course of the narrative, because they break our biographical story and give the reader direct contact with extended texts as delivered by each preacher, hopefully with some feeling for the historical scene, of what it might have been like to be there. We wanted the reader to have the opportunity to hear the working class gospel straight from its two greatest evangelists.

HC: Your story is centered geographically in the South but also ventures out to Detroit, Chicago, New York, and elsewhere. To what extent is this a southern story versus a national one? Are there elements of it that you take to be more broadly representative?

JR: We’ve framed the story as one of “southern prophets” taking their message into New Deal America. Whitfield and Williams both argued that the nation’s problems originated in the South and had to be addressed there before the US itself could be saved. So, it is both a southern story and a national one. The two preachers came to this political view in part because of their religious training. Williams and his wife Joyce began their careers as Presbyterians who felt called to take the gospel into hostile terrain, to serve as missionaries in their native South. In fact Joyce had studied to be a missionary at Bethel College in Tennessee, where she first met Claude. Whitfield, on the other hand, entered the ministry because of his experience as a student at Okolona Industrial School in Mississippi. Wallace Battle, the leader of the school, trained his students in a spirit of civic service, which bid them to use their privileges as educated southern blacks to lead their families and neighbors to better lives. Whitfield came away from this with a strong sense that God intended for him to serve as a Moses for his people. Whitfield followed this charge when he moved with his family to Arkansas and then to the new lands opening up in Missouri in the early 1920s. There he melded his spirit of service with religious leadership in the Garvey movement. When both Whitfield and Williams joined together to take their gospel to the nation at large, they were both acting in a way consistent with the sense of calling that had brought each of them into the ministry in the first place.

EG: Great question. This story fits with the historiography of many scholars of the twentieth century who make cogent arguments that the South has a huge influence on the rest of America. Also, our book confirms that this era was one of migration from rural enclaves to urban ones. But I would hope our narrative complicates both of those ideas. The workers in this story seem to migrate in circles rather than from North to South, from rural to urban. And while rural cultural traits brought by workers into urban areas help explain why the radical gospel of Williams and Whitfield, based on rural experiences, often succeeded in binding workers together, urban influences – especially CIO locals, radical political parties, and black-led protest groups like the National Negro Congress – fostered new ideas about protest politics. So the literal and ideological movement of urban/rural and North/South cross-pollinated in the 1930s and 1940s more than I had expected.

HC: In your conclusion you say that “the pathogenic, divisive aspects of American life that Williams and Whitefield fought against, at great odds and with terrible risks, are still around us: inequality, poverty, and the reactionary interpretation of evangelical Christianity.” In your assessment, what are the legacies of the radical religious organizing tradition you describe? To what extent is it still alive today?

EG: One reason we wrote the book is to highlight the historic, progressive nature of Americans who had a strong religious faith. This provides a usable past to build upon for our present era when so many Americans, especially in liberal circles, ignore or condemn religious people, especially evangelical Christians, as an inherently conservative and ignorant group whose faith distracts from issues like growing economic inequality. Moreover, middle-class Americans have mocked them for holding irrational beliefs drawn from the Bible. But, drawing on this book’s protagonists as historical examples, we sometimes need pure faith to break through the hegemony of the present, of what appears as the rational status quo. Williams and Whitfield would have made the devoutly religious, whatever their political persuasion, their first priority by attempting to reorient their religious commitment to the radical gospel as their historical inheritance. This gospel, they believed, had the ideological power to break down divisions among the poor and organize them into an aggressive force in American life to expand American democracy and diminish racism, sexism, and especially economic exploitation.

JR: In the sense of explicit legacies, there isn’t much left of what Whitfield and Williams worked on in their lives. A common reaction among historians and other people we talk to about this story is surprise, perhaps mild shock, because most people have never heard about them before. That erasure was the result of several factors, including the Red Scare, but most importantly the surging power of conservative Christians in the last forty years or so. From the perspective of events in the early 1940s, however, it probably would have seemed a surprise that things have come down has they have. Take for example J. Frank Norris, one of the PIAR’s great foes in wartime Detroit. After the riot in the city in 1943, Williams effectively tarred Norris as a supporter of racial division, even violence, as the enemy of working Americans, and more generally as preacher disloyal to the nation in the fight against fascism. At the time it seemed like Williams and the PIAR might win that battle. But if you look for Norris online now, you will find that he’s treated as a respectable, even canonical, theologian in some circles. You will find books and websites devoted to this writings and his ideas. Aside from this book, you will not find similar appraisals of Williams’s work even though his vision of a working-class, Christian majority preempted the conservative Moral Majority by forty years.

If Williams and Whitfield haven’t left an explicit mark on today’s political culture, their influence can certainly be found if you know where to look, or listen. The music of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, for example, were shaped directly by Williams and the PIAR. Williams is in part responsible for the song, “We Shall Overcome,” for instance. Has that been more powerful than Norris’s legacy through Jerry Falwell?

EG: Whitfield’s efforts foreshadowed the tactics of the civil rights movement when he led the 1939 roadside demonstration in Missouri and then trained the younger generation of civil rights activists in St. Louis after the war. Both preachers, and their key allies like Harry Koger, Myles Horton, Winifred Chappell, and William DeBerry authored new methods of organizing workers that historians have come to call civil rights unionism. This form of organizing tapped a working-class culture that reached well beyond the field or factory. And the Williamses remained active into the 1960s and 1970s. He and Joyce made it their mission to open their house in Alabama to young activists for conversations about protest politics and movement organizing, past and present.

While the specific historical record of this cast of characters may have been elided, religious-based progressive activism has not disappeared. I have had the opportunity to know community organizers, unionists, and other activists through specific campaigns in Chicago over the past decade, and have learned that many of them came to these positions based on religious backgrounds, or indeed, an embrace of a gospel of the working class. These religious beliefs are not necessarily conspicuous but often sustain these activists. More explicitly, Kim Bobo and others at Interfaith Worker Justice serve as a prime example of this radical gospel’s legacy, even if their voices might get muted on the national stage in favor of mega-church ministers and televangelists.

JR: The story of Whitfield and Williams, as well as the thousands who rallied to their call, point to the more general conclusion that powerful religious denominations are most vulnerable when they no longer meet the needs of their members, and this tends to happen at a moment when those denominations are basking in worldly power and prestige, when they seem all-conquering. It happened to the Episcopalians, it happened to the Methodists, and it can happen to the Pentecostal and Baptist mega-churches. I came away from this project convinced more than ever before that religious faith is fundamentally radical in its implications for human behavior and action and that it always carries explosive potential—for good and bad, of course. Who knows what rebellions are out there simmering among believers discontented with their religious leaders? Who knows what they might be saying right now, and who knows what they might do? This book project has shown us that we need listen closely to these believers and better understand them as a potential force in American culture.

1775 — Proclamation of Rebellion by King George III

August 23, 1775


Whereas many of our subjects in divers parts of our Colonies and Plantations in North America, misled by dangerous and ill designing men, and forgetting the allegiance which they owe to the power that has protected and supported them; after various disorderly acts committed in disturbance of the publick peace, to the obstruction of lawful commerce, and to the oppression of our loyal subjects carrying on the same; have at length proceeded to open and avowed rebellion, by arraying themselves in a hostile manner, to withstand the execution of the law, and traitorously preparing, ordering and levying war against us: And whereas, there is reason to apprehend that such rebellion hath been much promoted and encouraged by the traitorous correspondence, counsels and comfort of divers wicked and desperate persons within this realm: To the end therefore, that none of our subjects may neglect or violate their duty through ignorance thereof, or through any doubt of the protection which the law will afford to their loyalty and zeal, we have thought fit, by and with the advice of our Privy Council, to issue our Royal Proclamation, hereby declaring, that not only all our Officers, civil and military, are obliged to exert their utmost endeavours to suppress such rebellion, and to bring the traitors to justice, but that all our subjects of this Realm, and the dominions thereunto belonging, are bound by law to be aiding and assisting in the suppression of such rebellion, and to disclose and make known all traitorous conspiracies and attempts against us our crown and dignity; and we do accordingly strictly charge and command all our Officers, as well civil as military, and all others our obedient and loyal subjects, to use their utmost endeavours to withstand and suppress such rebellion, and to disclose and make known all treasons and traitorous conspiracies which they shall know to be against us, our crown and dignity; and for that purpose, that they transmit to one of our principal Secretaries of State, or other proper officer, due and full information of all persons who shall be found carrying on correspondence with, or in any manner or degree aiding or abetting the persons now in open arms and rebellion against our Government, within any of our Colonies and Plantations in North America, in order to bring to condign punishment the authors, perpetrators, and abetters of such traitorous designs.

Given at our Court at St. James’s the twenty-third day of August, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, in the fifteenth year of our reign.

GOD save the KING.