Goose Commerce

Commentary from the Age of Sail & Steam

dglassme, "Close Up of Geese Flying," Flickr, CC License

About this blog…

Many Historians, One Myth

Or, How Many Beards (er, Ritters) Does It Take to Make George Washington a Businessman? #BizManBook Research Note #3 I mentioned in my last post that many of the arguments Sol Bloom’s arguments in his essay “Washington the Businessman” were first published – at enormous and tedious length – in Halsted Lockwood Ritter’s book, Washington as a Business… Continue reading Many Historians, One Myth

George Washington, Businessman?

Or, Why did an 18th-century planter become a load-bearing symbol for the New Deal? #BizManBook Research Note #2 In 1932, the Hon. Sol Bloom (D-NY) staked a bold claim on the public reputation of George Washington. Director of the U.S. George Washington Bicentennial Commission, the experienced Congressman declared Washington a “business man,” par excellence. In a prominent… Continue reading George Washington, Businessman?

The Labor of Organizing Capitalists

So who was this new, harried man – and what was his business?

As he was described and then theorized in the business print culture of the 1910s and 1920s, this busy, multifarious figure was the “commercial secretary.” Sometimes also styled the “commercial executive” – when he was feeling presumptuous – his work was to corral the business men of an American city into a purposeful, effective force. His labor was organizing capitalists.

Hope and the Worldly Historian

The last few days, I’ve been turning Ta-Nehisi Coates’s recent post about the place of hope in the practice of history – or rather, his contention that the latter leads to a lack of the former – over in my mind.

A Collection of Altered States

Fun facts from this morning’s research: Harvard has on deposit “the world’s largest private collection of material documenting altered states of mind,” The Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection. The archive was compiled and donated (well, loaned) by an investment advisor(Julio Mario Santo Domingo), whose interests “centered on sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” In addition… Continue reading A Collection of Altered States

The Fraught Freight of Transcontinentals

Or, You Make a Better Road Than A Destination, America It’s been a busy week for the appreciation of the promise and perils of transcontinental, or if you prefer, inter-oceanic, travel. Allow me to explain…  

Fabrics of Our (Historical) Lives

Or, A Mini-Museum Review, In Three Parts Or, I came, I marveled, I exited through the gift shop I. The current Met Exhibit on early modern textile trading is FANTASTIC. If you’ve got the means and the opportunity, I heartily recommend getting out to “Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800.” And do it quickly!… Continue reading Fabrics of Our (Historical) Lives

Such Phrenology. So Railroad. Wow.

Or, Meme Translation Today I found a portrait and detailed profile of one of the characters I’m currently writing about in the American Phrenological Journal. Yes folks, in November 1849, Asa Whitney, railroad projector and lobbyist for humanity, was not only the man of the hour and talk of the town, but also the cover… Continue reading Such Phrenology. So Railroad. Wow.

Hunting Snark – and History

 Or, <eye roll> Primary Documents </eye roll> Tom Scocca’s recent snarking on smarm has got me thinking about the connections between history, as it is written and pursued, and one of the defining literary styles of our time. But before I bloviate over a blog post, here’s the essay: go have a look. I’ll wait.


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