I sent Chris Mackowski a note on some stationery I got years ago–see below. As you’ll be able to tell, there’s a story behind it.
It was sent to me by my good friend Ben Maryniak of Buffalo. Ben and I were writing book reviews for The Courier and became epistolary companions. He wrote me a letter on this stationery. I don’t remember what he told me about its origin; a good illustrator, he might have designed it himself.
You can tell Ben had a great sense of humor, and a keen appreciation of the ironies–and sometimes lunacies–of history.
Here we see five vignettes that I call “Great Moments in Southern History.”
#1: The U.S. Congress passed an act in May 1830 providing for the removal of Indian tribes from their homelands in the eastern states. President Jackson (1829-37) pursued the policy of extinguishing Indian land titles; in his two terms, by nearly a hundred coerced “treaties,” Indian removal was implemented.
In 1845, Southern Methodists, meeting in Louisville, Ky., formed the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, after the national convention passed a resolution calling on the national bishop, a Georgian, to cease his clerical work till he freed or sold his slaves.
Not all Southerners supported the war with Mexico (Calhoun, for instance, voted against the declaration of war). But when Congress considered banning slavery from any territory that might be acquired from Mexico (Wilmot Proviso), Southerners rallied in opposition, despite the fact that southwestern lands would be unsuited to cotton cultivation.
#4: ‘Nuff said.
Ben fell ill in 2009 and died tragically of a hospital infection on May 25 at the age of 61.
He is buried in Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery. Years ago, when Ben had me flown up to speak to his Round Table, we spent a Saturday morning perambulating the cemetery. He took me to the grave of President Millard Fillmore (1800-1874). He photographed me standing beside the obelisk. I still have the picture. Every time I look at it, I think of my old friend. He’s remembered lovingly in his home town, where colleagues have renamed their Round Table the Benedict R. Maryniak Chapter.
God bless his memory.