RealClearHistory Articles

Ballplayer Was Part of 2-9 Putout and Locked Up Lasorda

Jon Caroulis - November 20, 2020

The only outfielder who ever collaborated on a 2-9 putout at first base is probably the only player who ever locked his manger in a hotel room by tying the doorknob to a palm tree. But that's what Jay Johstone did in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. And to Tommy Lasorda. In the opening game of an important series against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, Johnstone was playing right field for the Phillies on July 20, 1975. But he didn't stay there. With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, leadoff hitter Frank Taveras singled, and everyone in the park expected the next batter,...

Solzhenitsyn’s Russian Revolution

Francis P. Sempa - November 18, 2020

War breeds revolution. The Russian Revolution of February-March 1917 resulted in large part from Russia’s bitter experience in the First World War. Revolution had earlier broken out in Russia in 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War. Both wars exposed Russia’s economic and political fragility, which coincided with the rise of domestic revolutionary movements. Western democratic governments initially welcomed the end of the Romanov dynasty in Russia. The First World War, President Woodrow Wilson declared, was being fought to make the world safe for democracies. When Tsar Nicholas II...

Echoes of 1876

Francis P. Sempa - November 11, 2020

At the end of election day, Nov. 7, 1876, Democratic presidential candidate Samuel Tilden, the Governor of New York, had accumulated 184 electoral votes — one short of a majority — while Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes, Governor of Ohio, had 165 electoral votes. The votes in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina — with a combined 20 electoral votes — were too close to call. Tilden led the popular vote 51.5% to Hayes’ 48%. The country was bitterly divided — the Civil War had ended only 11 years before. The turnout rate was unprecedentedly high,...

A Dad Shares His WW II Experience -- From Onions to USS Wasp

Steve Feinstein - November 9, 2020

I’m in my late 60s, the son of a World War II veteran. Virtually all of those wonderful veterans are gone now and my generation is the last generation with a direct connection to the people who actually served in that war. My dad, PFC Abraham Feinstein, was in the 338th Field Artillery Battalion, in the 5th Army, in Italy. I find that there is a huge difference in general world outlook and life experience between people who have a direct relationship to World War II vets and those who don’t. That seems true even if their parents were alive during the war but were too young to...


Lord Rosebery: Britain's Forgotten Prime Minister

John Rossi - November 3, 2020

The distinguished English historian Lord Blake wrote a biography of the early 20th-century statesman, Andrew Bonar Law, which he entitled: The Unknown Prime Minister. Perhaps a better candidate for that designation would be Lord Rosebery who served in that position for a little over a year in the 1890s. Archibald Philip Primrose, Fifth Earl of Rosebery (1847-1929) was one of those enigmatic aristocrats who flourished during the last years of the 19th century, as the age of British aristocracy was coming to an end. Born to immense wealth, as a young man Rosebery showed great intelligence along...

Examining Three Close-Call, Controversial Elections

Howard Tanzman - October 31, 2020

Will the election of 2020 have a clear winner?  If the election is close, the parties will argue over the proper counting of absentee and mail-in ballots. Allegations will be made of voter suppression and ballot harvesting. We could have turmoil if the election is not resolved for an extended period of time. While chaotic, it would not be unprecedented. Several Presidential elections took months to decide after the election.   The Election of 1800 In 1800 there was a rematch of the 1796 contest between John Adams of the Federalist Party and Thomas Jefferson, of the...

Pumpkins, Spies, Traitors, and Presidents

Francis P. Sempa - October 28, 2020

Most Americans associate pumpkins with Halloween. But on a cold autumn day in 1948, a certain pumpkin located on a Westminster, Md. farm set in motion a criminal case that exposed to Americans a hidden enemy within our own government and influenced the future political careers of two presidents of the United States That Maryland farm was called Pipe Creek Farm, and its owner was Whittaker Chambers. The farm is located just across the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, about 20 miles from the Gettysburg battlefield. (Coincidentally, Union General George Meade originally planned to fight General...

Evolution of the Catholic Vote in Presidential Elections

John Rooney - October 22, 2020

This year’s presidential election finds Republicans going all out trying to hold onto the Catholic vote. Over the years, it has been a source of contention, confusion, pride and, most of all, prejudice. But candidates ignore it at their peril. I first became aware of how much religious affiliation mattered in politics at an early age. In 1928, New York Governor Al Smith captured the Democratic Party nomination for president, the first Catholic to do so. In my urban Irish Catholic neighborhood, enthusiasm for Smith ran high. I soon found out, however, that among many non-Catholics, such...


Improved Polish-Russian Relations Will Have to Wait a Generation

Yuri Vanetik - October 21, 2020

The 10th anniversary of the April 10, 2010 crash of the Polish aircraft which killed Lech Kaczyński, the country’s fourth president, and many other top officials of the Polish government came and went.  The crash, mired in controversy, occurred while the plane was attempting to land in Smolensk, Russia, and it was recently mourned on a small scale in Warsaw due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Emotions are still high in Poland over the cause of the crash, although the tide may be starting to ebb as time passes. However, it will most likely take a new generation to improve Polish-Russian...

MacArthur at Leyte Island

Francis P. Sempa - October 15, 2020

The island of Leyte in the Philippines is roughly 115 miles long and ranges in width from 15-45 miles. It is mostly mountainous with two plains in the north — the Leyte Valley in the northeast and the Ormac Valley in the northwest. In 1944, the island’s population was a little more than 900,000. In October 1944, Leyte was the target of a huge armada — at the time the most powerful, though not the largest, naval force ever assembled — carrying invasion forces under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. After Japan invaded the Philippines in December 1941, and...

Oh, Good Greif: Germany's Inexplicable Decision to Pass on Long-Range Bomber

Steve Feinstein - October 7, 2020

With full apologies to Charles Schulz and the Peanuts gang, the above title is not a typo. Instead, we’re going to take a look at the incredible string of bad decisions and missed opportunities that characterized the history of the Heinkel He 177 Greif (Griffon), Germany’s only serious attempt at building and deploying a long-range heavy bomber in World War II. Some decisions in life are simply inexplicable. Whether in sports or war or business, there are times when a perfectly good course of action was available for the taking, without any penalty or risk, yet the people in...

James Burnham’s Analysis of Leftist Revolutionaries Speaks to Today’s Crisis

Francis P. Sempa - October 2, 2020

The rioting, looting, and violence in the streets of some of our major cities have not stopped. The Leftist, anarchist, revolutionary movements continue their self-proclaimed program to eradicate “systemic racism” by attempting to erase history, silence dissent, coerce obedience to their political perspective, and destroy the forces of order within our society. Their tactics and their goals are not dissimilar to those of the New Leftists of the 1960s.  In a series of columns written for National Review, the political philosopher James Burnham dissected the ideological and...


200 Years of SCOTUS Nomination Controversy

Howard Tanzman - September 29, 2020

It looks like the nomination to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court will be the latest in a long line of confirmation fights. Since the founding of the Court over 200 years ago, more than 160 judges have been nominated to the Court. Thirty of those nominations were not confirmed.  Creation of the Court Article III of the United States Constitution established the Supreme Court: "The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." The Judiciary Act of 1789 set...

Brilliant History of Winston Groom

Francis P. Sempa - September 24, 2020

The popular novelist and historian Winston Groom died on Sept. 16, 2020, at the age of 77. The obituaries mostly focused on his authorship of "Forrest Gump," which was made into a popular movie starring Tom Hanks that earned several Academy Awards. But Groom’s best work was as a military historian, where he combined insight gained from his own experiences in the Vietnam War with descriptive writing that kept readers turning pages with anticipation. Groom was born in 1943 in Washington, D.C., but grew up in Mobile County, Ala. He attended a military prep school and the University of...

Inchon: MacArthur Overcomes the Doubters

Francis P. Sempa - September 14, 2020

Seventy years ago, on Sept. 15, 1950, at 5 a.m., Wolmi-do and Sowolmi-do Islands, which guarded the harbor at the South Korean port of Inchon, came under air and naval bombardment by U.S. forces. At 6:30 a.m., the U.S. 5th Marine Regiment exited its landing craft and came ashore on the north end of Wolmi-do. At 8:00 a.m., the Marines attacked a small North Korean garrison on Sowolmi-do. By noon, both islands were in American hands, 200 enemy soldiers were killed and 140 captured. Seventeen Marines were wounded.  On board the Mount McKinley, 70-year-old General Douglas MacArthur sent a...

Churchill's Blitz Rallying Cry

Francis P. Sempa - September 8, 2020

In early September 1940, what historians call the “Battle of Britain,” the air war between British and German warplanes in the skies over Britain and the English Channel, shifted to the air assault on London and other British cities known as “The Blitz.” Hitler’s Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering persuaded the Fuhrer to attack British cities at night. Germany had failed to gain control of the air in daylight battles with the Royal Air Force (RAF), which caused the postponement of “Operation Sea Lion” — the planned invasion of Britain. Between Aug....


Churchill’s First Steps into World War II

Francis P. Sempa - September 3, 2020

On Aug. 31, 1939, Winston Churchill was at Chartwell, his home in Kent, working to complete his manuscript for A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. He wrote to his publisher that he had 530,000 words written, “and there is only the cutting and proof reading, together with a few special points, now to be done.” In a separate letter, Churchill told G.M. Young, “It is a relief in times like these to be able to escape into other centuries.” That same day, Hitler had issued his directive for the attack on Poland. “I have determined,” the German Fuhrer...

A Short Hemingway Fish Story

Jon Caroulis - August 26, 2020

The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia includes in its collections a fish specimen from 1935 whose name hints at an interesting passage in the institution’s history: Neomerinthe hemingway. The bright, vermillion-colored spinycheek scorpionfish, as it is commonly known, is one the few remaining traces of a little-known collaboration between Ernest Hemingway and the Academy’s staff in the years between 1934-36. Though brief, the relationship survives in the Academy’s archives, in the history of the Academy’s development as an institution and even in...

Hitler AND Stalin Started WW II

Francis P. Sempa - August 26, 2020

On Aug. 23, 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Non-Aggression Pact, which in reality was an agreement to begin the European phase of the Second World War, to conquer and partition Poland, and to divide up much of Eastern and Northeastern Europe. The Asian phase of the war began in July 1937, when Japan invaded China after an incident at the Marco Polo Bridge near Beijing. The responsibility for unleashing the most destructive war in history belongs to the Japanese militarists -- and Hitler and Stalin. Stalin’s culpability for starting the war too often gets ignored or...

America's Latest Suicide Attempt

Francis P. Sempa - August 19, 2020

In 1983, British historian Paul Johnson wrote "Modern Times," perhaps the most insightful analysis of world history from the First World War to the 1980s. One of the chapters in that book is titled “America’s Suicide Attempt,” and therein Johnson examines events in the United States during the 1960s and early 1970s. The events Johnson describes have an eerie similarity to the first two decades of the 21st century. America is attempting suicide again. Johnson ended the chapter of "Modern Times" on the 1950s with the United States at the pinnacle of its power — the...