How do we not get djt 47?

a movement

I need your help. Please explain to me how we do not get djt 47. I do not see how this doesn’t happen on January 20, 2025. I’m certainly not happy about it.

Despite some successes (the infrastructure bill et al.), Joe Biden does not engender the necessary enthusiasm. The expected recession of 2023 did not take place. The inflation rate is down, but especially without those stimulus checks, it “feels” worse. (Frank S. Robinson explains “the big misunderstanding.”)

In 2011/2012, even when he seemed to be trailing in the polls, Obama could share his Spotify playlist and show how relatable he was. Joe is… Joe, grandfatherly, a policy wonk without the requisite swagger despite the aviator glasses.

October 7, the start of the Israel-Hamas war, has been a losing issue for Biden. Those who support Palestine feel betrayed by him. Specifically, Arabs and Muslims in places like Michigan have openly indicated that they will not vote for him in 2024 as they did in 2020. The Biden administration is navigating both support for Israel and the desire that the Israelis work to minimize Palestinian casualties. As someone said at a recent book talk, Joe is schmoozing. The problem is that neither position is palatable to a wide swath of voters.

Likewise, Foreign Policy magazine indicates that Biden has no good options in Yemen. “The decision to bomb the Houthis was likely the administration’s least bad path.”

The border crisis affects not just the border states but those cities where the migrants have been shipped to. Yet djt wants to scuttle bipartisan legislation to address the issue, and House Republicans might just fall in line to do just that.

Demographic slump

According to the polls, Biden’s job approval rating is down among black voters, especially the younger ones, even more than he’s losing Hispanic and non-Hispanic white voters.

It’s not that he’s too old to do the job, but he’s an old-generation public service guy who has been prone to malaprops for a very long time. An editorial in The Hill suggests that perhaps the President is a superager, “someone generally older than 80 who has cognitive and physical function higher than their peers, more akin to people decades younger — and argued that framing Biden in particular as “too old” is both ageist and politically motivated.


Nothing that happens with djt seems to affect his core supporters. His presidency has been “defined by corruption, self-dealing, and abuse of power.”  He fomented violent insurrection against democracy and called the criminals convicted for their actions on January 6, 2021, “hostages.”

His legal difficulties are part of his campaign. He uses the cases as “proof” that Joe and his allies are engaging in “election interference.” He’s practically begging judges to find him in contempt – see, “they’re denying me my right to participate in my defense.” A convicted sexual predator, also guilty of defamation of character, can win a caucus and a primary.

Maybe he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in NYC, and it wouldn’t affect his voters, as he said eight years ago.

So, in some bizarre way, it seems consistent that his attorney would speak before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals regarding djt’s claims of absolute immunity. He posited that “a President could order the assassination of his political rival and not ever face prosecution unless the House successfully impeached him and the Senate convicted him for that crime.”

As Major Garrett of CBS News noted, djt can and does run simultaneously as an incumbent, an outsider, and a victim. djt support is a movement. If he is elected again, he’ll abuse the office of the presidency and has promised to use the government to punish his enemies.


Joe’s only positives are negatives: djt is an existential threat to democracy. djt put those three SCOTUS justices on the court to gut abortion rights and women’s health. Is that enough? I see 2000/2016 again.

If djt isn’t convicted of something criminal by November 5, I fear the outcome of January 6, 2025. If djt didn’t think he should have had to leave office on January 20, 2021, his supporters would think he should be reinstated four years later.

So tell me, how don’t we get the return of the Orange? Please tell me how I’m wrong. I’d LOVE to be wrong.

Not entirely unrelated, here’s the trailer for a new movie called Civil War. i have no plans to watch the film. 

My mom’s paternal relatives

Daniel and Sarah Williams

It occurred to me that when I have written about my mother’s ancestors, I’ve almost always written about my maternal grandmother’s side but little about my mom’s paternal relatives. The reasons are several.

Among them is that many of the folks on her mother’s side, at some point, lived at 13 Maple Street in Binghamton, NY. That’s where my mom grew up, and my sisters and I spent a lot of time as kids. Some, including my great-great-grandfather, James Archer, were buried at Spring Forest Cemetery, maybe 300 meters from 13 Maple Street. And many of their names are recorded in the family Bible.

However, my mother’s father, Clarence Williams (b. 1886), was largely absent. He had married Gertrude Yates (b. 1897) in 1926, and my mother was born in 1927. But Gert’s mother, Lillian Archer Yates Holland  (1866-1938), and perhaps her grandmother Harriet Bell Archer (1838-1928) disapproved of Clarence and drove him away, we had been told.  Was it because he was so much older than Gert?

My mom was not devoid of male role models in her household. Her maternal uncle Ed Yates and Maurice Holland, Lillian’s second husband after her first husband  Edward died, were around.

Her dad

Her father, though, was out of the immediate picture. Clarence Williams, who fought in World War I, was a machine shop laborer.

He lived with his mother, Margaret (or Marguerite) Collins Williams (1866-1931), in Owego, NY, according to the 1930 Census. Her parents were Irish, though I don’t have their first names or her mother’s maiden name, and I’ve been actively looking.

An odd thing, though. If there are any photos of my mom with ANY of her paternal relatives, even her father, I’m unaware of them.

According to Selective Service records, Clarence resided in Deposit, near Binghamton, with his father, Charles (1863-1944), in 1942. But he was living with his wife Laura back in Owego, in Margaret’s old house, in 1950.

Or were they married? My mother told of her and her mother visiting Clarence’s home in early 1958 and not being allowed to enter the house by a woman. His July 1958 death certificate says he was divorced, but was that from Margaret or both Margaret and Laura? The house became my grandmother’s after Clarence died; it is pictured above from more recent times. I attended his funeral in Owego.

When I was at my Grandma Williams’ funeral in Binghamton in May 1982, more than one of her in-laws said, “I bet you don’t remember me,  do you?” That would be correct since I last saw them when I was five.

Her great-grandparents

Charles Williams, the elder, married Margaret Collins c. 1883.  They were together in 1915 but not in 1920. I assume they divorced since the elder Charles married Margaret Greenleaf in 1921, as I noted.

Charles’s second marriage license led me to HIS parents Daniel Williams (1829-1893) and Sarah Benson (b. 1833), who were born in Maryland.

From the book An Evergreen Companion: “Sometime before 1860 [Daniel]  lived in the Tioga County Town of Barton with his wife Sarah and five children. [The middle three were born in Canada.] Late in the Spring of 1863, he registered to serve the Union Cause in the War of the Rebellion (Civil War).

“He enlisted on August 23, 1864, and became a member of Company F of the 43rd United States Colored Infantry Regiment. The 43rd served with special distinction in the battles around Richmond and Petersburg, VA, capturing a Confederate battle flag and rescuing a Union flag at the Battle of the Crater. The regiment lost 239 men during service; 188 died from disease. Williams mustered out of service in September of 1865.”

What did Mom know?

I know my mom knew a lot about her mother’s lineage. But what did she know of her father’s line? What was her relationship with her father? She was familiar with her uncle Charles playing baseball, though I had never heard any details.

How well did she know her paternal grandparents? Was she aware she had TWO great-grandfathers who fought in the Civil War? These are questions that I’d love to ask her but can’t since she died in 2011.

Today would have been my mom Trudy Green’s 96th birthday.

Samuel J. Patterson, Civil War ancestor

Samuel>Mary Eugenia>Agatha>Les

For my Veterans Day post, let me introduce you to Samuel J. Patterson, my great-great-grandfather. Like another second great-grandfather, James Archer, he fought in the American Civil War on the Union side. Also like James, he survived the war.

He was born on June 28, 1844 in Berwick, Columbia County, PA. His parents were Anthony J Patterson (1818-1894) and Elizabeth Snyder (1811-1883).  The 1840 Census list Anthony, Elizabeth, and a girl (Mary) and boy (Simon), both under 10, as “free colored persons.”

However, the 1850 Census lists the whole family, including Samuel, his slightly older sister Catherine, and 20 year-old Joseph, a “boatman,” as mulatto. Elizabeth Snyder, possibly formerly Schneider, may have been Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch). My father’s gene pool was 18% from England and northwest Europe.

The book African Americans in the Wyoming Valley 1778-1990 by Emerson Moss describes the Pattersons as one of the first African American family in the area. In a page 2 story in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader on March 24, 1930, it states that he worked on the canal as a young man.

The war

Samuel’s enlistment date was January 8, 1864, in Boston.  He was listed as 5’4 1/2″ tall with black hair and eyes, and had been working as a laborer. Times Leader: “Being enthused with the desire to liberate his enslaved fellow countrymen, Mr. Patterson seized the first opportunity to enlist and joined” the 5th Regiment, Massachusetts Calvary (Colored). He was a private in Company C.  The unit was “organized at Camp Meigs, Readville. The battalion moved to Washington, D. C.. then to Camp Casey, near Fort Albany in early May,  1864.”

Why is this significant? “During the American Civil War’s final years, a Union base in Northern Virginia trained hundreds of African American soldiers to fight to end slavery, one of only a few such bases inside a Confederate state. But, Camp Casey has nearly disappeared from history…”

The 1930 Times Leader story: “He was in the Battle of Petersburg, Va. from June 14 to 29, 1864 and was detailed as an orderly for gallantry at the capitulation of Richmond on April 3, ’65.” In June 1865, his unit was “ordered to Texas and duty at Clarksville till October. Mustered out October 31, 1865.”


In the 1870 Census, he had been married to Henrietta Jane Long since December 5, 1867 and they had two children.

By 1880, they had six kids, including Mary Eugenia (1878-1944), commonly called Jean, my great-grandmother. Eugenia would marry Samuel Walker in 1899 and have several children, the oldest of which was Agatha (1902-1964), my father’s mother.

Times Leader, 1930: “In 1880, [Samuel Patterson] took up bicycle repairing and boasted of having been the first negro in Wilkes-Barre to have ridden a bicycle.”

By 1900, Samuel is a tile setter, “one of the finest in this and Lackawanna County,” which he did for 30 years. He was also a plumber “being connected with the firm of B.G. Carpenter” for 20 years.

His Wilkes-Barre, PA, home was owned free and clear. Henrietta, his first wife, died in 1896. He married  Sarah Jane Towns on  November 29, 1899, but she died in 1904. Four children were home from ages 8 to 26 in 1900.

In 1910, Samuel was still setting tile, living with his new wife Sarah J. “Sadie” Bunley (b. 1868), who he married on May 31, 1908, in Pittsburgh, PA. Only his youngest child, Samuel George, 18, is still at home. By 1920, Samuel was retired and living with only Sadie.


Samuel J. Patterson died on March 23, 1930. He was 85 years, 9 months, and 25 days old, and listed as Wilkes-Barre’s “oldest Negro citizen.” He died from chronic myocarditis and was buried in Wilkes-Barre’s City Cemetery four days later.

The aforementioned newspaper article “Death Claims S.J. Patterson, G.A.R. Veteran” was subtitled “Former Well-Known Tiler and Plumber Answers Final Summons.” He was survived by his widow, six children, 25 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

I am told by a cousin of mine that there was an American Legion Lodge named after him back in the 1920s thru the ’40s. “For some reason it ended.”

The photo above is an undated of Samuel and his family, tweaked by Arthur.

Radical Republicans, SCOTUS, and justice


For Constitution Day, which is September 17, I want to discuss the Radical Republicans. No, not Gym Jordan, Elise Stefanik, and many in the current GOP, who are indeed radical but not for justice.

On August 15, Professor Stephen E. Gottlieb, professor emeritus at the  Albany Law School, presented a talk,  Should We Abolish the Supreme Court? He referenced his book Unfit for Democracy. and The Case Against the Supreme Court by Erwin Chemerinsky.

Professor Gottlieb noted that those in his party who put Abraham Lincoln’s feet to the fire were labeled Radical Republicans. Gottlieb remembers this designation was offered as pejorative when he attended public school. My recollection of my school days is the same.

“The American Battlefield Trust preserves America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educates the public about what happened there and why it matters.” The organization offered up this article.

“The Radical Republicans were a group of politicians who formed a faction within the Republican party that lasted from the Civil War into the era of Reconstruction. They were led by Thaddeus Stevens in the House of Representatives and Charles Sumner in the Senate. The Radicals were known for their opposition to slavery, their efforts to ensure emancipation and civil rights for Blacks and their strong opinions on post-war Reconstruction.”

After engaging in a bloody Civil War, incrementalism was not on the minds of many Republicans, whose party was only about a decade old.  “While President Lincoln wanted to fight the war largely for the preservation of the Union, the Radical Republicans believed the primary reason for fighting was for the abolition of slavery.”

The Civil War amendments

It would have been impossible for the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to have passed without the Radical Republicans. “The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was an effort by the Radical Republicans to reinforce the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery and had been passed the year prior. With this Civil Rights Act, the radicals were also taking steps towards establishing citizenship for Blacks by defending their civil rights and granting them equal protection under the law. In 1867, they were successful in passing the Fourteenth Amendment, which granted citizenship to Blacks…

“New Reconstruction Acts were passed and called for each rebel state to draft a new constitution as well as ratify the new Fourteenth Amendment… Congress, meaning primarily Radical Republicans, would then have to approve these new state constitutions before readmitting the rebel state back into the Union…  Furthermore, they deployed military troops to the South to maintain order and to protect the rights of Black citizens. In 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, granting Blacks the right to vote.”

The legislation inhibiting Andrew Johnson’s ability to remove his own cabinet members, which led to the impeachment of the President in 1868, was an overreach. While the Radical Republicans dominated the late 1860s, their power dwindled in the early 1870s.  Corruption seeped into the party, including fights over civil service reform. Beyond that, figures like Sumner “believed that the era of Reconstruction was successfully completed and no longer needed Radical supervision.”

Then the Tilden/Hayes election of 1876 killed Reconstruction, and Jim Crow ruled, not just in the South.

A century later

The justice that was supposed to have been codified in the 1860s and 1870s had been thwarted, in large part because of the Supreme Court’s decisions such as the “separate but equal” Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).

As a result, civil rights for Black people had to be relitigated, mainly in the 1950s and 1960s. It was addressed in legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

But it was also manifest in decisions by the Warren Court (1953-1969), not only overtly about race (Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, Loving v. Virginia), but cases of justice regardless of race. Professor Gottlieb suggested that this period was the highlight of the Supreme Court’s history.

“In 1961, Mapp v. Ohio strengthened the Fourth Amendment’s protections by banning prosecutors from using evidence seized in illegal searches in trials. In 1963, Gideon v. Wainwright held that the Sixth Amendment required that all indigent criminal defendants be assigned a free, publicly-funded defense attorney. Finally, the 1966 case of Miranda v. Arizona required that all persons being interrogated while in police custody be clearly informed of their rights—such as the right to an attorney—and acknowledge their understanding of those rights—the so-called ‘Miranda warning.'”

More recently

This reminded me of the SCOTUS decision by the Roberts Court in June 2013, which “struck down a section of the Voting Rights Act, weakening a tool the federal government has used for nearly five decades to block discriminatory voting laws.” It was as though the justices decided that “we have overcome.”

Many, including me, were then SHOCKED when SCOTUS provided a significant victory for voting rights in 2023. “It handed down a 5-4 decision in Allen v. Milligan that preserves longstanding safeguards against racism in US elections, strikes down a gerrymandered congressional map in Alabama, and all but assures that Democrats will gain at least one congressional seat in the next election from that state.”

The arc of the moral universe is undoubtedly long. Whether it bends towards justice, I’m less confident.

One of my Civil War ancestors

Freedom Has No Color

I’ve discovered I have at least TWO great-great-grandfathers who fought in the Civil War, one each on each of my parents’ lines. In honor of the beginning and end of the war (April 12, 1861-spring 1865), I will revisit one of my Civil War ancestors, James Archer, with a greater understanding.

In 2018, I ordered the book African American Freedom Journey in New York and Related Sites, 1823-1870: Freedom Knows No Color by Harry Bradshaw Matthews, Associate Dean and Director, Office of Intercultural Affairs at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. At some point before COVID, I spoke briefly with the professor on the telephone, who clarified a genealogical question for me.

The book has 143 pages of a narrative about the struggle for freedom, including that of his ancestor Isaac Killingsworth of Barnwell,  SC.  Then it contains over 200 pages of appendices that were particularly useful to my research.

When slavery was finally abolished in 1827 in New York State, there was a public celebration in Cooperstown on July 5 of that year. Frederick Douglass’ famous speech What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? was given on July 5, 1852.

There were many other efforts to end disenfranchisement, discrimination, and oppression in the Empire State. The black press, such as The Colored American, often fueled these endeavors.

Black people had no organized opportunity to fight when the Civil War broke out in 1861. By 1863, however, entities were able to recruit black soldiers. New York was one of the slower states to take action because of Governor Horatio Seymour’s resistance. Finally, by November 1863, “enlisting colored troops in New York” began, purportedly with black soldiers receiving the same bounties as white volunteers.

Changing attitudes

This occurred not long after the New York Draft Riots of July 1863, when black people were often the target of violence. This showed a remarkable turnaround in attitude.

Professor Matthews quotes from the Tribune of December 5, 1863. “New York City, so recently the theatre of mob violence, in which hatred of the Negro seemed to be the uppermost idea – this city, so long considered free from the intrusion of colored troops, and the only place in the loyal States where it was possible to raise a spirit of opposition to them, has exceeded its hospitality to the 2d Regiment of United States Colored Troops.” [NY 20th was the first, the NY 26th, the second.]


At this point, my great-great-grandfather, James Archer,  joined the NY 26th (Colored) Regiment. He enlisted on December 29, 1863, in Binghamton, NY, at the age of 29. The troops were first quartered at Riker’s Island. The 26th included soldiers from the West Indies.

The regiment fought several important battles in South Carolina in 1864, including at John’s Island, James Island, Honey Hill, and Beaufort.

But James was not the only member of his extended family in the NY 26th. His brother-in-law, William Bell, who was about 30,  also signed up.  James had two small children, Morgan and James Edward. I believe William also had a young son,  Martin.

Because New York was so slow in accepting black recruits, some folks joined regiments in other states, such as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Indeed, Henry Bell, William’s 22-year-old brother, joined the Massachusetts 54th in March 1863. This group was presented in the movie Glory; about 42% of that regiment was killed or wounded.

James was made a corporal in April 1864. He was sick in a hospital starting September 16 in Beaufort; I don’t know the cause, but I suspect it involved mosquitos. Indeed, more people died from disease than gunfire in the NY 26th.

Coming home

Still, James, William, and Henry all made it home safely. The 1865 New York State Census shows that their household in Binghamton usually consisted of the patriarch Edward Bell, whose wife Phillis Wagner had died that year; his sons William and Henry; his daughters Francelia, 19, and Harriet (Archer); Edward’s son-in-law James Archer, and the three grandchildren.

But James and probably William were still in South Carolina until they were mustered out in August 1865. This was likely true of Henry as well.

I don’t know the identities of the three men pictured, which was in possession of one of my sisters and my mom before that.  I believe the guy on the left is James Archer, who had hazel eyes. Could the other guys be William on the right and Henry in the middle?

James and his wife Harriet, whom he married in 1856, had two more children, Lillian (b. 1866) and Frederick (b. 1869), after the war. He worked as a potter, a worker in a tin shop, and a general laborer.

An act in 1890 finally allowed black soldiers to receive the same benefits as their white counterparts. James Archer was listed as an “invalid ex-Union soldier,” though it did not specify his ailment.

James in the 1910 Census

In 1910, James Archie, a name variant that also shows up in other records, was a black male, 74 (though actually 76), living at 13 Maple Street, Binghamton, NY. This house was purchased in 1882 and owned free and clear, without a mortgage. He was married to Harriet Archie for 53 years at that point. James still could not read or write.

James Archer died in March 1912. He was buried at Binghamton’s Spring Forest Cemetery. His gravestone is about 250 meters from the house where he passed away. As noted previously, the only daughter of James Archer and Harriet Bell was Lillian Archer. She married Edward Yates (b. 1851) in 1893, and they had at least five children, four of whom survived to adulthood.

Edward Yates died in March 1911. Lillian (d. 1938) then married Maurice Holland (1856-1943) in July of that year. Lillian’s oldest surviving daughter, Gertrude Yates (1897-1982), married Clarence Williams (1886-1958) and had a daughter, also named Gertrude (1927-2011).

The younger Gertrude, who would eventually go by Trudy, married Leslie H. Green (1926-2000) in March 1950. They had three children, of which I am the oldest.

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