Tuesday, October 27, 2015

WW2 | Air Force Pilots - A Book for Children

I picked up this book, World War II Pilots, at a BookExpo BEA 14) conference and have just gotten around to reading it.

It's an "interactive" history adventure by Michael Burgan (Denis Showalter is also credited). It gives readers choices. They can decide whether they want to be a pilot or not, and where they want to assigned. Based on their choices, they skip to a certain page.

The choices help young readers appreciate that individual choices affect history and vice versa.

The reader can go back and take a different choice and see how things would have turned out.

The book has "three story paths, 36 choices and 20 endings".

This book is well done, whether or not the individual reading it has any interest in being a pilot or joining the military.

It has Barnes & Noble rating of 5 stars and a Goodreads score of nearly 4.

I am especially interested in it because it connects directly to the theme of Robert Wack's book, the 5-star Time Bomber, which is about the invasion of Normandy in June 1944 from the perspective of the pilot of a Halifax bomber, my uncle Willem van Stockum's role in World War II as a bomber pilot.

The connection between the two books is extraordinary because van Stockum engaged in pioneering mathematical analysis to investigate the scientific basis of time travel, based on Einstein's equations for general relativity.

Monday, October 26, 2015

TIME TRAVEL | 50,000 Pageviews. Thanks! Top Posts.

This blogsite just passed the 50K pageviews mark. I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you!

The Upscale Black Enclaves of Sag Harbor, NY (Post... Aug 5, 2013, 3 comments
WILL WOODIN BIO - FDR's 1st Treas Sec (Updated Oct...
Apr 20, 2015
In Madrid - Picasso's Acrobat on a Ball (1905) Oct 9, 2011
Looking Back: the Mollen Commission on Police Corr...
Mar 20, 2012
Washington's Coat of Arms and the Stars and Stripe...
Jun 2, 2013, 2 comments
Appendix B. Will Woodin's Descendants (Updated Oct...
Mar 31, 2015
"All Shooters Were Democrats" Mar 18, 2013, 2 comments
Midnight in Paris Location ID Challenge Jun 21, 2011
May 2-3 - Baldwin's 125th Anniversary Celebration May 22, 2014
1. Woodin Ancestors (Updated Oct. 24, 2015) Apr 21, 2015
Giving Alexander von Humboldt His Due (Updated Oct...
Oct 5, 2015
Woodin Meets Tagore, 1930 Oct 20, 2015
Did Norman Davis and Will Woodin Connect? Oct 16, 2015
On Elizabeth Bishop's Birthday in Brazil Feb 16, 2014
9B. Woodin as Collector of Books and Coins (Update...
Oct 23, 2015

EAST HAMPTON | Green River Cemetery Residents

"List in Formation"
Brooks, James (painter) (1906–1992) - abstract painter
Christensen, Dan (1942–2007) - artist
Coe, Fred (1914–1979) - Television producer of The Philco Television Playhouse
Davis, Stuart (painter) (1892[94?]–1964) - cubist artist
de Kooning, Elaine (1918–1989) - artist, wife of painter Willem de Kooning, who is not buried here.
Ernst, Jimmy - (1920–1984) - artist and son of Max Ernst
Franey, Pierre (1921–1996) - chef and newspaper columnist
Ferren, John (1905–1970) - painter
Geldzahler, Henry (1935–1994) - art historian, curator, NYC Commish of Cultural Affairs
Gwathmey, Charles (1938–2009) - architect
Krasner, Lee (1908–1984) - artist and wife of Jackson Pollock
Lassaw, Ibram (1913–2003) - abstract sculptor
Lieberman, William S. (1923–2005) - Museum of Modern Art curator
Liebling, A.J. (1904–1963) - newspaper columnist
Morley, Hilda (1916–1998) - Poet
O'Hara, Frank (1926–1966) - Poet
Ossorio, Alfonso A. (1916–1990) - artist (half his ashes are here)
Pakula, Alan (1928–1998) - film producer of To Kill a Mockingbird, film director of Klute
Pollock, Jackson (1912–1956) - abstract expressionist painter and husband of Lee Krasner
Rattner, Abraham (1895–1978) - painter
Reinhardt, Ad (1913–1967) - abstract painter
Rosenberg, Harold (1906–1978) - art critic
Ross, Steven J. (1927–1992) - CEO who engineered the merger of Time-Warner
Stafford, Jean (1915–1979) - Pulitzer Prize winning writer
Vanderbeek, Stan (1927–1983) - underground film maker
Wilke, Hannah (1940–1993) - painter, sculptor and photographer
Wolpe, Stefan (1902–1972) - composer

Friday, October 23, 2015

WOODIN | 9B. Collector of Books and Coins (Updated Oct. 25, 2015)

George Cruikshank, "Effects of a Lurch after Dinner." Will Woodin said: "I thought I almost had all that
he [Cruikshank] made at my house." See letter of June 11, 1931.

Will Woodin was not just a prominent collector of books and coins in his own country and in his own time. He was a world-class collector for all time.

His coin-collecting prowess is better known than his book-and-engraving-collecting skills. Let us start with the latter.

Woodin's Collection of Books and Engravings

Woodin collected drawings by Cruikshank and others. When Charlie Miner, Jr. was 5 years old, he stayed with his mother (Mary Woodin Miner) and his grandfather in a bedroom on the top floor of the apartment (and the building), where Woodin kept his collections.

Miner told me in July2015:

I looked at his hand-painted Cruikshank drawings, and the Life of Napoleon that he kept there. He found me reading the books once and told me I should stop reading these books.

Grandpa objected: “Those are not to be read. They are rare books.”

Young Charlie was puzzled: “What good are they, then?”

After filling the air with explanations about rarity,Grandpa gave up and decided the joke was on him. “Maybe you’re right, Charlie.” 

His collections gave Will Woodin great pleasure and after dinner, Charlie says, his grandfather would take them out and admire them.

An exchange of letters shows how Will Woodin operated as a collector.

Arthur Swann sent him packages of paintings alleged to be by George Cruikshank. Will Woodin writes back saying he "did not open up the packages." He then launches into a humorous onslaught of skeptical arguments for why he believes they are fakes:
Source: Courtesy of Bill Phipps, posted by permission.
  • If Cruikshank had painted the number of paintings attributed to him he "would have had to paint one every ten minutes during his entire life."
  • "I thought he did more drawings than paintings, but I am now rather doubtful."
  • "I cannot go out in the street but what someone approaches me and whispers in my ear that he has a valuable Cruikshank painting for sale."
  • "I thought I had almost all he ever made at my house, but from indications it would take the Metropolitan Museum to hold what are now on the market."
  • "I know you are going to produce evidence [...] but this is nothing. Proofs of this sort can be furnished by the wagonload."
  • Finally, "I would like to suggest to some of the artists who are turning these paintings out that they adhere a little bit to the characteristics of Cruikshank style."
Source: Courtesy of Bill Phipps, posted
by permission.
Swann, for his part, realizes that he has nothing to gain by arguing with Woodin. Selling him a Cruikshank is going to be tough slogging and better to back off and work on another collector.

Swann writes back two weeks after Woodin's first letter and tries to laugh off his rejected solicitation:
  • "[W]e have all agreed that you are a wonderful letter-writer."
  • "[You] have presented such an air-tight case that there is really nothing more to be said.
Woodin was no pushover. But we should not stop there. He was not just good at being an actor in the coin-collecting marketplace. He shows a deep understanding the weaknesses of the marketplace.

In the parlance of George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, Arthur Swann was phishing for a phool. Swann knew that Woodin was building his collection of Cruikshank art, and could be persuaded that the package of art he sent over was not only genuine but would complete his collection in important ways.

Woodin knew that he would be tempted as a collector to believe that the packages of art were genuine. He also knew that odds were against so many new paintings suddenly coming to light. He did not open the packages because he knew he was emotionally overly disposed to buy them even though cognitively he was dubious of the possibility that the art was genuine.

Woodin's understanding of the marketplace was coupled with an understanding of himself. The United States was fortunate that a person like that was on the spot in March 1933. It explains why he was the right person to be calming the markets after FDR's inauguration.

Woodin's Coin Collection

The U.S. dollar coin from the beginnings of the country went through many iterations. Initially the coin was under the control of the different states. In 1792 the U.S. Mint was established in Philadelphia. The half-dime (5 cents, what we now call the nickel) was created that year.

As the future of the U.S. money supply was debated in the early 1900s, Woodin saw the opportunity for collecting pattern coins and managed to acquire an impressive collection.

In 1913, in the same year that the Federal income tax was created and the Federal Reserve System came into being under the aegis of Congressman Carter Glass and others, Will Woodin wrote a book with Edgar Holmes Adams on United States Pattern, Trial and Experimental Pieces. Young men starting out in the coin business 100 years ago started by trying to memorize this book.

This was 20 years before Woodin was to become Treasury Secretary.

Woodin sometimes used his avocations to win new friends. Miner says that his Grandpa called on the King of Siam to sell some railway cars and was lectured beforehand on Siamese protocol, the importance of backing away facing the King, etc. But when the two of them had wrapped up their negotiations, they emerged arm in arm, the King entranced with Woodin’s knowledge of rare coins.

Although a Republican, William H. Woodin supported Franklin Roosevelt for President and was made his Treasury Secretary in 1933. In a humorous carving of a wooden coin - the only known Hirschfeld work in wood - the artist simultaneously makes a pun in the title about wood, refers to Woodin's Secretary of the Treasury post, and credits his role in ending the 1929-1933 banking crisis by issuing new money. He may also be commenting on Woodin's nickname ("Little Wooden Willy") in the Raggedy Ann Song Book, and Woodin's world-famed coin collection. "The Woodin Nickel, 1933." Published in Americana, July 1933. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress - Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Al Hirschfeld.

Judging from the recent successful sales at the Stack's Bower auction of Pogue family coins by Sotheby's, the coin market is going strong. Coins that were once part of the Woodin collection are so identified because the association adds value.

[More to come.]


Maybe you're right, Charlie Charlie Miner has told this story to me twice, in 2013 and a second time on July 30, 2015.


Adams, Edgar Holmes (1868-) and Woodin, William H.  United States Pattern, Trial, and Experimental Pieces Being A List of the Pattern, Trial and Experimental Pieces Which Have Been Issued by the United States Mint From 1792 up to the Present Time. 1913.

Akerlof, George A. and Robert J. Shiller. Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception. Princeton University Press. Reviewed by Cass R. Sunstein in "Why Free Markets Make Fools of Us," The New York Review, October 22, 2015.

Woodin, William H. Estate Catalog (for auction after the death of Woodin’s widow Nan). First Editions, Original Drawings, Paintings, Caricatures, the Work of the Great English Illustrators and Authors of the XVII-XIX Centuries: Henry Alken, Thomas Rowlandson, George, Robert and Isaac Cruikshank, James Gillray, John Leech, W. H. Ainsworth, Charles Dickens, Pierce Egan and Others, Richly Extra-illustrated Books, Standard Sets, A Superb Illuminated Manuscript & Other Rarities. Auction Catalog, Parts 1, 2, 3. Title varies slightly for each book. (New York: Parke-Bernet Galleries, 1942). Copies located in Berg Collection, Room 320, New York Public Library, 42nd Street.

Woodin, William H. (1868-1934). Magnificent Collection of Rare American Coins. Catalog. To Be Sold ... at the Collectors' Club ... March 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 1911.

© John Tepper Marlin 2013-2015. For permissions or other information, contact the author at

Thursday, October 22, 2015

OBIT | Paula McGrath, R.I.P.

It's always sad when people die before their time. 

When we know the parents, the death of a child is especially tragic.

I met Paula McGrath a few times. I didn't know her well, but I do know her father and stepmother well.

The only things I can think of to do for them are to say how sorry I have been to hear about Paula's passing... to post this memory of her life... and send a check in her memory to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Foundation.

May she rest in peace.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

BRITISH NAVY | Oct. 21–Trafalgar Won, Nelson Killed, 210 Years Ago

The Death of Nelson, 1805
This day in 1805 - 210 years ago - In one of the most decisive naval battles in history, the British fleet under Admiral Lord Nelson defeats a combined French-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar, off the coast of Spain.

But Nelson is killed by the bullet of an unknown French sniper.

Nelson consistently out-maneuvered Napoleon Bonaparte on the water. A French friend told me that one reason for Napoleon's difficulties with his navy was that the pre-Revolutionary French navy required all officers to be quatre quarts noblesse - nobility among all four grandparents. When the Revolution killed or scared off the aristocrats, the French Navy lost all its officers.

Nelson’s last (because he died in battle) and greatest victory against the French was the Battle of Trafalgar. It began after Nelson caught sight of a Franco-Spanish force of 33 ships. Nelson divided his smaller fleet of 27 ships into two lines. Nelson signaled the attack with a famous message from the flagship HMS Victory: “England expects that every man will do his duty.”

Deviating from established practice, in which ships pass in front of one another in two rows, shooting away as in a jousting match, Nelson attacked the French-Spanish line broadside, picking off the front ships one by one in a manner reminiscent of Thermopylae when a small force of Spartans held off a huge Persian army by bottling them up a narrow pass.

In five hours of fighting, the British devastated the enemy fleet, destroying 19 enemy ships. No British ships were lost, but 1,500 British seamen were killed or wounded in the heavy fighting. The battle raged at its fiercest around the Victory, and a French sniper shot Nelson in the shoulder and chest. The admiral was taken below and died about 30 minutes before the end of the battle.

Nelson’s last words, after being informed that victory was imminent, were “Now I am satisfied. Thank God I have done my duty.”

Victory at Trafalgar meant that Napoleon never invaded Britain. Nelson was hailed as a savior and was given a magnificent funeral in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. A column was erected to his memory in the newly named Trafalgar Square. I have visited the HMS Victory, which is open to the public in the port of Portsmouth, opposite the Isle of Wight.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

WOODIN | 10A. Meets Tagore, 1930

Tagore to Woodin, December 15, 1930. Used by
permission of Bill Phipps.
Will Woodin some time on or soon before December 14, 1930 hosted Rabindranath Tagore (Gurudev, May 7, 1861-August 7, 1941), the Bengali genius who reshaped Bengali literature and music and Indian art.

Tagore and his personal physician Dr. Harry Timbers had recently met with Joseph Stalin in Moscow. Tagore wrote to Woodin as follows:
My dear Mr. Woodin:
Before leaving America I wish to thank you for the joy of the evening you spent with me and for the hope which your interest has aroused that my work will not be forgotten.
I am sending Dr. Timbers, my physician, back from England soon after January 1st. I would be very grateful to you if you will extend to him your valuable cooperation in any way you can.
Very sincerely yours,
Rabindranath Tagore
Possibly Woodin was already having a recurrence of his childhood throat problems and Tagore was offering to lend him his physician to look at the problem.

Tagore was of course widely known. In 1913 he was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature - his main work being the long poem Gitanjali ("Song Offerings").

He had made waves by denouncing the British Raj and advocating independence from Britain.

Among Bengalis he has an unequalled position, beginning a Bengali Renaissance and founding Visva-Bharati University. Tagore modernized Bengali art by rejecting classical forms and linguistic strictures and introducing new forms of prose and verse forms.

More broadly, Tagore was uniquely influential as a bridge between Indian and Western culture. A Pirali Brahmin from Kolkata (then Calcutta), Tagore wrote poetry as an eight-year-old and wrote a major poem at 16 under the name Bhanusimha ("Sun Lion"), convincing experts that the poem represented lost classics.

By 1877 he had written many short stories and dramas under his real name. His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays were both personal and political. Besides the Gitanjali, he is best known for Gora ("Fair-Faced") and Ghare-Baire ("The Home and the World"). His compositions were chosen by three nations as national anthems: India, Bangladesh and the original anthem for Sri Lanka.

Monday, October 19, 2015

YOUNG AMERICA | Oct. 19 - British Army Surrenders to Geo. Washington

Admiral de Grasse defeats the British Navy in early 
September. General Washington opts to march 400 miles
to defeat Lord Cornwallis.
This day in 1781 was the surrender that ended the  fighting in the American Revolutionary War.

As in the winter of the march on Trenton, George Washington's troops were in tatters. Food and other supplies were scarce.

What Washington had was good intelligence. He learned that the British army under Lord Cornwallis were building a naval base on the Yorktown Peninsula in Virginia.

Washington decided impulsively to march his army from NY to Virginia to try to trap the Brits.

He feinted toward New York to tie down the Brits there, then undertook the bold and risky 400-mile march to Washington.

The mid-October siege of Yorktown lasts just a few days.
Even though Lord Cornwallis had advance word of Washington's march, he stayed put because he did not know what had been happening on the naval side. He assumed he had time to wait to be evacuated by the British navy.

In fact the British navy had been dispersed by a French fleet from the south under Admiral de Grasse and would not be coming to anyone's rescue while the French were in the York River.

So Washington, and an allied French army under General Rochambeau that came via Newport, R.I., surrounded Yorktown and bombarded the city with siege cannons brought by the French.
Washington accepts surrender of Brits.

After several days of this with no naval relief, Cornwallis sent word he would surrender. Washington told the British to march out and give up their arms, and the surrender began at 2 am today in 1781, five years after the Declaration of Independence.

Cornwallis sent his sword to Rochambeau, signalling that the British had been defeated by the French, not the Americans.

Back in London, the British Parliament at that time did not feel like paying for another army. They appealed to the United States for peace. The Treaty of Paris was signed two years later, and the Revolutionary War was won.

Friday, October 16, 2015

OBIT | Ruth Hirsch (1913-1995)

The front of the card that Ruth was given at her
retirement party. I would put a credit in here but
 I don't know who the clever artist was.
Ruth was born in 1913, destined to bring great joy to her nieces and nephews.

This joy perhaps offset the creation in the same year she was born of the two most currently unpopular institutions in the United States - the Federal Reserve System and the Internal Revenue Service.

Her 80th birthday was in 1993. She retired that year. She passed away at Lenox Hill Hospital two years later, in 1995.

This post is a testimony to her selfless life. It is also a way to share with other members of the family an album of family photos that we gave to her on her 80th birthday.

The drawing at left is by the art director of the book publishing firm for which she did proofreading. She was an excellent proofreader.

In a later day, when women's potential was not as limited, she would have been a publishing company officer.

Her 80th Birthday Party, 1993

It is good to remember the pleasure that Ruth had in her 80th birthday in 1993.

Brigid put together an album for her that she was overjoyed with. It was among the things that Ruth left behind for Herbert to sort out in 1995 and it was in his estate when he died in 2006. Most of the album will eventually be included in this post. I am just entering a few of the items now to open up a space to add more.

Here is the inside of the card that her office gave Ruth on her retirement:

Retirement card for Ruth, 1993.

The title page of the album Brigid prepared.

And now for the album.

The first page shown at left displays a younger Ruth with a blue ribbon drawn by Brigid over her head. Ruth as a young woman was quite good-looking. She had several suitors. But she also had a mother and father who needed her at home. She was the only daughter in the family. From my perspective, she was something of a prisoner - probably more typical than the freedom Americans experience when they leave home. In the moment of her emancipation, she lost the use of one of her eyes and could not use her freedom.

Each family provided a photo or two or three or four to add to the album.

Montreal, 1949. Brigid, Lis, Ruth, her mother, Hilda.
The next photo below left is of Ruth's visit to us all in Montreal when Elisabeth was about four years old - 1949.

That was about when Trusty arrived as well, in a little pail - something I will never forget. It was round the time that Mom wrote Patsy and the Pup, with Trusty as the model for the pup.

It was bad year for Hilda, because her mother died and she lost her seventh child after delivery, and her ability to have any more. Annus horribilis.

Ruth was extremely fond of her nephews and nieces and greatly enjoyedvisiting them and seeing them in New York City.

She would provide collectively expensive gifts for all of them every year.

Mom and Dad encouraged her to buy useful things like pajamas.

The Tepper Marlins (John, Alice, Jay, Caroline) and O'Neills (Shane, Sheila
Roisin, Caitrin, Liaidain and Ailise), 1980.
The next photo at right skips to 1981 when we were in Austria. Caroline is wearing a kimono - we had been in Japan and we stopped off in Austria on the way back.

Daddy used to rent vacation homes every summer and then would lure his grandchildren to spend time with them.

Caroline was about four and Jay was seven.

The other children are the four O'Neill girls.

Brigid Marlin

Not in the group photo is Brigid, who is next at left. She is the one who engineered the gift of the album and tied all the photos together with drawings. She is looking very happy.

Brigid had three sons - Benny, Christopher and Desmond.

She wrote about her eldest son in A Meaning for Danny.

Next we have several photos of the Paulsen family.

Ruth was devoted to her Paulsen niece and nephew and the three great-nieces.

More photos to come.

The Paulsens (Tom, Marbeth, Kari, Kendall, Kate)

A home-made birthday card from Hilda.

For Ruth's 80th birthday, her sister-in-law Hilda drew her a flower and wrote her a poem.

Paulsens in New York with Aunt Ruth.
Ruth, Jay, Tom
Ruth between two of her three brothers,
Herbert (L) and Maurice (R).

Ruth's Death, 1995

Two years after her 80th birthday, Ruth died in Lenox Hill hospital. I brought her a pot of flowers but the nurse in charge said I was not allowed to leave them because some other patients might be allergic. So they were held at the desk. Ruth was sitting up in a chair in the E.R. so that intravenous fluid and vital signs could be monitored. I gave her a kiss and she said "delicious".

I went out to meet Herbert, who had come to see Ruth. I asked if he wanted to visit first and he said he would have lunch at the hospital cafeteria first so as not to tire her out, since I had just been to see her. But when we got back to Ruth's room, she had died.

The next morning the hospital nurse called to say she was sorry that Ruth didn't get to see the flowers I brought her. "If we had known..."

If anyone ever knew...

I said that they should keep the flowers and give them to someone who could enjoy them.

We had a memorial service for her with a card. The four siblings died in birth order. They are all buried together in the same grave with their parents.

Ruth's picture is the one of her when she visited us in Ireland in 1951-53. She was on O'Connell Street in Dublin with Brigid.

WOODIN | 8A. Norman Davis and Will Woodin (Updated March 24, 2016)

Norman Davis (1878-1944), former Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury and President of
 the Council on Foreign Relations. Photo courtesy
 of Malcolm Smith, his great-grandson.
October 16, 2015–While visiting Bill Phipps in Bloomfield, N.J., I was asked whether Will Woodin was likely to have known Norman H. Davis (1878-1944), a U.S. Treasury official and diplomat.

The question came from Malcolm Smith, a tenant of Bill who is Davis's great-great-grandson. My answer:  Definitely.

Under President Woodrow Wilson, Davis served as Assistant Secretary of Treasury–during the period when both the Federal Reserve System and Internal Revenue Service were created (1913).

These two Washington institutions, both originally headed by the Secretary of the Treasury (the Chairman of the Fed was later made independent), are currently among the most unpopular in the USA.

Will Woodin was not appointed to the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York until the 1920s, but he would surely have come across Davis during that time.

Davis came to New York City from Bedford, Tennessee, son of distiller McClin H. Davis, who perfected the formula for Cascade Whisky, later renamed George Dickel.

Davis made millions of dollars from his financial dealings in Cuba in 1902-1917, as President of the Trust Company of Cuba. During that time he would surely have run across Will Woodin, who was selling railroad cars to Cuba.

Davis became a friend of Henry P. Davison, a partner of J.P. Morgan and Chairman of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from 1938 to 1944 . On a radio show in 1931, Woodin promoted the Red Cross and this plug is quite possibly the result of his knowing of Davis's interest in the Red Cross.

Another close friend of Davis was Richard M. Bissell, president of Hartford Fire Insurance and a member of the National Defense Commission. Woodin's hometown of Berwick, Pa. became a hive of activity during World War I as it benefited from defense contracts. Some of these contracts may have come through Woodin, although his cousin (through his mother, née Mary Dickerman) William Dickerman was in charge of defense contracting at American Car & Foundry.

Who's asking? Malcolm Smith, Davis' great-grandson,
tenant of Bill Phipps (great-grandson of Will Woodin)
in Bloomfield, N.J.
Davis was appointed financial adviser to the Secretary of Treasury on foreign loans during World War I, and would have had something to say about lending to foreign countries to enable them to buy ACF rolling stock and American Locomotive engines (Woodin was Chairman of the Board of American Locomotive).

After World War I, Davis was appointed Undersecretary of State.

According to Malcolm's father, Norman Davis was involved in the negotiations surrounding the Treaty of Versailles and gave advice that should have been heeded.

Based on his study of the German economy, Davis advised the chief negotiators for both the British and the French that a high level of punitive war reparations imposed on Germany could not be sustained and would cause serious damage to the German economy, which would bode ill for their recovery and for a stable Europe. (A close friend of Hitler is reported as saying that the resentment in Germany over Versailles, and Hitler's success in creating employment in Germany at the end of the Weimar regime, was at the heart of Hitler's appeal to Germans.)

While the ministers of these two countries agreed with his assessment, the people in both France and Germany wanted revenge and required their representatives to go for a punitive level of reparations. In retrospect, Norman Davis understood the statesmanlike strategy while both Lloyd George and Clemenceau behaved like vengeful local politicians.

The aftermath, of course, proved to follow the worst-case scenario. The German government had no choice but to print huge amounts of paper money to comply with the reparations schedule. The ensuing hyperinflation caused social chaos and paved the way for Hitler's rise to power. All of this is documented, says his great-grandson, in the Norman Davis papers in the Library of Congress.

Subsequently, Davis headed a commission of the League of Nations that negotiated the Klaipėda Convention in 1924, and was a delegate to a General Disarmament Conference in Geneva in 1931.

The clincher is that Norman Davis was promoted by some of FDR's advisers to be his first cabinet appointment, Secretary of State. FDR kept his counsel and Norman Davis did not get the job.  One reason is that Davis had a reputation as a strong internationalist and FDr was more interested in domestic policy. Raymond Moley describes the situation in great detail in his memoirs, Seven Years Later (see p. 90, for example). Later that year, in June 1933, Raymond Moley and Norman Davis were both sailing with FDR on the Amberjack II.

Davis's path surely crossed with Will Woodin's, either before 1933, in Cuba or when Woodin was on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, or in 1933 when FDR was forming his cabinet.

Starting two years after Woodin's death, from 1936 to 1944, Davis became president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

XWoodin Descendants (Superseded)

This was a temporary post that is now reinserted in Appendix B: Descendants of Will Woodin.

The post is kept here to avoid broken links.

For an outline of the whole book, go here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

FDR | WW2 Spymasters–Origins of the O.S.S.

This 46-minute documentary movie discusses the raison-d'être of the O.S.S., and "Wild" Bill Donovan's contribution to the war effort.

My Dad, E. R. Marlin, worked for the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) in Dublin and London during the war. He reported to Col. Francis Pickens Miller (1895-1978) of Kentucky and Virginia, who had studied at Trinity College, Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. (Helen Hill Miller, his wife, was the U.S. correspondent for The Economist; I met her and Col. Miller at my Dad's house in the 1960s

Miller's intelligence papers are at the George C. Marshall Library and Museum, which is between Washington and Lee University, which Miller attended, and the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va.

Espionage was hardly something new for the United States. George Washington had an extensive network of spies who carried information both ways between Long Island (occupied by the Redcoats) and Connecticut, where GW's troops still held their ground.

Thanks to Tim Sullivan for sending me the link to this documentary.

Monday, October 5, 2015

BIO | Alexander von Humboldt, His Due (Updated Oct. 28, 2015)

Alexander von Humboldt
Two new books about the "Very Great" Alexander von Humboldt are reviewed  by Nathaniel Rich in the October 22 issue of The New York Review of Books. It is too bad that no mention is made in this article (or in the one by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker) of the exhibit at the Americas Society in New York City in 2014 and the outstanding catalog, Unity of Nature, that accompanied the exhibit.

That exhibit and catalog (which was on the 2014 shortlist of five catalogs in the Alice competition of the Furthermore grants in publishing program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund for best catalog of the year) were major investments for the small Americas Society and deserve better recognition. There is a line that appears to have been crossed between fair use and predatory use of the intellectual efforts of other people. The bigger the publisher, the bigger the responsibility.

The two books that Rich reviews are The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World (Knopf) by Andrea Wulf and After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene (Harvard) by Jedediah Purdy.

Wulf traveled in Humboldt's footsteps across Latin America. She shows how he was welcomed in the United States at the highest level (President Jefferson at the White House) to report his findings. From the United States, Humboldt went to Paris, where he was lionized by everyone except Napoleon, whose attempts to popularize scientific discoveries were lame by comparison.

Humboldt is credited with inventing the concept of the "web of life" and the interaction of everything in nature. This is a big departure from the Aristotelian idea in vogue still in the early 18th century that nature made all things "for the sake of man."

Humboldt was the first to make the connection between colonial exploitation and ecological devastation. He became an ardent abolitionist, although he never confronted Jefferson on this topic.

Darwin was slavishly devoted to Humboldt and credits him in no uncertain terms with his inspiration to travel in search of evidence of "the gradual transformation of species". The last paragraph of The Origin of Species is lifted nearly word for word from Humboldt.

Humboldt's followers included Thoreau, Muir and Carson in the United States, and also Whitman, Aldous Huxley and Ezra Pound. In England, William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge. In Germany, his friend Goethe.

The second book, by Purdy, is more ambitious and seeks to find a political system that would be more compatible with sustaining the global economy. Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot, the first head of the U.S. Forest Service and then Governor of Pennsylvania, tried to be practical in reconciling the ecology with extraction of resources. But when push came to shove, the extractors won. The pattern seems to be continuing with the Keystone Pipeline, the EPA guidelines for methane and CO2, and Arctic drilling.

Purdy says we have to reimagine the future. In the meantime, he says, "the original Humboldt will do fine."