TIME politics

History Indicates That Donald Trump’s Campaign Could Be Trouble for the Left

2016 U.S. Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Headquarters And Interview
Michael Nagle—Bloomberg / Getty Images Donald Trump speaks during a TV interview at the Trump Bar inside the Trump Tower in New York City, on Aug. 26, 2015.

Establishment Republicans aren't the only ones with reason to worry

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

Over the past month, as Donald Trump’s campaign for the Republican nomination has captured national attention for his blowhard-y comments, personal insults, and rising poll numbers, liberal commentators have rejoiced. As long as the Trump train keeps rolling, the argument goes, Democrats emerge as the real victors as Republicans grow more fractious. Weeks ago when Trump signaled he would consider running as a third-party candidate if he failed to win the Republican nomination, it was music to the ears of the left. While it is true that a Trump independent run would guarantee a presidential victory for Hillary Clinton in 2016, the long-term damage Trump could cause for the Democratic Party could be severe.

Consider the past. In 1948, Strom Thurmond broke with the Democrats and ran as a third-party Dixiecrat against Harry Truman, who encouraged civil rights legislation and desegregated the military. Thurmond spoke for millions of people when he declared on May 10 in Jackson, Mississippi, “All the laws of Washington, and all the bayonets of the Army, cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches, and our places of recreation.” Thurmond’s campaign was a nightmare for Truman and the Democratic establishment. Most thought the Republican nominee, Thomas Dewey, would win, but Truman squeaked out a close victory, no thanks to Thurmond who split the party. Thurmond won four southern states, but was trounced outside of the South. But in his loss, he gave a new, powerful voice to the radical right in the South – one that united white supremacy, anticommunism, and anti-New Deal sentiment into a unified ideology that undermined the liberal state over the next two decades.

Sixteen years later, Barry Goldwater secured the Republican nomination for President. He ran as an outsider, a conservative purist out of vogue with the moderate approach of the Republican leadership. But Goldwater captured the imagination of conservatives across the country, promising them a return to pure capitalism and traditional values. Lyndon Johnson hammered him in the presidential election, inspiring political commentators from the left and right to draw up the last will and testament of the Republican Party. But rather than its end, Goldwater’s loss cemented a new generation of conservative activists within the Republican Party, including Ronald Reagan. Goldwater’s loss underpinned a conservative resurgence.

In 1968, George Wallace ran as an independent presidential candidate, fanning the flames of racial hatred across the United States. Like Thurmond and Goldwater, Wallace lost by a wide margin, but he stoked fears and prejudices that still survive. Nixon tapped into these feelings as during his run too, but Wallace appealed to poor and lower middle-class whites in a way reminiscent of Strom Thurmond in 1948. In a television commercial, a voiceover asks, “Why are more millions and millions of Americans turning to Governor Wallace? Take a walk in your street or park tonight.” In the frame, a woman walks down a dark sidewalk, and someone shoots out the streetlight nearby. Appealing to white fears, Wallace linked together black criminality, urban rioting, communism, big government, and the alleged breakdown of traditional families into a powerful right-wing ideology that gripped American politics.

Trump’s candidacy is not without precedent. Similar campaigns have happened before, and the national media dismissed each at the time as insignificant. Democrats today would be wise to take Trump seriously. He won’t ever become President, but his impact on conservative America could run much deeper.

Sixty-five years ago, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., commenting in an article in the New York Times on “The Need for an Intelligent Opposition,” warned Democrats not to revel in the GOP’s troubles. “If a party becomes so feeble and confused that it turns into an object of public pity or contempt,” Schlesinger wrote, the result would be that “our whole political fabric suffers; the party itself disappears; and there is no guarantee that any new party which rises in its place will have a basic respect for constitutional processes and public order.” The same warning applies today.

T. Evan Faulkenbury is a PhD candidate in History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

TIME Sports

Serena Williams’ Fashion Future Was Hinted at Years Ago

Sep. 3, 2001
Cover Credit: ADREES LATIF The Sep. 3, 2001, cover of TIME

A TIME cover story from 2001 offered a glimpse at Serena Williams' still-to-come future

At the U.S. Open, starting Monday, Serena Williams will have the opportunity to make history with tennis’ always-elusive Grand Slam—victories in the four major tournaments all in the same year. That’s a huge deal for any athlete, but for Williams it could be especially so: as revealed in a New York Magazine cover story earlier this month, even though she’s at the top of her game the 33-year-old has her eye on what might come next.

There’s every indication that that next phase in Williams’ career will be to continue the work she’s already done in the world of fashion—which would be no surprise to anyone who read TIME’s 2001 cover story about Williams and her sister Venus. As the story revealed, the siblings were already taking their first steps toward a fashion career as they were first entering stardom:

They are up front about the fact that tennis is merely one aspect of their lives. They take the autumn off, for example, to attend a fashion design school located next to a strip mall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Because the ranking system of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) adds up the best 17 events over the previous 52 weeks, neither sister has a realistic shot at a No. 1 ranking. Still, Venus, who won Wimbledon in July, is ranked fourth, while Serena, who has played even less, is 10th. They are part-time players with a full-time presence.

…Along with Anna Kournikova, 20, who may be the most photographed woman in the world, the Williams sisters are celebrities as much as they are tennis players. “We’re two sisters. That’s new and exciting,” says Serena, sounding very much like a younger sister. And they act like sisters. Really close sisters. Besides living together, they usually share hotel rooms at tournaments. They sit next to each other in their classes. They want to start a clothing business together. When Venus loses her wallet, which is surprisingly often, Serena often finds it. Venus even sticks her nose in Serena’s mouth to find out what she ate. They make the Jolie siblings look estranged.

Read the full story from 2001, here in the TIME Vault: The Sisters vs. The World

TIME Icons

Ingrid Bergman: How a Photograph Never Made Led to Her Most Memorable Portrait

When LIFE photographer Gordon Parks decided not to snap his shutter on the Swedish-born actress--who was born 100 years ago on Aug. 29--it paved the way for one of the most treasured portraits of her ever made

Gordon Parks had been a member of LIFE Magazine’s staff for no more than a month when a tantalizing assignment dropped into his lap. His editors sent him to the small volcanic island of Stromboli, not far off the coast of Sicily, where the Italian neo-realist director Roberto Rossellini was making a film with the actress Ingrid Bergman. Parks’ mission had little to do with the film and everything to do with the love affair between the director and his star, who had left her husband and child for him. It was an international scandal. Bergman’s fans, who perhaps took her recent roles as a nun in The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) and the virgin saint in Joan of Arc too seriously, had turned on her. Knowing that a good scandal can drive sales, magazines and newspapers throughout Europe and the United States were locked in a fierce competition to get the first photographs of the couple in an embrace.

As Parks told the story in his various memoirs, he and Maria Sermolino, a writer from LIFE’s Rome bureau, arrived on the island just in time to watch Rossellini, in a fit of exasperation, order the press away. Rossellini, Parks said, ruled the island like a dictator. But he allowed Parks and Sermolino to stay, and that was due entirely to Bergman’s intervention.

Bergman had been impressed with the sensitivity that Parks brought to “Harlem Gang Leader,” a photo essay that he had photographed for LIFE as a freelancer in 1948. She felt that she could trust him to treat her and Rossellini with respect. (Bergman was not the photo essay’s only fan. It had won Parks his permanent position at the magazine.) In Voices in the Mirror, a memoir, Parks wrote that he was well aware of the bind that she created for him. LIFE’s editors wanted what the world wanted—“that unguarded moment of passion.” “If the moment arrived,” he wrote, “either LIFE or the melancholy lovers would suffer.”

When the chance to betray Bergman presented itself, Parks let it pass. After a day’s filming had ended, he entered the darkened set and found her and Rossellini holding each other in an intimate embrace, one that was “comforting rather than… lustful.” It was the kind of “unguarded moment” that he was on the island to capture. He began to raise his camera, but immediately put it down and left the room, hoping that neither of the lovers had noticed his presence. “The moment that slipped away,” he wrote, “was undeserving of betrayal.”

Bergman had noticed, however, and she was grateful. A few days later, she invited him to follow along as she and Rossellini walked along the island’s shore. On their own terms, they gave Parks the photographs that his editors wanted.

Parks and Sermolino spent two weeks on Stromboli, eventually winning Rossellini’s trust as well as Bergman’s. Parks photographed the movie’s cast and crew on the set and during the actual shooting. He made portraits of Bergman and her co-star, Mario Vitale. An unposed photograph of Rossellini and Bergman in a small boat on a dark day captures the emotional strain that both were under. (That strain would soon lift, as the pair would marry the following year and have three children together, including the actress Isabella Rossellini, before divorcing in 1957.)

The most remarkable photographs that Parks made on Stromboli are two slightly different portraits of Bergman in a distant part of the island. As he was photographing her, he writes in A Hungry Heart, the last of his memoirs, “three women stopped on the hill above us. Clad in black, and resembling ominous birds, they stared at her with curiosity. Aware of their presence, Ingrid waited for them to leave. I allowed my camera to record this sardonic moment.”

Despite their range and emotional power, LIFE chose not to use any of Parks’ photographs in the story that it ran on Rossellini and Bergman’s affair. But Parks published and exhibited the two photographs of Bergman and the three women in black throughout his lifetime. In one, Parks emphasizes Bergman’s vulnerability; in the other, she seems more knowing. Both seem to reveal a rare intimacy between the photographer and the subject, and in the decades since he made them, they have become two of his most iconic images.

Ingrid Bergman attracts curiosity of local women in the village where she is on location for the film "Stromboli".
Gordon Parks—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty ImagesIngrid Bergman attracts curiosity of local women in the village where she is on location for the film “Stromboli”.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

TIME Civil Rights

How Emmett Till’s Murder Changed the World

Emmett Till
AP A photo of Emmett Till of Chicago prior to his 1955 death

Aug. 28, 1955: Emmett Till, a black teenager, is abducted by two white men in Mississippi and later murdered

In 1955, when 14-year-old Emmett Till traveled from his home in Chicago to stay with a great-uncle in Tallahatchie County, Miss., his mother was nervous. Though the world was changing — the Brown v. Board of Education decision had come the year before — the Deep South was still a dangerous place to be black. Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, who had grown up in the rural county (a “snake-infested swamp,” as TIME described it that year), warned him of the risks. She told him “to be very careful… to humble himself to the extent of getting down on his knees,” per TIME.

“Living in Chicago,” she explained at the trial of his murderers, “he didn’t know.”

The teenager was abducted at gunpoint from his great-uncle’s home on this day, Aug. 28, 60 years ago, by two white men who accused him of having whistled at a white woman in a grocery store. His body was found in the Tallahatchie River three days later. He had been brutally beaten and shot in the head.

An all-white jury acquitted the defendants (the husband and brother-in-law of the woman who complained about Till), who later confessed to the killing in a raw, unremorseful interview with Look magazine. One said that they had intended only to beat the teen, but decided to kill him when he showed no fear — and refused to grovel.

“Well, what else could we do? He was hopeless,” J.W. Milam, the woman’s brother-in-law, is quoted as saying. “I’m no bully; I never hurt a [n—–] in my life. I like [n—–s] — in their place — I know how to work ’em. But I just decided it was time a few people got put on notice. As long as I live and can do anything about it, [n—–s] are gonna stay in their place.”

Because Milam and his accomplice had already been tried once for Till’s murder, the public confession did not yield more charges. But it provoked national outrage and became as powerful a catalyst in the civil rights movement as Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat just a few months later. As the Los Angeles Times later put it: “If Rosa Parks showed the potential of defiance, [some historians] say, Emmett Till’s death warned of a bleak future without it.”

Sixty years later, at a time when race relations are once more at the front of the American mind, Till’s name is still invoked as a reminder of the worst consequences of ignoring the problem. Not coincidentally, his story has inspired a resurgence of interest from historians and scholars as well as from TV and movie producers. Jay Z and Will Smith recently announced that they are collaborating on an HBO miniseries about him; Whoopie Goldberg is working on a film called Till, scheduled to begin production next year; and two more films are in the works, based on the book Death Of Innocence: The Story Of The Hate Crime That Changed America and the play The Face of Emmett Till, respectively.

Both the book and the play were co-written by Till’s late mother, who became a prominent civil-rights figure following her son’s funeral, when she insisted on an open casket so the world could see what had been done to him.

Read TIME’s original 1955 coverage of the Emmett Till case, here in the archives: Trial by Jury

TIME photography

How a Photographer Captured the USSR’s Dramatic Rise as the U.S. Economy Tanked

On August 29, 1991, the Soviet Parliament suspended the activities of the Communist Party. But when LIFE photographer Margaret Bourke-White visited the country in 1930, she found an empire on the rise.

Celebrating a country’s birthday or independence typically follows a well-known set of rituals, including fireworks, public festivals and passionate political speeches. Marking the occasion of a country’s collapse, however, is a trickier task, and one that Russians and citizens of the former Soviet Union confront each year on August 29. On that day in 1991, the Soviet Parliament suspended the activities of the country’s Communist Party, effectively pulling the plug on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) altogether.

Many of those who heard the news that day could not identify a time in their own lives when their country could compete with, let alone surpass, its capitalist rivals. Years of economic stagnation, political corruption and popular unrest had discredited Soviet-style socialism as both an idea and a reality, leaving the country with few options but to enter and adjust to a world of free markets. Leaving behind a past of dashed hopes was not so much a choice as a necessary and final capitulation, the terms of which demanded that Russians not look back for the sake of moving forward.

Soviet defeat, however, was not preordained. Indeed, never did the promises of Soviet socialism and the failures of American capitalism present themselves as tangibly and vividly as they did when American photographer Margaret Bourke-White traveled to Russia in 1930 on assignment for Fortune Magazine, LIFE’s older sibling. Only a few months had passed since the New York stock market came crashing down on October 29, 1929, taking many Americans’ savings and jobs with it. The event left many Americans without basic resources such as food, shelter and medical care, and exposed in stark terms the weakness of the American welfare state.

At the same time as breadlines, migrant workers and “Hooverville” tent cities were becoming common fixtures throughout the United States, the Soviet Union was consolidating the gains of its own transformation, one that began in 1928 when Joseph Stalin formally assumed the mantle of the Soviet leadership. Between 1928 and 1932, the Soviet government implemented two large-scale economic projects. First came the Five-Year Plan, an expansive and ambitious industrialization drive designed to shock the country into modernity. Factories, steel mills, hydroelectric dams and bridges popped up on fields, taigas, river beds and lonely mountains, creating more than 25 million industrial jobs for Soviet women and men in the process. Between 1928 and 1940, Soviet annual GNP growth clocked in at an astounding 15%, a rate that dwarfed the 5% annual growth that the United States experienced at the height of its own industrial revolution in the late nineteenth century.

“I saw the five-year plan as a great scenic drama being unrolled before the eyes of the world,” Bourke-White recalled in her book Eyes on Russia, published a year after her initial trip to the USSR. “Things are happening in Russia, and happening with staggering speed. I could not afford to miss any of it.” The black-and-white photographs she took during her 5,000-mile journey throughout the country reflect both the sense of awe she felt as she confronted the colossal building projects and the human toll the changes were taking.

Bourke-White played with perspective to communicate the scope of new construction. A partially built bridge was shot from ground level to enhance its already towering size. A tractor’s gleaming wheels (the “new God of Russia,” as she called it) acquired an exaggerated sense of scale, its human drivers pushed to the image’s far-right corner. Half-built pillars destined to become the main arteries of Central Ukraine’s Dnieperstroi Dam stand side by side, as if they were coming off an assembly line from behind the clouds. “All day long we climbed ladders, planks, and cross beams,” Bourke-White reminisced. “Hanging on to scaffolding, with one arm curved around a beam to steady myself, I photographed the shifting scene.” The entire Soviet Union had become a giant construction site, a sprawling playground for Bourke-White’s lens.

When it came to documenting collectivization, the other half of Stalin’s two-pronged economic policy, Bourke-White placed her human subject front and center. Collectivization, which took place between 1929 and 1931, called for the forced nationalization of the country’s agriculturally productive land and their subsequent division into state and collective farms. Stalin reasoned that nationalizing agriculture would make it easier to collect harvested crops and feed the country’s exponentially multiplying industrial workforce. The gamble intentionally privileged the wellbeing of his prized industrial workers at the expense of the peasants whose land and output would ultimately be seized. Famine, violence, and mass dislocation wreaked havoc throughout Ukraine, the North Caucuses and Russia’s Central Volga Region, resulting in the deaths of more than 5 million people by the end of 1932. By the time Bourke-White arrived in Russia, nearly 15 million households had been collectivized and 77 million tons of grain brought in during the 1930 harvest alone.

But if Bourke-White saw any of the suffering that attended collectivization, she did not reveal so in words. Only the photographs that she took during her stay at the newly formed state farms provide viewers with clues to her experience as a witness to perhaps the most revolutionary of Stalin’s experiments. An image of a Russian woman standing in front of a warmly dressed crowd, a single slab of meat wrapped tightly in her arms, signals to the viewer that the winter of 1930 was not a kind one. A portrait of a bearded Russian priest posing for Bourke-White’s camera with downcast eyes hints to the hardship he may have been experiencing in the wake of the government’s ban on formal religious practice.

A photograph of a man and woman standing in a state farm field, looking out into the cloudy abyss as a tractor rests nearby, speaks to the overwhelming exhaustion that Bourke-White’s subjects most likely felt when they contemplated the enormous task they were being asked to undertake. Those who see this image today may find it familiar. Indeed, its composition echoes those of the photographs that Bourke-White and other American photographers like Dorothea Lange would later take of Depression-era sharecroppers, displaced farm families and migrant workers while working for the New Deal’s Farm Securities Administration.

Unlike the elaborate parades staged in Red Square this past May to commemorate the 70th anniversary of German surrender on the Eastern Front, the collapse of the Soviet Union is celebrated individually and quietly. Some Russians may take a moment to reflect on their family’s history during the Soviet years, while others may feel relief that the socialist chapter of Russia’s history has ultimately closed. Many will go about their day without realizing what August 29 represents. In many ways, Russians, and especially Muscovites, confront the history of the Soviet project on a daily basis: as they ride the Moscow metro, walk past the Lenin Mausoleum as they cut through Red Square and spot one or more of the seven Stalinist skyscrapers somewhere in the middle distance, all built as a result of Soviet largess.

When asked why she decided to document the USSR’s industrial revolution back in the 1930s, Bourke-White responded with the following: “I wanted to take the pictures of this astonishing development, because, whatever the outcome, whether success or failure, the effort of 150 million people is so gigantic, so unprecedented in all history, that I felt that these photographic records might have some historical value.” If asked today how they feel about the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, many Russians would likely express a similar feeling: they may not know exactly what to make of it, but they know that it was something big.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

TIME animals

What Happened to the Wild Camels of the American West

camel
Getty Images

Initially seen as the Army's answer to how to settle the frontier, the camels eventually became a literal beast of burden

In the 1880s, a wild menace haunted the Arizona territory. It was known as the Red Ghost, and its legend grew as it roamed the high country. It trampled a woman to death in 1883. It was rumored to stand 30 feet tall. A cowboy once tried to rope the Ghost, but it turned and charged his mount, nearly killing them both. One man chased it, then claimed it disappeared right before his eyes. Another swore it devoured a grizzly bear.

“The eyewitnesses said it was a devilish looking creature strapped on the back of some strange-looking beast,” Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s official state historian, tells me.

Months after the first attacks, a group of miners spotted the Ghost along the Verde River. As Trimble explained in Arizoniana, his book about folk tales of the Old West, they took aim at the creature. When it fled their gunfire, something shook loose and landed on the ground. The miners approached the spot where it fell. They saw a human skull lying in the dirt, bits of skin and hair still stuck to bone.

Several years later, a rancher near Eagle Creek spotted a feral, red-haired camel grazing in his tomato patch. The man grabbed his rifle, then shot and killed the animal. The Ghost’s reign of terror was over.

News spread back to the East Coast, where the New York Sun published a colorful report about the Red Ghost’s demise: “When the rancher went out to examine the dead beast, he found strips of rawhide wound and twisted all over his back, his shoulders, and even under his tail.” Something, or someone, was once lashed onto the camel.

The legend of the Red Ghost is rich with embellishments, the macabre flourishes and imaginative twists needed for any great campfire story. Look closer, though, past the legend — past the skull and the rawhide and the “eyewitness” accounts — and you’ll discover a bizarre chapter of American frontier history. In the late 19th century, wild camels really did roam the West. How they got there, and where they came from, is a story nearly as strange as fiction.

In 1855, under the direction of then-Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, Congress appropriated $30,000 for “the purchase and importation of camels and dromedaries to be employed for military purposes.” Davis believed that camels were key to the country’s expansion westward; a transcontinental railroad was still decades away from being built, and he thought the animals could be well suited to haul supplies between remote military outposts. By 1857, after a pair of successful trips to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, the U.S. Army had purchased and imported 75 camels. Within a decade, though, each and every one would be sold at auction.

The camels were stationed in Camp Verde, in central Texas, where the Army used them as beasts of burden on short supply trips to San Antonio. In June 1857, under orders from Washington, the herd was split: more than two dozen were sent on an expedition to California, led by Edward Fitzgerald Beale. Five months later, Beale’s party arrived at Fort Tejon, an Army outpost a few miles north of Los Angeles. A California Historical Society Quarterly paper, written by A.A. Gray in 1930, noted the significance of that journey: “[Beale] had driven his camels more than 1,200 miles, in the heat of the summer, through a barren country where feed and water were scarce, and over high mountains where roads had to be made in the most dangerous places…He had accomplished what most of his closest associates said could not be done.”

Back east, the Army put the remaining herd to work at Camp Verde and at several outposts in the Texas region. Small pack trains were deployed to El Paso and Fort Bowie, according to a 1929 account by W.S. Lewis. In 1860, two expeditions were dispatched to search for undiscovered routes along the Mexican border. By that time, though, Congress had also ignored three proposals to buy additional camels; the political cost seemed to be too high. “The mule lobby did not want to see the importation of more camels, for obvious reasons,” Trimble says. “They lobbied hard, in Washington, against the camel experiment.”

If the mule lobby didn’t kill off the experiment, the Civil War did. At the dawn of the war, after Texas seceded from the Union, Confederate forces seized Camp Verde and its camels. “They were turned loose to graze and some wandered away,” Popular Science reported in 1909. “Three of them were caught in Arkansas by Union forces, and in 1863 they were sold in Iowa at auction. Others found their way into Mexico. A few were used by the Confederate Post Office Department.” One camel was reportedly pushed off a cliff by Confederate soldiers. Another, nicknamed Old Douglas, became the property of the 43rd Mississippi Infantry, was reportedly shot and killed during the siege of Vicksburg, then buried nearby.

By late 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, the camel experiment was essentially finished. The California camels, moved from Fort Tejon to Los Angeles, had foundered without work for more than a year. In September, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton ordered the animals be put up for auction. An entrepreneur of the frontier named Samuel McLaughlin bought the entire herd in February 1864, then shipped several camels out to Nevada to haul salt and mining supplies in Virginia City. (McLaughlin raised money for the trip by organizing a camel race in Sacramento. A crowd of 1,000 people reportedly turned up to watch the spectacle.) According to Gray’s account, the animals that remained in California were sold to zoos, circuses, and even back to Beale himself: “For years one might have seen Beale working camels about his ranch and making pleasure trips with them, accompanied by his family.”

The Texas herd was auctioned off shortly thereafter, in 1866, to a lawyer named Ethel Coopwood. For three years, Coopwood used the camels to ship supplies between Laredo, Texas, and Mexico City — and that’s when the trail starts to go cold.

Coopwood and McLaughlin sold off their herds in small bunches: to traveling zoos, to frontier businessmen, and on and on. I spoke with Doug Baum, a former zookeeper and owner of Texas Camel Corps, to learn where they went from there. As it turns out, the answers aren’t so clear. When the Army brought its camels to Texas, private businesses imported hundreds more through Mobile, Galveston, and San Francisco, anticipating a robust market out West.

“Those commercially imported camels start to mix with the formerly Army camels in the 1870s,” says Baum. The mixed herds made it increasingly difficult to track the offspring of the Army camels. “Unfortunately, it’s really murky where they end up and what their ultimate dispositions were, because of those nebulous traveling menageries and circuses,” he says.

That’s not to say the fate of every Army camel was unknown. We know what happened to at least one: a white-haired camel named Said. He was Beale’s prized riding camel during the expedition west, and at Fort Tejon, he was killed by a younger, larger camel in his herd. A soldier, who also served as a veterinarian, arranged to ship Said’s body across the country to Washington, where it could be preserved by the Smithsonian Institution. The bones of that camel are still in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History.

And as for the rest? Many were put to use in Nevada mining towns, the unluckiest were sold to butchers and meat markets, and some were driven to Arizona to aid with the construction of a transcontinental railroad. When that railroad opened, though, it quickly sunk any remaining prospects for camel-based freight in the southwest. Owners who didn’t sell their herds to travelling entertainers or zoos reportedly turned them loose on the desert — which, finally, brings the story back to the Red Ghost.

Feral camels did survive in the desert, although there almost certainly weren’t enough living in the wild to support a thriving population. Sightings, while uncommon, were reported throughout the region up until the early 20th century. “It was rare, but because it was rare, it was notable,” Baum says. “It would make the news.” A young Douglas MacArthur, living in New Mexico in 1885, heard about a wild camel wandering near Fort Selden. A pair of camels were spotted south of the border in 1887. Baum estimates there were “six to ten” actual sightings in the postbellum period, up to 1890 or so. The legend of the Red Ghost — a crazed, wild monster roaming the Arizona desert — fit snugly within the shadow of the camel experiment.

“Do I think it happened? Yes,” Baum says. “And it very likely could’ve been one of the Army camels since it was an Arabian camel.” In other words, the fundamental details behind the legend might contain some truth. A wild camel, possibly an Army camel that escaped from Camp Verde, was spotted in Arizona during the mid-1880s. A rancher did kill that camel after spying it in his garden. And when that rancher examined the animal’s body, he found deep scars dug across its back and body.

Fact or fiction, the story of the Red Ghost still leads back to the inevitable, the unanswerable: Could a person really have been lashed onto a wild camel? Who was he? And if he did exist, why did he suffer such a cruel fate? Says Trimble, “There’s just all kinds of possibilities.”

This article originally appeared on Smithsonianmag.com

More from Smithsonianmag.com:

TIME Books

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Thoughts on Some ‘Great Writers’

Ishiguro Cover Sheet
Harry Ransom Center Kazuo Ishiguro’s cover sheet for “Notes on some great writers.”

The author's archive was recently acquired by the Ransom Center

This post is in partnership with the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin. A version of the article below was originally published on the Ransom Center’s Cultural Compass blog. The Ransom Center recently acquired the archives of the author Kazuo Ishiguro.

Within Kazuo Ishiguro’s archive are some of his notes on great writers as well as thoughts about films. Some are handwritten while others are typed. Ishiguro has been, in his own words, “putting random, impromptu thoughts of books read (sometimes films seen) with particular emphasis on useful lessons, etc, for my own writing.”

Once processed and cataloged, Ishiguro’s archive will be available for research.

Here is a sampling from his notes:

Of Franz Kafka’s The Trial
“This book is so deep and mysterious, it is almost unfathomable. the [sic] metaphors are so unspecified, and yet at the same time, seem so pertinent, that one coul [sic] drive oneself mad thinking of applications, or interpretations.”

Of Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye
“This is a formidable novel by Chandler, ostensibly a crime novel, but far surpassing that genre….”

Notes on the script for Natural Born Killers
“Utterly rivetting [sic] script. As is the much more genteel League of Gentlemen, the underlying tension comes from not being able to predict where the sympathy of the film will fall…”

Of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov
“I’ve just got to the end of Vol I… and I’m disappointed with how baggy and unedited it feels…”

Of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park
“This book, while very engrossing and involving, seems to me to not be of the same order as Emma and Persuasion. It’s a cruder book in its moral outlook, and indeed, has something extremely unattractive and lacking in compassion. Of course you have to see these things in terms of the prevailing moral climate. But when you put this book alongside the generosity of spirit for individuals displayed in the other two novels, and the willingness to question the mores of prevailing society, M. Park has to be seen as disappointing.”

Of the film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
“saw a magnificent film by Michael Powell called ‘Life and Death of Col Blimp.’ It was a film very much concerned with a certain kind of British virtue—the gallantry, the chivalrous gentleman—who was a good loser, and always played fair—in love or in war.”

See more about the Ransom Center’s collection here at the Harry Ransom Center blog

TIME energy

How the American Oil Industry Got Its Start

Oil Well
AP This is the well near Titusville, Penn., that pumped the petroleum industry into existence 100 years ago. The picture was taken four years after Col. Edwin L. Drake struck oil on Aug. 27, 1859.

Aug. 27, 1859: Edwin Drake strikes oil in Pennsylvania with the first commercial well in the U.S.

America’s first successful wildcatter had a lot in common with fiction’s most famous whaler. Edwin Drake was as obsessively single-minded in his hunt for oil as Ahab had been in his quest for the white whale: He was called Crazy Drake, per PBS, after pouring the modern equivalent of more than $40,000 in investors’ money — and his own endless labor — into a search that spanned more than a year without results.

But on this day, Aug. 27, in 1859, Drake’s monomania paid off. He struck oil after drilling 69 ft. into the ground in Titusville, Pa., launching the petroleum age and making Titusville ground zero for the Pennsylvania oil rush.

Unlike Ahab (spoiler alert), Drake wasn’t destroyed by his discovery — at least not instantly. But although he was the first to engineer a successful oil-drilling system, lining his well with pipe to keep it from caving in, he never patented the method, and the money he’d made when he struck oil soon dried up.

A century later, TIME referred to him as “a sickly, bearded failure of a man in a stovepipe hat” in a story that nonetheless acknowledged that “[t]hough Discoverer Drake wound up virtually penniless and forgotten, his find opened the scramble for oil across the land,” inspiring a legion of oil prospectors to chase what had become, by 1959, “the greatest single source of wealth in America.”

His discovery also helped bring the whaling chapter of American history to a close. At the time, of course, petroleum didn’t power cars; it was used primarily to make kerosene for lamps. And it proved far cheaper than the prevailing source of lamp fuel: whale oil.

At its peak, around the time Melville published Moby Dick in 1851, whaling was the fifth-largest industry in the U.S., netting the equivalent of roughly $10 million, according to The Atlantic. But by the time Drake drilled for oil, over-hunting in the waters around North America had decimated local whale populations, forcing whalers to venture farther and stay at sea longer to catch their prey — and making the hunt both more costly and more dangerous, some historians say.

The parallels between the declining availability of whale oil at that time and the modern-day perils of the petroleum industry have not gone unobserved. As the New York Times has noted, whale oil once seemed to be an “impregnable” industry that the world could never do without. But petroleum, and the kerosene it produced, proved a fiercer rival to whalers than boat-bashing sea creatures.

Read more about Edwin Drake, here in the TIME archives: The Greatest Gamblers

TIME photography

What a Day at the Beach Looked Like in 1948

There's still time to bring back belly-sliding before the end of beach season

As summer fizzles to an end and children trade beach balls for backpacks, beachgoers pay their final visits to the shore. But the beach today doesn’t look quite like it did in 1948—and not just because sea levels are rising.

When LIFE chronicled how Americans were enjoying their beaches in the late 1940s, its photographers found revelers from Cape Cod to California engaging in activities not often seen today. They were belly-sliding, trampoline flipping, tossing one another in the air on blankets and shooting grape juice from water guns.

Still, if one thing has remained constant over the years, it’s captured in LIFE’s homage to the freedom of the seaside. As the editors wrote:

But perhaps its greatest appeal lies in the fact that people on a beach can feel just about as free and equal as they were created. Poor clothes and poor surroundings are forgotten. Anyone with the price of a bathing suit can suddenly become a sandy, sunburned monarch in a kingdom of salt spray, hot dogs and growling surf.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

TIME natural disaster

10 Essential Stories About Hurricane Katrina

Sep. 12, 2005
Cover Credit: KATHLEEN FLYNN / ST. PETERSBURG TIMES / WPN The Sep. 12, 2005, cover of TIME

'Trust no one and nothing. They're not counting on the levees to hold or the government to rescue them this time'

It was Aug. 29, 2005, that Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, leading to one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in U.S. history. On Thursday, President Obama will travel to New Orleans to mark the decade that has passed since then.

Ahead of that anniversary, take a look back through the lens of TIME:

An American Tragedy. TIME’s now-editor Nancy Gibbs wrote this cover story the first week after the storm made landfall, as the devastation was still mounting. Though the flood waters had yet to ebb, it was already clear that the storm was a singular event whose echoes would be felt for years to come.

But by the time President Bush touched down in the tormented region on Friday, more than just the topography had changed. Shattered too was a hope that four years after the greatest man-made disaster in our history, we had got smarter about catastrophe, more nimble and visionary in our ability to respond. Is it really possible, after so many commissions and commitments, bureaucracies scrambled and rewired, emergency supplies stockpiled and prepositioned, that when a disaster strikes, the whole newfangled system just seizes up and can’t move?

Read the full story, free of charge: The Aftermath (Sept. 12, 2005)

An accounting. The questions continued to pile up the following week. How, they each asked in their own ways, had this happened? TIME identified four junctures where human failure had compounded the problem. From the mayor’s office to the federal government, there was plenty of blame to go around.

Already it’s clear that this debacle was more than an act of God. This country’s emergency operations, awesome in their potential, are also frighteningly interdependent. The locals are in charge–until they get overwhelmed. Then they cede control to the feds–but not entirely. The scarier things get, the fuzzier the lines of authority become. As TIME’s investigation shows, at every level of government, there was uncertainty about who was in charge at crucial moments.

Subscribers can read the full story in the TIME Vault: 4 Places Where the System Broke Down (Sept. 19, 2005)

Another place. About a month after Katrina hit, Cathy Booth Thomas reminded readers that the destruction had not been limited to New Orleans proper. In one Louisiana parish, beginning the process of rebuilding seemed near impossible.

Unlike in New Orleans, which is turning on the lights and water spigots, the 67,000 people who live on the peninsula to the east–mostly white and middle-class homeowners–have nothing at all to go back to. Katrina’s tidal surge, with waves of up to 25 ft., was so strong, it moved houses–their concrete foundations still attached–down streets.

Subscribers can read the full story in the TIME Vault: Starting from Scratch (Oct. 17, 2005)

A homecoming, or not. About a week after evacuees began to return, Thomas reported that the situation in New Orleans was “worse than you think.”

On Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, the neon lights are flashing, the booze is flowing, and the demon demolition men of Hurricane Katrina are ogling a showgirl performing in a thong. The Bourbon House is shucking local oysters again, Daiquiri’s is churning out its signature alcoholic slushies, and Mardi Gras masks are once again on sale. But drive north toward the hurricane-ravaged housing subdivisions off Lake Pontchartrain and the masks you see aren’t made for Carnival. They are industrial-strength respirators, stark and white, the only things capable of stopping a stench that turns the stomach and dredges up bad memories of a night nearly three months ago.

Subscribers can read the full story on TIME.com: It’s Worse Than You Think (Nov. 28, 2005)

A lesson learned. Mother Nature doesn’t care if you’re still recovering: another year means another hurricane season. On the eve of the 2006 hurricane season, New Orleanians reflected on the take-away from Katrina, and it wasn’t exactly a movie-of-the-week moral.

Trust no one and nothing. They’re not counting on the levees to hold or the government to rescue them this time. Neighborhoods like Broadmoor are recruiting block captains to canvass residents who have returned, noting which homes are occupied, who lives in flimsy trailers and which elderly residents might need help. In Gentilly, where many senior citizens died, residents are looking into their own text-messaging system for emergency alerts. Self-sufficiency is everyone’s mantra, from civic associations to city hall.

Subscribers can read the full story in the TIME Vault: You’re On Your Own (May 29, 2006)

An opportunity. Around the time of the hurricane’s two-year anniversary, Walter Isaacson found a bright spot left behind in Katrina’s wake: the many people working to improve education in New Orleans.

Call it the silver lining: Hurricane Katrina washed away what was one of the nation’s worst school systems and opened the path for energetic reformers who want to make New Orleans a laboratory of new ideas for urban schools .

Subscribers can read the full story on TIME.com: The Greatest Education Lab (Sept. 17, 2007)

A near miss. In the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav in 2008, Michael Grunwald examined whether the relatively limited impact of that storm was a result of better preparation—or just a lucky break.

The sad truth is that the Big Easy–while slightly less vulnerable than it was before Katrina–is still extremely vulnerable. And eventually the region will face the Big One, a storm far larger than Gustav or Katrina. “We got lucky this time,” says law professor Mark Davis, director of Tulane’s Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy. “I like being lucky. But at some point we have to get smart.”

Subscribers can read the full story in the TIME Vault: The Flood Next Time (Sept. 15, 2008)

A retrospective. As 2010 approached, Andy Serwer dubbed the aughts “the decade from hell.” The hurricane was no small part of what made the 2000s so terrible.

Sometimes it was as if the gods themselves were conspiring against this decade. On Aug. 29, 2005, near the center point in the decade, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana, killing more than 1,500 and causing $100 billion in damages. It was the largest natural disaster in our nation’s history.

Subscribers can read the full story in the TIME Vault: The Decade From Hell (Dec. 7, 2009)

A retelling. Post-Katrina interest in New Orleans continued in 2010 with the premiere of the HBO show Treme. In his review, TV critic James Poniewozik examined how the hurricane had changed the way the city’s story was told.

[The show’s creators] set their series in December 2005, after the media and political attention had died down and, as [David] Simon puts it, “the people of New Orleans realized they were on their own.” But although it was only four years ago, that also makes Treme a period piece. The producers took pains to match the calendar of events and the look of the postflood city, still on edge and patrolled by the military. One asset, says [Eric] Overmyer: “Unfortunately, there are still places that still look like they did the day after the storm.”

Subscribers can read the full story in the TIME Vault: Song of Survival (Apr. 19, 2010)

An anniversary. For the fifth anniversary of Katrina, TIME took a look at photos from before and after, how the clean-up had gone, maps of how the city of New Orleans had changed—and more.

We didn’t realize how much we’d mourn New Orleans until Katrina’s rising, fetid waters turned it into a ghost town. There are just a few places in this hemisphere that embody the New World’s elegantly unruly culture. Rio de Janeiro is one, New Orleans another. Its jazz, the jambalaya swirl of its cuisine and architecture–the Crescent City is our boisterous soul roaring from a wrought-iron balcony. But it took a tragedy as ugly as Katrina to really make us aware of the Big Easy’s beauty.

See the full package, free of charge: New Orleans 2005–2010 (Sept. 6, 2010)

Read next: New Orleans, Here & Now

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