Metallic Pea

Frustrating People Since 1971.

No Rest for the AWESOME!

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‘[A]nd to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.’ ~ I Thessalonians 4:11, 12  




I recently bought a biography of Douglas Southall Freeman.  He was himself a biographer as well; his four-volume masterpiece on Robert E. Lee is the gold standard by which all others are judged and his six-volume tour de force on George Washington (the seventh volume was written by another posthumously) is without equal.


Freeman loved the South and her people and his work reflected that affinity for Dixie magnificently.  He was also a man of towering intellect and tremendous industry.  In fact, he spent very little time sleeping and was constantly in motion, either writing, gardening, or lecturing.  Some time ago, I came across an essay which provided a glimpse into the fascinating life of Mr Freeman and have posted it below.  (NB: I do not know who wrote the piece, hence the lack of attribution.  However, let it me noted that I am not claiming it as my own; I am merely reproducing it here for the education and edification of the reader.)


Don’t Ever Say ‘Busy’ Again

Perhaps, like me, you are vaguely familiar with the name of Douglas Southall Freeman. Perhaps you recall him as the author of a multi-volume history of the War Between the States called “Lee’s Lieutenants” or as the editor of the Richmond (VA) News Leader. If, because you have no particular interest in either the Civil War–as Yankees call it–or the news business, you think a biography of Freeman would be dull reading, then pards, you are riding off on the wrong trail and will miss a beautiful vista. What is beautiful and fascinating about Freeman is not his subject matter, but the man himself. He was, to put it mildly, a most astounding person.Check out this schedule: Rise at 2:30 am, dress, pray in your alcove chapel, fix your own breakfast, and arrive at work at 3:30 am. Conduct the affairs as editor of the daily newspaper, do a twice-daily ad-lib radio broadcast, write editorials and columns, and then return home at 12:30 pm for lunch and work in the garden. A 30-minute nap from 2:30 pm to 3:00 pm, then three hours of solid work on meticulous historical research. Dinner and family time from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, then off to bed and start it all over again at 2:30 am the next day.The amount of work this man accomplished is astounding. In addition to all of the newspaper editing and history research and writing, he played an active role in his church, in his community and indeed in his nation. He became a friend of such men as Dwight Eisenhower and George C. Marshall. He gardened, he sailed, he attended baseball games, taught classes at his church, gave speeches and wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning biographies of Robert E. Lee (four volumes) and George Washington (six volumes). And he had a long and successful marriage.

David E. Johnson, a Virginia attorney, has written a wonderful biography about him (“Douglas Southall Freeman,” published by Pelican Press). Biography can be slow reading, but I picked up this book in the early evening, and it was 2:30 am before I reluctantly laid it aside. That’s no exaggeration. Johnson not only brings to life his subject, but also the times and the place.

Freeman’s sense of timing was extraordinary. He would arrive at the radio studio precisely one minute before airtime and then, without notes, launch into a precisely timed commentary. On one occasion, when delivering a memorial speech to an outdoor crowd in particularly cold weather, Freeman announced he would keep them no longer than 14 minutes and 32 seconds. He then delivered an impromptu and moving speech that ended precisely 14 minutes and 32 seconds later.

One of his techniques was to write memos to himself. At age 14, in preparation for a date, he wrote: “1. I shall fix my cuffs; 2. I shall choose a necktie; 3. I shall fix my shirt; 4. I shall wash all over; 5. I shall take care to wash my hands that I may get the marks off; 6. I shall choose a hat; 7. I shall black my shoes; 8. Get out my shirt; 9. Put tickets and wherewithal in my pocket; 10. I go to bed.” Part of the charm of this biography is Freeman’s early years, when he vacillated among wanting to be an actor, a preacher or a (sic) historian. But very early in life he formed the habit of undertaking two or three jobs at the same time, and he manged to do them all well.

Freeman was born in 1886, and his father was a veteran of the Confederacy. As he was coming of age in Virginia there were still many living veterans and even famous generals. The author rightly begins Freeman’s story with that of his father fighting in the war. His father and Robert E. Lee were the great influences in his life, and from both men he was inspired to live a Christian life and to work hard at everything he undertook.

There aren’t many idealists in the world who faithfully put their ideals into practice, but Freeman tried mightily, and mostly succeeded. His life, as revealed by Johnson, is an inspiration–not to journalists or writers in particular, but to everyone.

He was living proof that people can do more than they often think they can. On his tombstone is written: ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.’






The blockade is meant to “starve the whole [German] population–men, women, and children, old and young, wounded and sound–into submission.” ~ First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill during World War I





‘Help them to learn

Songs of joy

Instead of “Burn, baby, burn.”

Let us show them how play the pipes of peace.’ ~ Paul McCartney, Pipes of Peace








The desertion rate in the U.S. Army is at its highest rate since 1980. As the Bible tells us, there is nothing new under the sun.  I wrote about a similar trend during the early years of the All-Volunteer Force in my thesis, Flagging Vigilance: The Post-Vietnam “Hollow Army.”  (flagging-vigilance.pdf)







‘Moments later, the kids flock around him, seeking autographs. Later that afternoon, Paul earns another enthusiastic reception from a capacity crowd at the University of New Hampshire.

So what explains [Ron] Paul’s appeal?






To-day’s 1980’s Moment is brought to you by: Paul McCartney





Written by ninepoundhammer

November 17, 2007 at 10:09 pm

Posted in General

Tagged with , ,

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