Delving deep into history is an endless opportunity to experience an unnerving sense of déjà vu. But this in depth study can also be reassuring. The key is to take a moment in time, a period or an era, and to develop a picture that is not one dimensional. Then many of todays worries and concerns can be viewed from a balanced and reassuring perspective.
Offended or worried about the federal government bailing out large corporations? Study the Guardian Group, the automotive tycoons behind it and their interconnected dealings, the resultant monopoly of banking in Detroit and President Hoover’s bank bailouts based on a “to big to fail policy.”
Angered by the monopoly and dominance of Facebook or Google? Read about the origins of Standard Oil, the Rockefeller family, and the crushing of companies such as Pierce-Pennant Oil Company
Offended or concerned about recent foreign policy decisions involving Iraq? Delve into President Theodore Roosevelt’s complicated negotiations, behind the scene dealings, and even questionable involvement that led to Panamanian independence, and the subsequent building of the Panama Canal.
Foreign interference in elections?
The goals were simple, bold and multifaceted. Lend support to a candidate that might prove more amicable. Manipulate the press to influence the election for the favored candidate. This could also have a secondary benefit of undermining confidence in the electoral process and fostering divisions. The year was 1960 and the Soviet Union was concerned that the Republican candidate for president, Richard Nixon, could be elected.
This wasn’t the first time that a foreign government had worked behind the scene to influence an election. In 1940, worried about a Franklin D. Roosevelt presidency, the German government enlisted the support of William Rhodes Davis to help influence the election. Davis was an oilman that was unencumbered by ethics. And he had displayed sympathy for German policies. In the mid 1930s Davis had become quite wealthy in a complicated and questionable scheme that centered on the selling of Mexican oil to Germany.
When war broke out in Europe in 1939, and Britain imposed a blockade on German ports, Davis’s profitable enterprise was brought to an abrupt end. So, to save his lucrative business he traveled to Europe in the hopes that he could negotiate an agreement between warring parties. The Germans saw Davis as the ideal patsy.
In Germany, Davis met with leaders of the Third Reich including Hermann Göring. He returned to the United States with a peace proposal that that would have given Germany territorial gains in exchange for a negotiated settlement of hostilities. The United States was to serve as the mediator between France, Germany and England.
On his return to the United States, Davis called on his numerous political connections in an attempt to get a meeting with President Roosevelt. But Roosevelt refused to even meet with Davis as there was evidence that he was compromised and could be acting, directly or indirectly, as a Nazi agent.
So Davis turned to plan “B” and put his support behind an initiative to have labor leader John Lewis nominated as a presidential candidate. It was learned years later that Goring had allocated $5 million dollars for Davis’s use, including media campaigns.
An honest study of history is not for the faint of heart, or the individual that is easily offended. Still, aside from a goose bump inducing sense of déjà vu, history is key to facing daily trials and tribulations with confidence and assurance.