CONTEXT

June 10, 2011

Conspiracy theories

Filed under: Uncategorized — jchatoff @ 12:18 am
Tags: , , ,

Zachary Taylor

No matter how much evidence is presented, no matter how overwhelming the weight of that evidence, there are always people who just can’t believe it.

That’s why there remains still a small coterie of conspiracy theorists who simply can’t accept the fact that Zachary Taylor died from eating cherries and cold milk on a hot day.  Or from a form of cholera that escaped Washington’s open sewers.   Or – as Samuel Eliot Morison suggests – from the combination of ipecac, calomel, opium and god knows what else his doctors gave him when he got sick.

The conspiracy theorists are convinced he was poisoned by his enemies, of which there were many, since both sides saw him as too moderate on the issue of slavery.  It was 1850 and the battle over slavery had been raging for many years.

Anyway, so tenacious are they that they got Taylor dug up in 1991 and his bones analyzed for traces of arsenic at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  Results indicated that levels of arsenic present were too low to be consistent with poisoning.  Doubtless, believers are not convinced.

Really cool map by Golbez - click to see 80 years of history in 56 seconds!

Taylor’s demise while in office led to the presidency of Millard Fillmore, another moderate on the slavery issue, but a politician better at pleasing all the people all of the time than Taylor.  Fillmore helped usher in the Compromise of 1850, which gave a little to the antis and a little to the pros  – it divvied up the land acquired via the Mexican War into slave and free states.

Fillmore had one appointment to the Supreme Court during his short tenure and he appointed Benjamin Curtis to the seat.  Curtis, btw, was confirmed ten days after being named and started work the next day.  He was the first Justice to have graduated from a law school with a degree.

Curtis’s real claim to fame is that he was one of only two dissents in the Dred Scott case. Shortly after the ruling, he resigned – one likes to think it was a matter of principle, but in fact he was known to be very dissatisfied with the low pay.

* * *

Incredibly, today is the birthday of both Eliot Spitzer and John Edwards.  Refrain from comment please.  So let us celebrate Nat Hentoff, Gina Gershon, Elizabeth Shue and the incomparable Maurice Sendak, who turns 82 today.

N.B. Back Tuesday to celebrate an anniversary.

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2 Comments »

  1. Politics! Ugh!

    Comment by GALYA TARMU — June 10, 2011 @ 11:06 am | Reply

  2. very sneaky stuff!

    Comment by nina c — June 10, 2011 @ 6:27 pm | Reply


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