Monday, January 20, 2014

Sherman the original Seahawk

General William Tecumseh Sherman / illustration by Ledeman Studio

When it comes to strategy, Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman has a lot of room to grow. On Jauary 20th, 2014, the Seahawks won 23-17 against the San Francisco 49ers to advance to Super Bowl. In his interview (some call it a wild rant), Sherman made quite an impression on the country.

Here's a clip from CBS Sports:

However, when it comes to a Sherman that backed up his words, nobody holds a towel to the legendary William Tecumseh Sherman!

Here are some fun facts about "Uncle Billy," that you might not have heard from history class:

1. His father died when he was a boy. A family friend raised him until he enters the military academy at age 16.

2. He worked as a bank manager in San Francisco, and became first superintendent of Louisiana State Seminary of Learning & Military Academy in 1859

3. His first major Civil War action was at the Batle of Bull Run. His actions during the battle got the attention of Abraham Lincoln which resulted in his promotion to brigadier general.

4. While acting commander of the Department of the Cumberland in Kentucky, Sherman overestimated the strength of the Confederate forces, made heavy demands on reinforcements, and was labeled as "insane" by the press. This event led to Sherman being relieved of duty.

5. When Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to command all Union armies, he reinstated Sherman and put him in charge of the Military Division of Mississippi in the Western Theater. This began one of the most famous partnerships in military history. It made Spock and Kirk's friendship look like an episode of Itchy and Scratchy.

"Grant stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk, and now we stand by each other."

6. Sherman was a master of the flanking maneuver. He wrote the standard textbook on the flank and his tactics were greatly feared by the Southern armies. Said one rebel soldier on surrendering to the 103rd Illinois, "Sherman will never go to Hell; he will flank the devil and make heaven in spite of the guards."

7. Sherman is recognized by history as the figurehead of going all out in war. Here are some of Sherman's more notable quotes about conducting a war.
"War is Hell"

"Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster."

"War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over."

"I would make this war as severe as possible, and show no symptoms of tiring
till the South begs for mercy."

"I intend to make Georgia howl."

8. During the infamous "Sherman's March to Sea," there are reports of sheer horror and carnage of unparalleled proportions. Much of these reports are found to be exaggerated, none the less, Sherman's attack on the heart of the South had a profound impact.

Sherman's March created a 60 mile wide path of sheer destruction from Atlanta to Savannah.

In Sherman's famous attack through Georgia, he gave order to treat civilians with courtesy, not invade their homes, or harm by-standards. His troops were to forage and wreck the infrastructure. The goal was to cripple the Confederates' ability to manufacture arms, goods, and supplies for war.

There are certainly examples of some soldiers going rouge, but it was not the policy.

9. Sherman was an otherwise healthy man for his lifetime. However, he died of pneumonia at age 71. In the usual twist of historical coincidence, his death has a deeply symbolic moment. What was it? The Brigadier General of the Confederate forces, Joseph E. Johnston had been fighting Sherman for survival in the west. Eventually, Johnston surrendered to Sherman in 1965 and effectively ended the Civil War. After this Sherman gave Johnston’s men 10 days of ration food. Johnston never forgot this gesture of goodwill and the two remained friends long after the war.

This is important to know, because in 1891, Johnston was one of the pallbearers in Sherman's funeral. While acting in this role, Johnston contracted pneumonia and died shortly after.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Whistle blowing is history in America

Edward Snowden illustration by Jeremie Lederman

Over the last five years, America has been awakening to the harsh realities of government over reach. While the abuse of federal and even corporate power is nothing new, the recent abuses of civil rights has been alarming. These abuses often result in the violation of law and even long standing constitutional protections. The more we learn about the programs being used against us, the more we discover the ongoing subterfuge built around keeping them secret. However, secrets eventually get exposed by individuals who simply can't remain silent.

We know these individuals by many names, but they are primarily know as 'whistleblowers.' These people face ridicule, financial ruin, character assassination and often death for exposing secrets. A whistleblower is an individual that steps out into the public and shines a light on highly guarded information.

For many people, names like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden seem to represent something very new. However, as long as there have been secrets, there have been whistleblowers. Despite the horrendous persecution and prosecution these people have faced, they have been disrupting secret plans for centuries.

While you may be uncertain if they are 'patriots,' 'traitors', or a complicated mix of both, their stories are unforgettable.

Lederman Studio gives you:


Samuel Shaw
1. 1777 / Samuel Shaw
Exposed a high ranking officer's war crimes

Midshipman Samuel Shaw was an officer in the Continental Navy during the Revolutionary War. He and Third Lieutenant Richard Marven exposed the tottering of British POWs by the Commander in Chief of the Navy, Commodore Eske Hopkins.
The Continental Congress enacted the first whistleblower protections into law on July 30th, 1778. The vote was unanimous and they even went so far as to decent these two officers against a libel suit by Commodore Hopkins.

Smedley Butler
2. 1933 / Marine Corps Major General Smedley ButlerExposed a conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. Government
This story is worthy of an entire motion picture, and this post will barely scratch the surface. In a nutshell, Butler was approached by members of corporate and financial institutions to lead a fascist coup d'├ętat against President Roosevelt. They intended to overthrow the representative republic of America and reframe it into a system that benefited the business and banking industries.
     Butler went before the U.S. House of Representative and exposed the entire plot. He later wrote about this conspiracy in his famous novel "War is a Racket."
The conspiracy is called 'The Business Plot,' and remains a highly contested story to this day. Everyone from The New York Times to members of Congress vacillated between giving this plot credibility to calling it a gigantic hoax. None the less, Butler was always a deeply respected and influential figure. The House Committee found Butler's allegations credible, but nobody was ever called in to testify.

Peter Buxtun
3. 1972 / Peter BuxtunExposed the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment to the public
Peter Buxton is the man who exposed the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. In 1932, The U.S. Public Health Service infected poor black sharecroppers with Syphilis. They told the citizens that they were getting free medical treatment and immunization shots. In return, the men they infected were given free medical care, food, and burial insurance. However, at no time were these men told that they were being deliberately infected with Syphilis nor given any treatment to cure it. The goal of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural black men.
Edward Kennedy called a Congressional Hearing where officials were made to testify. The outcry from the public was far stronger than that from the medical industry and the study was cancelled. Laws were created to regulate human medical experimentation, and eventually, the government paid 9 million to survivors. In 1997, Bill Clinton personally apologized to the 8 survivors of those experiments.

Jeffrey Wigand
4. 1972 / Jeffrey WigandExposed Tobacco industry for manipulating cigarettes to increase addiction
The subject of the 1999 film "The Insider"

The tobacco industry had testified before congress that is did not manipulate the content of cigarettes or add anything that might contribute to nicotine addition. The 'blank check' and endless resources behind the tobacco industry proved a daunting roadblock to prosecution, investigation, or establishing accountability. Jeffrey broke his silence by appearing on 60 Minutes to testify before the public that Brown & Williamson had intentionally manipulated its tobacco blend to increase the amount of nicotine in cigarette smoke.
THE RESULT:The entire industry was set upon by the government and public, resulting in a multi-billion dollar settlement.