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markwalston

Writer, historian, creative director, poet, playwright, author of nine books and nearly 200 essays and articles exploring a broad range of American social, cultural and historical topics.
markwalston has written 43 posts for Mark Walston

A Poem About Lee’s Surrender at Appomattox by Mark Walston, Appearing in the Baltimore Review

  Appomattox Surrender 1865   Wandering carnage at twilight General Lee espied General Washington surveying, engorged on war now engaged in discourse melancholy for their commonwealth.   By bodies boating fell talk of pride and valor the price of tobacco the cost of life banquettes and lunettes demi-lunes and barbettes – vive la France – … Continue reading

A Poem About Thomas Jefferson’s Slave Lover by Mark Walston, appearing in the Hidden City Quarterly

  Sally Hemings Sails to Paris 1787   Moldboard plows and polygraphs, scuppernong trellises redolent with a heavy dark sweetness, meticulous celestial observations and a ledger of misbegotten bound in bright leather.   Ardent in the spring arbor liberty desires ripen with iridescent irony – love frees nothing but hatred and enlightened lust leads not … Continue reading

Two Poems About America’s Founding by Mark Walston Appearing in the Boston Review

  Cotton Mather Preaches on Satan Mark Walston   exceedingly disturbed, Territory wrested from a devil exceedingly disturbed, the perceived accomplishment of providential possession of the utmost parts irritating, infuriating, immediately precipitating vile machinations to overturn the godly establishment. The mouth of perdition issues a flood for the carrying away of the ignorant and unrepentant, … Continue reading

Lincoln in Rockville

(Originally appeared in Bethesda Magazine) In August 1861, with the first battle of the Civil War at Manassas, Virginia, resulting in Union forces fleeing in retreat, President Abraham Lincoln embarked from the White House on a carriage ride. With him was Secretary of State William Seward, his son, Frederick, assistant Secretary of State, and General … Continue reading

The Underground Railroad in Maryland

(Originally appeared in Bethesda Magazine) On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act to end slavery in Washington, D.C.—more than eight months before the Emancipation Proclamation. News of the coming abolition in D.C. had spread through nearby Maryland slave communities. Word eventually reached Lewis Swams in his quarters near Sandy Spring. … Continue reading

Japanese Prisoners in America

On Dec. 7, 1941, more than 350 Japanese fighter planes attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing about 2,400 people—and igniting a near-hysterical hatred in America of all things Japanese. Two months later, in February 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued an executive order permitting the U.S. Army to remove any individuals … Continue reading

Domestic Manners of the Americans

In 1830, Frances Trollope—a petite Englishwoman whose acidic wit would later earn her the sobriquet “Old Madam Vinegar”—arrived in Montgomery County, Maryland, with three children in tow. She had come to summer at Stonington, a friend’s Potomac estate near Great Falls. Immediately, Trollope was taken by the beauty of the Montgomery County countryside. It “perfectly … Continue reading

The Boston Tea Party and the Hungerford Resolves

On December 16, 1773, nearly 60 hatchet-wielding men stormed three ships anchored in Boston Harbor. Frenzied, they hacked open hundreds of chests of tea and dumped the contents overboard. Their rage was fueled by incessant taxes levied by a British Parliament that refused the Americans any participation in proceedings that directly affected their lives. The … Continue reading

Congress Responds to the Gas Crisis of 1916

Now that the price of gasoline has dropped by half, down to a seven year low, the clamor against the recent cost increases has abated to barely a whisper. America has parked the episode in a back lot, with all the public concerns and private suspicions locked in the trunk, out of sight and mind. … Continue reading

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, the First Female Comic Book Hero (Don’t Call Her a Heroine)

She was a woman of strength and courage, and the first heroic woman to have a comic book in her own name. Sheena, “Queen of the Jungle,” debuted in the British magazine Wags #1 in 1937, the creation of comic book pioneers Will Eisner and S. M. “Jerry” Iger. As the story goes, Sheena originally … Continue reading