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Thomas Eckert

Thomas Eckert


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Thomas Eckert was born in Ohio in 1825. He worked with several telegraph companies before managing a gold mine in North Carolina. On the outbreak of the American Civil War he returned to Ohio where he joined the military telegraph service.

In 1862 Edwin M. Stanton, the new Secretary of War, appointed Eckert as chief of the War Department telegraph office. President Abraham Lincoln was a regular visitor to Eckert's office in order to read telegrams sent in by his generals from the front.

Lincoln grew to trust Eckert and on 14th April, 1865, and wanted him to act as his bodyguard when he visited the Ford Theatre to see Our American Cousinon 14th April, 1865. Edwin M. Stanton refused permission for Eckert to go claiming he had an important task for him to perform that night. In fact, this was not true and Eckert spent the evening at home.

Further suspicion fell on Eckert when the telegraph lines under hiss control were out of action on the night of the assassination. As a result of this problem no messages could be sent from Washington to alert the country about the escape of John Wilkes Booth.

After the war Eckert was promoted by Edwin M. Stanton to Assistant Secretary of War. In 1867, with the help of Stanton, Eckert found work with the Western Union. He became president in 1893 and chairman of the board in 1900.

Thomas Eckert died in 1910.

On 14th April, Lincoln asked Stanton to let him have his chief aide, Major Thomas T. Eckert, as escort for himself and his guests. "I have seen Eckert break five pokers, one after another, over his arm," Lincoln declared, "and I am thinking he would be the kind of man to go with me this evening. May I take him." This request Stanton refused point-blank; he had some important work for Eckert that night, he said, and could not spare him.

But Lincoln was not so easily rebuffed. He went into the cipher room, over which Eckert presided, and told the latter of his plans for the evening. He also repeated his request that this strong-armed assistant of Stanton's become one of the theatre party. So far as the work was concerned, the President suggested that it could be done the next day. Eckert also very decidedly refused to go, however, pleading work that could not be put off; and so Lincoln reluctantly left. "I shall take Major Rathbone along," he said in parting, but I should much rather have you."

Q: Did you have knowledge of the telegraph lines at or about the time of the assassination of President Lincoln?

A. I did.

Q. Was there any interruption of the lines that night?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. What was it?

A. It was my impression they were cut, but we got circuit again very early the next morning.

Someone who knew a lot about telegraphy had destroyed the capital's outgoing telegraph and prevented the public from knowing the facts about the assassination for several hours. Only someone familiar with telegraphy, working inside the main terminal area, could have so effectively sabotaged the news wire.


Early life [ edit | edit source ]

Thomas Thompson Eckert was born April 23, 1825 in St. Clairsville, Ohio. Ώ] At a young age Eckert became interested in the use of the telegraph and the actions of Samuel F.B. Morse. Reading The National Intelligencer he became fascinated with the proceedings between Morse and Congress in which Morse was granted money to construct an experimental telegraph line. ΐ] In 1847, after telegraph lines were built from New York to Washington D.C., Eckert decided to travel to New York in order to see the Morse telegraph in action and became an operator with the Morse Telegraph Company. Α] Eckert then returned home to Ohio and learned how to telegraph. When Eckert returned home, he took a job as an operator at the Wade Telegraph Company, which was owned by J.H. Wade. While working as one of Wade's operators in Wooster, Ohio, in 1849 Eckert was appointed local postmaster as well. Α] Β] Eckert combined these two jobs by connecting the telegraph wire to the post office. In 1852, Wade appointed Eckert to superintend the construction of a telegraph line between Pittsburg and Chicago on the Fort Wayne route. The lines under Eckert's management became part of the Union Telegraph Company, and his jurisdiction was substantially enlarged. Α] Β]

Eckert held this position as superintendent until 1859, when he moved to Montgomery County, North Carolina, to manage a gold mine. Α] Β] In 1861, Eckert returned to Ohio to bring his wife Emma D. Whitney and his children to North Carolina. Γ] But upon returning to the mines, Eckert found he had been accused of being a Northern spy. When his case was heard before a judge, the judge acquitted Eckert due to lack of proof. After the case, Eckert and his family escaped back north to Cleveland with the help of influential friends in 1861. Δ]


Family History

There is currently no evidence to connect this coat-of-arms with our family.

Christian Friedrich.

Great great great grandfather

Lived in Oberstenfeld, Wuerttemberg, Germany.

Married Dorathea Catharina NESTEL, 1849, Hochberg Waiblingen, Wuerttermberg, Germany.

Hochberg [48 53' 09.73" N, 9 16' 46.09" E] is about 16km south of Oberstenfeld [49 01'29.85"N, 9 19' 13.55" E]. Waiblingen [48 49' 55.34"N, 9 18' 50.81"E] is another 6.5km sse of Hochberg, or 21.5km south of Oberstenfeld. (Coordinates from Google Earth)

Charles Henry.

Born 1850, Oberstenfeld, Wuerttemberg, Germany.

Emmigrated 1877, Northumberland.

Married Mary Lucy POST, 1882, Armidale, NSW.

Naturalised 1889, Uralla, NSW

Lived in the Armidale and Uralla areas before settling at Woods Reef near Barraba.

On his naturalisation papers he said he owned the property "Hawthornden" near Uralla. Currently there is a property called "Hawthornden" [30 35' 57.4"S, 151 30' 58.11'E] on Hawthorne Dr, just north of Uralla.

Headstone of Charles and Mary, Barraba Cemetery

Oberstenfeld area, where Charles Henry Eckert was born. The castle on the hill is Lichtenberg Castle.

Christian Friedrich.

Born 1851, Oberstenfeld, Wuerttemberg.

Parents Christian ECKERT and Dorathea NESTEL.

Died 1852, Oberstenfeld, Wuerttemberg

Wilhemina Friedrika.

Born 1852, Oberstenfeld, Wuerttemberg.

Parents Christian ECKERT and Dorathea NESTEL.

Magdelaena Carolina.

Born 1854, Oberstenfeld, Wuerttemberg.

Parents Christian ECKERT and Dorathea NESTEL.

Catharina Maria.

Born 1856, Oberstenfeld, Wuerttemberg.

Parents Christian ECKERT and Dorathea NESTEL.

Dorothea Wilhelmina.

Born 1859, Oberstenfeld, Wuerttemberg.

Parents Christian ECKERT and Dorathea NESTEL.

Jacob Friedrich.

Born 1861, Oberstenfeld, Wuerttemberg.

Parents Christian ECKERT and Dorathea NESTEL.

Dorothea Wilhelmina.

Born 1863, Oberstenfeld, Wuerttemberg.

Parents Christian ECKERT and Dorathea NESTEL.

Christian Jacob.

Born 1866, Oberstenfeld, Wuerttemberg.

Parents Christian ECKERT and Dorathea NESTEL.

Martin Alexander.

Parents Charles ECKERT and Mary POST.

Charles Phillip.

Parents Charles ECKERT and Mary POST.

Parents Charles ECKERT and Mary POST.

Rosceina (Rose).

Parents Charles ECKERT and Mary POST.

William Micheal.

Parents Charles ECKERT and Mary POST.

George Adam.

Parents Charles ECKERT and Mary POST.

Married Henriette KOERSTZ

Albert Joseph.

Parents Charles ECKERT and Mary POST.

David.

Parents Charles ECKERT and Mary POST.

Harold Walter.

Parents Charles ECKERT and Mary POST.

Sophia Louise.

Parents Charles ECKERT and Mary POST.

Matilda Agnes.

Parents Charles ECKERT and Mary POST.

Mary Margaret, Barraba, NSW.

Parents Charles ECKERT and Mary POST.

John David.

Parents John ECKERT and Edith BROWNING.

Worked at Woods Reef then had property at Barraba and Manilla.

POW during WWII at Ambon and Hainan Is.

Mary Augustus (Gus).

Parents John ECKERT and Edith BROWNING.

Un-named.

Parents John ECKERT and Edith Browning.

Un-named.

Parents John ECKERT and Edith Browning.

Charles W.

Parents John ECKERT and Edith Browning.

Edward John.

Parents John ECKERT and Evelyn GRAY.

Married Annette PAGE, 1962, Tamworth, NSW.

Electronics technician. Served in RAAF, including duty in Japan during the Korean War, Mentioned in Despatches for his work on Meteor aircraft.


The Joker, or the Descent into Mass Folly

‘Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?’ asks Arthur Fleck. The world is crazy, and it is getting crazier, as we see through the current waves of extremely violent riots occurring in every continent of our world, as we observe the devastating effects of human production on the environment, as we witness the rise of depression among younger western generations, as we witness the increase in intra and interstate wars through jihadism or ethnic cleansing, as this enumeration could last several pages. The world is crazy and it is getting crazier. As such, the film Joker is strikingly immersed in our epoch, providing us with a beautiful and pertinent investigation into human folly, and its causes.

In order to analyse the film, we have separated this article into 4 parts:

1. The elite/mass divide in light of increasing socio-economic inequality.

2. Mass atomisation: an impetus towards generalised animosity.

3. Media and Spectacle as wreckers of authenticity.

4. The Joker: an undesired demonic child of our own system.

The elite/mass divide in light of increasing socio-economic inequality.

To begin with one of the most explicit themes within the film, we shall focus on the consequences of socio-economic poverty and inequality. An elephant in the cinema, these inequalities act as a crucial bedrock within the plot dynamic (they are a direct cause of the riots) and in the personal development of Arthur Fleck. Although scenes of widespread misery are depicted throughout (waste crisis, buildings in a dire state), poverty is never really analysed alone in the film it is always contrasted with the wealth of the elite. The protesters are not demonstrating against poverty, they are quite literally rioting against the ruling class. When interviewed by a journalist about the reason behind the “jokers movement”, a rioter answers ‘Fuck the rich, fuck Thomas Wayne, that's what that whole fucking thing is about, fuck the system!’. He never demands better pay or improved conditions he just feels immense animosity against the wealthy. This hatred stems from the elite’s inability to comprehend the mass’s everyday realities. Whether it be in Chile where the government is described as being at odds with society, or Arthur Fleck asking the TV presenter: ‘Have you seen what it's like out there, Murray?’, the mass feel unseen and ignored by the “rulers”. When the democratic system that is supposed to channel the grievances and demands of the population is dysfunctional, what happens next? The answer is provided by one Martin Luther King: ‘A riot is the language of the unheard’.

Although scenes of widespread misery are depicted throughout (waste crisis, buildings in a dire state), poverty is never really analysed alone in the film it is always contrasted with the wealth of the elite. The protesters are not demonstrating against poverty, they are quite literally rioting against the ruling class.

This estranged relation between both classes is initially caused by Gotham’s sheer wealth inequality, as depicted by the geographical separation between the rich and the poor. When Arthur leaves the city to visit his supposed father, Thomas Wayne, he boards a train filled with white-collared men, who clearly contrast with his poor attire, and arrives before a gigantic palace, again contrasting with his small and gloomy apartment. This immense wealth disparity shown in the film parallels quite clearly the inequality levels we presently witness in the real world: in 2019, the top 1 per cent own 50% of the world’s wealth. In this sense, the inequality depicted in the film is “realistic”.

As mentioned previously, in the film, the rich seem to be utterly incapable of understanding the causes of the terrible state in which today’s society finds itself. Thomas Wayne, for example, when reacting to the murders in the subway, utters the following phrase: ‘He is covering his face, he is a coward. To those of us who are making something of our lives, he will forever remain just a clown.’ Despite its huge symbolism, the word “clown” is not the most important part of the statement. What is crucial, is the opposition between those who, through their success, are working towards the improvement of society, and those lagging behind and refusing change. This statement finds an echo in today’s society: French president Emmanuel Macron made explicit the distinction between “ceux qui réussissent” (those who are successful) and “ceux qui ne sont rien” (those who are nothing). But, in the film, even worse than just “noughts”, the poor are perceived by the elite as dead weights preventing the progress of society, as clownish “super-rats”. Unkillable and useless animals, the only thing they do is leech the wealth of the rich.

This perfectly illustrates the disconnection of the elite from the vast majority of their society, both in the film and in real life. But this is not just a feeling of class superiority it is a much more profound sentiment: a complete inability to consider anything else besides the isolated individual when it comes to trying to understand his actions and life choices. The isolated individual is the only unit of society, there is no society but the individual. The itinerary of TV host Murray Franklin is telling enough. Having started pretty low on the social ladder, he cannot conceive of a different path than the one he himself trod. Since there is no official and blatant distinction between the elite and the rest than individual fortune, there is no possibility of establishing a class rapport that would be nourished by culture, values and myths in order to bring about some historical evolution. The domination of this new “aristocracy” is more subtle, more pernicious and infinitely more terrible than anything that can be imputed to past hierarchies. It is neither fixed by birth nor by merit and does not have any other credo than individual entrepreneurship. Since most of its members access the new social group via money, they are not able to imagine a different way of improving society they inevitably maintain the horrid status quo by maintaining the aspiration of getting richer, not only as legitimate but as the only way forward. As shown by the example of Franklin, every poor person is just a failed rich and nothing more than that. ‘I’m gonna lift them out of poverty. They don’t realise I’m their only hope’, adds Thomas Wayne. ‘There is no alternative’, could have he continued in a very Thatcherian accent.

Mass atomisation as impetus towards generalised animosity.

Interestingly, the animosity is not exclusively directed against the elite it is generalised. Contrary to the traditional Marxist dichotomy, which posited the existence of both an oppressive bourgeoisie and an exploited but united proletariat, there is no solidarity within the masses. This is shown on several occasions in the film and is rendered especially explicit when a massive brawl ignites in the train right before the ending climax. Despite suffering similar conditions and, for some, participating in the same movement (the “jokers”), there is no sense of togetherness. The reason behind this lack of togetherness is demonstrated in the figure of Arthur and his relationships with others. Simply said, there is no “real” rapport to others, as epitomised by the impossible relationship between Arthur and his neighbour. There is no relationship to the “real” either. For one to construct a “sensation of reality”, one needs to develop a common sense. However, as Hannah Arendt explains, common sense emerges through commonality, itself a product of socialisation and rooting. But Arthur Fleck has neither. He has no roots, no origins, no friends… He barely knows his own neighbours, and no one knows him. Despite travelling and walking in the grey and compact streets of Gotham, he is a no one. As a result, he invents his own individualised bubble, thus fully detaching himself from reality: “For my whole life, I didn’t know if I even existed”. Arthur Fleck is the purest result of an atomised and individualised society.

But in Gotham, to varying degrees, everyone is a bit of an Arthur. This is exemplified in the wearing of the clown masks. Everyone feels a sense of alienation and detachment from reality. Even more vital, is that the wearing of the masks offers a beautiful description of the human condition in modern society: both highly individualised and paradoxically nondifferentiable. How many adverts do you see that promote messages similar to ‘dress for yourself, nobody else’ (Zalando) or ‘my style is who I am, #mystylemyrules’ (Ellesse)? Yet, despite that message of individualisation, and because of it, a group becomes a mass, indistinguishable from another in the mimetic desire for the most recent commodity from Nike. As there is no rapport between atomised individuals, there is no sense of solidarity. On the contrary, this process of indistinction associated with the mimetic desire for similar things creates an atmosphere of rivalry and tension. I might be in the same predicament as you, but as I cannot identify with you, I see you simply as a rival instead of a possible companion. The whole process of animosity and detachment from reality is perfectly encapsulated in this one quote: “Everybody is awful it’s enough to make everyone crazy”.

in Gotham, to varying degrees, everyone is a bit of an Arthur. This is exemplified in the wearing of the clown masks. Everyone feels a sense of alienation and detachment from reality.

Right before descending into madness, Arthur Fleck makes a statement of the utmost importance to our analysis: “I just want a little bit of fucking decency.” Arthur unknowingly refers to a central Orwellian concept. Indeed, common decency is the one value that underlies Orwell’s entire literary production. This notion echoes the expression of the aforementioned specialist of totalitarianism, Arendt’s common sense, thus revealing the salience of the ‘commonality’ in the fight against political monsters. To Orwell, common decency is precisely the basis for a sane and fair social fabric, and it seems completely absent from the society presented in the film, just as it seems quite alien to our very own contemporary values of individualistic emancipation. The gradual drawing back of the state (illustrated in the closing down of public services), the morbid architecture or the general absence of counter-powers of any kind instead display how crushing and inescapable a supposedly free society can be. The intricate connexion between the absolute domination of the market economy and the destruction of real social rapports constitutes a horizon indépassable (impassable horizon), for which the seemingly endless spread of urbanisation provides a bleak illustration.

Media and Spectacle as wreckers of authenticity.

However, in addition to the division and massification of society, what is really striking for the viewer is the way the entertainment industry is portrayed. The proliferation of mediocre stand-up artists, the injunctions to not show emotions and the widespread mistrust are as many attacks on authenticity (remember that scene when a woman on the bus curtly asks Arthur to stop “bothering” her little boy). They seem to confirm the observations made by Guy Debord in Society of the Spectacle (1967), in which he asserted that spectacle was the ultimate stage of the commoditisation of social interactions. A spectacle is always a way of keeping you away from reality, and, so doing, away from yourself as well. Interactions, particularly between the elite and the masses, are limited to the medium of a screen. Be it when the rich are watching Modern times with Charlie Chaplin, or when the masses are passively consumed by the vacuity of the Tonight show, Murray Franklin’s star-studded emission, there does not seem to be genuine communication. Despite the film being set in the 1970s, screens seem to already play an instrumental role in structuring social relations and defining personal identities. As such, the parallels with present-day phenomena, with the ever-growing presence of smartphones, are uncomfortably striking. Ray Bradbury, in his chilling dystopia Fahrenheit 451, had already shown what sort of disastrous impact the ‘screenisation’ of society could have on the authenticity of human relations.

The mass media, the TV shows and the untalented comedians force upon Arthur Fleck a completely fake vision of reality, a never-ending spectacle, from which it becomes nigh impossible to break free. The vampirising spread of Gotham City, and more generally of the modern world, the absence of alternatives, turn him into that ever crazier and more dramatic actor, burning away any possibility of meaningful personal development, and slowly but surely plunging him into nihilism. As illustrated by the negative reception of the film by mainstream media such as the Guardian, the Telegraph or the Washington Post, the striking and dark parallels the Joker makes with our own society generate the same sort of scornful and superficial reactions whose toxicity the film exposes. It is perfectly ironic that these media totally miss the thorough and spine-chilling points made by the film and try to divert attention away from the real issues, for instance by superficially focusing on explicit violence (even though it is far from glorified in the film) rather than analysing the causes of the descent of society into violence and chaos. Like Thomas Wayne and Murray Franklin, no matter how much they pretend to care about tackling issues, they belong to this caste, inseparable from the domination of the entertaining and all-encompassing Spectacle. Their sheer existence depends on the shrinking of the common decency to the benefit of the extravagances of the Spectacle, sniggering away any radical questioning of the society they contribute to.

The Joker: an undesired demonic child of our own system.

The various problems presented in the film - social injustice, general animosity, spectacle society - culminate at the end of the film in the apocalyptic scenes of mass riots, and in their visual incarnation, the Joker. That he becomes a symbol for these rioters, of their social suffering and hatred for the system, is obvious. But the Joker has, in truth, a more important role: that of authorising violence for a mass on the brink of explosion, but which until then had still been restrained by chains we call morality. By killing these three men, the Joker in effect breaks these fetters, enabling a multiple evil, hidden within the deep obscure wells of society, to emerge as one monster: mass nihilistic violence. This role the Joker occupies at the very end of the film - that of breaking one’s moral belief - is already present in another celebrated film of the Gotham universe: “The Dark Knight”. The Joker continuously pushes every character he encounters, transforming figures of moral decency such as Harvey Dent into murderous and immoral villains. He renders the line between “good” and “evil” indistinguishable. However, for authorising that violence, the Joker is also persecuted and pushed away. We, as a self-righteous society, have to clearly differentiate ourselves from him - the monster - by expelling him!

But the Joker has, in truth, a more important role: that of authorising violence for a mass on the brink of explosion, but which until then had still been restrained by chains we call morality .

Similarly, Donald Trump, a deranged political figure, whose election has become a bad joke of sorts, and who has broken down the rules of civil and ethical conduct, must be expelled and persecuted. Both figures, the Joker and Donald Trump are not of our world and must be banished back into the wells from which they came. They are the source of mass nihilistic violence: “It is your fault, you did this!” - says a police officer speaking to the Joker so surely, through their banishment, peace and reconciliation will be upon us. Yet, as we know, the story of the Joker is one of eternal fights without final victory. Despite being imprisoned, he always seems to come back, as if he is emerging within us… Which he does! For, following philosopher René Girard’s work, the Joker and Donald Trump are in reality simple scapegoats they are blamed for all the wrongdoings, issues, and faults of our society. Their deranged attitudes hide behind their rise the terrible failures of a dysfunctional system that unjustly reproduces social inequality, atomises individuals, and provides, as only respite, a superfluous and pernicious Spectacle (Instagram, Facebook…) that buries our humanity alive. Arthur Fleck is a symbol of that suffering, the Joker is an expression of its devastating potential.

Arthur Fleck is a symbol of that suffering, the Joker is an expression of its devastating potential.

Conclusion

We wrote this article in order to respond to the wave of absolutely ridiculous and erroneous critiques of this mammoth of a film, as well as to showcase the profound criticisms of our society it has to offer. What, in our view, the producers of the film had in mind was the laying bare of those sheer mechanisms - inequality, atomisation, spectacle - driving our modern world into chaos. The dramatic events we are currently witnessing all around the world are, alas, just the tip of a terrible iceberg. The works of two great political authors of the 20th century, Hannah Arendt and George Orwell, thinkers that were not chosen by accident in the writing of this article, warn us of the terrifying fate that is awaiting us if we do not radically transform the structures of our polity. Fortunately, these two authors also provide us with a way out, to save ourselves from “Jokerisation”, away from mass folly.

In “mass hysteria [. ] men have become entirely private, that is, they have been deprived of seeing and hearing others, of being heard by them. They are all imprisoned in the subjectivity of their own singular experience. The end of the common world has come when it is seen only under one aspect.” (p.58 of The Human Condition)


Author: Thomas Eckert

We live in an incredible period of history which might one day be viewed the same way the Renaissance is viewed today. The past twenty years have seen an astounding leap forward technologically and socially. This pace of innovation can be exhausting and has contributed to the increase in nostalgia for times this generation never lived though.

The nature of nostalgia is often blind to the less desirable aspects of a time or place. The filmic 1950s is certainly aesthetically pleasing, but nobody would desire its visual sleekness if they had to endure the sexism and racism that came with it. Luckily, we no longer have to. The Internet has made the act of picking and choosing features from past generations as easy as managing a Pinterest board.

The namesake of the Renaissance is the French word “rebirth.” Most scholars agree that the cause of the Renaissance depended upon a dissemination of new technology, intercultural communication, education, and what could be called nostalgia. The printing press democratized publication creating a literacy rate never before seen. One day, we will look back and gawk at the breakneck pace of innovation in this age, especially in regards to the changes caused by smartphones, artificial intelligence, and self-driving vehicles. Each of these have the potential to greatly disrupt economic and social norms that are taken for granted.

We are already in the midst of the changes caused by the pocketable computers we call phones. These devices challenge our sense of community. They have created new social mores and accelerated the pace of work in an already progress-obsessed Western world. The role artificial intelligence will play in our lives in the future is yet unknown. When its time comes, we may be faced with questions of our very morality. What is most pressing, currently, is the economic shifts that will take place due to vehicles that can control themselves.

At first, self-driving vehicles will be primarily used by shipping companies. When shipping by truck, drivers often face long hours on the road which can be aided by driving assistants. When human drivers are no longer needed, there will be a huge economic hit and a tragedy of unemployment if we do not provide alternative job options for these men and women. Private use of these vehicles will flourish because of their adoption by the young and the elderly. Today’s young people do not tend to see driving as a totem of freedom in the way previous generations have. The smartphone seems to have supplanted the car.

It is unlikely that young people will buy these cars outright at first. Like all new technologies, they will be quite expensive when they first hit the market. I think young people will start out by renting these vehicles, severely disrupting the taxicab market. However, if driving is not important to them, it will not make sense for them to pay for a vehicle that spends over 80% of its life on a small plot of asphalt. There will be Time magazine articles about the crazy millennials who don’t drive their own cars! (What an honor it is to be part of the very first generation not understood by the older generation).

The part of the older generation that I think will understand the shift to self-driving vehicles is the elderly. The prospect of losing one’s freedom with age is understandably frightening. Self-driving cars allow older people to retain their freedom even in a fragile state. They can connect with family and friends without being limited by their age.

Despite the benefits of a more technologically saturated society, there will be great economic costs that parallel jobs lost in the shipping and taxicab industries. The disruption caused by technology might lead to a horrific crisis of unemployment in our lifetimes. This veritable Pandora’s Box cannot be resealed. As there is no road back, we must do what we can to ensure that our society can adapt to changing times.

This means that we must ask questions of ourselves about the economy and society we want to live in. If we do not anticipate the challenges that will come about because of autonomous vehicles, we will not be prepared to embrace their arrival without great pain. There are questions we should have asked before the smartphone became such a staple of our society. Now, these questions of social correctness are being answered in situ, without the wisdom that comes with forethought. If we are not careful, the more difficult quandaries posed by autonomous vehicles will catch us unaware as well.

We tend to forget that the Renaissance must have been incredibly stressful for certain people in society. The state of knowledge, status quo, and the perceived purpose of life was being forever altered. Our lives happen to take place in quite a similar time. This period has come about because of intelligence which drove forward innovation, but its pace must be mediated by wisdom. Will we live the life posed by 1950’s futurists and John Maynard Keynes in which we devote our days to leisure while the robots do our mundane work? Will we move to a socialistic universal wage doled out by the government after all the jobs are gone? Will we try to forgo our electronic toys in lieu of a simpler lifestyle? It is hard to say, but we will need to answer these questions in our lifetime. Otherwise, they will be answered for us.


In local history books, Thomas T. Eckert is often remembered for two attributes. First, he was the man who brought the telegraph to Wooster, Ohio in 1849. Second, his sister married one of the Baumgardner brothers who built the Arcadome downtown. Both interesting facts, but probably not warranting a place in the annals of American history.

However, Tom Eckert does have a prominent place in American history because of his close working relationship with our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. Born in St. Clairsville, Ohio in 1825, Eckert moved to Wooster with his family at a young age. While just a teenager, Eckert developed a fascination with the new technology of telegraphy, and was said to be a voracious reader of anything related to the telegraph system. Eventually, he traveled out of state for a more formal education in the telegraph.

In 1849, Eckert was appointed Wooster's postmaster. As he had learned telegraphy, his office was wired on the northeast corner of the Wooster's downtown square. Eckert's unique skills quickly made him a valued commodity, and he left the postmaster’s position in 1852 to supervise construction of the telegraph line between Pittsburgh and Chicago, which later fell under the control of the Western Union Telegraph Company.

At the outset of the Civil War, Eckert, like so many other men, joined the Union cause. Eckert would never witness a battle, however, as due to his skills General McClellan drafted Eckert to take charge of his military telegraph office. In 1862, he was called to Washington by the new Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, to take charge of the military telegraph headquarters in the War Department buildings next to the White House. Literally, no telegraph went into the War Department or White House without Eckert being the first to receive the news.

This privilege alone makes Eckert an interesting historical figure (Eckert was certainly the first man to read of the Federal victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg) but it was the company he kept that made him even more fascinating. As most are aware, Abraham Lincoln suffered many restless days and nights anguishing over the lives lost in the War. As such, he was a constant fixture in Eckert's office, always wanting to know the latest news from the front. The men literally spent hours each day together. Lincoln was such a regular, in fact, that the Emancipation Proclamation was penned in June 1862 on Thomas Eckert's desk, using Eckert's pens and brass inkwell to compose his thoughts! Eckert's inkwell is today in the Smithsonian's collection.

Eckert's name and relationship with Lincoln, however, is most strongly connected with that dark April day in 1865, when Lincoln was assassinated. Before leaving for Ford's Theater, Lincoln was aware he needed an escort and requested from Secretary Stanton that Major Eckert accompany him. Lincoln said, "I have seen Eckert break five pokers, one after another, over his arm, and i am thinking he would be the kind of man to go with me this evening. May I take him?" The request was refused by Stanton on the false grounds that Eckert had other work to do, leading to numerous conspiracy theories today.

Lincoln, not to be deterred, went directly to Eckert, who also informed him he was unavailable. Lincoln's last words to Eckert were, "I shall take Major Rathbone along, but i should much rather have you." The rest of Lincoln's story regarding his assassination that night is for the ages. As Wayne County residents, though, we can always ponder the "what if?" scenario had the strong, imposing figure of Tom Eckert been sitting alongside President Lincoln at Ford's Theater.

Tom Eckert was eventually promoted to Assistant Secretary of War by Stanton and later brevetted Major General before leaving the service in 1866. Not only did Eckert return to work for Western Union, but he became its president in 1893 and chairman of the board in1893. He died in 1910 at the age of 85 years— certainly with many fond memories of his time with Lincoln and probably some regrets that he was not at Ford's Theater that fateful night on April 14,1865.


American Daredevil: The Fascinating Pre-History of Lev Gleason

I've long wondered if American periodical publishers Frederick Gleason and Lev Gleason were related. The parallels between the lives of the two men are compelling: Both lived in the same area for a time. Both were pioneering periodical publishers in their day. And both often employed their publishing apparatus in the service of their radical politics (The Know-Nothings in the case of Frederick, while Lev published and edited Communist Front magazines, and more stuff that is the subject for another day). Just as I'd completed this research, I was made aware that the eagerly-anticipated American Daredevil: Comics, Communism, and the Battles of Lev Gleason by Brett Dakin was recently published. I've picked up my copy and will be reviewing the book here shortly. But first, let's set the stage for what brought Lev Gleason and his family to that time and place in the world.

Daredevil Battles Hitler #1, July 1941. Photo of Lev Gleason via his family.

It turns out that Frederick and Lev Gleason are likely not related. Perhaps a very, very distant relationship that you'd have to go back farther than the seven generations I was able to go, to find. The matter was briefly made more complicated by a fascinating set of coincidences I found along the way, that appears to have confused newspaper editors in the 1800s just as much as it confused me for a while.

Lev's great-grandfather on his mother's side, a man named Thomas F. Eckert, was an engineer and an influential pioneer in the development and use of steamships in America. His achievements made him extremely wealthy, and later in life, he became a principal of the Western Insurance Company. A contemporary of his, Thomas T. Eckert, was an influential pioneer in the area of telegraphy. An associate of Samuel Morse, Thomas T. became Chief of the War Department Telegraph Staff and then United States Assistant Secretary of War during the Civil War. Later in life, he became president of Western Union. While Thomas F. and Thomas T. are not related, the name similarity, technical backgrounds, and Western Insurance / Western Union coincidence have proved too much for many newspapers, historians, and even government record-keepers to keep straight.

I was further drawn in here by the Morse connection. Morse was likely one of the principal financial backers of the Know-Nothings. As the Civil War was getting underway, his associate Thomas T. Eckert was accused of being a Union spy in North Carolina. He was acquitted, fled to the North, and immediately became responsible for the integrity of sensitive military and govt communications. That is a fascinating series of events I'm going to have to study more someday. Nevertheless, it's a coincidence to us here in the context of Lev Gleason.

The Flag of Our Union Volume VI Number 31, August 2, 1851, published by Frederick Gleason.

I had a research breakthrough when I found a 1921 letter in the Cincinnati Enquirer from Lev's mother Josephine Stone Gleason. The letter outlines some of the history of her family as she knew it, particularly in regards to her own father and grandfather. It's an impressive family history, but if anything, as we'll soon see &mdash she was modest.

The first of Lev's direct line on his mother's side to come to America, George Eckert, came here during the colonial era. According to an entry in Ohio Biographical Sketches, 1787-1876, George was "a successful and opulent merchant. Deeming the new world better adapted to the raising of a family, and to offer greater inducements to capitalists, he loaded a brig at Hamburg with merchandise&hellip and sailed to the United States."

George's son, Leonard, married Mary Chesire, and again according to Ohio Biographical Sketches: "daughter of Colonel William Cheshire, the revolutionary hero, who was killed by the fall of a tree while on duty near Bunker Hill. She was first cousin to Richard M. Johnson, Vice-President of the United States under Van Buren, who killed Tecumseh, and sustained the same relation to Daniel Boone, the distinguished Kentucky pioneer&hellip She was the stepdaughter of John Nornavill, Washington's patriotic drum major."

While that all sounds historically impressive, and it certainly is, when you research people who lived during this period, you will find such connections as often than not.

The T.F. Eckert in 1884, a salvage boat for the Underwriter Wrecking Company of Cincinnati, where Thomas F. Eckert was president of the firm.

Lev's great-grandfather Thomas F. Eckert has a history even more impressive than his granddaughter outlines in the attached newspaper clipping. Once again from Ohio Biographical Sketches:

The name of Thomas F. Eckert had now become widely known among river men as one of the most skillful engineers and mechanics on the Western waters, and in the winter of 1832-33, when Colonel Robert Beveridge, of Florida, took a contract for carrying the mail three times a week from Apalachicola to Columbus, Georgia, he selected him to superintend the mechanical arrangements of his six boats.

After six months in this service he was detailed to go North to build a new boat and, finding the yards and shops at Cincinnati already overrun, he proceeded to Wheeling, where he completed his task in the allotted time, and produced in 1833 the beautiful steamer "Andrew Jackson." At the expiration of the year he was commissioned to build the "Floridian" in it he had one-fourth interest, and ran her a season on the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee rivers. Returning to Cincinnati in 1834 he built the "Hyperion," which he ran a season and then followed the "Paul Jones," on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, the "President," "Commodore," the second "Paul Jones," the second "Andrew Jackson" and the "Walnut Hills."

He left the latter in 1852 to retire to private life, having been engaged in steamboating twenty-two years, four as engineer and eighteen as captain but he was not permitted to remain idle, for the Democrats elected him to the State Legislature in 1852 by an overwhelming majority. Among his distinguished services in that body was his authorship of "The Ten Hour System of Labor." After the expiration of his term he was elected President of the Western Insurance Company, then in its infancy, but which, under his management, has taken rank among the best in the country. To him the city is indebted for the magnificent avenue connecting it with Carthage, which, after years of patient labor, was thrown open to the public in 1861. His public spirit and indomitable enterprise has materially advanced the interests of the city, and he has done much to promote and perpetuate the river trade, so essential to the vitality of the mercantile interests of Cincinnati.

The 10-hour movement is worth further note in the context of this family history. This was part of a labor reform movement from the 1820s-1840s period, and led to early organized labor efforts. In 1840, President Martin Van Buren ordered a 10-hour workday for those employed on federal projects.

[Below: an article from Lev Gleason Communist Front magazine Friday vol. 2 #7, February 14, 1941.]

Lev Gleason, whose full name is Leverett Stone Gleason, was named after his grandfather on his mother's side, Leverett Stone. While Leverett Stone is described in the attached clip as a grocer, this appears to be understating the matter somewhat. Leverett Stone's firm "L & M Stone" is described in one Civil War-era history as "a leading forage contractor in Cincinnati." The firm provided corn, oats, and other grain to the federal government during the war, as can be seen in the Report of the Secretary of War, Contracts Made by the Quartermaster's Department, 1863-1865.

There's much more in the 1921 Cincinnati Enquirer clip below. While I do not claim that any of this serves to explain the Lev Gleason enigma, he's so little understood, and his background has been relatively underexplored up to now that it's perhaps at least a little something to build on.

Lev Gleason's family history from The Cincinnati Enquirer, May 22, 1921. Clipping via Newspapers.com. Posted in: Comics, Vintage Paper | Tagged: daredevil, hitler, lev gleason


Thomas E. Eckert

Thomas E. Eckert, 91, Huntington, IN, died at 2:20 p.m., December 26, 2020, at his residence.

Mr. Eckert was a 1947 graduate of Huntington Catholic High School. He served in the Army National Guard for five years. He retired in 1991 from the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 166. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, 3rd degree and a member of SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Church.

He was born March 8, 1929 in Huntington to Raymond and Emma Jane McVoy Eckert. He married Winifred (Winnie) Nicholson on Oct. 28, 1950. She survives in Huntington.

Additional survives include 14 children, Kathy (Gary) Bishop, Huntington, Jerry (Diane) Eckert, Huntington, Tony (Sarah) Eckert, Warren, Connie (Nick) Gast, St.Henry, OH, Carol (Larry) Hohe, Huntington, Cindy (Kevin) Prus, Huntington, George (Terri) Eckert, Markle, Clare (Roger) Hunckler, Mocksville, NC, Margaret (Larry) PeGan, Huntington, Rose (Brian) Carroll, Warren, Mary Ann (Mark) Schaefer, Columbia City, Sarah (Mike) Garrison, Fort Wayne, Dr. Julia Eckert, Coldwater, OH, and Rev. Tom Eckert, CSC of Notre Dame 49 grandchildren and 82 great-grandchildren.

He is also survived by four sisters, Betty Kindler, Huntington, Mary Jane (Don) Bartrom, Huntington, Marilyn (Buddy) Hayes, Huntington, and Diane (Jim) Carl, Huntington, and four brothers: Chas (Judy) Eckert, Robinson, IL, Dave (Mary) Eckert, Huntington, Kenny (Cheri) Eckert, Huntington, and Ray Eckert, Huntington.

He was preceded in death by four brothers, Jack, Fritz, Don and Joe Eckert.

Viewing will be held from 10 to 11:45 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 30, at SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, 860 Cherry Street, Huntington. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow at noon with Rev. Tom Eckert, CSC, presiding. Those in attendance are asked to follow COVID protocol for masks and social distancing.

Burial will be at Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Huntington, IN.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made for Huntington Catholic School in care of McElhaney- Hart Funeral Home, 715 N. Jefferson St., Huntington, IN, 46750.


4 The Catacombs At Old St. Patrick&rsquos Cathedral

The most famous burial ground in Lower Manhattan is undoubtedly the graveyard at Trinity Church at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway. The cramped site is the final resting place of several famous figures, most notably Alexander Hamilton.

However, another gravesite offers a much more immersive experience. At Old St. Patrick&rsquos Church in modern-day SoHo&mdashfar humbler confines than the current polished behemoth in Midtown&mdashvisitors can tour catacombs where the city&rsquos wealthier Catholic residents sealed themselves for all eternity. [7]

Both the catacombs and the high wall in the adjacent church graveyard were intended to prevent something widespread in 19th-century Lower Manhattan: grave robbing. Understandably, avoiding post-death looting took some, well, loot, a price point that limited the catacombs to especially prominent New Yorkers. Several members of the Delmonico restaurant family are there, as is the man credited with bringing opera to NYC.

One interment of interest is Thomas Eckert, who served in several capacities, including presidential bodyguard, in the administration of Abraham Lincoln. On April 14, 1865, Lincoln wanted Eckert for exactly that role while he took in a play at a Washington, DC, theater. Unfortunately, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton refused permission for Eckert to go.

Allegedly, Stanton claimed that he had an important task for Eckert that night. Controversy remains about the real reason Eckert wasn&rsquot guarding Lincoln&rsquos viewing box when John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln later that night.


THOMAS ECKERT - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 07/12/1881 - HFSID 76198

THOMAS ECKERT. ALS: "Yours very truly,/Thos T. Eckert", 1p, 7½x9½. New York, 1881 July 12. On sheet headed "Western Union Telegraph Company" to Professor J.E. Hilgard, U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Office, Washington, D.C.Begins: "My dear Sir". In full: "I have to thank you for the receipt of the charts of the West Indies and of the coast of Brazil to Pernambuco, which [you] have so kindly sent to me. Please permit me to express the many obligations your attention in this matter has placed me under and if I can serve you in any way, pray command me." Pernambuco is a northeastern state of Brazil. Its capital, Recife, is a port city, so it may have been included on Hilgard's charts. THOMAS THOMPSON ECKERT (1825-1910) had supervised the construction of the Pittsburgh-Chicago telegraph line in 1852. During the Civil War, he took charge of the military telegraph office at General McClellan's headquarters, becoming superintendent of the military telegraph with the rank of Captain and Assistant Quartermaster in 1862. In September of that year, Eckert was called to Washington, D.C. to establish the military telegraph in War Department buildings and was promoted to Major. During this time, he became close friends with President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. In 1864, the year he was brevetted Lieutenant General (he later was promoted to Brigadier General), Eckert was appointed Assistant Secretary of War under Stanton, remaining in the office until 1866, when he resigned to be come General Superintendent of Western Union Telegraph Company's eastern lines. In 1875, he became President of the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company, and, in 1880, President of the American Union Telegraph Company. In 1881, when these companies consolidated with Western Union, he became Vice President and General Manager of the company. Eckert became President in 1893 and Chairman of the Board in 1900. Bavarian-born scientist JULIUS ERASMUS HILGARD (1825-1891), a civil engineer who had come to the U.S. with his scientist father, Theodore Erasmus Hilgard, in 1835, was appointed Superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Office in the year of this letter upon the death of Alexander D. Bache. Hilgard had worked in Bache's coastal surveys from 1845, rising to the office of assistant in charge of the bureau in Washington. He also had charge of the development and verification of standards of weights and measures, and was a delegate to the Internal Metric Commission that met in Paris in 1872. That year, Hilgard had executed a telegraphic determination of the longitude between Paris and Greenwich, correcting the value by nearly half a second. A charter member of the National Academy of Sciences, he was elected President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1874). Lightly creased with folds. Slightly soiled. Tape stain at lower margin at vertical fold touches the initial "T." Tape stains at lower margin, left margin at mid-horizontal fold, blank right margin, upper margin and at 1 line of text touch 2 words. Upper and lower right corners torn off. ¼x¾-inch paper loss at upper left blank edge. Overall, fine condition.

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Watch the video: Thomas Eckert Park Part 2015 (May 2022).