Wednesday, October 18, 2017

OXONIANS DRAW U.S. BORDER | Oct. 18 – Mason-Dixon Line Set

Oct. 18, 2017 – This day 250 years ago, in 1767, the interstate border was settled that a century later became the key boundary of the American Civil War – the Mason-Dixon line.

The line was named after two British surveyors, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.

They were hired by two prominent families on either side of the border, both were originally headed by Oxford alumni: 
The Calvert and Penn families, to settle a dispute over the border between them, hired English surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.

The essential element of their survey, which had been interrupted by skirmishes with Indians, was completed on this day.

It established the boundary not only between the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland but for territories in the west that after the Revolution became the state of West Virginia and those in the east that became Delaware. The line was marked using stones, with Pennsylvania’s coat of arms on one side and Maryland’s on the other.

Why did this become the dividing line in the War Between the States? Because it was the North-South dividing line, between the slave states in the south and the free states in the north.

It is no puzzle why the South favored slavery–the earliest immigrants to the southern colonies like Virginia were loyalists to the British Crown and the Church of England and they were given generous grants of land that required huge numbers of workers. The cash crops such as tobacco and cotton that became the mainstay of the southern farms required workers to do strenuous repetitive tasks, and slavery provided a solution.

It is also no puzzle why New England did not favor slavery. They did not get large grants of land from the Crown because the earliest immigrants to New England were dissenting rebels from the Church of England. Most therefore became small farmers, traders or manufacturers.

Maryland and Pennsylvania were in-between colonies and states. Unlike most other southern states (Georgia's Wilberforce was another exception), Maryland was not founded by someone with allegiance to the Church of England. Even though Pennsylvania was not founded by a dissenting Quaker, its founder Penn had enough good will from the Crown to get some land to form a proprietary colony:
  • In Maryland, the Crown carved a large piece of land out of northern Virginia to give to the Catholic Calverts. The Catholicism of the day was not aggressively opposed to slavery.
  • In Pennsylvania (as it was to be called), lands were granted to Quaker William Penn because he had won favor with the Crown, even though leaders of his religion included many abolitionists who fought actively against slavery. It was easier in Pennsylvania than it was in Maryland to be opposed to slavery because of coal and iron reserves provided higher-paying jobs that did not have to rely on slavery to generate a competitive product.
To settle their border dispute, the land-rich Calvert and Penn families hired Messrs. Mason and Dixon to establish the borderline. The families were responding to a 1760 demand from the British Crown that colonial settlers cease their skirmishes and adhere to a 1732 border cease-fire. 

Both families claimed the land between the 39th and 40th parallels. Mason and Dixon established the border at 39º43'. If they believed that the rights on the two sides were equally balanced, they would have settled in the middle, at 39º30'. This suggests that Pennsylvania was the victor from the survey, getting 72 percent (43/60) of the disputed land area.

During the year 1767, the colonies were engaged in a dispute with the Parliament over the Townshend Acts, which sought–through taxes on tea and other imports–to pay for the British costs of troops sent by Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder (like the Calverts, an alumnus of Trinity College, Oxford) of establishing the continuing military presence that had driven the French and the Indians allied with them from the colonies.

However, the border dispute seemingly settled in 1767 was not over. The Mason-Dixon line held as a dividing line, but after the American Revolution, the states south of the Mason-Dixon line began lobbying the new U.S. Congress for the legal rights of slaveowners. The northern states argued that ownership of human beings was not acceptable in the "New Constellation" of states.

Although the arguments were temporarily ended by the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which accepted the states south of the Mason-Dixon line as slave-holding and those north of the line as free, the attempted compromise–and its successors–failed and Pennsylvania became the site of many famous Civil War battles. The Gettysburg, Pennsylvania battle in 1863 was on the Mason-Dixon Line. It was  one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War, made immortal by President Lincoln's speech at the site . The Quaker commitment to abolitionism trumped their commitment to peace.

In April 1865, the south capitulated. The ensuing 13th Amendment (1865) was immediately passed abolishing slavery and nullifying the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision (1857). The bitterly fought 14th Amendment gave citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States. It was ratified 101 years after the Mason-Dixon line was established. However, civil rights did not mean voting rights. It took many more debates and political battles, some more amendments, and another 100 years, for the United States to pass laws to ensure that all adult citizens be allowed to vote...

Monday, October 9, 2017

OXFORD OPEN DAY | Selling the Colleges, 2017

1. Jesus College on Turl Street flaunts its
 green color, attributed to its Welsh and
Celtic appeal or its revised arms.
 Oxford is continuing to seek applications  from the broadest possible pool of secondary school students.

This is good for Oxford and good for secondary schools.

Students have to apply to one of Oxford's 38 colleges or six Permanent Private Halls (PPHs). 

So every year the colleges open their doors about two weeks before Michaelmas term opens, and then a week and a half after the Trinity term ends (in 2018, the Open Days are June 27-28).
2. Exeter College, also on the Turl, has
the Welcome banner out.

The Michaelmas term is so named because term starts soon after the feast of St Michael the Archangel, on September 29. The colleges then open their doors to students and it is inconvenient for there to be an Open Day.

The colleges and halls are becoming more competitive about Open Day. 
3. Trinity College is central, next to the
White Horse, Blackwell's, and the Bodleian.

For that day, the college gates are opened wide. The Keep Out signs are replaced by welcoming  banners and balloons.  

Some colleges take it a little bit further, to get an edge. Unfairly? You be the judge. Here are some Open Day stories from five colleges. 

We start our walking tour going north on Turl Street. We pass Lincoln College on our right, visit Jesus on our left, then Exeter on our right. We now face Trinity College. We turn left to the corner, intending to head for St Regent's College in St Giles. 

However, as we pass Boswell's, we are hijacked. We are offered a free ride akin to that in Midnight in Paris, to a place called LMH, with the promise of free ice cream at the destination. Read on.
4. Regent's Park College makes its presence known
in front of the Sheldonian, perhaps to prevent
hijacking of young students on their way to St Giles. 

1. Jesus College. As one walks on The Turl north from High Street, Jesus is on the left. I was advised by Paul Walton, who knows a thing or two about Wales, that the green color of Jesus is related to its Welsh affiliation, because its foundation was promoted by Welshman Dr Hugh Price of St David's Cathedral, in 1571. However, the original field of Price's coat of arms was azure (blue). The field was later revised to vert (green), perhaps in honor of the Green family, or in homage to Price's Welsh heritage.  Queen Elizabeth is the founder of Jesus College; it is the only college she founded, and the only one founded during her long reign. Its Celtic Studies library is special. Its most famous alumnus is surely Welshman T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"). Its student body is 15 percent Welsh.

2. Exeter College. Exeter College's color is purple, referencing the fact that it was founded in 1315 by Walter de Stapeldon, a Devon man who rose to become Bishop of Exeter and Treasurer of England under Edward II. Purple is the color of bishops. The eight pairs of golden keys in the Exeter coat of arms reflect the episcopal origin of the college, as  St Peter, the first bishop, was given "the keys to the kingdom of heaven". Exeter was originally called Stapeldon Hall; it is considered the fourth-oldest college at Oxford.

3. Trinity College. Trinity's arms are those of its Founder, Sir Thomas Pope. The tincture on his  arms is azure (blue), with the metal or (gold). The college colors are blue and white. Pope was a Catholic entrusted with the task of dissolving and emptying out church-owned colleges. Durham College was a seminary established by the Bishop Prince of Durham. After Catholicism was reinstated by Mary I, Pope established a new Catholic college on the spot.

Offering a Free Ride to LMH.
4. Regent's Park College. Things are not always what they seem. Regent's Park College is not a college, but is the smallest of the six Permanent Private Halls. The PPHs are increasingly being given similar status as the full colleges, but because of their governing are presumed to be less independent of their religious origins as the colleges. 

Regent's Park College sells itself as a quiet place near the center of Oxford. Its origins go back to a Baptist conference in 1752. The original institution was founded in 1810 and moved to Pusey Street, off St Giles, in 1927. It is near to St Cross College, which shares an entrance with Pusey House. Regent's Park College welcomes students in the arts, humanities and social sciences. A few study to be Baptist ministers. The Library includes a special focus on the history of dissenters. In fact, because of its history of religious dissent, members of Regent's Park College are discouraged from using Latin! The college Grace is recited in English by the Principal: For the gifts of your grace and the community of this college, we praise your name, O God. Amen. At the end of Formal Hall the Principal signals the departure of senior members (there is usually no High Table) with the words: "The grace and peace of God be with us all. Amen." Amen to that.

5. Lady Margaret Hall (LMH). Just as Regent's Park College is a hall, so Lady Margaret Hill is a college, as is St Edmund Hall.

LMH is located at the end of Norham Gardens, with property extending to a wide frontage on the River Cherwell. 

Since this is a bit of a hike from central Oxford, the offer of a lift with ice cream waiting at the end is a clever way of attracting the interest of potential applicants.While the lure of free ice cream may seem to be unfair competition, how else expose impressionable students to the glory of the Banks of the Cherwell, where this 1918 photo of three LMHers (two Saunders sisters at left and someone at right identified as named C.S.L. who is clearly not C.S. Lewis).
Picnic at LMH by the Cherwell, 1918. Two Saunders sister (L) and C.S.L.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

BIRTH | Oct 7 – Helen Clark MacInnes

Helen Clark MacInnes
On this day in 1907 was born in Glasgow the novelist Helen Clark McInnes. She wrote realistic, tight stories about espionage, starting with several novels set in World War II Europe.

Her first novel, Above Suspicion (1941), was about a husband and wife who are recruited to locate a British agent who is missing in Nazi-controlled territory. The book was made into a movie in 1943.

The story was inspired by the wartime work of Gilbert Highet, a fellow alumnus of Glasgow University whom she married in 1932.  The couple began by jointly translating books from German. Highet was an Oxford classicist based at Balliol and St John's. He played a great role in popularizing the classics in the mid-twentieth century. I was a big fan of several of his books. 

He obtained a one-year appointment as a Professor of Classics at Columbia in 1937, and was offered a tenured position in 1938. He and his wife became naturalized Americans. He was a frequent speaker at the New York Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race Dinner.

MacInnes wrote more than 20 spy novels over her 40-year career. Her approach was to frighten the reader by the difficult options faced by her characters:
In my stories, suspense is not achieved by hiding things from the reader. The question is, when is the event going to take place and how can you stop it? A reader may know everything, but still be scared stiff by the situation.
She died in New York in 1985.

Friday, October 6, 2017

OXFORD IN WW2 | Felicity Tholstrup

Third stop of the tour, on the Turl, after the Weston Library and Old Bodleian.
At the Oxford Alumni Weekend five years ago Alice and I were privileged to go on a tour of New College led by Felicity Tholstrup, a five-star Oxford tour guide.

She has been offering her "Hidden Oxford" tours since 2002.

One comment Felicity made on the 2012 tour was how long New College's treasures have survived intact. 

She noted that nothing in Oxford was damaged by the Baedeker bombing during World War 2, and Hitler appeared to have removed Oxford as a target. 
A Chronicle of Wartime Trinity
College, Oxford.

This inspired me to post a commentary on the topic that has attracted 24,000 views.

World War II at Oxford

Partly because of the strong interest in this post, I did further research. I read a book by John Harper-Nelson (Trinity, Oxon. 1940), Oxford at War (Northbridge, Western Australia: Access Press, 1996), which shows the impact of World War 2 on the author's abbreviated undergraduate life at Oxford in 1940-42, at Trinity.

With all the undergraduates joining up to defend their country, Trinity had a second-year class in 1941-42 of just 29 students. Oxford offered students a certificate after one year, allowing them to continue their studies after the war ended and they were discharged from the military.

Oxford also offered short courses for military personnel, including for Canadians from nearby bases.

So last month I jumped at the chance to go on another tour led by Felicity, looking at Oxford in World War 2.

Stop 1. Weston Library

The tour started in front of the Weston Library – what we used to call the "New Bodleian" before the building was replaced through the generosity of several large donors and many small ones. 

One of the large donors was Julian Blackwell of the Blackwell's Book Shop, whose donation of £5 million to the renovation was announced in 2008.
In St Giles, in front of St John's.

Stop 2. Old Bod

We crossed the road to see the Old Bodleian, and Felicity spoke about the Oxonians involved with the Bletchley Park research that led to the breaking of Germany's Enigma coding machine.

The most famous man at Bletchley Park's cryptography unit was surely Alan Turing, credited with inventing the modern computer. He was recruited by the first project leaders people at Bletchley Park, Dilly Knox and Tony Kendrick.

Other key leaders included Peter Twinn and Gordon Welchman.

They nabbed all the students who were studying mathematics at Oxford and pulled strings to have them shunted off the path to the infantry, to work instead on defeating the Enigma.
That's Felicity on the left, with her attentive tour group.

The project was successful as of January 1940, and for the rest of the war British intelligence intercepted many German messages, shortening the war on the European front.

(A former neighbor, the late Tom Collins, nicknamed "Sam Scram" by his British associates, was the person who accompanied the Dragon 1 
computer in 1942. This was an American contribution to the project to defeat the German Enigma machine. He stayed in Bletchley Park for a year but was not allowed to talk about his role for another 30 years.)

The Oxonians working on Bletchley Park projects included Maurice Allen, a don; J. W. B. Barns, an Oxford Professor of Egyptology, who worked in Hut 4, Hut 5 and Block A; Geoffrey Barraclough, Chichele Professor of Modern History at Oxford; Hilary Brett or Brett-Smith (Lady Hinsley), from Somerville College, a cryptologist in Hut 8; Lord Asa Briggs, member of the Watch in Hut 6, an historian elected a Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford (1945–55) after the war; and Nakdimon ("Naky") Doniach, RAF, linguist (later GCHQ and Oxford).

Stop 3. The Turl. What the Oxford Staff Worked On

We moved on to the Turl and Felicity discussed what happened to the staff and some of the colleges. 

As the students went to war, one-fourth of the dons were recruited for Whitehall jobs. 

Some research was continued, some stepped up for wartime purposes: 

  • Penicillin was extracted and purified by an Oxford team (Florey, Chain and Heatley) and was then produced in the United States.
  • Penicillin was first used at a pop-up St Hugh's hospital and next door at the Radcliffe Infirmary, reducing the death rate for head injuries from 50 percent in World War I to 5 percent in World War II.
  • Neurosurgery was advanced at St Hugh's under the team of Ritchie Russell, Hugh Cairns and Freda Newcombe.
  • Another team worked on ship and aircraft radar.
  • Another worked on development of a more portable form of anesthetics for mobile operating teams.
  • Another team pioneered in use of organ transplants.

Stop 4. St John's, and How the Colleges Were Transformed

We stopped in front of St John's and the back entrance of Balliol. Here's how some of the colleges were used during the war:

Balliol was a center for research on foreign intelligence for the Foreign Office.

Brasenose's facilities were formally requisitioned for a series of government offices, and the students moved in with Christ Church. Hugh Last, Professor of Ancient History at the College, was put to work on Bletchley Park projects.

Merton was used as a center for transport administration. One of its famed history professors, Hugh Trevor-Roper, was given responsibilities for research for MI5 on radio security.

Oriel was a center for War Office intelligence.

Queen's College was dedicated to home security issues.

St Hugh's as mentioned became a neurosurgery center with 300 beds, processing 13,000 patients during the war. Patients were flown to the Brize Norton air force base and transported to St Hugh's by ambulance.

St John's was turned over to the the Food and Fisheries administration.

Hat tip to Felicity Thorstrup for helping me with details after the tour, especially information on what the colleges were doing to help the war effort.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

OXFORD | Russian Heritage

Dr Nina Kruglikova at
Weston Library, Oxford.

What would the main themes be of a Russian Heritage tour of Oxford? 

I asked Nina Kruglikova, a fellow Trinity College, Oxford alum whom I met on a tour led by Felicity Tholstrup of WW2 Oxford earlier this month on the Oxford Weekend. 

Here are some topics for a Russian Heritage tour, which Nina has conducted in the past.

17th Century – Visit to Oxford from Peter the Great. Tsar Peter I ("the Great"), founder of St Petersburg, was born in 1672 and became emperor at ten years of age. He ruled for 43 years. 

He visited the United States in 1698 and later Oxford, incognito, staying at the Golden Cross and visiting the Chapel at Trinity College. Even though he was in disguise, he cut such a figure that he attracted attention.

19th Century – Visit from Alexander I. Emperor Alexander (1777-1825) went to Radcliffe Camera to celebrate the victory over Napoleon in 1814. He stayed in the Queen's Room in Merton (where the wife of Charles I lived during the period before Cromwell prevailed over the monarchy). He gave a big vase from Suberia and also a double-headed eagle in a stained-glass window, the arms of the Tsar. One legend is that Alexander caused damage during his visit and the vase and window were repayment.
Peter I ("The Great")

20th Century (A) – Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupov. Yusupov (1887-1967), who as a youth went under the title Count Sumarokov-Elston (Князь Фе́ликс Фе́ликсович Юсу́пов, Граф Сумаро́ков-Эльстон) was for three years, 1909-12, at University College, Oxford. He had lavish parties at Univ. For example, he brought in a famed Russian ballet dancer named Pavlova (a cake is named after her). His best friend from St. Petersburg, Oswald Raynor, was at Oriel.

At the end of his student years at Oxford he was reported to have visited Royal Albert Hall for a full-dress event and to have impressed many onlookers as the best-dressed person in the Hall. Five years later he went to the United States and was depicted in a thinly fictionalized film as having raped his wife. He sued the film company and won.

Nicolas II – Nice man,
bad tsar.
He is credited along with the Tsar's cousin Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich with killing Father Grigori Yefimovich (Gregory) 1869-1916, the "mad Monk" friend of the family of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra. Rasputin died at Yusupov's home; he did not eat the cyanide-laced cookies so he was shot in the head.

Yusupov and his wife Irina migrated to England after the assassination of Tsar Nicholas with his wife and five children in 1918, after having abdicated under pressure from the Bolshevik government in 1917, ending three centuries of Romanov rule. Yusupov and his wife bought a house at 4 Marston Street, Oxford that is now called St Nicholas House. They were interviewed about his 1953 book, Lost Splendor. Prince Yusupov died at St Pancras Hospital in 1963 and is buried at Headington Cemetery outside of Oxford. The influence and origins of Rasputin continue to be a mystery, so that when Yusupov died there was interest in his personal papers; however, he apparently burned them.

20th Century (B) – Charles Sydney Gibbes. Son of John Gibbs (sic – he added the "e" later in life), he did the Moral Sciences Tripos at St John's College, Cambridge. He became the tutor to the children of Tsar Nicholas II. He was deeply distressed a perceived betrayal of the Tsar by his British relatives, but the Great War was going so badly that all of the countries were fearful of revolution. One view is that George V's wife Mary was hostile to the Tsar's family because they lorded over her at Osborne on the Isle of Wight when Victoria was still alive. After Nicholas II and his family were assassinated, Gibbes first became a monk and then became an Orthodox priest in Oxford, taking the name Nicholas out of respect for the Tsar and his family.

20th Century (C) – Leonid Pasternak. The father of Boris Pasternak, Leonid lived in Park Town, Oxford. He was an artist and his house is now a museum, full of his paintings.

21st Century – St Nicholas Church.The church that Nina and other Russian Orthodox faithful attend is at the intersection of Marston Road and Ferry Road. It used to be the Anglican church of St Nicholas. They have Sunday services from 10:30 until 1:30 pm or later.

Monday, September 18, 2017

WOMEN AT OXFORD | Rhodes, Trinity, St Benet's

On the Trinity wall: Lady Elizabeth Pope (L)
and Anna Thompson. Photos by JT Marlin.
Oxford University has a brief note on its web site about the history of women at Oxford.

Here are reports on the inclusion of women among Rhodes Scholars and at Trinity College and St Benet's Hall –

Rhodes Scholars.This year is the 40th anniversary of the first women Rhodes Scholars.

Some have already made their mark. One of the 13 women listed attended Trinity College – Bonnie St John.

Clare Booth (top) and Roma
Trinity College. Trinity has replaced for a year all but two of its paintings with photographs of women – the exceptions being the painting of its founder, Sir Thomas Pope, and self-styled foundress, Lady Elizabeth Pope (Sir Thomas's second wife). 

Founded in 1555, Trinity College dates back several centuries more to the beginnings of its predecessor college, Durham, which was on the site for several centuries before Sir Thomas Pope first dissolved it.

Having closed Durham under Henry VIII, Sir Thomas purchased the land. He was a Roman Catholic, and repented of having closed Durham. Under Mary I, of whom he was a mentor, he founded a new college on the emptied Durham property.

Emily Boswell (top) and Kate Mavor.
He called it Trinity College and required its members to pray for his conscience-stricken soul every day, a commitment that the College still adheres to.

Clare Hopkins, the Trinity Archivist, reports that the first women's colleges at Oxford opened in 1879 but women were not allowed to take degrees until the 1920s.

(That is why American suffragist Inez Milholland, when she applied in 1909 to Oxford to study law, was rejected. Instead, she went to New York University, received her degree and became a lawyer.) 

Dame Frances Ashcroft (far left) and Georgia
Queenly, both to the left of Trinity's Founder
 (top) and Foundress.

Hopkins says that the first woman to study at Trinity was Frances Rich of Somerville, in 1885-86, sitting beside the Lecturer's wife. 

Somerville and Lady Margaret Hall were created in 1879. A full century later, in 1979, the first women were admitted, 17 undergraduates and six postgraduates.

The first female Fellow at Trinity was biochemist Sue Kingsman, who was a member of the Governing Body in 1884-97.

The first female President, Hilary Boulding, took up her position during the summer, succeeding Sir Ivor Roberts, who wrote the Foreword to the booklet entitled, with a nod to the past, "Feminae Trinitatis".

The paintings have been replaced by photos of recent alumnae.

The 16 featured women are shown in the 4x4 poster and samples of them on the wall are shown here.

The 16 women are, in alphabetical order: Dame Frances Ashcroft, Siân Berry, Claire Booth, Emily Boswell, Dame Sally Davies, Louise Hardwick, Olivia Hetreed, Zoe King, Kate Mavor, Sarah Oakley, Georgia Quenby, Emily Reynolds, Rosemarie Jordan Shore, Bonnie St John, Roma Tearne, and Anna Thompson.

St Benet's. The City of Oxford reports on its web site's "Fun Facts" that Oxford did not admit women until 1878 and did not award degrees to them until 1920, and did not finish the coeducation program for the 38 Oxford colleges until 1974.

Actually, some Permanent Private Halls, which have religious affiliations but otherwise operate like the colleges, continued to exclude women until 2016.

A year ago, my wife Alice Tepper Marlin and I were privileged to flank the Master of St Benet's, Dr. Werner Jeanrond, at the first Sunday luncheon of the members of the newly coeducational St Benet's Hall, the last of the 44 colleges and halls at Oxford to become coeducational.

St Benet's is one of six remaining Halls at Oxford, although one of them (St Regent's College) is called a college, and two of the colleges (St Edmund Hall and Lady Margaret Hall) are still halls. 

My connection to St Benet's is that for three years I attended Ampleforth College, of which St Benet's is a foundation. Ampleforth became coeducational long before St Benet's.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

TRINITY | Alumni Weekend

JT Marlin (L) and Owen Murphy. Photo by
Alice Tepper Marlin. Chris Oakley, far left.
At the annual Trinity Oxford alum dinner, I was seated next to Dr. Owen Murphy, a fellow economist.

Owen grew up in Monaghan (one of the three counties in Ulster Province that is not part of the UK, the other two being Donegal and Cavan) and worked on economic development issues all his life.

We discovered a number of mutual friends, including the late Neal Kearney, a much-respected labor negotiator and director of a large international labor union in the apparel sector. He was also on the Board of Social Accountability International, founded by Alice Tepper Marlin, who took this photo.

Owen was interested in the fact that my father worked for William J. ("Wild Bill") Donovan (1883-1959), director of the O.S.S. during WW2. My Dad was in Dublin and London. We talked about Irish neutrality and found out that we both had a connection to Dr. T. Ryle Dwyer, a important expert on British-Irish relations during World War II.

Dwyer wrote an eight-column obituary of my father in The Irish Times, in December 1994. I have looked up what Dwyer wrote subsequently, based on his book, Behind the Green Curtain. [Added based on queries in comment: In the following excerpt from a review, he is critiquing a book by John J. Turi accusing Éamon de Valera of being a spy for the British, or something like that. Turn is a retired US naval officer and historian from Princeton, New Jersey. He developed an interest in Irish history through his Irish-born wife.
Here is a link to information about Turi's book:]
I argue that de Valera could not have provided more help to the Allies during World War II. But he was acting as head of government and certainly not as a spy.
He authorised Irish diplomats to be used as American spies on the continent. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the wartime forerunner of the CIA, formulated questions that were given to the Department of External Affairs in Dublin. These were sent to the diplomats in Berlin, Rome and Vichy, and Dublin forwarded the replies to the OSS.
This was handled by Joe Walshe, secretary of the Department of External Affairs, in cooperation with Ervin Marlin of the OSS. De Valera was helping the Allies because he believed that the defeat of fascism was in Ireland’s interest.
If he were a British spy, why would Churchill try to help the United States in ensuring that de Valera was discredited in American eyes in order to undermine his influence in there? During various interviews in recent days Turi seemed to be jumping to conclusions as a result of what he did not find, rather than what he actually found.
For instance, he states that there is no record of de Valera being tried by the British in 1916. Given the chaos in Dublin in the aftermath of the Easter Rebellion, one should not attach that much significance to the fact that such records have not been preserved.
Turi seems to think it was sinister that de Valera survived and, worse still, that at the moment of truth the Long Fellow [nickname for de Valera] had no desire to die for Ireland? He had a pregnant wife and three children, and one should be asking questions about his sanity if he had been anxious to be executed.
There was never any suggestion that de Valera’s trial took more than a matter of minutes in the midst of the confusion of the week after the rebellion, and he was the second last commandant to surrender. The last was Thomas Ashe, arguably the most successful commandant, but the British did not execute him either. The main reason has always been that London asked for the executions to be stopped.
While reading a book on Churchill, Turi initially developed an interest in Michael Collins. "I turned to books about him and became totally smitten with this wonderful person."
The more he read about Collins the more de Valera kept coming up. "Every time he came up it was a disaster for Ireland," Turi told the Irish Post. He therefore decided to write about the Long Fellow [de Valera] "because everything he touched was to the detriment of Ireland."
Was de Valera’s seminal role in enlisting the support of the hierarchy against the conscription campaign in Britain’s interest? The British had to abandon their plans for conscription in Ireland.
De Valera "initiated the civil war," Turi told John Green. Nobody has suggested that de Valera had anything to do with the murder of Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson whose death sparked Lloyd George and Churchill to insist on the attack on the Four Courts. Moreover, it was Collins who ordered the attack on the Four Courts, not de Valera.
If de Valera was a British spy, why did they try to undermine his new government in 1932? He insisted that Ireland did not owe land annuities to Britain. Neville Chamberlain, the British chancellor of the exchequer, warned cabinet colleagues that de Valera had a good case and Britain might lose if they submitted the case to international arbitration.
Cumann na nGaedheal pleaded with the British not to give in to de Valera, or they would be undermined, so the British initiated the Economic War. This was clearly to undermine the man that Turi would have us believe was England’s greatest spy.
I cannot remember ever hearing anything about Michael Collins in primary or secondary school. I became interested in him while at university in Texas in 1966. I wrote a master’s thesis on the Anglo-Irish Treaty and could hardly have been more critical of de Valera. 
IT WAS initially because I was so critical of de Valera that I became interested in the American ambassador’s assessment of him in 1940. David Gray wrote then that de Valera was "probably the most adroit politician in Europe and he honestly believes that all he does is for the good of the country. He has the qualities of martyr, fanatic and Machiavelli. No one can outwit him, frighten or brandish him. Remember that he is not pro-German nor personally anti-British but only pro-de Valera."
While writing a doctoral dissertation on US relations with Ireland during the war, I came across Gray’s manuscript for a book that ran to more than 700 pages in typescript. It was a diatribe against de Valera with little historical merit, other than as an insight into Gray’s own twisted thinking.
Turi has been exhibiting the same approach with his unsupported allegations in his interviews. "I list literally dozens of instances in my book where De Valera’s activities benefited England," Turi told the Irish Post. "Yet I could not find one major decision of his that benefited Ireland."
There have always been people who were unwilling to give de Valera any credit for anything, such as those Irish people who essentially invited the British to wage the Economic War in order to undermine the Long Fellow in the 1930s.
For all his failings, and he had many, he made a major contribution to Irish life in taking the gun out of 26-County politics and asserting the country’s political independence.
Moreover, he did a magnificent job in keeping Ireland out of the Second World War.
This story was in the Irish Examiner Saturday, October 31, 2009 (
While looking around for the sources of the the above quote, I ran across the papers of Colonel Dan Brown, which are in the University College Dublin archives. (The full catalog of Dan Brown's papers is here:
The following numbered items in the collection bear on the activities of the O.S.S. and the issue of Irish neutrality. 

1 October 1983- Office of Strategic Studies Operations,15 December 1984 in Ireland 1939-47 Manuscript research notes, draft entitled ‘Possible Project’ and correspondence to Dan Bryan relating to his interest in Irish-American relations during the period. Includes quotations taken from David Gray Papers by Deirdre McMahon in her letter dated 1 October 1983 and letter from E R “Spike” Marlin to Dan Bryan dated 15 December 1984 which discusses P71/ Colonel Dan Bryan Papers.

November 1970- Letters from Thomas Ryle Dwyer, September 1975 49 St Brendan’s Park, Tralee, County Kerry, to Dan Bryan on the subject of Irish-American intelligence co-operation during the Emergency period. Includes photocopies of letters from J Russell Forgan, Deputy Chief of O.S.S. for Europe to Dwyer dated 6 November 1970 and answers by E R Marlin to questions posed by Dwyer on same. In letter from Forgan to Dwyer he states that most of the spies operating in Ireland were ‘doubled. By that I mean that they worked for us and sent their so-called superiors news which we fed them. In that respect they were very helpful to our cause’.

26 June 1985 Cutting from letters to the editor of The Irish Times titled ‘Colonel Dan Bryan’ by E R Marlin, 8 Castle Hill, Berkhamsted, Herts in which he draws the attention of the editor to errors in Nigel West’s books MI5 and MI6. He also takes the opportunity to ‘express my thanks  and appreciation to Col Dan Bryan for the outstanding service he and his organisation rendered his country and mine during World War II by preventing Ireland from being used as a source of information that might have had disastrous effects on the Allies’ conduct of the war’. See also P71/#175, P71/#182.

19 November 1983- M16: 1909-45. 19 December 1986 Manuscript research notes by Dan Bryan and correspondence with Nigel West concerning a book review by Dan Bryan of ‘MI6: British Secret Intelligence Service Operations 1909-1945’ Nigel West. Weidenfeld and Nicolson [the Irish Times 19 November 1983]. See also P71/#147, P71/#182.

Photocopy of book review from The Irish Times in which Dan Bryan reviews MI6: British Secret Intelligence Service Operations 1909-1945 by Nigel West. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. See also P71/#147, P71/#175.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

UNIV CHALLENGE | Trinity Oxford Wins in 1st Round

Jeremy Paxman, Host of University
In the 2017-18 University Challenge, on Monday, September 3, Trinity College, Oxford defeated University College, London (UCL), which has 11,000 in staff serving 35,000 students, by 20 points in the first round of University Challenge.

The full YouTube show is here.

The Trinity team of four included one woman, Nicole Rosenfeld, a rarity in University Challenge. The team was led by James Gunn. Trinity alumnus Ian Senior adds:
He was as quick as Eric Monkman in the previous series but without Monkman’s gargoyle-like expressions of tortured brilliance. Monkman has already secured for himself a BBC radio show, so a bright future may await James Gunn if his team can keep it up.
The 2016-17 Challenge. In the final of the 2016-2017 University Challenge, Trinity College Cambridge defeated Somerville College, Oxford, correctly answering questions on topics from Jane Austen to tea production in countries of the Middle East and central Asia.

Trinity Cambridge Captain Ralph Morley, a Classicist, led his teammates Matthew Ridley (Economics), Filip Drnovsek Zorko (Natural Sciences) and Richard Freeland (Maths).

The win marks the third time Cambridge has won since the BBC series was revived in 1995 and is the third win for Trinity in the 43-year history of the series. A Cambridge team last claimed the title in 2010 when Emmanuel beat St John’s College, Oxford.
Nearly 130 teams entered the series - which is made by ITV Studios - with Jeremy Paxman (St Catharine's 1969) asking 3,039 questions prior to the final. 

University Rankings. In University rankings in September 2017, Oxford prevailed, ranking for the second year in a row as the best university in the world by Times Higher Education. The long-time competitor, "Fenland Polytechnic" (says Ian Senior), came second. Unlike the annual Boat Race, Oxford and Cambridge are not the only two universities considered for the final selection by the Times in their ranking.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

OXFORD | Historical Calendar

4th Annual NYC Area Oxford-Cambridge
Alumni Boat Race, 2008. Naugatuck Rowing
Club, Westport, Connecticut. Oxford mixed boat.
The following historical calendar of Oxford-college- related events is in formation.

Oxford college connections are noted.

11Tolkien Heirs Sue New Line Cinema for $150 Million. 2008, settled 2009. Tolkien attended Exeter, Oxford. Fellow at Merton, Oxford.

23 – Baedeker Raids Start. 1942. Oxford was spared. Why, do you suppose?

1 – Joseph Heller1923. St Catz, Oxford.

1 – Hong Kong Returned to China. 1997. Chris Patten, Balliol, Oxford.

11 – Laurence Binyon, Poet, born.  1869.  Trinity, Oxford 1888.

3 – Stars and Stripes First Flown in BattleLawrence Washington, Brasenose, Oxford.

9 – Noel Godfrey Chavasse. 1884. Trinity, Oxford. Only person to receive the Victoria Cross with bar in World War I.
24 – St Catherine's Feast Day.  St Catz is named after her and her wheel is in the college arms.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

STARS AND STRIPES | Sept. 3 – First Flown in Battle

This day was the first, in 1777, when the Stars and Stripes flag was flown in battle, at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware. 

Patriot General William Maxwell ordered the Stars and Stripes banner to be held aloft as his infantry and cavalry met British and Hessian troops. 

Alas, the rebels were rebuffed and they had to retreat to Brandywine Creek, Pennsylvania, to rejoin General George Washington’s main army. 

Earlier in 1777, on June 14, the Continental Congress had resolved that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” The national flag, was based on the Grand Union flag, a banner carried by the Continental Army in 1776 that also consisted of 13 red and white stripes but had a Union Jack in the canton. This flag was the same as the East India Company flag. 

Where did the new 1777 canton of stars on a blue background come from? By legend, Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross designed the stars and the original circle of 13 stars on a blue background. However, this legend is disputed on several grounds, one of which that it didn't surface until years later.

The legend may have been created to disguise the changing of the six-pointed stars to the five-pointed stars on General George Washington's coat of arms. While Washington was decidedly aristocratic in his love of his family arms, his allies tried to play this down to establish his democratic credentials. 

Washington's arms were a legacy from an ancestor who fought at the Battle of Crécy and was awarded with a knighthood, through Lawrence Washington, a one-time don at Brasenose College, Oxford, whose job was to ferret out dissidents under Charles I and who lost his comfortable parish living when Cromwell and his regicides toppled the old order. 

Rev. Lawrence Washington's wife sent their two sons to Virginia to make a better life for themselves than their parents could guarantee. 

In 1818, Congress stipulated that the 13 original stripes be restored and that only stars be added to represent new states. On June 14, 1877, the first Flag Day observance was held on the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the flag. In 1949, Congress designated June 14 as Flag Day.