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February 07, 1957 - Image 20

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Michigan Daily, 1957-02-07
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T4I iiuieuy l kiLJi.II yI I .g..


Pae Eiht


Thursday, February 7, 1957

k nursacy rearuary i 7]

, _ 1W


Englan d






It Can Even Cast Its Spell on Activities of the Lan

"New England Saints," by Aus-
tin Warren; Ann Arbor, Uni-
versity of Michigan Press; 192
op.; $3.75.
O strains compose the New
England character, according
to Professor Austin Warren, the
Yankee trader and the Yankee
saint. This book is about his can-
didates for sainthood who often
have been "a complex of scholar,
priest and poet." He says the
saints he writes about illustrate
the spiritual life of New England
through four centuries, for he he-
'ieves "New England character
Ind mind have remained conspic-
uously constant from the seven-
teenth century to the present."
The first quarrel comes with the
rather slick definition of New
..ngland character, or at least

with the use of the definite article,
for a quality scarcely so definite.
The differences separating Jona-
than Edwards, say, from John
Brooks Wheelwright are more in-
teresting than the similarities, un-
less both are seen through the
rather specialized consciousness of
Professor Warren.
Nothing is true but believing
makes it truer: Professor War-
ren's New Englanders are saints
because he believes them so. His
saint-making is but a slightly re-
fined variation of the idolatry
that would make a hero cult sur-
vive the dead actor James Dean.
Professor Warren's saints in-
clude Anne Bradstreet, Michael
Wigglesworth, Edward Taylor,
Jonathan Edwards, Convers Fran-
cis, Bronson Alcott, R. W. Emer-
son, Fenelon, Henry James, Sr.,

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Charles Eliot Norton, Irving Bab-
bitt and a few others distinguished
by their deserved obscurity. Pro-
fessor Warren dealt with some of
the outstanding omissions in an
earlier book, Rage For Order,
which is to say his own spiritual
progress is clearly visible if his
bibliography is considered chron-
ologically: from "Pope As Critic
and Humanist" (-1929) to an essay
"Fenelon Among the Anglo-Sax-
ons" (1956.) All Professor War-
ren's writings seem to constitute
a literary critic's solitary walk
through literature in the convic-
tion that sainthood is at the end
of it all.
IF the cited names are the Yan-
kee saints, think on the traders.
The saint-complex must be much
less complicated than the trader-
complex. By omission from Pro-
fessor Warren's hagiography, Sar-
ah Orne Jewett, Henry David
Thoreau, Robert Frost, Herman
Melville, the Adamses, William
Bradford and Orestes A. Brown-
son, some who were concerned
with the human and the divine
situation, all must be traders. If
traders they are, almost anyone
except Professor Warren would
choose first-rate Mammonites to'
third- or fourth-rate divines, how-
ever superficially pious and well-
One quality that most of Pro-
fessor Warren's saints possess is
this, that they were typical of
nothing except themselves, mean-
nig their own peculiar, sometimes
perverse, natures. This may be,
New England; it is not necessari-
ly saintly.
No one, hagiographer or other,
can make a major figure of Hen-
ry James, Sr. His claim to fame,
his Swedenborgian meanderings
notwithstanding, is the produce of
his loins - Alice, William and
Henry, Jr. James, Sr. will be al-
ways more interesting for his

(Continued from Page,15)
government was going to tolerate
a apparently independent sover-
eignty within its own boundaries.
Prompted by uneasiness and the
coming presidential election, Presi-
dent Fillmore placed the Michigan
at the disposal of the United
States District Attorney-in Detroit
for purposes of re-establishing the
sovereignty of the government
over the Islands. Meekly surren-
dering to the Detroit District At-
torney, the leaders of the Mormon
community, including St. "James'
himself, were brought to Detroit
for trial, where, upon their arrival,
the District Attorney proclaimed
he had "just returned from the
Kingdom of God with the Prophet
of the Lord and the Saints in lim-
Despite the DA's courageous and
triumphant announcement, all the
trial proved was that the accused
were Mormons; they were return-
ed to their Island"Kingdom.
E'L TRNAL hostility was tempo-
"rarily allayed, but the auto-
cratic Prophet was having his own
internal struggles. One of the'few
capable members of the Kingdom
eventually decided -that 'the 'only
way to get rid of Strang and his
fantastic plays upon the credulity
of the "saints" was to assassinate
him. Having made this decision,
the plotter schemed to have the
Michigan dock at St. James on
June 16, 1856, in front of his
store. There two other members
of the Kingdom lay in wait as an
officer of the ship was dispatched
to summon Strang on board. As he
approached the pier, Strang was
shot in the head from behind, the
assassinators racing up to the ship
to plead for protection which they
readily received. Even the sheriff
of the country, of which St. James
was the seat, was refused custody
of the murderers, who left the
ship at Mackinac where they were
lionized by the residents for hav-
ing destroyed the Kingdom of the
Though such names remain as
St. James, Font Lake, Gennesaret,
Galilee, and the King's Highway,
no Mormons have lived on Beaver
Island since the summer of 1856.
OUTSIDE of the part she played
in the St. James episode, the
Michigan's activities were confined
from the time of her launching
until the Civil War to recruiting
Navy personnel and relieving other
Great Lakes vessels in distress.
With the outbreak of war be-
tween the states, the unguarded

lake frontiers, together with
Canada's lukewarm enforcement
of the neutrality laws, became ripe
for Confederate plots, and the
Michigan was ordered to patrol
lake borders and scare off Con-
federate raids, thwarting trans-
portation of arms from-Canada to
rebel installations. The Iron Ship
was the only armed vessel the

original launching site at Erie,
Pennsylvania. The Navy little ex-
pected her guns would be so still
when it built her in 1844 to answer
Great. Britain's increased arma-
ment on the Great Lakes.
Renamed the Wolverine in 1905
when a new Michigan was christ-
ened, the Iron Ship was used as a
training ship for the Naval Re-

HISTORY records little of note
on the success, of her immedi-
ate successor for whom she was
obligated to change her name. And
for a time it looked as though the
State of Michigan's intimate as-
sociation with the United States
Navy would die with the ship's
slow death at Erie.
But the traditions of service by
the old Michigan received a short
rebirth in the form of a lake
excursion steamer.
The new Wolverine, like her
dying ancestor, contributed signi-
ficantlytora new segment of the
Navy's development: naval avia-
tion. As the original namesake of
the State was a pioneer develop-
ment of iron-hulled ships, the
new Wolverine provided valuable
training for participants in the
first large-scale use of Navy air-
1 HE old Michigan remedied
many of the problems created
by wood-hulled ships and the dif-
ficulties involved in navigation of
iron-hulled ones, just as the Wol-
verine remedied many of the war-
'time problems involved in training
naval pilots.
Prevalence of many enemy sub-
marines and torpedoes in the sea
would have necessitated destroyer
protection for training activities.
The necessity for radio silence to
prevent detection would have also
made night operations impossible.
The solution was found in the
conversion of the excursion steam-
er into an aircraft carrier. Based

' A

... carried on the long standing tradition

.. 'a complex of scholar, priest and poet'

crotchets than for his literary
contributions, for .his children
rather than for his books.
JOHN Brooks Wheelwright be-
came a pathetic kind of Tol-
stoyean figure without Tolstoy's
grandeur and nobility. Wheel-
wright, dressed in top hat and
evening dress, would stand in Bos-
ton Common exhorting the hu-
man derelicts to do away with

people like himself - when suf-
ficient spirits had moved him to
dialectical eloquence. Wheelwright
was doing the intellectually fash-
ionable thing for the 1920's and
'30's - preaching an uninformed
Wheelwright's attempts, after
two years and the threat of a
third, ring about as true as Marie
Antoinette's attempts to be a
shepherdess or milkmaid. How-
ever noble Wheelwright's ideas,
he was blessed with an enormous
lack of self-knowledge and politi-
cal awareness. Saints begin their
understanding of man and of
God by knowing themselves and
introspective writing is not iden-
tical with self-knowledge, nor
even with sincerity.
The writing is marred by fool-
ish punctuation, paragraphing
reminiscent of a French novel.
and ill-constructed sentences.
(The book itself was given a hand.
some production by the University
of Michigan Press.) In the essay
on Charles Eliot Norton is this
"Sometimes, to be sure, he
feared that emancipation from
belief in the supernatural might
come so rapidly as to leave the
masses unprovided with other
Inducements to right living: he
was unoffendedly comprehen-
sive of the alarm entertained at
his skepticism, when his ap-
pointment to the faculty was
under consideration, by some.
trustees of Harvard College; but
habitually he trusted that,
through moral education in
home and school, and througn
the appeal to men's best selves,
there should emerge a human-
istic civilization built upon self-
knowledge, self-control, grate-
ful and intelligent recollection
of the past, concern for the
state, responsibility to the
neighbor, loyalty to loyalty."
There are sentences equally som-
nolent in their effect, whatever
the author's intention may have
HE point of the whole book is
this, it represents a phase in
the spiritual development of Pro-
lessor Warren more than it ex-
posits or analyzes anything. ere
is another stage through which he
has passed on the road to Wher-.
ever he is going, and the people
he writes about are his personal
images of affirmation, human

Navy had to check these plots.
Among the many duties the
Michigan was required to perform
was the guarding of Johnson's Is-
land in the mouth of Lake Erie's
Sandusky Bay. Here 2,700 Con-
federate prisoners of war were
confined. And here was the pivotal
point fora southern plot, hatched
in September, 1864, which would
have included the capture of the
Michigan, release of the prisoners,
eventual burning of Sandusky and
Cleveland and liberation of thou-
sands of prisoners in Columbus:
all designed as a link in furthering
Confederate plots.
Realizing the capture of the
Michigan (then carrying a battery
of 15 guns) was a necessity, the
plotters boarded and took control
of a small passenger steamer, the
Philo Parsons, while she was plow-
ing through the waters between
Detroit and Sandusky. Had the
steamer ever reached sight of the
Michiggn, she probably would
have been blown out of the water,
since the Michigan's officers had
been notified of the raid.
BUT as the Confederates became
aware of the difficulty in at-
tacking the iron ship with hat-
chets and pistols, they mutinied
against their leaders and the plot
exploded with no assistance' from
the Michigan's guns.
Nor did the ships guns fire once
during the rest of her career,
again occupied with general
peaceful activities, which came
to a climax when she was placed
out of commission in 1912 near her


serve until 1923, when she was
permanently anchored at Erie.
She was loaned as a relic to the
City of Erie in 1927 and soon be-
came a ,hunting ground for van-
dals and sightseers. A 1948-49
campaign to raise $300,000 for her
restoration failed despite pleas
from the late Governor Sigler and
former Senator Ferguson, a cam-
paign . receiving commendation
from President Truman; the Wol-
verine was towed to the scrap pile
in June, 1949.



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