If you have not gathered this already, I am something of a history buff.
There's nothing I like better than hunkering down with a good history book about a savage war or national calamity as I lie in my cozy bed happy in the knowledge that I was not involved in it. It is like watching a construction project from a long distance, marveling at the jackhammer but glad that I am not on the end of one.
This explains what I was doing Wednesday night at a lecture at the Edgeworth Club given by Harton S. Semple Jr., who has written a handsome new booklet about Sewickley Cemetery, where the residents are even more dead but still more interesting than some of the types one is apt to meet at local cocktail parties.
The theme of the talk by Mr. Semple, who is both the executive director of the Sewickley Valley Historical Society and a board member of the Sewickley Cemetery Foundation, is how the cemetery bears testament in stone to the history of the valley. The lecture was a feast of tidbits but today I will share only one, on the off chance that you might not be much interested in cemeteries.
This historical news will come as a shock to those who think this newspaper has always been hostile to the Republican Party. It turns out that a past editor of the Pittsburgh Gazette, our ancestor, helped establish the Republican Party.
He was David Nye White, who as editor and sole proprietor of the Gazette from 1848 onwards turned it into a major voice of the abolition movement. Dissatisfied with the existing parties' stand on this issue, he started one of his own, according to Mr. Semple, who calls him the "father" of the Republican Party.
To be sure, other sources don't quite collaborate this. The GOP's own Web site says the earliest meetings of the party were in Ripon, Wisconsin, and Jackson, Michigan, and don't mention White by name. But the first national convention of the party was in Pittsburgh on Feb, 22 and Feb, 23, 1856, and, according to Mr. Semple, White in 1855 did call for county and state conventions - and they were held.
Whether David Nye White was the father or one of the founding fathers of the party can be argued but he was in the thick of it and before too long that action soon gave us President Abraham Lincoln. He now resides in Sewickley Cemetery, where his grave is marked by an obelisk.
A funny thing, history. Instead of whining about the PG today, some of you right wingers ought to go out to Sewickley Cemetery and hail a Pittsburgh Gazette editor whom you ought not to feel so badly about. It would make a change.
Now, concerning my last post and those who responded to it, I never explain anything. You either have the wit to understand the point of what I write or you do not. Sorry, folks, I feel bad for you, but I wish you a happy weekend in your bafflement.