Speakers

John C. Fazio

John C. Fazio

John Fazio holds a B.A. and J.D. from Case Western Reserve University. Retired, after practicing law for fifty years, he is a student of history, with an emphasis on the Civil War. He has published numerous articles on the war and recently completed writing a book on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the attempted assassination of other Northern leaders on April 14, 1865. The book is titled Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln. Copies are available directly from the publisher (Morris Gilbert Publishing Company), from the author, from Amazon and other on-line book sellers and in some book stores. Reviews have been excellent, with one reviewer stating that it is “…probably the best (book) on the market on the American Civil War” and another saying that it is “…perhaps the most (significant) work on this topic ever written”. For additional information, please contact the author.

The Great Kidnapping Myth

In this PowerPoint presentation, the speaker exposes as a gigantic myth the all-but-universally accepted history that Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, led an action team in a conspiracy to kidnap Lincoln, but had a change of heart and decided, at almost the last minute, to murder him instead.  The plan, ostensibly, was to convey Lincoln to Richmond, there to be held as a hostage pending the release of Confederate prisoners of war.  The speaker proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Booth never intended to kidnap anyone and that, pursuant to instruction from his handlers in the Confederate Secret Service, under the overall direction of the highest levels of the Confederate government, multiple assassinations were always his purpose and goal.

The Emancipation Proclamation

This PowerPoint presentation covers the genesis, the preparation, the promulgation, the interpretations and the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation, perhaps the strangest document in American history. The presenter discusses the moral imperatives that inspired the war measure as well as the more concrete motives of preventing foreign intervention in the war and depleting Southern manpower—the engine that drove the Southern economy—and, the opposite side of the same coin, increasing Northern manpower, especially in the Union armies and navy. The presenter also discusses the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution and how this amendment and the proclamation were viewed by later generations of African-Americans. Lastly, the presenter speaks of how the proclamation was received in Ohio and what effect it had on Ohio politics.

Intrepid Mariners

This is a PowerPoint presentation of the saga of the only major battle between ocean-going vessels in the Civil War. John A. Winslow and Raphael Semmes had become best friends while serving together during the Mexican War.  However, during the Civil War, Semmes captained the C.S.S. Sumter and the C.S.S. Alabama and became the scourge of Federal commercial shipping, sinking or capturing 85 merchant ships and one Union warship. As Captain of the U.S.S. Kearsarge, Winslow pursued his former friend and the Alabama for 14 months before cornering him off the coast of Cherbourg, France, where the two ships fought to the death. Their last view of each other and the action taken by Winslow in consequence of it is the stuff of legend. The story is not only history; it is supreme literature.

Francis and Arabella; John and Fanny: Love and War

This PowerPoint presentation tells the story of Union General Francis C. Barlow and his wife, Arabella, and Confederate General John B. Gordon and his wife, Fanny. Both wives followed their husbands from battlefield to battlefield and each nursed her spouse back to good health after life-threatening wounds. At Gettysburg, Gordon saved Barlow’s life by ministering to him on the battlefield and by arranging for Arabella to come through his lines to be with her husband, only to face him in head-to-head combat ten months later at Spotsylvania. After the war, the two warriors –each thinking the other dead –met at a dinner party and were “resurrected” to each other, becoming fast friends for the rest of their lives. So ironic are the encounters that one would think the story was scripted in Hollywood.

The Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

This PowerPoint presentation reviews the evidence linking the Confederate Secret Service, as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Secretary of State Judah Benjamin and Secretary of War James Seddon, to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the attempted decapitation of the Federal Government on April 14, 1865. John Wilkes Booth and his action team are considered in detail, but only in the context of an underground mosaic that included numerous other individuals and action teams who and which were primed to carry out multiple assassinations for the purpose of snatching Southern independence from the jaws of a toothless and chaotic government.

The Turning Point: The Wilderness and Spotsylvania

This is a PowerPoint presentation of the twin battles of The Wilderness and Spotsylvania, May 5-19, 1864.  The speaker argues that these battles, despite the fact that the first of them was a Confederate victory, constitute the true turning point of the Civil War because they forever extinguished the possibility that the Confederacy could win the war.  That possibility was already remote by virtue of major Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, in July, 1863, but neither of those battles sealed the Confederacy’s fate, as demonstrated by the later Confederate victory at Chickamauga (September, 1863).  The fate was sealed when General Grant turned south at the Brock Road-Plank Road intersection, toward Spotsylvania Court House, after his defeat in The Wilderness, rather than northward to re-cross the Rapidan, lick his wounds and regroup, as the long train of mediocrities before him had done.  Grant promised Lincoln there would be no retreat, and meant it.  “I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer”, he wired Henry Halleck.  And he did.

Causes of the Civil War

In this PowerPoint presentation, the speaker examines the remote predisposing causes (the establishment of the institution of slavery in North America in 1619), the more recent predisposing causes (the preservation and protection of slavery in the Constitution of the United States; the Louisiana Purchase; the annexation of Texas; and the Mexican Cession) and the precipitating causes (the election of Abraham Lincoln in November, 1860, and the bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor on April 12, 1861) of the Civil War. The speaker argues that slavery, more than any other single factor, did in fact cause the Civil War, but that it had several dimensions of causation, only one of which was the moral imperative. Others were the political failure, i.e. the refusal of the South to respect the results of the election of 1860, held fair and square according to the Constitution; the social factor, i.e. what was the South going to do with 4,000,000 suddenly free slaves; and economic rivalry and hatred between the two regions and especially between the ruling class in each region: Northern manufacturers and Southern planters.

The Vigilantes of Montana

This is a little known story of happenings, during the Civil War, in a very remote area of the country, far removed from battle sites.  The area was southern Montana and the happenings may have had more to do with Northern victory than any other factor in the war, with the possible exception of the diplomacy of Charles Francis Adams, the American Ambassador to the Court of St. James.  It is the story of the discovery of gold in that remote area and the measures taken by the Lincoln Administration to secure it for the Union and to assure that not one nugget of it found its way to the Confederacy.

Rationales for the Welfare State

This is a discussion of the history of our Republic from the standpoint of the development of welfare state legislation and institutions.  Included is a description of liberalism as a political philosophy, historically and at present, and its role in such development.  The speaker charts American history from the progressive era (1890-1920) through the Administration of Lyndon Johnson and the turning point represented by the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.  The current assault on the concept of the welfare state and the fallacious reasoning that underlies such assault are considered and five solid rationales in support of the concept are offered.

A Rationalist’s Jesus

The speaker argues that being a rationalist does not preclude recognition of the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, nor of an ancient community known as Nazareth.  He argues, further, that Jesus was what we would today call a liberal, perhaps even a radical leftist, inasmuch as he rebelled against the secular and religious authority of his day, in the same way that other Jewish rebels had done, which is why those authorities wanted him dead.  The speaker argues, further, that frontal assaults against religion are counter-productive, and that, except when it interferes with our civil and/or political rights, it should be benignly neglected, because the real enemy is not religion, but economic injustice.

The Wrong Enemy

The speaker argues against rationalists and free-thinkers who make religion their principal enemy, spending extraordinary amounts of time, energy and money attacking a biological phenomenon that is almost as natural and basic to our being as eating, drinking, sleeping and procreating.  Such expenditures are largely a waste and in fact are counter-productive, because they marginalize rationalists and secular humanists.  Religion should be opposed, and forcefully, only when it interferes with our civil and/or political rights.  Otherwise, it should be benignly neglected.  The real enemy, says the speaker, is economic injustice, which, therefore, rather than religion, should be the focus of the rationalists’ ire and effort.

Anti-Semitism: The Roots of a Phenomenon 

The speaker discusses the phenomenon known as anti-Semitism from the perspective of ultimate causation.  Considered and rejected are theories that postulate pathological roots.  Instead, the phenomenon is shown to have its ultimate roots in our basic nature, in ethnic differences, in linguistic peculiarities, in envy, in schadenfreude, in historical happenstance and misinterpretation and in non-assimilation.  The speaker offers palliatives to minimize and neutralize the phenomenon and to ameliorate its harsher effects.

Better and Better

This is a discussion of why we should honor our country and its fallen.  More specifically, it is a treatment of our history from the standpoint of mistakes we have made (e.g. slavery; annihilation of Indians); the voices that have always been raised in opposition to those mistakes; and what we learned from the mistakes and from those who opposed them.  The speaker discusses our accomplishments (e.g. the defeat of fascism and communism) and the positive force for good that we now play in the world.  The process of getting better and better as a country is shown in our foreign affairs as well as in our democracy, in our Constitution, in the relationship between management and labor, in legislative reforms and in the distribution of wealth.

The Elephant is Still in the Living Room

This is a general discussion and assessment of the secular and religious theories of the origin of the universe and of life on earth.  Considered are the underpinnings of atheism, agnosticism and theism and the strengths and weaknesses of all three.  Also considered and evaluated are the criticisms of all three by adherents of each of them.  Dogma of the three great monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) is discussed as are the baneful and beneficial effects of religion and secularism in the history of our species.  Lastly, the future of religion and secularism are discussed as well as the separation of church and state.

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