TIME History

What It Was Like Growing Up at Gettysburg

My family's antique shop by the historic battlefield has helped customers—and me—connect to our nation's history

“Do you have the kind of bullet that killed Lincoln?” asked a tourist buying a Derringer pistol, wearing a God Bless America t-shirt. I looked up from the counter a bit confused. I’d come in late after watching Steven Spielberg and Doris Kearns Goodwin speak at Gettysburg’s Soldiers’ National Cemetery for the 149th Remembrance Day, the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s address. I was cold and my coffee had only begun to wake me up.

“It should be the size of any pistol bullet,” I said. “I’ll look up the caliber on my phone and see if we can find one that matches.” It was a strange request, but it didn’t faze me the way it would have years earlier. I had been working in my family’s store, The Horse Soldier, for a little over six full months after graduating college in that year of 2012. I had promised my grandmother, who still worked at our front counter every day possible until retiring this year, that I would stay at our relic and antique store through the summer of 2013. We were preparing for the deluge of tourists that would be drawn by the 150th commemoration of America’s bloodiest battle; this was no time to be squeamish.

I picked up a U.S. Minié ball from hundreds of bullets stashed in front of our counter and wondered whether my grandfather knew what he was signing us up for when he found his first one.

My family’s business started as my grandfather’s hobby. Chester “Chet” Small, a U.S. Marine, came home to Gettysburg after he and his brothers had served in World War II. While trying to move on from the war he fought in overseas, he kept finding relics and bullets from another war in his backyard, as he and his brothers had in their childhood, over the road from Pickett’s Charge. The harvest of such deadly memorabilia was tragically bountiful.

My dad, Maurice, is named after one of his uncles, the one killed in action in France and buried in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. Most shop customers call him Sam. My aunts tell me my uncle Wes couldn’t pronounce his name when they were little so that’s what everyone calls him. My grandfather started trading the bullets and relics he had found with his old military friends. Sometimes he’d sell dad and Wes bullets for a penny so they could sell them for a nickel to earn money for ice cream at the stand past Devil’s Den.

At some point, my grandmother Patricia put her foot down, insisting that these strange bearded men stop bringing big rifles into her living room. So Sam, Wes, and Chet built a shed out near the side of the Emmitsburg Road in 1972 and hung up a sign that read “Civil War Relics.”

My dad and his brother went off to college and returned home in the 1980s. Unsatisfied with other jobs, they began to build the business and moved the operation into town. The park – like many famous Civil War battlefields, Gettysburg is part of the National Park Service – purchased my grandparents’ battlefield property and tore down their wooden house to restore the land to its state in 1863. Too bad they tore down the house: information later revealed that the house was a witness to the battle after all. It had just moved from its original foundation across the road, transported by horses pulling logs.

Piecing together a network of collectors, relic hunters, and researchers, my family would encounter an endless stream of Americana’s holy grails. By attending trade shows with vendors, growing up with families that ran Gettysburg’s museums, and distributing a catalog worldwide twice a year for nearly 20 years, my family built a reputation for the honest art of appraising Civil War authenticity. We’ve handled some impressive artifacts over the years; Ulysses Grant’s coat, a set of the Lincoln White House chinaware, signal flags from Little Round Top, a pike from John Brown’s raid, fabric from Jefferson Davis’s chair, Frederick Douglass’s signature.

Most recently, we handled the belongings of General John Fulton Reynolds. Reynolds was shot on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg in McPherson’s Woods and died in the building next door to our store’s current location. His descendants, the Scotts, had passed down the items generation to generation. The family relinquished some of the artifacts—the kepi, belt, sword, corps badge he wore on July 1, 1863–to the National Park Service. A photo of Reynolds ended up in the National Portrait Gallery, and some daguerreotypes and presidential commissions promoting him remain in our store; a commission signed by Lincoln will go for $35,000 to the right buyer someday.

To most Horse Soldier customers, that overpriced stuff is for eggheads. Why pay five figures for a piece of paper when you can buy an 1861 Springfield musket, original Colt pistols, cartridge boxes, an Ames Cavalry sabre, daguerreotypes, a Sharps carbine, artillery shells, a tourniquet, bayonets, a canteen for a lot less? Most collectors aren’t about the big names; they’re about connecting with the historical moment. Civil War fandom is very democratic that way.

Customer nostalgia – if you can be nostalgic for a past you didn’t experience first-hand – is triggered by all sorts of associations. Many come searching for a relative’s possessions or just an emblematic piece of state pride. A lot of our customers are veterans, communing with the artifacts (and sacrifices) of their predecessors.

The word nostalgia is a compound marrying the Greek words nostos (“homecoming”) and algos meaning “pain, ache.” Along with the other quack solutions you read about in Civil War medical texts, doctors believed that the homesickness variety of nostalgia could be cured by exercise and battle or would issue discharges and furloughs to treat more severe cases at home. Musicians, meanwhile, indulged the sentiment, pumping out songs about longing for home – from the hurrahs of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” to the forlorn ballad of “Lorena.”

The Civil War is a big draw for the nostalgic set longing for a time of purpose and moral clarity. And battle re-enactments offer adults a rare, if not last, chance to dress up and pretend. The combination of solemn respect and child-like play seem as contradictory as the Blue and the Grey.

The Horse Soldier provided the backdrop to my childhood. It’s where I best remember my grandparents. And everyone remembers the tree that grew right inside the front of the shop where Grandma used to feed acorns to squirrels. Around the corner you would find my grandfather, whom I knew only as Pop-Pop, rooted firmly on a green vinyl Steelcase chair next to the saloon doors and a row of rifles. Eventually, the tree was torn down, replaced with a panoply of cannons and Gatling-guns aimed at anyone who dared to enter.

My grandfather passed away five years ago. As his health declined, some of my relatives, high school friends, numerous Horse Soldier employees, and I boxed up every last item to move down the street to our new location. It was a strange exercise, tearing down something that seemed so permanent, accounting for every piece before I went back to my sophomore year of college.

That winter, I was deeply moved by an old poem entitled “My Childhood Home I See Again,” about the bittersweet mixture of remembrance and loss felt in returning home. Its author, Abraham Lincoln, submitted the poem to Illinois Whig in 1847:

O Memory! thou midway world
‘Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise. . .

Lincoln’s poem goes on to describe the feeling of returning home “after 20 years have passed away,” and his sentiments rang true with me only after a couple of years removed from Gettysburg. We often take the places that nurture us into the world for granted. Having grown up surrounded by battlefields, I used to dismiss the reverence people displayed for this American shrine.

After my grandfather’s passing, I began to read Civil War history to coincide with the epochal 150th anniversaries being commemorated. I read Carl Sandburg’s tomes about a home-spun, rail-splitting dark-horse Republican candidate from the frontier that won the presidency that fall, assembled a “team of rivals” halfway during my junior year winter break, and was sworn in just a couple days before my 21st birthday in March. As I geared up for finals in April, South Carolina fired shots at Fort Sumter.

As I returned to Gettysburg in 2012, I knew the buildup to the battle would be long, so I made a daily habit to check the period newspapers—The New York Herald, The New York Times, Harper’s Weekly, Leslie’s Illustrated— in “real-time.” I also went on a serious history-reading bender, taking on a challenge from Horse Soldier employee, John Peterson, who offered a Bob Dylan poster as bait. Before I read James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, “Lincoln freed the slaves” was a platitude. Before I read Stephen Sears’ Gettysburg, the battlefield was a nice place for a picnic, not a three-day ordeal through the crucible of hell that took place during one July’s opening days.

After you actually learn the true history, rather than the ghost story, you can’t escape the grasp of shared humanity. I gained a greater appreciation of what it means to preserve history. Touring where I had spent my childhood, a Horse Soldier regular, Jerry Bennett, breathed life into the past, pointing out buildings and recounting diary stories from housewives describing my hometown under siege.

So much has changed since Lincoln transformed the war from an inexplicable horror into a global struggle for honor in his dedication of these fields. While many Americans have some personal connection to the Civil War, I’m struck by how many people from outside the country are drawn to where Lincoln declared our country would have a “new birth of freedom.” Lincoln was a wise man ahead of his time, but I am not sure he could have imagined little kids far into the future dressed like him with stovepipe hats and beards.

As for me, I am still pitching in at the store then and now, while pursuing a career in DC. But I am pretty sure I will be behind the counter in July of 2063, helping to commemorate the big bicentennial.

Andrew Small is a journalist living in Washington, D.C. He wrote this for What It Means to Be American a national conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zocalo Public Square.

TIME History

The Civil War Was Won by Immigrant Soldiers

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Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

One in four Union fighters was foreign-born

In the summer of 1861, an American diplomat in Turin, Italy, looked out the window of the U.S. legation to see hundreds of young men forming a sprawling line. Some wore red shirts, emblematic of the Garibaldini who, during their campaign in southern Italy, were known for pointing one finger in the air and shouting l’Italia Unità! (Italy United!). Now they wanted to volunteer to take up arms for l’America Unità!

Meanwhile, immigrants already in the United States responded to the call to arms in extraordinary numbers. In 1860, about 13% of the U.S. population was born overseas—roughly what it is today. One in every four members of the Union armed forces was an immigrant, some 543,000 of the more than 2 million Union soldiers by recent estimates. Another 18% had at least one foreign-born parent. Together, immigrants and the sons of immigrants made up about 43% of the U.S. armed forces.

America’s foreign legions gave the North an incalculable advantage. It could never have won without them. And yet the role of immigrant soldiers has been ignored in the narrative of a brothers’ war fought on American soil, by American soldiers, over issues that were uniquely American in origin.

In the 1860s, Confederate diplomats and supporters abroad were eager to inform Europeans that the North was actively recruiting their sons to serve as cannon fodder. In one pamphlet, Confederate envoy Edwin De Leon informed French readers that the Puritan North had built its army “in large part of foreign mercenaries” made up of “the refuse of the old world.”

Embarrassed Northerners claimed the Confederacy exaggerated how many foreign recruits made up the U.S. armed forces—pointing to immigrant bounty jumpers who enlisted to collect the money given to new recruits, deserted, and then re-enlisted. The underlying premise was that foreigners were not inspired by patriotic principle and, except for money, had no motive to fight and die for a nation not their own.

It was not true. Immigrants tended to be young and male, but they enlisted above their quota. Many immigrants left jobs to fight for the Union, enlisting before the draft—and the bounties—were even introduced. They volunteered, fought, and sacrificed far beyond what might be expected of strangers in a strange land.

Historians have done an excellent job of retrieving the voices of native-born, English-speaking soldiers. But the voices of the foreign legions remain silent—thanks to the paucity of records in the archives, the language barriers posed to historians, and, perhaps, a lingering bias that keeps foreigners out of “our” civil war.

Why did they fight? What were they fighting for? Recruitment posters in the New York Historical Society provide hints at the answers. One poster reads: Patrioti Italiani! Honvedek! Amis de la liberté! Deutsche Freiheits Kaempfer! (Italian patriots! Hungarians! Friends of liberty! German freedom fighters!) Then, in English, it urges “250 able-bodied men . . . Patriots of all nations” to fight for their “adopted country.”

One immigrant mother gave testimony in 1863 to an antislavery convention as to why her 17-year-old son was fighting for the Union. “I am from Germany where my brothers all fought against the Government and tried to make us free, but were unsuccessful,” she said. “We foreigners know the preciousness of that great, noble gift a great deal better than you, because you never were in slavery, but we are born in it.”

Following the failed Revolution of 1848, thousands of young Germans fled to America. They took up arms in what they saw as yet another battle in the revolutionary struggle against the forces of aristocracy and slavery. “It isn’t a war where two powers fight to win a piece of land,” one German enlistee wrote to his family. “Instead it’s about freedom or slavery, and you can well imagine, dear mother, I support the cause of freedom with all my might.”

In another letter written to his family in Europe, a German soldier gave a pithy explanation of the war: “I don’t have the space or the time to explain all about the cause, only this much: the states that are rebelling are slave states, and they want slavery to be expanded, but the northern states are against this, and so it is civil war!”

So it was civil war, but for many foreign-born soldiers and citizens, this was much more than America’s war. It was an epic contest for the future of free labor against slavery, for equal opportunity against privilege and aristocracy, for freedom of thought and expression against oppressive government, and for democratic self-government against dynastic rule. Foreigners joined the war to wage the same battles that had been lost in the Old World. Theirs was the cause not only of America, but of all nations.

Don H. Doyle is the author of The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War. He is McCausland Professor of History at the University of South Carolina. Follow him on Facebook. He wrote this for What It Means to Be American, a national conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zócalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Money

Alexander Hamilton Was Robbed

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Why I oppose redesigning the $10 bill

Suppose you were Treasury secretary at a moment of worrisome global financial instability. Here is near-bankrupt Greece, truculently threatening, unless Germany pays the pensions of its retirees and the salaries of its public servants, to undermine Europe’s rather fanciful currency, managed by a central bank operating within no single government’s fiscal policy. Meanwhile, in the world’s two largest national economies, China is trying to deflate safely a giant real-estate bubble of ghost cities financed by zombie banks, while the U.S. Federal Reserve presides over the seventh year of capitalism with an almost zero return on capital. Would you spend any time, as Treasury secretary Jack Lew is doing, on redesigning the $10 bill by removing the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, the genius architect of the nation’s financial system, as its main image and replacing it with the portrait of a woman, based on the politically correct whim that America should mark the 2020 centennial of women’s suffrage in this way?

What woman? It seems that almost any one will do, from civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks to Cherokee chief Wilma Mankiller, the Wall Street Journal reports. “It’s very important to be sending the signal of how important it is to recognize the role that women have played in our national life and in our national history for a very long time, really from the beginning,” said Lew, in prose that shows that language can become as inflated and devalued as currency.

This move would be an error of almost comic silliness. What makes money sound is people’s belief in the solidity of its value. It isn’t that it is made of gold, since history teaches that governments have debased even the hardest currency, clipping tiny bits off gold coins or mixing base metal with bullion in new batches stamped at the mint. The same is true of gold-backed banknotes, which governments have devalued again and again. After all, beyond its commodity value for filling teeth or making jewelry, gold has no value beyond the magical quality superstition assigns to it—or once assigned to it.

As world-historical Founding Father Hamilton rightly postulated, a banknote or a coin is just a promise to pay, whose value ultimately rests on people’s trust that that promise will be fulfilled. And it can be fulfilled, not because America’s currency represents some set quantity of specie but rather because it mobilizes “the productions of the country,” wrote Hamilton, fueling the nation’s “unequalled spirit of enterprise, which . . . is in itself an inexhaustible mine of national wealth,” more than any of the gold mines of Spanish America or the not-yet-discovered gold fields of California. The wealth of the nation, at its most fundamental level, consists of the energy and imagination of its citizens in making use of and developing the natural and human resources at hand, often in ways never dreamt of before, and in the constant commercial exchange of the productions of their industry and inventiveness. The medium of exchange—the currency—that allows all this to happen seamlessly therefore does possess something like the magical quality of a self-fulfilling prophesy. The belief that it represents wealth frees and incentivizes people to create wealth.

Recognizing the role of belief—of faith—in making a currency work, Hamilton noted that “in nothing are appearances of greater moment, than in whatever regards credit. Opinion is the soul of it”—that is to say, the spirit that breathes life into it—“and that is affected by appearances as well as realities.” It’s for that reason that our first Treasury secretary backed his paper currency with a tiny fraction of gold, when gold still carried its magical aura. It would make the paper seem sound, so that people wouldn’t try to cash their paper dollars in for it all at once but instead would use them to finance productive activity. Like Dumbo’s feather, the small national stock of gold was a totem that gave people the courage and incentive to work the magic that was in themselves, which is what wealth creation really is. It’s for that reason, too, that Hamilton ensured that the shareholders of the central bank that would manage the currency would be largely private investors, with a minority government stake, because governments can’t resist the temptation to pay off national debt by inflating the currency, thus debasing it as a trustworthy medium of exchange. Private owners, by contrast, care about nothing more than the stability of their bank.

So the completely fiat U.S. currency that came into being when President Richard Nixon ended the dollar’s convertibility into gold in 1971 is scarcely more factitious than Hamilton’s 1790s dollars, but it is theoretically no less solid and effective—as long as the central bank manages it, as Hamilton did, to ensure its solidity. That’s why the 1978 Humphrey-Hawkins Act proved so dangerous to the national credit, for it charged the U.S. central bank—the Federal Reserve—with the impossible, contradictory task of balancing the economic need for a sound currency with the political desire for full employment. And it’s no wonder that the Fed is coming under criticism for its failures to do an impossible job flawlessly, or that critics are proposing such nostrums as a return to the gold standard.

I would suggest the simpler Hamiltonian course of repealing Humphrey-Hawkins, giving the Fed responsibility and regulatory powers only to ensure a sound currency, and insulating it as much as possible from meddling by government, now more fiscally profligate than usual. But with so much worry in the air about the soundness of our currency, I would urge Secretary Lew to remember Hamilton’s words about appearances. Hamilton is on the $10 bill not because he is a white man (though a West Indian immigrant) but because he helped found the world’s oldest and most successful democracy and created a remarkably resilient financial system—if we can keep it. While Misses Parks and Mankiller are no doubt estimable and important characters, it is at least arguable whether they are in a league with Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Sarah Jay, or Dolley Madison—and, as a mere matter of historical fact, none of those extraordinarily talented women founded our nation or framed the constitutional system that, however battered, has survived for more than two and a quarter centuries. So we honor Hamilton on our banknote for the inestimable value and worth of his contribution to our own freedom and prosperity.

The change Secretary Lew proposes is, he says, “symbolic,” but “symbols are important.” Indeed they are. So he would do well not to meddle with symbols of value and worth—the nation’s currency—in a way that suggests that value and worth can change with the shifting currents of politically correct fashion.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME History

7 Reasons Why The Battle of Waterloo is Still Important

Reenactors Prepare To Commemorate The 200th Anniversary Of The Battle Of Waterloo
Dan Kitwood—Getty Images Historical re-enactors on horseback take part in a practice drill in the Allied Bivouac camp in Waterloo, Belgium on June 18, 2015.

The United Nations, the rise of superpowers and the upsurge in nationalism owes much to the decisive battle

It might be 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo on Thursday, but those nine hours of bloodshed on a field near the Belgian town of Waterloo changed the course of history.

It all began on June 18, 1815, when allied forces, consisting of British, Dutch, Belgian and German soldiers, thwarted the attempts of European domination by the French general and emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. The battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), which took the lives of 5 million people.

The anniversary is being celebrated in Europe by heads of states and the ancestors of some of the protagonists but the repercussions of the battle are still being felt today.

Waterloo laid the groundwork for Nato and the United Nations

Only 36% of Wellington’s army were actually British, the rest comprised of Dutch and Belgian nationals and soldiers from various German duchies. Then there was the 50,000 strong Prussian army (Prussia later became a part of Germany), which worked in alliance with Wellington’s forces to defeat the French, which explains why U.K.’s former defence chief Lord Bramall called Waterloo “the first Nato operation.”

In Lord Byron’s poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, “united nations” was mentioned in the Waterloo Passage. This was picked up by Winston Churchill when discussing the allied war aims after Pearl Harbor and the term was eventually used to name the famous global organisation.

It paved the way for the U.K. to become a global power

The Vienna Treaty that followed Waterloo didn’t give the U.K. land in Europe, but it did hand over territorial possessions, such as modern day South Africa, Trinidad and Sri Lanka. These become the strategic naval bases the U.K. subsequently used to control its vast colonial empire. France had been the world’s superpower for centuries, with it out of the way, there was no one to compete with Britain until the U.S. emerged as a power in the 20th century.

And laid the foundations for the eventual emergence of the U.S. as the world’s superpower

With war disrupting European industry, demand for American products increased massively during the Napoleonic Wars, with its neutrality allowing it to sell to both sides. Although trade was occasionally disrupted by British and French blockades and navies,(and the 1812 Anglo-American War) in the end need for American grain and cotton trumped other considerations.

The battle heralded an age of German nationalism, eventually leading to World War II

The Prussians’ contribution to the defeat of the French Army at Waterloo entered the mythology of the Prussian state, creating a sense of nationalism which then played a key part in the formation of the new German Empire after 1870. Ultimately, this led to the hyper-nationalism which enabled the rise of the Nazi party and the Third Reich.

It has implications for the future of the European Union

Waterloo was not just a military battle. It was also a battle between the concepts of the nation state and the supranational state. The U.K. and its allies were fighting Napoleon’s desire to impose a single state in Europe, which he would control. Napoleon’s defeat meant the victory of the nation state over other concepts such as Napoleon’s French Revolutionary Empire and Holy Roman Empire before it. Two hundred years later, the idea of a pan-European state has become more fashionable but is resisted by many.

The French are, understandably, still a little prickly about that day

Earlier this year, the French tried to block the Belgians from minting a Battle of Waterloo euro coin. The French government has also shown little interest in the week’s anniversary events. While the U.K. and the Netherlands sent members of their royal family to the commemoration ceremony on Wednesday, the only French representative was their ambassador to Belgium.

It inspired a series of famous quotes

“His presence on the field made the difference of forty thousand men.” Wellington describing Napoleon.

“It has been a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.” Wellington

“Waterloo is not a battle; it is the changing face of the universe.” Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables

“The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.” A quote that is commonly misattributed to Lord Wellington, but was in fact said by George Orwell

TIME Television

7 Times Game of Thrones Drew on History This Season

Just because it's got direwolves and dragons doesn't mean it's not realistic

Spoilers for Game of Thrones follow

If you watched Season 5 of Game of Thrones with a vague sense of déjà vu, you’re probably not alone. There were a lot of things this season that felt strangely familiar, or about as familiar as anything happening in a dragon-filled, White Walker-infested fictional universe can feel.

But if you experienced that sense of recognition, perhaps it’s because several plot points this season seem to be inspired by real-life history, or at least by myths so ancient they almost count. Here are 7 moments from Game of Thrones Season 5 that may have been inspired by those events; some of these have been hinted at by Martin himself, others are just parallels we’ve noticed as outside observers.

Either way, the resemblance is uncanny.

  • Melisandre / Rasputin

    Game of Thrones, HBO
    HBO; Getty Images

    If the idea of an ambitious mystic who manipulates a gullible ruler into destroying his kingdom and legacy doesn’t ring a bell, you haven’t read enough Russian history. While much of the source material for Game of Thrones comes from medieval Europe, Martin may not draw exclusively from that era. And Melisandre seems to take after Rasputin, who held great influence over Tsar Nicolas II and his wife, Alexandra, just before the Russian Revolution. Rasputin was a Russian mystic who first gained the confidence of Tsarina Alexandra and then the Tsar himself, thanks to his ability to ease the suffering of their son Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia. Just like Melisandre, Rasputin encouraged the Tsar to lead his armies in battle—in World War I, another wintry hellscape—which proved to have disastrous consequences for the Tsar. Eventually, partly because of the corrosive effect of Rasputin’s influence, the entire family was murdered in the Russian Revolution. One big difference is that Rasputin made the Tsar’s son Alexei feel better, while Melisandre condemned Stannis’ daughter Shireen to death.

  • Olly / Brutus

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    HBO; Getty Images

    Jon Snow’s shocking murder bears a striking resemblance to Julius Caesar’s. Both were stabbed repeatedly, with each knife held by a different colleague. And just as it was for Caesar, Jon receives his final blow from one of the people he trusted most: Olly, the farm boy who watched the Wildlings slaughter his parents. Olly had been Jon’s protege, just as Brutus had been Caesar’s trusted friend (at least in Shakespeare’s retelling of the assassination) but both turned murderous after their mentors assumed too much power. In Jon’s case, it was the unilateral decision to let the Wildlings south of the Wall; in Caesar’s case, it was when he named himself “dictator in perpetuity.” No wonder everyone seems to be tweeting, “Et tu, Olly?”

  • Fighting Pits / Colosseum

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    HBO; Getty Images

    In Mereen, and elsewhere in Slavers’ Bay, slaves fight to the death for cheering audiences and a chance to gain their freedom. In Ancient Rome, slaves and fighters fought as gladiators in the Colosseum for the same reasons. The fighting pits even look like the Colosseum, down to the subterranean chambers where the fighters wait for their turn.

  • Loras Tyrell / King Edward II of England

    Game of Thrones, HBO
    HBO; Getty Images

    Loras Tyrell and King Edward II of England were both handsome, both considered excellent fighters, and both brought down by their scandalous affairs with men. Loras Tyrell was imprisoned by the High Sparrow for his fooling around. King Edward II was widely rumored to be romantically involved with his squire and companion Piers Gaveston, despite his marriage to Isabella of France, who is remembered as a cruel but beautiful queen. (Remember that Loras was betrothed to Cersei, who is nothing if not beautiful and cruel.) Edward II’s romance with Gaveston strained his relationship with the barons he ruled and caused tension in his marriage to Isabella–Gaveston reportedly even wore jewelry that Edward had given her. These factors, along with a series of wars and invasions, probably led to Edward’s abdication in 1327.

  • Valyria / Pompeii

    Game of Thrones, HBO
    HBO; Getty Images

    Remember when Jorah Mormont took Tyrion Lannister through that spooky ghost city full of Stone Men during the kidnapping-slash-road trip? That was Valyria, the capital of the Valyrian Freehold, once the most powerful civilization in the world and ancestral home of the Targaryens and their dragons. Valyria had been destroyed hundreds of years before the story begins, in what looks like it must have been a massive volcanic event. Tyrion recites a poem about that disaster, known as the Valyrian Doom, as they row through the ruins: “They held each other close and turned their backs upon the end / the hills that split asunder and the black that ate the skies / the flames that shot so high and hot that even dragons burned.” It’s impossible to ignore the comparison to Pompeii, an ancient Roman city that was completely destroyed when nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted, killing almost every inhabitant of the city. Even the imagery of citizens who died as they “held each other close” is eerily similar to the bodies found during the excavation of Pompeii. No dragons, though.

  • Shireen / Iphigenia

    Game of Thrones, HBO
    HBO; Getty Images

    O.K., so this one’s not technically history—but you still might learn about it in history class. Stannis Baratheon isn’t the first warrior-king to sacrifice his daughter to win the favor of the gods. In Greek mythology, Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia in order to implore the Gods to change the wind patterns so he can sail for Troy to fight the Trojan War. Both Stannis and Agamemnon are told by prophets (or, in the case of Game of Thrones, it’s Melisandre) that the only way to ensure victory is to sacrifice their daughters, and both Shireen and Iphigenia are unaware of their fates. And in both stories, the daughter’s sacrifice leads to the demise of her mother: in Game of Thrones, Shireen’s mother Selyse hangs herself after witnessing her daughter’s death, in Greek mythology Iphigenia’s mother Clytemnestra murders Agamemnon for killing their daughter, and is then murdered by her own son as revenge.

  • Cersei / Jane Shore

    Game of Thrones, HBO
    HBO; Getty Images

    Cersei’s hideous walk of shame in the Season 5 finale wasn’t completely made up– that kind of public humiliation was a common medieval punishment for women who were found guilty of adultery or other sexual transgressions. But Martin has said that Cersei’s particular penance was inspired by Jane Shore, the mistress of King Edward IV of England who was forced to walk the streets as a harlot after Richard III took power. Richard was likely punishing Shore for conspiring against his rise more than having sex out of wedlock, but he still forced her to walk around in her undergarments, with bare feet, in 1483. In other circumstances, medieval women found having sex with someone who wasn’t their husband were forced to do the walk naked, as Cersei did.

    Read more about the link between Cersei and Jane Shore here: The True History Behind Cersei’s Game of Thrones Walk of Shame

TIME society

There’s No Such Thing As a Spill-Proof Way to Transport Oil

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Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

Even the world's first long-distance pipeline that crossed the Alleghenies in 1879 was prone to accidents and sabotage

To a historian of pipelines, last month’s Santa Barbara oil spill is a reminder that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Since their first introduction in the late 19th century, pipelines have leaked regularly and ruptured occasionally. While it’s true that improved technology and regulation have reduced spills significantly—much like flying today is far safer than in the early years of commercial aviation—the fact remains that there exists no such thing as a spill-proof pipeline. Recognizing this historical reality is crucial to crafting future policy.

Long-distance pipelines were developed in the late 19th century to compete with railroads for the conveyance of crude oil. The problem in the 1870s was not that railroads lacked sufficient capacity to carry oil or that they spilled unacceptable amounts (though they did, to be sure, leak considerably). Rather, the problem had a name: John D. Rockefeller. He’d built his Standard Oil empire by using bulk shipments to negotiate better rates on his oil deliveries than any of his competitors. By controlling railroad shipments, Rockefeller controlled the industry. Pipeline pioneers hoped that creating an alternative transport system would turn the tide in their favor. As a result, these pioneers cared primarily about two things: cost and competition. As long as small spills did not dramatically reduce profitability, environmental safety wasn’t high on their list of priorities, to put it mildly.

Long-distance pipeline dreams first became reality in 1879 in Pennsylvania. Led by Byron Benson and a group of colleagues unaffiliated with Standard Oil, the Tide-Water Pipeline represented a remarkable technological achievement that can be compared to the building of the Brooklyn Bridge a few years later. The project was so audacious that skeptical observers dubbed it “Benson’s Folly.” From January to May of 1879, scores of men and horses hauled thousands of tons of pipes through the wilderness of the Allegheny Mountains to complete the 106-mile route. Engineers designed new pumps capable of pushing the oil over an 1,100-foot elevation gain without exceeding the pressure limits of the cast-iron pipes. Most significantly, Benson and his team overcame intense competitive threats such as armed teams ripping up pipes and fraudulent land claims organized by Rockefeller and his railroad allies.

Excitement in western Pennsylvania ran high on May 28, 1879, when the pipeline operators started the great pumps and inserted oil into the lines. The oil moved at a slow pace of about a half-a-mile per hour and several people began walking along with the oil. But within two days, the pressure in the pipes rose rapidly and the pumps had to be stopped. A crew opened the pipeline and discovered some pieces of wood and rope stuck inside the line. Company officials suspected sabotage, but could not rule out careless workers. Though company reports do not mention the amount of oil lost, there is no doubt that significant quantities of oil flowed onto the ground when the pipes were opened. Even before the first oil reached the end of the pipeline, therefore, a spill had occurred.

With the obstacles removed, the pumps turned back on and the oil began moving again. On the evening of June 4, a large crowd gathered in Williamsport. At around 7:20, the pipes released a strange whooshing noise and oil soon began to flow into the collecting tanks below. People filled souvenir bottles with the oil and newspapers report that a “spirited celebration” followed. The era of pipelines had begun.

Once pipeline technology had been proven, Rockefeller quickly moved to build his own extensive network. Within five years, he had reasserted his dominance of oil transport, though now more than three-quarters of oil traveled through pipes rather than on rails. Like the Tide-Water, Rockefeller’s early pipelines exhibited a pattern of slow and steady leaks punctuated by dramatic bursts. Small leaks caused by poorly sealed joints or defects in the cast-iron pipes were so common that they rarely appear in the historical record. More consequential leaks obtained brief newspaper mention but little call for change in industry practice. In March 1885, for example, one of Standard Oil’s pipelines burst on a farmer’s property. Sparks from a locomotive ignited the oil leading newspapers to describe “a terrific conflagration [that] raged for 20 hours.” Just over one year later, the same pipeline ruptured resulting in “farms deluged with oil and huge bonfires of crude petroleum burning for three days.”

Why did early pipelines fail so often? In part, because oil spills were endemic to all aspects of the industry. At the time the Tide-Water Pipeline was under construction, oil producers in western Pennsylvania were spilling an estimated 5,000 to 12,000 barrels of oil every day as gushing wells spewed petroleum before they could be capped and hastily erected storage tanks leaked steadily. To put this into context, the equivalent amount of oil lost in the 1986 Exxon Valdez disaster was spilled every month in western Pennsylvania. At oil refineries, residual traces of petroleum that could not be sold as products were frequently dumped into nearby rivers. For most in the loosely regulated early days of the oil industry, spilling some oil here and there was far more profitable than investing in the expensive technology necessary to control a finicky liquid.

Over time, pipelines have become more reliable, featuring better welding of their joints along with extensive monitoring systems. However, the development and implementation of these technologies has rarely happened on its own; in most cases, regulations and public pressure have been necessary to spur change. Without strong penalties, it is cheaper for companies to allow small leaks than to build better pipelines.

Yet despite improvement, pipelines remain imperfect. In the United States, a pipeline spill occurs nearly every day, with over 1,400 accidents in America between 2010 and 2013. Historian Sean Kheraj has recently demonstrated that even a pipeline that has operated with a 99.999 percent success rate in Canada has averaged a spill-and-a-half a year and discharged about 5.8 million liters of oil over the past 40 years. A very low failure rate (one likely to be understated as it relies so heavily on self-reporting by leakers), therefore, can still produce heavy environmental damage.

How, then, should we think about pipeline spills? One option is to consider reverting to shipping oil by railroad. As it turns out, such an experiment is underway. The shale oil boom in places such as North Dakota has recently generated large increases in petroleum production at sites with little pipeline infrastructure. Much of this oil is traveling by railroad, and the environmental consequences have been mixed. Several high-profile derailments and explosions have demonstrated that railroads—particularly those operating on old tracks—create similar risks as pipelines. Accidents are more common on railroads than pipelines, though the average quantity of oil lost is much higher in pipeline incidents than on railroads. Neither system is perfect.

Regardless of whether shipped by pipeline or railroad, a clear historical lesson is that greater public scrutiny and regulation of oil transporters reduces the frequency and severity of spills. Citizens are well within their rights to insist that government agencies require pipeline companies to do better.

But this is not all. Simply demonizing pipeline operators for their spills is a convenient way for citizens to ignore their complicity in environmental degradation. Oil is transported in such massive quantities because the vast majority of Americans demand to use it regularly. Our everyday actions, including driving cars and surrounding ourselves with plastics, undergird a world in which pipelines appear as a ubiquitous feature of our landscapes.

There’s a parallel here to another liquid Southern Californians—and many of us throughout the Southwest—have to import to ensure survival and economic prosperity: water. Most of us are aware that our choices as water consumers—to move to arid lands, water lawns, and support a massive agricultural industry in formerly dry areas.—aggravates the tightness of water supplies and contributes to our recurring droughts. It would be good to think similarly about all that oil coursing into our region’s veins, and become more serious about cutting back on our consumption.

Christopher F. Jones is an assistant professor at Arizona State University. He is the author of Routes of Power: Energy and Modern America. He wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Aviation

Watch Newly Discovered Footage of Amelia Earhart, Made Shortly Before She Disappeared

It is thought to be the last surviving footage of her

Newly discovered footage, published for the first time, shows doomed aviator Amelia Earhart before one of her two attempts to fly around the world.

Her first attempt, made in March 1937, ended when she crashed her plane while taking off after a stop in Hawaii. During the second attempt, made three months later, Earhart vanished over the Pacific Ocean, her fate unknown to this day.

The newfound film was recorded at an airfield in Oakland, Calif., and shows a happy and smiling Earhart as she poses for photos and climbs over her plane, the Lockheed Electra L-10E, reports CNN.

The footage also shows her husband George Putman, her navigator Fred Noonan, and personal photographer Albert Bresnik. The grainy 16 mm film is believed to have been shot by Bresnik’s brother John and had sat on a shelf in his house for more then 50 years until his death in 1992.

Bresnik’s son, also called John, unearthed the film when he was going through his father’s belongings.

“I didn’t even know what was on the film until my dad died and I took it home and watched it,” Bresnik told the Associated Press. “It just always sat it in a plain box on a shelf in his office, and on the outside it said, ‘Amelia Earhart, Burbank Airport, 1937.'”

The film, now named Amelia Earhart’s Last Photo Shoot, will be released in July by the Paragon Agency alongside an 80-page book, written by Nicole Swinford.

Swindford believes the footage was shot in May 1937, days before Earhart and Noonan set off on their fateful journey.

But Richard Gillespie, executive director of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, said the film was likely shot in March, before Earhart’s unsuccessful first attempt.

Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and was one the most celebrated figures of her day.

Read More: Is This the Uninhabited Pacific Island Where Amelia Earhart Spent Her Last Moments?

[CNN]

TIME facebook

Mark Zuckerberg’s Next Big Read Is This Islamic History Book

Facebook Inc Announces Graph Search
Stephen Lam—Getty Images Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

It's a seminal work

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has committed to reading an important book every two weeks as part of his 2015 New Year’s resolutions, and up next is “The Muqaddimah,” a 14th century tome written by Islamic historian Ibn Khaldun.

The book, whose title translates to “The Introduction,” traces the progress of humanity while attempting to remove the biases captured in historical records and reveal the universal elements that connect us. It is often considered the most important Islamic history of the premodern world.

Kaldun, a lauded Arab scholar, is credited as one of the foundational thinkers of modern sociology, ethnography, and the philosophy of history.

One reviewer of the original English translation called it, “Undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever been created by any mind in any time or place … the most comprehensive and illuminating analysis of how human affairs work that has been made anywhere.”

MORE: Read about Facebook on the new Fortune 500

Zuckerberg is known for his high-flying annual resolutions, which have ranged from killing his own meat to learning to speak Mandarin Chinese. This year’s challenge created a modern-day book club where Zuckerberg has encouraged other’s to join along and discuss each book on Facebook.

Here are the books he’s chosen so far:

  • “The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’’t What It Used to Be,” by Moisés Naím
  • “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,” by Steven Pinker
  • “Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets,” by Sudhir Venkatesh
  • “On Immunity: An Inoculation,” by Eula Biss
  • “Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration,” by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
  • “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” by Thomas S. Kuhn
  • “Rational Ritual: Culture, Coordination, and Common Knowledge,” by Michael Chwe
  • “Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower,” by Henry M. Paulson
  • “Orwell’s Revenge: The 1984 Palimpsest,” by Peter Huber
  • “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander
  • “The Muqaddimah,” by Ibn Khaldun
TIME History

Why We Need to Protect Ancient Treasures From ISIS

Ruins of Palmyra in Syria
Getty Images Ruins of Palmyra in Syria

David Wolpe is the Max Webb Senior Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.

The U.S. House passed legislation Monday to make it harder for criminals to profit from damaging cultural sites

America lacks ruins. We have decay, but that is not the same thing. A ruin is the monument of a once-great civilization that is gone. In America, we have some remnants of the past, such as rock art and evidence of cliff dwellings in the Pacific Southwest. But the traveler to Europe or the Middle or Far East cannot help but be struck by how integral ruins are to the landscapes and the cities. There, the past rears itself up amidst the treated glass and shining steel of the present.

To live in an area of the world once dominated by Rome, for example, is to remember that even the greatest empires are fleeting. Even more, it is to develop a respect for the past that takes some edge off the smugness of the present. When we study the past in America, it tends to be our past—the Civil War, perhaps, or the Revolutionary War. Sometimes we stretch back to remember Native American culture. But children growing up in our major cities are not confronted by Mayan ruins or ancient temples. The medieval or ancient past is not palpable.

For many Americans, therefore, history exists only as a book, or perhaps a TV documentary. In Jerusalem or Amman or Paris or Athens, the past is where you live.

The particular horror of watching ISIS take a hammer to ancient sites is that ruins have clung to life for so long because previous generations have found their endurance eloquent. In an attempt to prevent ISIS from profiting from destroying these sites, the House passed a bill Monday to restrict imports on archaeological material from Syria.

The withered hand of the past reaches out to us, all the more powerful for its diminishment. Walking in the same structure where Socrates or Caesar walked awakens the lessons of mortality and immortality as no classroom lesson ever can. And to know that you also walk in the footsteps of all the pilgrims who followed, those who wished to feel Socrates with their feet, to stand in the same Senate as Mark Anthony, to feel the immensity of Angor Wat.

It’s possible to be parochial not only in space but in time. Some people believe the city or country where they live is the only one that counts. They are blissfully ignorant of other places and ways of life. But it’s equally foolish to think the time when they live is the only one that counts. When you see an ancient ruin, it becomes clear that we inhabit the world with the past as well as the future, and the present is a brief flash in the sustained pulse of time.

Contemplating ancient remains is an age-old human passion. We are drawn to that which reminds us of our own passage through time, as Rose Macaulay writes in the conclusion of her book A Pleasure in Ruins.

All these castles in ruin, and a thousand more, offer no security: They are shattered, shot-ridden. They crumble before our eyes. There is no security, which is what we always knew. That is the knowledge that opens the door to cherish what we have, and appreciate what we have lost. We know it better when we see what once was great and now is fallen.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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