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Hattian Ceremonial Standard

Hattian Ceremonial Standard

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A Historic Change in the Oath of Office

“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
— U.S. Constitution, Article VI, clause 3


The cloth caps worn by the original grenadiers in European armies during the seventeenth century were frequently trimmed with fur. The practice fell into disuse until the second half of the eighteenth century when grenadiers in the British, Spanish and French armies began wearing high fur hats with cloth tops and, sometimes, ornamental front plates. Imitating their Prussian counterparts, French grenadiers are described as wearing bearskins as early as 1761. [1] The purpose appears to have been to add to the apparent height and impressive appearance of these troops both on the parade ground and the battlefield. [2]

During the nineteenth century, the expense of bearskin caps and difficulty of maintaining them in good condition on active service led to this form of headdress becoming generally limited to guardsmen, bands or other units having a ceremonial role. The British Foot Guards and Royal Scots Greys did however wear bearskins in battle during the Crimean War and on peacetime manoeuvres until the introduction of khaki service dress in 1902. [3]

Immediately prior to the outbreak of World War I in 1914, bearskins were still worn by guard, ceremonial palace or other units in the British, Belgian, Danish, Dutch, Imperial German, Russian and Swedish armies. [4] The Italian Sardinian Grenadiers had discarded bearskins in the nineteenth century but were to readopt them for limited ceremonial wear in modern times.

Australia Edit

Presently, the Pipes and Drums Band of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment is authorized to wear a bearskin cap as a part of its ceremonial dress. [5] [6]

Belgium Edit

Two units in Belgium presently use the bearskin cap, the Belgian Royal Escort (since 1938), of the Belgian Federal Police [7] and the Regiment Carabiniers Prins Boudewijn – Grenadiers of the Belgian Armed Forces Land Component.

Until 1914, bearskins were worn in parade uniform by the "Régiment des Grenadiers" of the Belgian Army. [8] Bearskins were used in peacetime maneuvers until around 1900, the bearskins were left in barracks upon mobilization in August 1914 and German troops occupying Brussels reportedly took many as souvenirs. The Regiment of Grenadiers' modern successor, the Regiment Carabiniers Prins Boudewijn – Grenadiers has readopted this headdress for limited ceremonial purposes.

In addition to military units, the bearskin cap is also used by the Belgian Royal Escorts, a civilian police unit. Accompanying the monarch of ceremonial occasions, the duties of the escort unit were previously held by the Gendarmerie, a paramilitary unit of the Belgian Armed Forces that was disbanded in 1992. The present Royal Escort Unit wears the pre–1914 full dress uniform of the defunct Gendarmerie, including its bearskin cap.

Canada Edit

The bearskin caps used by the Canadian Armed Forces are of black fur, and include a coloured plume on the side of the bearskin, and a gold-coloured chin strap. The Canadian Forces Dress Instructions authorize the use of bearskins for all of its foot guards and fusilier regiments. [9] Bearskins used by fusilier regiments and the Royal 22 e Régiment (R22 e R) also have their unit's cap badge at the front of the bearskin.

In addition to foot guards and fusiliers, two line infantry regiments are also authorized to wear a bearskin cap along with their ceremonial full dress uniform: the R22 e R and the Royal Regiment of Canada (RRegtC). [9] Usage of the bearskin cap by the R22 e R is attributed to its historical regimental alliance the British Army's Royal Welsh Fusiliers, [10] while the use of bearskins with the RRegtC is attributed to the regiment's historical lineage to the Royal Grenadiers of the Canadian Militia. [11]

The following is a list of regiments whose members are authorized to wear a bearskin cap with their full dress uniform, along with the colour used on the unit's plume:

  • The Royal 22 e Régiment, scarlet plume [9] , scarlet plume [12] , white plume [13]
  • The Royal Regiment of Canada, scarlet over white plume , white plume [9] , white plume [9] , grey plume [9][note 1] , white plume [9]

Additionally, the military band of a unit that is authorized to wear the bearskin cap are also allowed to wear it as a part of their ceremonial uniform. These bands include The Band of The Royal Regiment of Canada, La Musique du Royal 22 e Régiment, and the Governor General's Foot Guards Band. In addition to these units, the drum major of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada Band [note 2] are also authorized to wear the bearskin.

The bearskin caps that are used by the aforementioned Canadian units, should not be confused with the busby, a headdress featured on the full dress uniforms for Canadian Army artillery, and hussar regiments. [14]

Denmark Edit

The Royal Danish Army's Royal Life Guards review order uniform is a type of uniform used for special state occasions, and includes a bearskin with the bronze cap badge. Use of the bearskin in the Danish Army dates back to 1803.

Italy Edit

Two units within the Italian Army's Granatieri di Sardegna Mechanized Brigade use the bearskin cap as a part of its ceremonial uniform, the 1st Granatieri di Sardegna Regiment, and the 8th Cavalry Regiment Lancieri di Montebello. As opposed to real bearskin, the bearskin caps of both regiments uses artificial fur.

Kenya Edit

The bands of the Kenya Defence Forces: the Kenya Army Band, the Kenya Navy Band and the Kenya Air Force Band all use a distinctive white and black monkey bearskin as headgear on parade. They are the only KDF units to use such a headpiece. It is based on a pattern used by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards of the British Army. The first of these bearskins were distributed in the 1960s after independence. [15]

Netherlands Edit

Presently, one unit of the Royal Netherlands Army uses the bearskin cap as a part of its ceremonial uniform, the Grenadiers' and Rifles Guard Regiment. [7]

The bearskin caps used by the Grenadiers' and Rifles Guard Regiment should not be confused with the busby a smaller fur headdress used by the hussar regiments of the Royal Netherlands Army.

Spain Edit

One company of the 1st King's Immemorial Infantry Regiment, which during ceremonies is authorized to wear grenadier uniforms of the Charles III period, uses bearskins.

Sri Lanka Edit

Presently the military band of the Sri Lanka Artillery uses the bearskin cap as a part of its ceremonial uniform.

Sweden Edit

Presently, the grenadier company of the Swedish Army's Life Guards wears a bearskin cap as a part of its ceremonial uniform. The bearskin is made out of nylon as opposed to real bearskin.

Usage of the bearskin by the Life Guards originates with its predecessor unit, Svea Life Guards. The unit was eventually merged with the Swedish Life Guard Dragoons in 2000 to form the present Life Guards unit. Usage of the bearskin with the Svea Life Guards dates back to 1823, when Alexander I of Russia presented Charles XIV of Sweden a bearskin cap as a gift to be used by the Svea Life Guards.

Thailand Edit

A number of units within the King's Guard of the Royal Thai Armed Forces wear a pith helmet with heavy plumes, making it resemble a bearskin cap. The pith helmets are used with the unit's ceremonial full dress uniform, for occasions including the Thai Royal Guards parade held every year in December, royal coronations, funerals and anniversaries. The colours of the plumes vary from black to pink and blue, depending on the units of the wearers, similar to the uniform facings in the Commonwealth. The majority of the units entitled to wear these headdresses are from the Army and Air Force, with two Royal Thai Marine Corps battalions also maintaining this privilege. In addition, the Royal Security Command's two guards regiments wear the pith helmet with black plums in their full dress.

United Kingdom Edit

Following the Battle of Waterloo, all members of the newly named Grenadier Guards were permitted to wear the bearskin. [16] This privilege had previously been restricted to the grenadier company of the regiment. [17] In 1831 this distinction was extended to the other two regiments of foot guards (Coldstream and Scots) in existence at that date. [18] Bearskins were subsequently adopted by the Irish Guards and the Welsh Guards when raised in 1900 and 1915 respectively. [19] Members of the following units are currently authorized to wear the bearskin cap with their full dress:

Along with these units, officers of fusilier regiments are also authorized to wear the bearskin as part of their ceremonial uniform. Additionally the members of the regimental bands for the five regiments of foot guards, the Honourable Artillery Company, and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are also authorized to wear the headdress. The drum major of the band for the Royal Highland Fusiliers is also authorized to wear the bearskin.

The standard bearskin for the British foot guards is 11 inches (280 mm) tall at the front, 16 inches (410 mm) to the rear, weighs 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) and is made from the fur of the Canadian black bear. [20] However, an officer's bearskin is made from the fur of the Canadian brown bear as the female brown bear has thicker, fuller fur officers' caps are dyed black. An entire skin is used for each head-dress. [21] The British Army purchase the head-dresses, which are known as caps, from a British hatmaker which sources its pelts from an international auction. The hatmakers purchase between 50 and 100 black bear skins each year at a cost of about £650 each. [22] If properly maintained, the caps last for decades.

The bearskin should not be mistaken for the busby, which is a much smaller fur cap worn by the Royal Horse Artillery and hussar regiments in full dress. Nor should it be confused with the 'sealskin' cap worn by the Royal Fusiliers, a smaller furred cap that is actually made of raccoon skin. [23]

Opposition Edit

On 3 August 1888, The New York Times reported that bearskin caps might be phased out because of a shortage of bear skins. The article stated that, at that time, bearskin hats cost £7–5s each (about 35 contemporary US dollars [24] £600 in 2007 pounds) [25] and noted "it can readily be seen what a price has to be paid for keeping up a custom which is rather old, it is true, but is practically a useless one save for the purpose of military display." [26]

In 1997, Minister for Defence Procurement Lord Gilbert said that he wanted to see bearskins phased out as soon as possible due to ethical concerns, [27] but no replacement was available at that time.

In 2005, the Ministry of Defence began a two-year test of artificial fur for the hats. The army has already replaced beaverskin caps and leopard skins, worn by some of its soldiers, with artificial materials. [28] In March 2005, Labour MP Chris Mullin called for an immediate ban on bearskins stating that they "have no military significance and involve unnecessary cruelty." [29]

Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has protested against the continued use of real fur for the guards’ bearskin caps, alleging that the animals are killed cruelly. For several years, PETA members have held demonstrations, including one at St Peter's Hill, near St Paul's Cathedral, in 2006. [30] PETA wants the fur caps to be replaced with synthetic materials and claims that the Ministry of Defence has not done enough to find alternatives. In February 2011, Joss Stone appeared in a PETA advert targeting the Ministry of Defence, showing the 23-year-old soul singer holding a teddy bear that covers her naked body and features the slogan "Bear Hugs, Not Bear Caps". [31]

United States Edit

Presently one military unit in the United States uses a bearskin cap as a part of their ceremonial uniform, the 2nd Company of the Governor's Foot Guard of the Connecticut State Guard, a state defence force. The unit's bearskin caps feature a shield in front bearing the coat of arms of Connecticut, which is supported by a red and black feather plume on both sides of the shield. The bearskin caps used by the 2nd Company should not be mistaken for the busby worn by the 1st Company of the Governor's Foot Guard of Connecticut.

In addition to the Governor's Guard, bearskin caps are also worn by the drum majors of various United States Armed Forces military bands. Bands whose drum majors are authorized to wear the bearskin cap include the United States Air Force Band, the United States Army Band, United States Army Field Band, United States Coast Guard Band, United States Marine Band, the United States Navy Band, bands of the service academies, and a variety of other divisional and fleet bands.

In addition to military units, a number of civilian marching bands also adorn their drum majors with these headpieces as opposed to their synthetic counterparts. University marching bands which were established through military means typically follow this style of dress for their drum majors. There are also several secondary school bands that use real bearskin hats.

Uruguay Edit

The Uruguayan Army's Company of Sappers of 1837 uses the bearskin cap as a part of its ceremonial uniform as the guard of honour company of the Uruguayan Supreme Court.

Vatican City Edit

Select members of the Corps of Gendarmerie of Vatican City formerly wore a bearskins cap with a red plume as part of their ceremonial uniform. The ceremonial uniform for the unit was taken out of use in 1970, after Pope Paul VI demilitarized the gendarmerie, with law enforcement falling under the Central Security Office (later reverting its name to the Corps of Gendarmerie in 2002).

Everything you need to know about British military bearskin caps

Five regiments of British Foot Guards have the privilege of protecting the Queen at her various castles and palaces: the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards. These are the soldiers who get to wear those imposing bearskin hats.

With their typical love of understatement, the British Army actually refers to these huge hats as “caps.” They were first worn by British soldiers in 1815, following the defeat of Napoleon’s forces at the Battle of Waterloo. The 18-inch-high bearskins made the French grenadiers seem taller, more intimidating. To commemorate their victory, the British adopted similar hats for the soldiers who guard royal residences.

The standard bearskin cap of the Foot Guards is 18 inches, yet weighs just 1.5 pounds. That’s because the bearskin is stretched over a basket-like framework to which an adjustable leather skullcap and chin strap are attached for a secure fit. Wearers say the caps are quite comfortable, being both light and cool. However, they say the chin strap needs to be cinched rather tight and takes some getting used to.

The caps are made from the fur of Canadian black bears—one bear, one cap. Needless to say, this makes the animal rights folks in Britain unhappy, so the identity of the British company that makes them is a closely guarded secret.

Read more

Each bearskin pelt costs about £650. With care, a bearskin cap will last 80 years or more.

The British Army has tried various synthetic substitutes for the skins, but so far, the man-made fur caps lose their shape in strong winds and get waterlogged in heavy rains.

The Guards are members of the British Army who get 30 weeks of training, two weeks more than the regular infantry. The extra weeks are devoted to drill and ceremonial protocol.

Finally, it’s not called a “busby,” contrary to what I was told by my dear departed Scottish grandmother. The hat is not called a “Busby,” which is a much smaller hat (various dictionaries make the same error).

An interesting U.S. connection to the thoroughly British hats: The Liberty High School Grenadier Marching Band in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has a collection of about 80 bearskin caps. I contacted the band director, Kevin Long, who told me the following story.

Back in the 1960s when the band needed new uniforms, they decided to model their look on the British Coldstream Guards. There was a British ex-military man in the area who found out about this and offered to help them make their uniforms as authentic as possible. He put them in touch with British military surplus suppliers, and the band was able to purchase actual bearskin caps.

Fast forward to the 1970s. The Coldstream Guards Regimental Band was touring the U.S. Somehow, early in their trip, the caps were stolen or disappeared. No one knew for certain. Cue low-key British panic. They needed their bearskin caps! Someone had the idea of calling Liberty High School and asking if they might please borrow some bearskins for the rest of their tour Of course, the school agreed. The tour was a smashing success, and when the caps were returned, the school received twice as many as they had loaned.

Seventy-year-old British military surplus bearskin caps continue to be worn at Friday night football games in Bethlehem.

Visit the guard's museum

The Guards Museum is a secret treasure, located near Buckingham Palace, between Wellington Barracks and Birdcage Walk. The museum has colorful exhibits and a wealth of information. You can even dress up in a Foot Guard’s uniform—including the bearskin cap!

The museum includes The Toy Soldier Centre and The Guards’ Chapel. The Toy Soldier Centre has lead soldiers set up in realistic displays, with many of the items for sale. The lovely Guards’ Chapel is open to the public every day. There are beautiful Anglican services here on Sundays with a professional choir and splendid military musicians.

Transcontinental railroad completed, unifying United States

On May 10, 1869, the presidents of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads meet in Promontory, Utah, and drive a ceremonial last spike into a rail line that connects their railroads. This made transcontinental railroad travel possible for the first time in U.S. history. No longer would western-bound travelers need to take the long and dangerous journey by wagon train.

Since at least 1832, both Eastern and frontier statesmen realized a need to connect the two coasts. It was not until 1853, though, that Congress appropriated funds to survey several routes for the transcontinental railroad. The actual building of the railroad would have to wait even longer, as North-South tensions prevented Congress from reaching an agreement on where the line would begin.

One year into the Civil War, a Republican-controlled Congress passed the Pacific Railroad Act (1862), guaranteeing public land grants and loans to the two railroads it chose to build the transcontinental line, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific. With these in hand, the railroads began work in 1866 from Omaha and Sacramento, forging a northern route across the country. In their eagerness for land, the two lines built right past each other, and the final meeting place had to be renegotiated.

Harsh winters, staggering summer heat and the lawless, rough-and-tumble conditions of newly settled western towns made conditions for the Union Pacific laborers—mainly Civil War veterans of Irish descent—miserable. The overwhelmingly immigrant Chinese work force of the Central Pacific also had its fair share of problems, including brutal 12-hour work days laying tracks over the Sierra Nevada Mountains (they also received lower wages than their white counterparts). On more than one occasion, whole crews would be lost to avalanches, or mishaps with explosives would leave several dead.

How the Klan Got Its Hood

Long before the artist Philip Guston was celebrated for his cartoonish paintings of pink flesh, cigarettes, and Klansmen, he was Phillip Goldstein, a member of the Los Angeles socialist Bloc of Mural Painters, and a kid on a road trip. In 1934, he and fellow painter Reuben Kadish bought a Ford coupe for $23 and drove to the city of Morelia, Mexico, where the university there had offered the artists a wall to embellish. Guston and Kadish’s fresco, depicting a swastika, hammer and sickle, cross, whips, nails, and electric chair cap, would go by many titles: The Struggle against War and Fascism The Workers’ Struggle for Liberty, as Time magazine dubbed it and The Struggle against Terrorism.

The Morelia mural swarms with robed men in peaked white hoods, suggesting one particular kind of terrorism for viewers then and now. But in 1934, when the mural was painted, the Ku Klux Klan’s white hood had been standardized for only two decades. How the Ku Klux Klan’s white hood came to be an icon of hatred is the story of image-makers: parade planners and playwrights, Hollywood and the mail-order catalog. Before they came along, though, the early Klan of the postwar South really was an “Invisible Empire,” emphasis on the invisibility: covert, decentralized, lacking hierarchy or uniforms, including the now-standard white, conical hood.

As historian Elaine Frantz Parsons has written in Midnight Rangers: Costume and Performance in the Reconstruction-Era Ku Klux Klan, while some early Klansmen did wear white, and later Klan mythology would claim they’d dressed up as Confederate ghosts, they usually drew on folk traditions of carnival, circus, minstrelsy, Mardi Gras—or the mid-century “Calico Indians,” hooded and masked farmers rebelling against upstate New York land laws. Klansmen wore gigantic animal horns, fake beards, coon-skin caps, or polka-dotted paper hats they imitated French accents or barnyard animals they played guitars to serenade victims. Some Klansmen wore pointed hats suggestive of wizards, dunces, or Pierrots some wore everyday winter hoods, pillowcases, or flour sacks on their heads. Many early Klansman also wore blackface, simultaneously scapegoating and mocking their victims.

The lack of a formal uniform helped apologists like John H. Christy, a former Georgia Representative, testify to Congress in 1871: “Sometimes mischievous boys who want to have some fun go on a masquerading frolic to scare the negroes, but they do not interrupt them, do not hurt them in any way…stories are exaggerated, and it keeps up the impression among the negroes that there is really a Ku-Klux organization.” But pantomime costumes didn’t make the early Klan any less real, or brutal: one “colored” witness, Jacob Montgomery of Spartanburg, South Carolina, testified that the Klansmen who pistol-whipped, beat, and kicked him wore “white gowns, and some had flax linen, and some had red calico, and some red caps, and white horns stuffed with cotton. And some had flannel around coon-skin caps.” Another witness, Henry Lipscomb, testified that the Klan had killed two of his black neighbors and one white they’d stripped, choked, and beaten him, and thrown a fireball into his house. The original Klan, anonymous, unaccountable, and hybrid, springing up in a woman’s gown, squirrel skin, or Venetian domino mask, violated its victims, then vanished, denying that any terrorism had occurred.

As Reconstruction ended and Southern white men reclaimed political power, they dropped out of the Klan, no longer limited to secret outlets for their violence. In 1872, the old Klan made a valedictory appearance: in public, in the Memphis Mardi Gras parade, revealing a new kind of pageantry that was no less ceremonial than chilling. Local Klan leaders and representatives from all the Southern states rode their own float, wearing black, conical hats with the skull and crossbones and “K.K.K.” in white. They staged the mock lynching of a man in blackface they lassoed black spectators. The Klan itself was dying, but only because white supremacy was resurging right out in the open, with the sanction and participation of law enforcement and white society at large. Now they had Jim Crow laws. They had a criminal justice system that disproportionately punished Black people and imprisoned them in prison farms, on former plantations. They had lynch mobs, who no longer concealed their identities.

As Gwendolyn Chisholm would comment over a century later, about the white supremacists who tortured and murdered James Byrd Jr. in 1998, “They look like normal people, don’t they? That’s the way they are nowadays—they don’t wear hoods anymore.” Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century lynchers also looked like “normal people.” The complete absence of any hood, costume, or concealment presented, literally, a new face of white supremacy. Journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett estimated that in the twenty-five years after the Civil War, lynchers murdered 10,000 black Americans. Starting in the 1880s, spectacle lynchings attracted crowds of up to 15,000 white participant-witnesses, who booked special excursion trains to reach lynching sites. They snatched victims’ clothing, bone fragments, and organs as souvenirs they photographed themselves, smiling, posing with their kids beside the broken, burned bodies of their victims they scrapbooked the photos and mailed them as postcards, confident that they’d never be held accountable for their terrorism. They didn’t wear hoods, because they didn’t need to.

Lynchings were not spontaneous outbursts of “mob” violence, but the predictable result of institutional support and the outright participation of political elites. The lynchers of Leo Frank, in Marietta, Georgia in 1915, included a former governor, judge, mayor and state legislator, sheriff, county prosecutor, lawyer and banker, business owner, U.S. senator’s son, and the founders of the Marietta Country Club. Frank’s atypical case—he was white and Jewish—attracted media attention that thousands of black victims never received, yet it exposed the ways that elites and authorities exonerated themselves by blaming mob violence on so-called “crackers.” Meanwhile, Mississippi governor, later U.S. senator James K. Vardaman said in 1907, “If it is necessary every Negro in the state will be lynched it will be done to maintain white supremacy.”

Vardaman didn’t wear a white hood. Neither did the first woman U.S. senator, Rebecca Latimer Felton, who said in 1897, “If it takes lynching to protect woman’s dearest possession from drunken, ravening human beasts, then I say lynch a thousand a week if it becomes necessary.” They were cloaked, instead, in state power and popular support, and what their platforms concealed was the truth: Wells-Barnett’s reporting and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) research had disproved the “thread bare lie” of the lynch mob as honorable defenders of white women. Besides the fact that the myth of the black rapist was a white supremacist fantasy, 70 percent of lynchers didn’t even bother to invoke it to justify their violence. Lynchers killed for such alleged offenses as “sassing,” wanting a drink of water, being “troublesome,” “conjuring,” and often, as in the murders of Mrs. Jake Cebrose and an eight-year-old child named Parks, no excuse at all.

Yet politicians still defended and abetted lynchers. In 1918, Georgia governor Hugh M. Dorsey wrote to the NAACP, “I believe that if the negroes would exert their ultimate influence with the criminal element of their race and stop rapes that it would go a long way towards stopping lynchings.” The “criminal element” he was referring to was Mary Turner, who had threatened to press charges against the lynchers of her husband, Hayes Turner, and of nine other men. The lynchers, as reported by the Savannah Morning News, “took exceptions [sic] to her remarks as well as her attitude.” They lynched Mary, who was eight months pregnant. Journalist Walter White, whose ability to pass as white enabled him to interview the murderers themselves, reported that they had hung Mary upside-down, set her on fire, cut out her fetus and stomped it, then shot Mary’s body multiple times. The Brooks County coroner’s jury ruled that all the victims had died “at the hands of parties unknown” and closed their cases a lyncher served as jury foreman.

It was in this context of bald-faced violence and injustice that Thomas Dixon recirculated the myth of the black rapist, pursued by vengeful robed vigilantes, for his 1905 novel and play, The Clansman. For the first edition of the book, the president of the Society of Illustrators, Arthur I. Keller, depicted the Reconstruction-era Klansmen in an anachronistic uniform of white, shoulder-length, face-concealing hoods beneath spiked caps. Dixon’s theater costumes adapted Keller’s book illustrations and added a conical white hat to the mix. Together they reintroduced pantomime, fantasy, and nostalgia to what had become a horribly commonplace spectacle for white crowds of murderers.

Then Hollywood took charge. In 1915, director D. W. Griffith adapted The Clansman as The Birth of a Nation, one of the very first feature-length films and the first to screen in the White House. Its most famous scene, the ride of the Klan, required 25,000 yards of white muslin to realize the Keller/Dixon costume ideas. Among the variety of Klansman costumes in the film, there appeared a new one: the one-piece, full-face-masking, pointed white hood with eyeholes, which would come to represent the modern Klan. Maybe it was Griffith who brought those pieces of fabric together in their soon-to-be iconic form after all, his mother had sewn costumes for his Klansman father. Or, given the heterogeneity of Reconstruction Klan costumes, maybe Griffith got the idea from another source altogether: Freemason regalia. Or maybe it wasn’t Griffith’s idea at all, but that of Paris-trained, Costume Designer Guild’s Hall-of-Famer Clare West, who worked on the film: maybe she had witnessed confraternal processions in the streets of Europe, or just made it up.

What we do know is that the blockbuster popularity of The Birth of a Nation gave free advertising to a traveling fraternal order organizer, former Methodist minister, and garter salesman, William J. Simmons. Simmons didn’t just organize fraternities he’d joined fifteen of them, including the Knights Templar and the Masons. The 1915 lynching of Leo Frank had inspired Simmons to form a new anti-Semitic, nativist fraternity. One week before The Birth of a Nation’s Atlanta premiere, Simmons received his state charter for “The Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Incorporated.” He sold hoods and robes ($6.50) sewn in a local shop, wrote a handbook—the Kloran—and, in 1920, hired publicists Edward Y. Clarke and Elizabeth Tyler to launch a massive campaign that attracted 100,000 new members in 16 months. Kleagles, or recruiters, arranged minstrel shows and screenings of The Birth of a Nation and other pro-Klan films.

In 1921, the Klan opened the Gates City Manufacturing Company in Atlanta to mass- produce regalia imitating The Birth of a Nation’s designs. The sumptuous, full-color, mail-order Catalog of Official Robes and Banners advertised all the standardized, factory-made hoods for the new hierarchy: Klansman (white cotton denim hood, red tassel) Terror (same hood, along with a red waist cord) Special Terror (white satin hood, three red silk tassels). Also for sale were ceremonial banners: The catalog’s banner samples all represent Red Bank, in the “Realm of New Jersey” (New Jersey had 60,000 members at the peak of Klan membership, more than Louisiana, Alabama, or the original Klan’s home state of Tennessee).

With black Americans’ lives already so severely constrained, or curtailed, by Jim Crow law and lynch law, the newly hooded Klan aimed much of its violence against new targets: immigrants from eastern and southern Europe, Jews, Catholics, supposed Bolsheviks, and unions. The new Klan courted mainstream Protestant, nativist, white supremacist respectability senators, Supreme Court justices, and governors joined up. So did white women: Shortly after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, the Klan auxiliary organization “Women of the Ku Klux Klan” formed. The Vermont Historical Society owns a celebratory women’s hood from that time, made not of denim but of softer, finer muslin it’s mended in several places, as though it had seen hard wear. (In the 1919 film Heart o’ the Hills, Mary Pickford dons a Klan hood to join the nightriders.)

The new hooded uniforms and the secret rituals harked back, not so much to the Klan’s early history, as to other fraternal orders, like the Masons. Anonymity wasn’t quite the point: While the hoods could assure their wearers’ personal anonymity, their force came from declaring membership in a safe, privileged identity that was anything but secret. The hoods made Klan membership cool they helped rebrand the Klan as a popular, patriotic, money-making, white clubhouse movement. Over the next few decades, the Klan would morph again, going bankrupt and facing tax evasion charges, then reviving, diminished in numbers but ferociously violent, as an anti-black terrorist organization during the Civil Rights Movement. But as the Klan waned or regrouped, the hooded uniform remained, sometimes anonymizing acts of covert violence, sometimes adorning a public, unconcealed, violent group identity. Either way, the hood signaled the interrelatedness of white supremacy, civic leadership, theatrics, and more or less overt terrorism.

Alison Kinney is the author of Hood and of essays online at Paris Review Daily, The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times, Lapham’s Quarterly, The Guardian, and other publications. She is an assistant professor of writing at Eugene Lang College, the New School.

The Cubit: A History and Measurement Commentary

Historical dimensions for the cubit are provided by scripture and pyramid documentation. Additional dimensions from the Middle East are found in other early documents. Two major dimensions emerge from a history of the cubit. The first is the anthropological or short cubit, and the second is the architectual or long cubit. The wide geographical area and long chronological period suggest that cubit dimensions varied over time and geographic area. Greek and Roman conquests led to standardization. More recent dimensions are provided from a study by Francis Galton based upon his investigations into anthropometry. The subjects for Galton’s study and those of several other investigators lacked adequate sample descriptions for producing a satisfactory cubit/forearm dimension. This finding is not surprising given the demise of the cubit in today’s world. Contemporary dimensions from military and civilian anthropometry for the forearm and hand allow comparison to the ancient unit. Although there appears no pressing need for a forearm-hand/cubit dimension, the half-yard or half-meter unit seems a useful one that could see more application.

1. Introduction

If we know anything of the cubit today, it probably comes from acquaintance with Hebrew Scripture and/or the Old and New Testaments. People have heard or read about the dimensions of Noah’s Ark or Solomon’s Temple. Acquaintance with Egyptian history might have brought some awareness from the dimensions given for pyramids and temples. The cubit was a common unit in the early East. It continues today in some locations, but with less prominence having been replaced by modern day units. Early employment of the cubit throughout the Near East showed varied dimensions for this unit. Some variants can be examined easier with reference to biblical passages. Additional variants can also be found in numerous secular documents, but these are less known and less accessible than scripture.

The word cubit (′kyü-bǝt) in English appears derived from the Latin cubitum for elbow. It was πήχυς (pay′-kus) in Greek. The cubit is based upon a human characteristic—the length of the forearm from the tip of the middle finger to end of the elbow. Many definitions seem to agree on this aspect of the unit, yet it does not produce a universal standard for there are many ways to determine a cubit. It can be measured from the elbow to the base of the hand, from the elbow to a distance located between the outstretched thumb and little finger, or from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. These alternate descriptions further complicate the matter of determining a specific unit measure of the cubit. Hereafter, the latter description, elbow to the tip of the middle finger, will signify the common unit.

The human figure (typically male) has been the basis for many dimensions. The foot is immediately recognized as an example [1]. Less commonly heard is onyx (nail), but onyx remains a medical term. The Old English ynche, ynch, unce, or inch was a thumb-joint breadth. The anthropomorphic basis for many standards supports the statement “man is the measure of all things” attributed to Protagoras according to Plato in the Theaetetus [2]. Small wonder the cubit was initially employed for measurement given its omnipresent availability for use. We always possess the unit. Human figure units are arbitrary but universal are especially effective by their bodily reference producing a crude standard that is immediately accessable.

The cubit provides a convenient middle unit between the foot and the yard. The English yard could be considered a double cubit said to measure 12 palms, about 90 cm, or 36 inches measured from the center of a man’s body to the tip of the fingers of an outstretched arm [3]. This is a useful way of measuring cloth held center body to an outstretched hand (two cubits), or across the body to both outstretched hands (four cubits as specified in Exodus 26: 1-2, 7-8). The English ell is a larger variant of the cubit consisting of 15 palms, 114 cm, or 45 inches. It is about equal to the cloth measure ell of early Scotland. A man’s stride, defined as stepping left-right, produces a double cubit, or approximately a yard [1].

The dimensions in Table 1 give the (approximate) relative lengths for meter, yard, cubit, and foot.

The cubit was a basic unit in early Israel and the surrounding Near East countries. It is אטה in Hebrew (pronounced am-mah′), which can be interpreted “the mother of the arm” or the origin, that is, the forearm/cubit. Selected biblical references [4] for the cubit include these five rather well-known selections. (1) And God said to Noah, I have determined to make an end of all flesh for the earth is filled with violence through them behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. (Genesis 6:13–15 RSV) (2) They shall make an ark of acacia wood two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. And you shall overlay it with pure gold, within and without shall you overlay it, and you shall make upon it a molding of gold round about. (Exodus 25:10-11 RSV) (3) And he made the court for the south side the hangings of the court were of fine twined linen, a hundred cubits their pillars were twenty and their bases twenty, of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. And for the north side a hundred cubits, their pillars twenty, their bases twenty, of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. And for the west side were hangings of fifty cubits, their pillars ten, and their sockets ten the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. And for the front to the east, fifty cubits. (Exodus 38:9–13 RSV) (4) And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. (1 Samuel 17:2–4 RSV) (5) In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of The Lord. The house which King Solomon built for The Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. (1 Kings 6:1-2 RSV)

The cubit determined a measure for many aspects of life in Biblical history. A Sabbath day’s journey measured 2,000 cubits (Exodus 16:29). This statue proscribed a limit to travel on the Sabbath. The distance between the Ark of the Covenant and the camp of the Israelites during the exodus is estimated at about 914 meters, 1,000 yards, or 2,000 cubits [5].

Biblical citations and historical archeology suggest more than one standard length for the cubit existed in Israel. In II Chronicles 3:3 the citation may imply cubits of the old standard. Ezekiel 40:5 43:13 may be indicating the cubit plus a hand. Archeological evidence from Israel [6] suggests that 52.5 cm = 20.67 and 45 cm = 17.71 constitute the long and short cubits of this time and location. To some scholars, the Egyptian cubit was the standard measure of length in the Biblical period. The Biblical sojourn/exodus, war, and trade are probable reasons for this length to have been employed elsewhere.

The Tabernacle, the Temple of Solomon, and many other structures are described in the Bible by cubit measures. These also occur with two different cubits dimensions, the long or royal (architectural) cubit and the short (anthropological) cubit. Scholars have used various means to determine the length of these cubits with some success. The long cubit is given as approximately 52.5 centimeters and the short cubit as about 45 centimeters [4, 5].

The Israelite long cubit corresponds to the Egyptian cubit of 7 hands with 6 hands for shorter one. Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible [7, page 1373] states “… archeology and literature suggests an average length for the common cubit of 44.5 cm (17.5 in.).” This citation also gives a range of 42–48 cm (17–19 in) for the cubit. Range is an important parameter because it indicates the variation operating on this measure. Variation indicates multiple influences.

The English use of cubit is difficult to determine. The exact length of this measure varies depending upon whether it included the entire length from the elbow to the tip of the longest finger or by one of the alternates described earlier. Some scholars suggest that the longer dimension was the original cubit making it 20.24 inches for the ordinary cubit, and 21.88 inches for the sacred one, or a standard cubit from the elbow to end of middle finger (20′′) and a lower forearm cubit from the elbow to base of the hand (12′′). These are the same dimensions for Egyptian measurements according to Easton’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary [9]. The Interpreter’s Bible [10, page 154] gives the Common Scale length as 444.25 mm or 17.49 inches and Ezekial’s Scale as 518.29 mm or 20.405 inches for the two cubit lengths. Inasmuch as the Romans colonized England the shorter cubit previously mentioned may have been the standard.

A rod or staff is called גמד (gomedh) in Judges 3:16, which means a cut, or something cut off. The LXX (Septuagint) and Vulgate render it “span” which in Hebrew Scripture or the Old Testament is defined as a measure of distance (the forearm cubit), roughly 18 inches (almost 0.5 of a meter). Among the several cubits mentioned is the cubit of a man or common cubit in Deut. 3:11 and the legal cubit or cubit of the sanctuary described in Ezra 40.5 [6].

Barrios [5] gives a summary of linear Hebrew measures (see Table 2).

Barrois [5] indicates the dimension of the cubit can only be determined by deduction and not directly because of conflicting information. He reports the aqueduct of Hezekiah was 1,200 cubits according to the inscription of Siloam. Its length is given as 5333.1 meters or 1,749 feet. Absolute certainty for the length of a cubit cannot be determined, and there are great differences of opinion about this length fostering strong objections and debates. Some writers make the cubit eighteen inches and others twenty, twenty-one inches, or greater. This appears critically important for those seeking to determine the exact modern equivalent of dimensions taken from scripture. Taking 21 inches for the cubit, the ark Noah built would be 525 feet in length, 87 feet 6 inches in breadth, and 52 feet 6 inches in height. Using the standard 20′′ cubit and 9′′ span, Goliath’s height would be 6 cubits plus a span for about 10 feet and 9 inches. With a cubit of 18′′ his height is 9 feet 9 inches. The Septuagint, LXX, suggests 4 cubits plus a span, or a more modest 6 feet and 9 inches. There are many implications depending upon which dimension is selected [7]. The story requires young David to slay a giant and not simply an above average sized man! Likewise for many other dimensions and description found in early writings, the larger the dimensions, the better the story. Sacred dimensions require solemn, awe inspiring ones, but this frustrates an exact determination.

Rabbi David ben Zimra (1461–1571) claimed the Foundation Stone and Holy of Holies were located within the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. This view is widely accepted, but with differences of opinion over the exact location known as the “central location theory,” some of these differences result from strong disagreement over the dimension of the cubit. Kaufman [11] argues against the “central location theory” defending a cubit measuring 0.437 meters (1.43 feet). David [12] argues for a Temple cubit of 0.56 meters (1.84 feet).

Differences in the length of the cubit arise from various historical times and geographical locations in the biblical period. These very long time periods and varied geographical locations frustrate determining a more exact length to the cubit. Israel’s location between Egypt and Mesopotamia suggest that many influences came into play over the space of hundreds and hundreds of years in this well-traveled area. These influences probably contributed to the varied dimensions encountered over this long time frame. Stories, myths, and drama add their share.

The earliest written mention of the cubit occurs in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The incomplete text is extant in twelve tablets written in Akkadian found at Nineveh in the library of Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria (669–630? BCE). Other fragments dated from 1800 BCE contain parts of the text, and still more fragments mentioning this epic have been found dating from the 2nd millennium BCE. The cubit is specifically mentioned in the text when describing a flood as remarkably similar and predating the flood mentioned in Genesis. Obviously, the cubit was an early and important unit of the Middle East fundamental to conveying linear measures as shown in Tables 2, 3, and 4.

The Collection

The National Museum of African American History and Culture, like all other Smithsonian museums, hopes to benefit from donations of historical artifacts, archival documents, and works of art. Before accepting anything for the National Collection, the Museum must evaluate all material. This process involves, but is not limited to, the following steps:

  1. Submission of a Collections Information Form by a potential donor
  2. Consideration by curatorial staff to determine whether the object/collection warrants further evaluation for potential acquisition
  3. If the object/collection warrants further evaluation, physical review of the object/collection by curatorial staff
  4. Verification of the authenticity of the object/collection
  5. Presentation of a proposal to acquire the object/collection by a Museum Curator to the NMAAHC Collections Committee
  6. Review and vote by the NMAAHC Collections Committee to recommend accepting or not accepting the object/collection
  7. If accepted, issuance of the Deed of Gift

If you have an important object/collection you believe the Museum should consider, start by submitting our collections information form at the link below.

*Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Museum’s standard operations have been significantly curtailed. As a result, non-mission-critical functions, such as the shipment of material to our collections storage facility, are being postponed. Therefore, if we determine that any offered material warrants a physical review, we will be requesting that potential donors hold on to their material a little longer so that we may work to ship your material once we return to our regular operations.

Kirtland Temple

In an August 1833 revelation, the Lord commanded the Latter-day Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, to “commence a work of laying out and preparing a beginning and foundation of the city of the stake of Zion here in the land of Kirtland beginning at my house.” 1 For the next three years, the Saints consecrated much of their time and talents to construct the House of the Lord, later known as the Kirtland Temple. 2

Early photograph of the Kirtland Temple.

The First Presidency at that time—Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams—saw the building in vision in 1833 and presided over the laying of the temple cornerstone at a ceremony held on July 23. The revealed design called for an interior 55 feet wide by 65 feet long with a large first-floor assembly room for administering the sacrament, preaching, fasting, and praying, and another large hall on the second floor for a school of the elders. The exterior resembled the New England Protestant style, but the interior introduced unique features, particularly the arrangement of two series of four-tiered pulpits on each end of the assembly rooms for seating the presidencies of the Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthoods. 3

Photograph of the pulpits in the second-floor assembly hall of the Kirtland Temple.

A limestone quarry a few miles from the temple provided stone for the temple walls, and a sawmill built and operated through the consecrated service of the Saints supplied wood for the interior. Skilled carpenters, including Jacob Bump, Truman Angell, and Brigham Young, applied their craft to beautify the building. Children gathered discarded shards of crockery and china for mixing into the stucco finish applied to the temple’s exterior. 4

As the temple neared completion, Joseph Smith met in the structure with Latter-day Saint men who had been ordained to the priesthood in January and February to prepare for the dedication. The assembled men prayed together, experienced spiritual manifestations, partook of the sacrament, and participated in sacred rituals, including ceremonial washing and anointing. On January 21, 1836, Joseph Smith experienced a vision of celestial glory now found in Doctrine and Covenants 137.

On March 27, 1836, the Saints assembled for the temple’s dedication. The Saints partook of the sacrament and listened to several sermons. Joseph Smith offered a prayer of dedication that he had received by revelation (now D&C 109), which the Saints followed by giving the Hosanna Shout and singing “The Spirit of God like a Fire Is Burning,” a hymn penned by William W. Phelps for the occasion. The dedicatory prayer, Hosanna Shout, and Phelps’s hymn became standard elements of subsequent dedicatory proceedings of Latter-day Saint temples. 5

At the dedication ceremony and at meetings in the following weeks, Latter-day Saints experienced dramatic outpourings of the Holy Spirit and remarkable spiritual events within the temple that fulfilled a promise in earlier revelations that the Lord would “endow” the Saints with “power from on high.” 6 Most notably, a vision of Jesus Christ and several Old Testament prophets seen by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery inaugurated the worldwide gathering of Israel and restored a fulness of the sealing power. 7

The temple functioned as a center of the Kirtland Saints’ worship, hosting Sabbath, prayer, and fasting meetings. Church leaders and missionaries assembled for study in subjects including reading, writing, history, and geography. The last session of the Kirtland School of the Prophets (also called the School of the Elders) was held in the temple. 8

A year after the temple’s dedication, a financial crisis beset the Saints in Kirtland. 9 Angry at Church leaders, a faction led by dissenter Warren Parrish attempted to seize the building. Months later, an unknown arsonist tried to set fire to the building. Threats of violence and other troubles led Church leaders and many Saints to leave Ohio for Far West, Missouri. The relatively few Saints remaining in Kirtland continued to worship and congregate in the temple. 10

After Joseph Smith’s death in 1844, most members of the Kirtland congregation embraced the “New Organization,” a movement that eventually became the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, led by Joseph’s son Joseph Smith III. In 1880, a court recognized the heirs of Joseph Smith as those holding title to the building, and two decades later, the RLDS Church (later Community of Christ) secured ownership through a legal claim of continuous use (known as adverse possession). Community of Christ has cared for the building since that time. 11

Lisa Olsen Tait and Brent Rogers, “A House for Our God: D&C 88, 94, 95, 96, 97, 109, 110, 137,” in Matthew McBride and James Goldberg, eds., Revelations in Context: The Stories behind the Sections of the Doctrine and Covenants (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2016), 165–73.

Volume introduction and “Minutes and Prayer of Dedication, 27 March 1836 [D&C 109],” in Brent M. Rogers, Elizabeth A. Kuehn, Christian K. Heimburger, Max H Parkin, Alexander L. Baugh, and Steven C. Harper, eds., Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838. Vol. 5 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Ronald K. Esplin, Matthew J. Grow, and Matthew C. Godfrey (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2017), xix–xxxvi, 188–209.

The following publications provide further information about this topic. By referring or linking you to these resources, we do not endorse or guarantee the content or the views of the authors.

Elwin C. Robison, The First Mormon Temple: Design, Construction, and Historic Context of the Kirtland Temple (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1997).

David J. Howlett, Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014).

History of Navajo Rugs

The Navajo are one of the largest recognized Native American tribes within the United States. Around 500 years ago, they made their home the American Southwest. There, they developed a vibrant culture, complete with its own language, belief system, and lifestyle. One of their most significant impressions on modern society has been their rugs.

Weaving has always been a major part of the Navajo culture. While it is not entirely known where they learned to weave, they ended up becoming the most skilled out of all the Native Amerian tribes. The vivid geometric patterns on highly-durable fabrics were renown throughout the Southwest.

The Pueblo tribe is thought to have introduced weaving to the Navajo, or at least a new way to weave using a vertical loom. Thanks to this new loom, as well as raising their own unique sheep called the Navajo-Churro, they were able to begin weaving long, smooth, and durable fibers to make rugs.

At the turn of the 20th century, there was growing interest in the rest of the world for all things Native American. Tourists from the rest of America, and beyond, would come to the Southwest in search of authentic souvenirs. The exotic designs caught on and remain popular to this day. Over the course of the 20th century, various types of designs sprang up, providing added variety to Navajo rugs, which became widely admired.

Watch the video: Banned practice of foot binding blighting Chinas oldest women. ITV News (May 2022).