The Missing Link: The Search for the Connection Between Young Americans for Freedom and Charles Willoughby

By Jeff Lauck ’18

Last semester, Gettysburg College was abuzz with controversy over the ultra-conservative messages that the Young Americans for Freedom organization was spreading around campus. As the Compiler’s unofficial, wannabe muckraker, I wanted to dive into the discussion. My entry point was a rumor that a reactionary Gettysburg College alumnus helped establish the organization in the 1960s. I jumped at the opportunity to uncover the link.

Gettysburg graduate and right-wing officer Charles Willoughy '14 in 1918. Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons.
Gettysburg College graduate and right-wing army officer Charles Willoughy ’14 in 1918. Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons.

The only information I had to work with was his name, Charles A. Willoughby, and the fact that he was one of General Douglas MacArthur’s prodigies. A quick Google search revealed that Willoughby was indeed involved in YAF. However, the only sources were blogs and books that also claim that Willoughby was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. These are obviously not the most reliable sources. The search also revealed ample evidence that Willoughby was an ultra-conservative with connections to fascists. He was good friends with conservative icons like Billy Hargis and John Rousselot and even testified before Joseph McCarthy’s House Committee on Un-American Activities to try to label an elderly woman as a “communist subversive.” He also idolized Francisco Franco and Benito Mussolini. Yet this doesn’t prove he was involved in YAF; it merely proves that he was an extreme right-winger. I was determined to find hard evidence to support a link to YAF. Continue reading “The Missing Link: The Search for the Connection Between Young Americans for Freedom and Charles Willoughby”

This Month in Civil War History: December 2015

By Jeff Lauck ’18

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Illustration by Thomas Nast, from Harper’s Weekly, January 1863.

Click the play button below in order to listen to “This Month in Civil War History” for December 2015. You can also scroll down to read through the transcript if you would prefer to read it. This report is also airing on WZBT 91.1 FM throughout this month. Thanks to WZBT for their help in producing this piece.

Transcript:

Continue reading “This Month in Civil War History: December 2015”

CWI Radio Report: Dedication Day and Remembrance Day 2015

By Jeff Lauck ’18

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Luminaria at Gettysburg National Cemetery, 2014.

UPDATE: The Dedication Day ceremony has been moved to the College Union Building at Gettysburg College due to inclement weather.

Click the play button below in order to listen to Jeff’s special report on this week’s Civil War commemorations here in Gettysburg. You can also scroll down to read through the transcript if you’d prefer. This report will be airing on WZBT throughout this week. Thanks to WZBT 91.1 FM for their help in producing this piece.

Continue reading “CWI Radio Report: Dedication Day and Remembrance Day 2015”

The Good, the Great, and the Ugly of Public History

By Jeff Lauck ’18

Elizabeth Smith '17 gives a tour in Fredericksburg as part of her Pohanka internship. Photo courtesy of the author.
Elizabeth Smith ’17 gives a tour in Fredericksburg as part of her Pohanka internship. Photo courtesy of the author.

My last post recounted some of my favorite takeaways from my Civil War road trip this summer. But this trip was about more than just mosquito bites and cheap donuts; it was the first time I ever visited a historical site as a student of public history. My first tour was with Elizabeth Smith ’17 at the Sunken Road at Fredericksburg. Elizabeth’s tour was unique in that she was able to connect the events that transpired along Marye’s Heights, a moderately nuanced subject, to President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a very well-known subject. I was delighted to see this connection that appealed to a wide audience. For the hardcore Civil Warrior, Elizabeth’s accounts of the 5th New Hampshire and Cobb’s Georgia Legion gave the military historian exactly what he or she was looking for. Tying the mortality of the common soldier and the pathos of the war-torn nation that was so evident at Fredericksburg to the familiar and powerful Gettysburg Address gave the casual Civil War enthusiast something relatable (and perhaps it provided a new perspective to the hardened military historian as well). Her knowledge of her audience combined with her ability to connect broad themes to specifics and the importance of location demonstrated Elizabeth’s skill as a public historian.

Continue reading “The Good, the Great, and the Ugly of Public History”

On the Road: A Summer Odyssey in Dixie

By Jeff Lauck ’18

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My friends Julia Kerr ’18, Meredith Staats ’18, and Cameron Kinard ’18 at our campsite in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Photo courtesy of the author.

All summer long, readers of The Gettysburg Compiler were treated to posts from Pohanka interns documenting their research and experiences at historical sites across the country. While I did not participate in the Pohanka internship program this summer, I did take a few of my friends on a week-long camping trip to visit a couple of the interns and see them in action. Our plan was to drive from Connecticut to Harrisburg, PA, where we would stay with friends for the night, then drive to Fredericksburg, VA to tour the Civil War battlefields there and around Richmond.

The trip was memorable for a number of reasons. First, a camping trip with friends presents its own slew of challenges and opportunities. As the only experienced camper and trip planner, I quickly gained the nickname “mom,” a name that has stuck long since we made it back home. We also learned that summers in Virginia are hot, humid, and prone to scattered thunderstorms. All of these challenges were made worse by the fact that we were staying in a tent and two of our party had never before been on a camping trip. Despite one near-collision with a dump truck on a narrow back road in Virginia and a single case of Lyme disease, we all managed to make it home safely. Continue reading “On the Road: A Summer Odyssey in Dixie”

The Intersection of Art and Public History: Schmucker Art Gallery’s Newest Exhibit

By Jeff Lauck ’18

“‘Pray For the People Who Feed You’: Voices of Pauper Children in the Industrial Age” is the newest exhibit to be featured in the Schmucker Art Gallery at Gettysburg College. The exhibit was curated by Gettysburg College senior Rebecca Duffy ’16, and is the culmination of her three semester International Bridge Course (IBC) program. At its opening on Friday, October 2, Duffy discussed her experiences with the IBC program and the process she went through in putting together this unique project.

Grist For the Mill, by Minna Citron. This painting, currently in the “Pray For the People Who Feed You: Voices of Pauper Children in the Industrial Age” exhibit in Schmucker Art Gallery depicts two impoverished children who read about the world events that unfold around them.
Grist For the Mill, by Minna Citron. This painting, currently in the “Pray For the People Who Feed You: Voices of Pauper Children in the Industrial Age” exhibit at Schmucker Art Gallery depicts two impoverished children reading about the world events unfolding around them.

Duffy is an Art History and History double major with a minor in the new Public History program. In designing her project, she wanted to incorporate elements of each of her areas of study. Duffy was also influenced by her work as a Pohanka Intern at Petersburg National Battlefield and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. The International Bridge Course program at Gettysburg College offers students the opportunity to work with a faculty mentor over a three semester period, with the middle semester being conducted through the study abroad program. Continue reading “The Intersection of Art and Public History: Schmucker Art Gallery’s Newest Exhibit”

“What About Thad Stevens?”: A Call to Action to Commemorate a Great Gettysburgian and an even Greater American

By Jeff Lauck ’18

I love Lincoln. He adorns my iPhone case. A poster of him hangs in my room. I occasionally wear his signature stovepipe hat around the house. Earlier this week, I wrote about the newly dedicated Abraham Lincoln statue outside of Stevens Hall at Gettysburg College. I now make an effort to walk by it every day on my way to class.

Regardless of my more-than-slight obsession with our 16th President, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed when I heard the space in front of Stevens Hall was to be the spot for another Lincoln statue. When I walked on campus for the first time this semester, I saw the new walkway and the granite pedestal, which very clearly would soon be the base for a new statue. Not having heard who the statue would depict, my mind flurried with possibilities. I quickly settled on the perfect candidate: Thaddeus Stevens. Thaddeus Stevens had, after all, provided the land for the college when it was first founded in 1832. He was an avid abolitionist and supporter of freedmen during Reconstruction. A statue seemed like a perfect way to recognize his efforts during the sesquicentennial years of Reconstruction. Most importantly, the statue was going to be right outside Stevens Hall, a building that was named for him. But Thaddeus Stevens was not the subject of this new statue. Rather, “The Great Emancipator” has taken a permanent seat on our campus.

Where is the love for Thaddeus Stevens? M. P. Price. Portrait of Thaddeus Stevens, 1792-1868. Published in 1898. Library of Congress.
Where is the love for Thaddeus Stevens? M. P. Price. Portrait of Thaddeus Stevens, 1792-1868. Published in 1898. Library of Congress.

Continue reading ““What About Thad Stevens?”: A Call to Action to Commemorate a Great Gettysburgian and an even Greater American”

President Lincoln Finds a Permanent Seat on Campus: The Dedication of the New Abraham Lincoln Statue Outside Stevens Hall

By Jeff Lauck ’18 

Students, faculty, and visitors to Gettysburg College have likely noticed the most recent addition to our campus. Last Friday, a brand new bronze statue of President Abraham Lincoln was dedicated outside Stevens Hall. The statue, which stands nine feet tall, depicts a seated President Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation and was designed by Stanley Watts, who also designed the Lincoln statue outside the Gettysburg Public Library on Baltimore Street. The statue unveiling comes almost 153 years to the day when President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which gave the Confederate States 100 days to return to the Union before emancipation would become law.

The statue dedication was preceded by a luncheon and panel discussion on the significance and legacy of the Emancipation Proclamation. Dr. Michael Birkner moderated the panel, which featured Dr. Scott Hancock, Dr. Jill Ogline Titus, and Dr. Peter S. Carmichael. Dr. Carmichael began the discussion by explaining the context for the Emancipation Proclamation. According to Dr. Carmichael, as the war carried on, Lincoln realized that slavery was severely undermining the Union war effort and that emancipation was therefore a necessary tool to achieve victory. On September 22, 1862, a few days after the Union victory at Antietam, he issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Upon issuing the final document on January 1, 1863, Lincoln declared: “I never, in my life, have felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper.” Continue reading “President Lincoln Finds a Permanent Seat on Campus: The Dedication of the New Abraham Lincoln Statue Outside Stevens Hall”