Theodore Roosevelt quote: “My father…

Theodore Roosevelt portrait

“My father, Theodore Roosevelt, was the best man I ever knew. He combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness, and great unselfishness. He would not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness, cowardice, or untruthfulness. As we grew older he made us understand that the same standard of clean living was demanded for the boys as for the girls; that what was wrong in a woman could not be right in a man. With great love and patience, and the most understanding sympathy and consideration, he combined insistence on discipline. He never physically punished me but once, but he was the only man of whom I was ever really afraid. I do not mean that it was a wrong fear, for he was entirely just, and we children adored him. We used to wait in the library in the evening until we could hear his key rattling in the latch of the front hall, and then rush out to greet him; and we would troop into his room while he was dressing, to stay there as long as we were permitted, eagerly examining anything which came out of his pockets which could be regarded as an attractive novelty. Every child has fixed in his memory various details which strike it as of grave importance. The trinkets he used to keep in a little box on his dressing-table we children always used to speak of as ‘treasures.’ The word, and some of the trinkets themselves, passed on to the next generation. My own children, when small, used to troop into my room while I was dressing, and the gradually accumulating trinkets in the ‘ditty-box’—the gift of an enlisted man in the navy—always excited rapturous joy. On occasions of solemn festivity each child would receive a trinket for his or her ‘very own.’ My children, by the way, enjoyed one pleasure I do not remember enjoying myself. When I came back from riding, the child who brought the bootjack would itself promptly get into the boots, and clump up and down the room with a delightful feeling of kinship with Jack of the seven-league strides.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

“Theodore Roosevelt quote: ‘My father…” sources: Portrait of Theodore Roosevelt taken in 1918, Wikimedia Commons / Roosevelt, Theodore. Theodore Roosevelt; an autobiography. New York, The Macmillan Company, 1913

Chemist Alice Augusta Ball

Portrait of Alice Augusta Ball

Alice Augusta Ball was a chemist who developed a treatment for leprosy after becoming the first woman and African-American to graduate with a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii. Her solution would last as the most effective treatment for more than a quarter-century.

Alice died young, at only 24, in 1916. But she left a lasting legacy.

“Chemist Alice Augusta Ball” sources: Alice Augusta Ball Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons

Helen Keller on learning meaning of think and love

Helen Keller portrait

“Miss Sullivan touched my forehead and spelled with decided emphasis, ‘Think.’

In a flash I knew that the word was the name of the process that was going on in my head. This was my first conscious perception of an abstract idea.

For a long time I was still … trying to find a meaning for ‘love’ in the light of this new idea. The sun had been under a cloud all day, and there had been brief showers; but suddenly the sun broke forth in all its southern splendour.

Again I asked my teacher, ‘Is this not love?’

‘Love is something like the clouds that were in the sky before the sun came out,’ she replied.

Then in simpler words than these, which at that time I could not have understood, she explained:

‘You cannot touch the clouds, you know; but you feel the rain and know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You cannot touch love either; but you feel the sweetness that it pours into everything. Without love you would not be happy or want to play.’

The beautiful truth burst upon my mind — I felt that there were invisible lines stretched between my spirit and the spirits of others.”

– Helen Keller

“Helen Keller on learning the words think and love” sources: Photograph of Helen Keller taken circa 1907 – Helen Keller. Jan. 15. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2004673084/>. / Keller, Helen. The Story of My Life. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1954. Print. / Helen Keller Wikiquote

“A Kind of Love”: a historical fiction short story

“Love is easy, it just happens. Relationships require much work,” mama told me as we walked along the lake near her home.

Mama had done what few women could do in her day; she got divorced. It was a local scandal and an embarrassment to both families. Even her parents struggled to understand. Pop, though, was gracious. A kind, easy-going man, his primary care through the ordeal focused on making sure I would be fine, and as would mama.

“Did you not love pop?” I asked her.

“Oh no, I loved him dearly. I love him dearly still, even now almost twenty years later, the feelings never faded.”

“Then, what happened?”

“It’s a long story, but one day I felt uneasy on a walk to visit your grandparents. I felt dizzy and unstable; my heart started racing. I sat down, the feelings eased. Then when I got back up, the they came back. I thought that was it, my end had come. I laid down on a bench, afraid to stand. Then I felt a soft touch on my shoulder. It was your grandpop. He helped me up, and we walked home together.

These attacks continued for a few years, progressively becoming more frequent. They crushed me. I couldn’t be your mother, couldn’t be a good wife. I just couldn’t do the work. One day I decided they were too much; the time had come to leave. Your dear father was so kind when I told him. Told me that I had his support.

I packed my bags and went to Europe. Spent a year living in a sanitarium in the Swiss countryside and then moved into a small apartment in Paris. By then, the attacks were less a part of my life, but going back to the states felt too frightening. Throughout the years, your father sent me photographs, wrote me about you. Often I cried thinking about having left.”

“Pop always spoke well of you. I never understood why he wasn’t angry.”

“Your father didn’t judge me. He could see and feel my pain, and he understood how life’s winds blew our marriage. He was strong enough to withstand social pressures too. Never said a word about all the talk in our stifling community, and there was much of it.”

“Why did you divorce him?”

“I knew he wouldn’t divorce me, and I wanted him to find someone new. He deserved love, and you a mother.”

Notes:

  1. “A Kind of Love” is a work of historical fiction. The story, characters, and incidents are fictitious.
  2. Note: If you enjoyed “A Kind of Love”, please consider supporting Historical Snapshots with a contribution. To contribute, please visit our Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/historicalsnapshots. Your support is much appreciated.

Portrait of a woman, Egypt, circa 1900.

Portrait of a woman, Egypt, circa 1900.

Portrait of a woman, Egypt, circa 1900.

“Portrait of a woman, Egypt, circa 1900.” source: The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Portrait of a young woman in elaborate robes and jewelry” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1880 – 1929. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-6140-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote on laws

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. portrait

“One may well ask: ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a more responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of G-d. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put in in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas: an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an ‘I-it’ relationship for an ‘I-thou’ relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically, and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expressions of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote on laws” sources: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Letter from Birmingham Jail, August 1963 / Trikosko, Marion S, photographer. Martin Luther King press conference / MST. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2003688129/>.

Paul Grüninger Helps Save Jewish Refugees

Paul Grüninger portrait

Paul Grüninger was a Swiss police commander who saved about 3,600 Jewish refugees during WWII by backdating their visas and falsifying other documents to indicate they had entered Switzerland when legal entry of refugees was still possible.

For his actions, he was dismissed from the police force, convicted of official misconduct and fined.

When reflecting back later in life, he said “It was basically a question of saving human lives threatened with death. How could I then seriously consider bureaucratic schemes and calculations.”

“Paul Grüninger Helps Save Jewish Refugees” sources: Portrait of Paul taken sometime in the 1930s, likely 1939 – Wikimedia Commons

Sojourner Truth quote: “Ain’t I a Woman?”

Portrait of Sojourner Truth

“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man — when I could get it — and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”

– Sojourner Truth

“Sojourner Truth quote: ‘Ain’t I a Woman?'” sources: Ain’t I a Woman Speech by Sojourner Truth at the Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio in 1851 / Sojourner Truth Wikiquote / Portrait taken in 1864 – National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, https://npg.si.edu/object/npg_NPG.78.207.