Hello, history mate.

Below you’ll find some exciting news about my new book release. But first, two more of my monthly history nuggets.

“When the timid falter.” The outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 forced Democrats in the North to choose whether to appease the South to hold the nation together, or join Lincoln in putting down the secession by force. One of the so-called War Democrats who chose to back the Union war effort was New York Senator Daniel Dickinson. He came to Waverly, Pa., the geographic focus of my new book, to headline an anti-Confederacy rally. Dickinson was renowned as a silver-tongued orator, and boy, was he. Here’s a sample: “When the timid falter and the faithless fly, when the skies lower, the winds howl, the storm descends, and the tempest beats, when the lightnings flash, the thunders roar, the waves dash, and the good ship Union creaks and groans with the expiring throes of dissolution, I will cling to her still as the last refuge of hope from the fury of the storm and if she goes down I will go down with her, rather than survive to tell the story of her ignoble end. I will rally round the star-spangled banner so long as a single strip can be discovered, or a single star shall shimmer from the surrounding darkness.” (Not exactly a sound bite, eh?)

“A machine for cleansing new Feathers.” The abolitionists of the Waverly area were intent not only on purifying society of the stain of slavery.  As Yankee reformers, they had a broad progressive ethos that also tried to perfect worldly affairs through innovations in seeds, farm implements, animal husbandry–and bedding. In my research I came upon a 1835 advertisement for a miracle device developed by two fellows who figure in my book as anti-slavery men. Alvinza Gardner and Lyman Green were peddling their own patented device to cleanse feather beds “from the dirt and all impurities which they have imbibed by long use, and made to possess (in every important particular,) the appearance of new feathers.”  Any sickness, even cholera, would be “cured complete,” they promised. Check out their ad: feather_bed_cleaner.

Book progress galore! Copies of Embattled Freedom are arriving at people’s homes, and this week I received a delivery of 100 copies to take to author events. I’ll be speaking next week to a Civil War group in Scranton and then will visit WVIA, the region’s public radio station, to tape an interview. The official book launch celebration is scheduled for Sunday, March 21, at 1 p.m., at the Waverly Community House–all are welcome! Plus, I have a few other talks in the works. The educational website embattledfreedom.org is nearly complete and is viewable online. Feel free to browse its features. I hope to speak to public school teachers about the  website’s lessons. In addition, home schoolers, private schools and even college teachers might find the educational material useful. If you have any connections in that regard, please reach out to them or to me. Ordering info and a sample chapter are available on embattledfreedom.org. You can see a copy of the book jacket and two nice testimonials here: book jacket

Free giveaway! I’ll give out a signed copy of Embattled Freedom to the third person who responds to this offer by email. And to the sixth person, a signed copy of my previous book, Visions of Teaoga. Plus, I’ll cover the mailing. One entry per person,  please.