Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Rolling Stones – "Connection" (1967)

My bags, they get a very close inspection
I wonder why it is that they suspect ‘em

Today’s 2 or 3 lines is going to introduce you to two interesting historical figures who no one remembers.  (By “no one,” I mean 99.99% of you.)

The next 2 or 3 lines will explain the relationship between these two figures, and what it is they have in common – despite being born 125 years apart.

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Albert Pike was born in Boston in 1809.  He had the benefit of a classical education, and learned Hebrew, Greek, and Latin – some say he had a photographic memory.

When Pike was 16, he passed the entrance exam for Harvard College, but couldn’t afford the tuition.  So instead of attending Harvard, he taught school in several Massachusetts towns.

In 1831, Pike moved to Independence, Missouri, where he joined an expedition to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  In the middle of the journey, Pike’s horse ran away from him, so he had to walk the remaining 500 miles to Santa Fe.  

After hunting, trapping, and trading in what was then Mexico for a year or so, Pike moved on to Little Rock, where he bought a newspaper with the dowry he received when he married a woman from a wealthy family in 1834.  That same year, he published his first collection of poetry.

While running his newspaper, Pike studied law.  He built a thriving legal practice; his clients included a number of Indian tribes, and he learned several Native American dialects.  

The battle of Buena Vista
Pike helped raise a militia company that later fought in the Mexican War as part of an Arkansas cavalry regiment, which performed badly at the Battle of Buena Vista.  Pike thought the regiment’s poor showing was the fault of its commander, John Selden Roane, and he criticized Roane publicly.  

Roane demanded satisfaction from Pike, and the two men ended up fighting a duel in Indian Territory, just across the Arkansas River from Fort Smith.  (Dueling was illegal in Arkansas.)  The duelists exchanged two shots without doing serious damage, then decided that honor had been served, shook hands, and rode away.  

Pike moved to New Orleans in 1853, where he became involved in efforts to build a transcontinental railroad.  He moved back to Arkansas a few years before that state and its Confederate fellows seceded from the Union.  

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After the outbreak of the Civil War, the Confederate government appointed Pike “Commissioner to all the Indian Tribes West of Arkansas and South of Kansas,” and in that capacity he negotiated nine treaties with the various tribes who lived in Indian Territory.  

Pike in his Confederate general's uniform
Pike was then given a commission as a brigadier general, and assigned to train several regiments of Indian cavalry.  He protested when the commander of Confederate forces west of the Mississippi ordered him to join a Confederate army camped near Pea Ridge, Arkansas, because Pike’s understanding of his orders was that his troops were to be used only to protect the Indian Territory. 

His men did not distinguish themselves in the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862.  In fact, they were accused of killing and scalping several wounded Union troops.  

Pike was horrified by the reports of scalpings, and tried to identify and punish the guilty party.  (His investigation into the matter had concluded that only one scalping had taken place.)  But Northern newspapers took the story and ran with it, alleging that as many as 100 scalps had been taken and that Pike was a war criminal.  

Pike didn’t get much love from his fellow Confederates either.  He challenged the authority of his commanding officer, was reprimanded by Confederate government for insubordination, and resigned his generalship a few months after the clash at Pea Ridge.

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After the Civil War, Pike moved to New York City, then to Canada.  After being granted amnesty by President Andrew Johnson, he moved to Memphis before finally settling down in Washington, DC, in 1870, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Pike in full Masonic regalia
During his time in Washington, Pike devoted his time and efforts to Freemasonry.  He had become a Mason in 1850, and in 1859 was elected Sovereign Grand Commander of all the Scottish Rite Masonic lodges in the Southern Jurisdiction (which included all the states south of the Ohio and west of the Mississippi) – a position that he held until he died in 1891.   

Pike wrote extensively on Freemasonry.  His most famous book is Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, an 861-page text first published in 1872, which was provided to all new members of Southern Jurisdiction lodges until 1969.

A modern edition of Pike's magnum opus
After Pike’s death, the Masons petitioned Congress to authorize the placement of a statue honoring Pike on federal land.  In 1901, a large and distinguished body of Masons assembled in Washington for the unveiling of that statue, which still stands today.

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James Bevel, who was born in 1936, was a top aide to Martin Luther King, Jr., who has been called the “Father of Voting Rights”    

The Birmingham, Alabama “Children’s Crusade” was Bevel’s idea.  He was also the brains behind the “Selma Voting Rights Movement,” which resulted in the famous “Bloody Sunday” march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery in 1965.  

James Bevel with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Bevel was also influential in persuading King and other civil rights leaders to join the anti-Vietnam War movement and participate in the 1967 “March on the Pentagon.”

But Bevel jumped the shark in the 1980s, when he became a follower of perennial Presidential candidate and all-around wackadoodle Lyndon LaRouche.  

Bevel was LaRouche’s running mate when LaRouche ran for President in 1992.  LaRouche’s chances of winning that election were somewhere between slim and none – for one thing, he was in jail for mail fraud and tax evasion during the campaign.

According to Louis Farrakhan, Bevel came up with the idea for the 1995 “Million Man March” in Washington, DC, which was sponsored by Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam.

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Bevel’s life took a serious turn for the worse in 2007, when he was indicted for committing incest with one of his young daughters.  (Three other daughters also alleged that Bevel had sexually abused them.)  

His trial was about as sordid as a trial can be.  The key piece of evidence leading to his conviction was a telephone call recorded by police without Bevel's knowledge.  During that call, Bevel's daughter asked him why  he wanted her to use a vaginal douche after having sex with her.  Bevel said that he didn’t want to get her pregnant.

Bevel in jail
Bevel was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but was released only a few weeks after being incarcerated when it was discovered he was dying of pancreatic cancer.

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What’s the connection between Albert Pike and James Bevel?  

I’ll answer that question in the next 2 or 3 lines.

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I bought Between the Buttons – the Stones album that includes today’s featured song, “Connection” – FIFTY YEARS AGO, when I was a 9th-grade student.

(Sometimes I wish that someone would just put me out of my misery.)

Here’s “Connection”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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