Past and Present

Three Wichita State history professors, Drs. Robin Henry, Robert Weems, and Jay Price, will talk about Wichita history, parallels between current events and historical happenings, and how historical events got us to where we are today.

A few weeks ago, I gave a walking tour through the Fairmount neighborhood. The crowd and I had good conversations about noted buildings such as Fairmount Congregational Church and Holyoke Cottage.

The landmarks that aroused the most energy were a series of traffic barriers in the middle of certain intersections. These barriers prevent cars from driving down Fairmount to 13th Street or across 16th Street past Fairmount Park. I had been told they were put in to reduce congestion.

wikipedia.org

On May 31, 1790, President George Washington signed the United States’ first copyright bill into law. A short, half-page statute, it granted copyright to books, maps and charts for 14 years, with the option to renew for another 14 years if the author was still alive.

Ronald Reagan, during his presidency, promoted an economic policy that came to be known as Reaganomics. Linked with economist Arthur Laffer’s theory of supply-side economics, Reaganomics claimed that economic growth could be promoted by dramatically reducing the tax burden of America’s wealthiest citizens. They, in turn, would use this tax relief to spend and invest more. This new spending, theoretically, would then stimulate the economy and create new jobs.

This commentary falls between Earth Day, April 22, and the anniversary of the Moon Landing on July 20. Both days mark a series of events that took place in 1969 and 1970, among them several efforts to create a flag to represent the planet Earth. There was already a flag for the United Nations as well as several concepts for a flag to represent the world or humanity in general. Now, just as people saw the earth from space for the first time, some wondered if there should be a flag for the planet as an entity rather than just a collection of peoples.

When does a current event become history? As a historian of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this transition has already occurred for the subject matter of my work. While new research can deepen my understanding of people, places, and events, very rarely does the historical landscape seismically shift under my feet. Colleagues writing about the late 20th century—like those of us who lived through it—have a different experience.

A year ago, no one would have believed that Donald Trump would be the GOP front-runner this far into the primary season. Yet, fact can be stranger than fiction, and this improbable reality has prompted an increasing call within the Republican Party to block Trump’s quest for the party’s presidential nomination. For his part, Trump has warned that, if he’s denied the nomination through a contested Republican National Convention in July, there could be riots in response.

One of the more colorful figures in early Wichita was M.R. “Charlie” Cordeiro, who came to town as a scout for the army and later opened a saloon. His time here was turbulent, starting in 1869 with him killing a man out of self-defense. Later, he operated the Texas Hotel/Saloon/Restaurant, albeit in the face of lawsuits among other challenges. By 1874, his former Texas Saloon had been sold in a sheriff’s sale and by 1875, he was a leading member of a party searching for gold in the Black Hills, where some later reports suggested he was killed by Native Americans.

On May 10, 1840, Elizabeth Cady married abolitionist Henry Stanton. For the presiding pastor, the unconventional wedding day, a Friday, was not the most shocking part of their wedding ceremony. Rejecting Protestant tradition, Elizabeth Cady omitted the vow binding her “to obey” her husband. While she was not the first bride to make this omission, Stanton’s choice reflected a deeper understanding of the inequity women faced within their marriages and her desire to increase women’s legal rights within the institution.

One of the constants of the post-slavery African American experience has been the positive role played by black women’s organizations in promoting community uplift.

John 'Hoppy' Hopkins

This month marks the 50th anniversary of Allen Ginsberg, poet and Beat icon, coming to Wichita. Back in the 1950s, Kansas in general and Wichita in particular had produced an astonishing number of writers and artists who had gone to San Francisco to be part of the Beat scene. There were so many Wichitans involved that when Ginsberg received a travel grant, he made a point to visit Wichita on his tour of the Midwest.

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