Sunday, January 12, 2014

Unsanctioned Voice; U.S. Steel; Cinder Buggy; Where the Money Grows; Bernard Baruch; Federal Reserve gold notes; Henry Ford; World War I; Japan predictions

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note , Chapters 1 and 2 and Chapter 3 of Bruce Ramsey's Unsanctioned Voice.

Chapter 4 continues the narrative of Garrett's early career, including his move to Washington and then to New York in 1900, where he worked for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers.

On page 21, (footnote 2) Ramsey cites to the unpublished manuscript of Garet Garrett's Journal by Richard Cornuelle. This Journal is another piece that I hope will one day be published. My only knowledge of it comes from the citations in Unsanctioned Voice. [Cornuelle is the only person that Ramsey found (50 years after Garrett's death) that knew Garrett well.] (p. x).

Ramsey speculates (p. 21) that the discussion in Chapter XLI of Cinder Buggy reflects Garrett's presence during the initial public discussions of the creation of U.S. Steel Corporation shortly after the turn of the century. Garrett wrote of these events prior to Cinder Buggy in two published articles. p. 26, n. 5. (I had been vague earlier in this blog about the facts of Chapter XLI so as to avoid plot spoilers.)

Ramsey refers (p. 22) to articles Garrett wrote in this era, including "fly on the wall" pieces. One such article related a fictional conversation between a banker and his speechwriter. It is my hope that these articles are eventually republished in book form, as I would enjoy overhearing any conversation where one talks candidly to his speechwriter - especially given the conduct of modern politicians.

Ramsey provides the background for the articles that comprised Garrett's Where the Money Grows (pp. 23-24).

Chapter 4 concludes with a discussion of Garrett's friendship and association with Bernard Baruch. Ramsey provides detail and sources more numerous than what I cited last month in this and other posts.

Chapter 5 contains many references to Garrett's columns and articles in the years 1909 - 1913. Ramsey makes the following comment about a Garrett piece on the income tax (which had been passed in 1913):

Years later his verdict on the income tax was that it had allowed government to grow into a giant. In 1913 his concern was narrower.
p. 31
This statement reflects Garrett's increased focus in the wake of the New Deal. I wrote about this greater focus in relation to Cinder Buggy:
The story will seem less focused than we might expect, as the New Deal was still a decade away at the time Garrett wrote Cinder Buggy. The New Deal drew the battle lines that define the eight decades (and beyond) that have since elapsed. From 1933 onward, economics and politics have been little more than a battle between those who favor greater government control over the economy and those who oppose such control. The battle takes many forms and is fought in many arenas, but the goals of the opposing sides remain the same (even though the opponents of gevernment control have substantially watered down their message as the decades have dragged on). A decade before the New Deal brought this battle to Washington D.C. (and beyond) in a permanent way, writers like Garrett wrote more generally and without the urgency and focus that we would expect of one who was trying to stop a government takeover.
I also wrote about the same thing with regard to Blue Wound (this post also quotes Jeffrey Tucker sounding a similar theme).

1913 was also the year of the passage of the Federal Reserve Act. Ramsey reports (p. 31) that Garrett's concerns were pacified when the final bill provided that Federal Reserve Notes would be backed 40% by gold and would be redeemable.

Chapter 6 begins (p. 35) with a discussion of a 1914 Garrett article about Henry Ford. The article was based on an interview, part of which was ultimately included in Garrett's 1952 biography of Henry Ford - The Wild Wheel.

Page 37 summarizes another 1914 article in which Ramsey writes, "Garrett explained that money is not wealth, but a claim on wealth, and that you do not add to wealth by creating more claims to it."

Upon the outbreak of war later that year, Garrett wrote, "War is a sudden and imperious customer in the world's markets, and will not wait its turn." Garrett went on to make accurate predictions about the economic effects of the war. [p. 37].

Garrett would make additional war predictions. In a 1915 article for Everybody's he wrote following:
. . . if the Unied States should seem to Japan to be thwarting her economic and political ambitions in Asia she would quickly fight us, not in sorrow for having to do it, but joyful of the opportunity. Then she would seize the Phillipines and then might California be afraid.
(as quoted by Ramsey on p. 39.)
Garrett made additional predictions regarding Japan in 1921 in Blue Wound.

Pages 39-40 contain quotes of Garrett's inconclusive thoughts on war and Christianity. I mention it here because Garrett seldom discussed religion.

Click here for a discussion of Chapters 7-10.

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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Unsanctioned Voice; The Driver; Coxey's Army; run on gold; Pullman Strike

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note and Chapters 1 and 2 of Unsanctioned Voice.

Ramsey spent most of Chapter 3 discussing two passages from the The Driver that he believes reflect actual experiences that Garret witnessed in person.

While The Driver was a fictional story, Coxey's Army was an actual group and an actual event. I spent little time discussing it in my blog of The Driver because it had so little impact on the plot. I wrote briefly of the political attitudes expressed during the march and how those attitudes fit the political discussion early in People's Pottage.

Ramsey (pp. 13-16) believes that Garrett was present at the start of the Coxey march in 1894 (he would have been 16). That the description is so detailed with so little relation to the rest of the story serves as evidence that Garrett was relating his own experience. Ramsey fit this scenario very broadly into the basic outline of Garrett's movements during that general period.

Chapter 3 also quotes at length (pp.17-19) from The Driver's description of a gold run on the U.S. Treasury during this same period. I quoted this passage here. Ramsey believes that Garrett witnessed this event in person because the description is similarly vivid and because he wrote about it previously in his columns in the New York Times and the Saturday Evening Post. See p. 19, n. 6.

Ramsey also discusses Garrett's presence at the violent Pullman strike of 1894. pp. 16-17.

Click here for a discussion of Chapters 4-6.

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Monday, January 06, 2014

Unsanctioned Voice; Garet Garrett, H.L. Mencken, Gay Talese, Sinclair Lewis, John Birch Society

Click here for the previous post about Unsanctioned Voice.

Chapter I tells the story of how Bruce Ramsey discovered Garet Garrett at age 16 - by finding a copy of People's Pottage (included in a 12 book set (by various authors) known as "One Dozen Candles") in a John Birch Society bookstore. He read the words that began the first essay of People's Pottage and was hooked. There are many such stories about People's Pottage from those who made similar discoveries.

One Dozen Candles

Ramsey's footnote lists the other 11 "candles." He notes the irony of the John Birch Society selling a book written by a man who had been a member of the mainstream press.

Chapter 1 also contains quotes about Garrett from the writings of Gay Talese and H.L. Mencken.

Sinclair Lewis depicted a fascist America in his 1935 book, It Can't Happen Here. According to Ramsey (p. 4) Lewis "named Garrett as one of the handful of writers that such a regime would surely throw in prison."

Chapter 1 briefly gives Garrett's views on the Federal Reserve, the Austrian school of economics and public education. Footnote 6 (p. 5) refers to an essay about the state of public education entitled, "Our Leaning Schoolhouse" that was "held by Caxton but never published." I definitely would like to read this essay and hope that Caxton decides to publish. Perhaps Ramsey has read a copy. This summary of Garrett's views is too vague to be useful here.

Chapter 2 is a narrative containing bits and pieces of Garrett's youth and young adulthood.

Click here for a discussion of Chapter 3.

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Saturday, January 04, 2014

Garet Garrett; Unsanctioned Voice; Bruce Ramsey

I have just started reading Unsanctioned Voice, Bruce Ramsey's 2008 biography of Garet Garrett.

Bruce Ramsey is America's leading expert on Garet Garrett, having edited three collections of Garrett's writings: Salvos Against the New Deal, Defend America First and Insatiable Government. Ramsey's foreward to Salvo's first alerted me to the existence of the Garrett novels. Ramsey helped me to locate these novels in the back editions of The Saturday Evening Post. When Satan's Bushel could not be found there, Ramsey remembered that Satan's Bushel had, instead, appeared in Country Gentleman, an epiphany that led not only to my discovery of Satan's Bushel, but to the Pennsylvania State Library's rediscovery of its lost microfilm copies of Country Gentleman. (That story is recounted here.)

I do not expect to "live blog" this book as I have done for the novels. The novels were out-of-print relics at the time I started this blog - with limited availability for most readers. Unsanctioned Voice (like the novels at this time) is available to all. But I will make note of significant facts that pop up as I read it. I will try to do this especially where those facts have a direct bearing on something I have already written at this blog.

The "Writer's Note" at the beginning provides great insight into the process that is required to research a biography. Ramsey based his book on Garrett's published works, including newspaper articles and unsigned editorials, interviews with those who knew him and his family, a partial diary, personal correspondence, items from the biographies of his contemporaries and information from the curators of the estates of those contemporaries as well as clues that he hunted with diligent detective work (a passport photo, a royalty payment, similar phrases in his signed and unsigned writing, etc.). Even with all of this work and research, Ramsey feels that there is not enough information for a complete biography.

One item that is intriguing is the list of memoirs and biographies that mention Garrett. (p. xii). These books include the biography of Bernard Baruch that I quoted here and here. I look forward to Ramsey's elaboration of these relationships.

The "Writer's Note" also makes reference (p. ix) to Profit's Prophet, a 1989 book that analyzes Garrett's writings.

Click here for a discussion of Chapters 1 and 2.

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