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Month: May 2018

Bring me the Head of George Frederick Cooke

By some accounts, George Frederick Cooke was the greatest tragedian actor of the late 18th and early 19th century; his portrayal of Shakespeare’s Richard III was second to none. Whether he was Scottish, Irish or British was debated in his time; his epitaph reads “Three kingdoms claim his birth / both hemispheres proclaim his worth.” But all who knew him had a few things to say that weren’t quite so complimentary – his biographer, William Dunlap wrote in his diary that Cooke was “a¬†coward, a braggart, a hypocrite, a backbiter, fearing death… yet rushing on to meet him with the…

Frederick Douglass (and the Garfield Grave Robbers)

Now on Spotify! Several years back, I took a trip to Cleveland just to see the tomb of President Garfield after hearing a news story that someone had broken into the crypt and stolen several commemorative spoons. This, I had to see for myself! It’s a fantastic tomb, with a tower you can climb, and relief sculptures all around, including one of Garfield on his deathbed, surrounded by doctors getting ready to poke him in the liver! In the course of setting up the episode, I noticed that Garfield appointed Frederick Douglass as the Recorder of Deeds for Washington D.C.,…