Erik Visits A Thousand American Graves
January 24, 2022 8:04 AM   Subscribe

As part of his postings on the blog Lawyers, Guns, and Money, labor historian Eric Loomis has a running series where he visits the graves of notable and infamous figures in American History. (Previously on the Blue.) Recently, he reached a major milestone, and thus the thousandth grave he visited was that of televangelist, "faith healer", and con man Oral Roberts.

The choice of Roberts - one of the architects of the modern Religious Right, whose university became one of the first causes for the nascent movement - for the milestone in many ways exemplifies the ethos of Loomis' project in the first place - his goal has been to highlight figures in American history that had impact while not being well known.
posted by NoxAeternum (19 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
This series has to be one of the longest running ones in the blogosphere (is that even still a term?)

Here is the first post in the series, from August 2013: Henry Clay Frick.

The diversity of the series really makes it great. For instance, the first five entries are:

Henry Clay Frick, industrialist
Chang and Eng Bunker, the original "Siamese Twins"
President James Buchanan
William F. Buckley Jr
Thaddeus Stevens

What also makes the series great, in my opinion, is that Erik absolutely does not hold back when he feels somebody is deserving of contempt:

Among the nice places I drove through was the town of Sharon, near the New York border. But as I drove through, a horrible smell arose from the bowels of the Earth. Was this awful smell a mine or a mill? Was it an entryport to Hades? No. It was the rotting putrescent corpse of one of the worst human beings to ever foul the land of this fine nation, William F. Buckley.

I don't read the rest of LGM but this series is a constant for me.
posted by fortitude25 at 8:26 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Big fan of LGM in general - I took comparative constitutional law in school, and have a cousin who practices in the states, so it's always neat seeing the (from the Canadian perspective) funhouse mirror of U.S. law.

This series is a handy way to give little tidbits about the forces that shape people and their efforts to shape the world around them.

Not to derail too much, but does anyone know of a comparable blog from the Canadian perspective? Or for any of our other common law cousins? (désolé Quebec).
posted by LegallyBread at 8:35 AM on January 24


Big fan of LGM in general - I took comparative constitutional law in school, and have a cousin who practices in the states, so it's always neat seeing the (from the Canadian perspective) funhouse mirror of U.S. law.

One of the things that sticks out for me is that they tend to be less impacted by the institutionalism that is part of the American legal community, most likely because they were some of the first people going after the scam law schools, at a time when the legal community was trying to pretend that they weren't scams.

This series is a handy way to give little tidbits about the forces that shape people and their efforts to shape the world around them.

Which is a draw for it. The eclectic nature helps that as well - he covers not just statesmen and politicians, but entertainers, sportsmen, writers, journalists, etc., and explains why they're worth remembering.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:46 AM on January 24


This is the kind of long term blog project that I generally adore, and I love the eclecticism of his choices, but I am frustrated by the fact that in the first 84 entries that I scrolled, only seven were women.
posted by minervous at 8:49 AM on January 24


Here's the clickable list of all his visits. Stops at 998 though...
posted by achrise at 8:50 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


This is the kind of long term blog project that I generally adore, and I love the eclecticism of his choices, but I am frustrated by the fact that in the first 84 entries that I scrolled, only seven were women.

This is a big assumption and I can't recall if it was addressed directly, but I'm sure they made an effort to diversify the series as it went on.
posted by fortitude25 at 8:57 AM on January 24


I have always absolutely loved when Erik Loomis lists someone buried in Arlingtion as: "is buried on the confiscated lands of the traitor Lee, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia."
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 9:09 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Erik is a treasure and quite friendly. I especially liked his short interview as part of the broadcast play of The Iron Heel by Jack London. The interview is linked from my FPP, although I shamefully called him “Eric,” despite knowing better.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:14 AM on January 24


My great grandmother was the sweetest, loving woman. When I was a kid, I would watch her write a check to Oral Roberts with her shaky hands every week. I knew the guy was a charlatan after five minutes of watching his TV program. I felt so bad for my great grandma and all the nice, good-hearted people this guy swindled on the reg. He was such a scumbag.
posted by mctsonic at 9:17 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


This is a big assumption and I can't recall if it was addressed directly, but I'm sure they made an effort to diversify the series as it went on.

I was reviewing backwards from most recent. But I’d certainly be happy to be wrong about the series as a whole.
posted by minervous at 10:06 AM on January 24


This series is new to me, and after reading the Oral Roberts entry, all I can say is, see you guys in a year.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 10:28 AM on January 24


This is the grave of Oral Roberts. One of the most unrepentant grifters in American history, someone who would make Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker and Jerry Falwell seem like serious religious thinkers

QFT
posted by chavenet at 10:58 AM on January 24


"Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man." Mercutio-R&J
If you switched some commas, it would almost contemporary English.
posted by Oyéah at 11:16 AM on January 24


I have always absolutely loved when Erik Loomis lists someone buried in Arlingtion as: "is buried on the confiscated lands of the traitor Lee, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia."

That's a nice quip, but not really accurate; Lee's family ended up being paid rather handsomely for the lands after the war, after the seizure was ruled improper by the Supreme Court in US v. Lee (1883).
The jury verdict returned Arlington to the Lee family, but only temporarily. The family never returned to Arlington, but rather sold the estate to the United States government in 1883 for $150,000 ($4,166,250 in 2020 dollars).
N.B. that the "Lee" in question wasn't Robert E., who had the good grace not to contest the seizure himself, but rather his son, George Washington Custis Lee. As G.W.C. Lee died without any heirs, I'm not entirely sure where the money went; I suspect a significant fraction of it went to Washington and Lee University.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:58 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Moreover, Billy Graham, mysteriously beloved by respectable non-evangelical America when he died despite being a terrible person on his own, really helped out Roberts over and over again in his career...

Anyone who hates on Billy Graham is all right in my book!
posted by TedW at 12:41 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I had a high school friend who was forced to attend Oral Roberts University for one year by his parents. I helped him move to the campus. It was surreal. Men and women stay 18 inches apart (what nowdays is called "Leave Room For Jesus" but didn't have a name back then.) Mandatory chapel 3x week. Men's hair above the collar. Dress Shirts and ties, in hippie 1973.

My friend lost any semblance in belief when he discovered that over 50% of the students lost their virginity during their freshman year....almost like human beings.
posted by blob at 1:45 PM on January 24


Also be sure to check out Erik's other lengthy post series, This Day in Labor History, including today's post on the Passaic textile strike of 1926.

He also does frequent Music Notes posts where he reviews albums.

I don't think the guy sleeps much, is what I'm saying.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:20 AM on January 25


I got nothing done last night - excellent post, and fantastic series. I've forwarded it on to friends with the warning that this guy has no problem whatsoever speaking ill of the dead. Although some of his less vitriolic entries are just as interesting.
posted by mersen at 9:29 AM on January 25


This series has to be one of the longest running ones in the blogosphere (is that even still a term?)
Funny you should ask! Lawyers, Guns and Money started an "Oral History of the Blogosphere" series last month. It's making me feel like a dinosaur so far.
posted by Scarf Joint at 10:14 AM on January 25


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