While the use of the guillotine symbolizes a reign of terror during the early days of the French Revolution, its usage was adapted in the late 1700s as a more humane way to carry out public executions. It was regarded as both efficient and fast, sparing the sentenced unnecessary pain. It is said that before it was sanctioned as the official executioner’s tool, King Louis XVI (1754-1793) suggested improving the design to utilize an angled straight blade instead of the original curved one. He himself, along with his queen, Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), benefitted from the enhanced efficiency when they were beheaded.
The tool became a hallmark of the political maneuverings carried out by one of the leaders of the revolution, Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794). Robespierre definitely established himself as a kind of “if-you’re-not-with-me-you’re-against-me” kind of guy, placing those who found themselves in that category labeled as enemies of France. He was also adept at rallying the masses, the sans-culottes tradesmen in Paris, to protest against these enemies.
Continue reading “Postcard from Bordeaux, France: Lady Liberty breaks free of shackles on both sides of Atlantic”
Above, Statue of Liberty, Detroit Publishing Company, Library of Congress
Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Fifty-Two
Hedda Burgemeister, October 1913
Shivering, Hedda pulls her wrap closely around her as the ship steams toward the harbor. On deck before dawn waiting to spy the welcoming torch held aloft by the Statue of Liberty, she secures a spot by the railing. As the sun rises, people crowd onto the deck, all peering toward the west.
She remembers the trembling excitement she felt the first time she saw Lady Liberty and her own first passage through the long, long lines on Ellis Island. Her sense of anticipation is greater now. Instead of the jittery uncertainty of venturing into an unknown new life, she feels waves of relief flooding over her at the thought of returning. Her emotions upon arriving in Germany two weeks ago pale by comparison.
With her father gone, Germany no longer feels homelike. She enjoyed reminiscing with her German friends from nursing school, but she found herself disconnected this trip. She is American now.
Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Fifty-Three”
Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Forty-Six
Hedda Burgemeister, May 1913
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
Reciting to the mirror in the parlor, Hedda pauses to pin on her hat.
Otto said he would be tied up today, so she is off to the library for a fresh supply of reading materials.
Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Forty-Seven”