USS Arizona at height of fire following aerial bombing by Japanese Nakajima B5N “Kate” aircraft. The ship sank when its ammunition magazine caught fire, resulting in a cataclysmic explosion that destroyed half the ship and burned for two days. Of the 1,400 men aboard at the time, 223 survived. This photograph is part of a series of photographs from the U.S. Senate investigation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 Dec. 1941, and included among the papers of Ralph Owen Brewster, held by the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives.
Seventy-two years ago today, December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy,” President Roosevelt would say, planes from the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, launching the United States fully into World War II. The George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives holds several Pearl Harbor photographs as well as the papers of U.S. Sen. Ralph Owen Brewster, of the Class of 1909, who sat on the Joint Committee to Investigate the Pearl Harbor Attack.
With thanks to Secretary of Development and College Relations and de facto College historian John Cross ’76, we pass along the names of alumni known to have been stationed at Pearl Harbor 72 years ago:
John E. French ’21, Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy, was killed in action at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, on the U.S.S. Arizona. Of the 1,400 on the Arizona, 1,170 perished in the attack. French was a World War I veteran of the U.S. Navy as well.
Stanley W. Allen ’39, Ensign in the U.S. Navy, was killed in action at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, on the battleship U.S.S. Oklahoma.
Philip M. Johnson ’40, Lieutenant (junior grade) in the U.S. Naval Reserve, was cited for meritorious service at Pearl Harbor on the destroyer U.S.S. Henley. The Henley was one of the first ships to maneuver into position to screen American ships from torpedo and aircraft fire after the initial attack. In October 1943 in New Guinea the Henley was hit by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine, breaking Johnson’s right leg and throwing him into the water. He was rescued after 14 hours in the water. He died December 1, 2006.
BBC Radio 4 recently came to Brunswick to visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe house and interview Tess Chakkalakal, associate professor of Africana Studies and English, about the lasting impacts of Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Chakkalakal’s comments were featured as part of the radio program, “The Legacy of Uncle Tom,” which aired on Nov. 25.
“One thing that Stowe wasn’t, was ambivalent about slavery,” Chakkalakal said. “She knew it was wrong; and really the reason for the novel … was to speak out against the fugitive slave law” — that is, the law that prohibited northerners from harboring escaped slaves. Stowe herself harbored a runaway slave in her Brunswick home.
“When Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852, it immediately caused a stir and created a groundswell of anti-slavery feeling,” reads the BBC’s description. The program “traces the reactions to this work from the Abolition Movement, through the Civil Rights Movement to the Rodney King beating in 1991 and the murder of Trayvon Martin last year.”
More than a century before last week’s historic vote to limit the Senate filibuster, House Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed, a Mainer and a member of the Class of 1860, “broke the filibuster,” recalls the Portland Press Herald, in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1890 and, “in the process, enshrined the absolute ’majority rules’ doctrine that still dominates there today. Read the Press Herald article.
On Nov. 21 the Senate changed its rules to limit the use of filibusters for blocking executive and judicial nominees. “This change has been bandied about for more than 50 years, by both parties,” said Professor of Government Andrew Rudalevige. “When southerners were threatening to filibuster over civil rights in 1957, it was clear that this was a possible parliamentary option – to change the rules by a majority vote.”
For most of the 20th century, filibusters were employed relatively rarely and reserved for particularly important issues. They did not necessarily pose an insurmountable impediment because “you had liberal Republicans, you had conservative Democrats, and it was not that uncommon to build cross-party alliances,” Rudalevige said. “It became sort of just part of the lore of the Senate, that every senator could speak as long as they wanted to,” he said.
But filibuster use began to surge toward the end of the 20th century, reaching record highs during the Obama administration and ultimately triggering the change in Senate rules earlier this week. “If the norm is dead, the Democrats figure, why not dance on its grave,” Rudalevige said.
Professor of Government Janet Martin believes that the Senate’s dysfunction would have been better solved with other actions. “The two leaders have reached a point where they are no longer following the informal roles of getting along, and working out deals, and leading their members to compromise.” Martin argued “that a change of leadership would probably be more desirable than ending a process that’s been there to protect minority interest for a long time.”
With Bitcoins attracting the imagination of venture capitalists and commanding the attention of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in a Congressional hearing this week, curiosity about this new online currency is growing. The Washington Post provides answers to 12 frequently asked questions about Bitcoins.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee ’74 (left) presents the keys to the city to Batkid (Photo by Jeff Chiu/AP)
The first time a mayor of San Francisco handed out the keys to the city, the honor went to a Russian-born American businessman and candy-maker for inventing a machine that mechanically inserted sticks into lollipops. That was in 1916. The most recent recipient is a five-year old kid dressed up as a bat. Mayor Ed Lee (Bowdoin Class of 1974) presided Friday as the City by the Bay came together to make a child’s dream come true.
On Thursday, former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen ’62 became the third Bowdoin alumnus to be honored with a Freedom Award from the U.S. Capitol Historical Society (George J. Mitchell ’54 and Ken Burns H’91 are the others). Cohen, who represented Maine in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate for two-dozen years, used the ceremony as an opportunity to warn members of Congress in attendance that the American people are fed up with “paralysis and dysfunction” in government.
Matthew Potoski presented the lecture “Voluntary Environmentalists” in Lancaster Lounge, Moulton Union, on Nov. 6. A professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California in Santa Barbara, Potoski proposed using a system of voluntary membership in “green clubs” to tackle environmental challenges in the corporate world — an approach inspired by the family dinners of his childhood.
Potoski explained that his parents, as the presiding authorities over a household with multiple unruly children, implemented a system to ensure the entire family would be present at dinner. Those who did not make a timely appearance were relegated to the “get” seat — the chair closest to the water source, which implied the role of server for the rest of table. This self-enforced system of punctuality required little monitoring by his parents.
“I look for ‘get seat’ solutions in much of my research,” said Potoski. “One potential ‘get seat’ solution is voluntary environmental programs: some codified standard of behavior that companies pledge to follow.”