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Why Were American Soldiers in WWI Called Doughboys?

September 28, 2018 in History

By Elizabeth Nix

There are a number of theories, including ones that involve dust and clay.

It’s unknown exactly how U.S. service members in World War I (1914-18) came to be dubbed doughboys—the term most typically was used to refer to troops deployed to Europe as part of the American Expeditionary Forces—but there are a variety of theories about the origins of the nickname.

According to one explanation, the term dates back to the Mexican War of 1846-48, when American infantrymen made long treks over dusty terrain, giving them the appearance of being covered in flour, or dough. As a variation of this account goes, the men were coated in the dust of adobe soil and as a result were called “adobes,” which morphed into “dobies” and, eventually, “doughboys.”

Among other theories, according to “War Slang” by Paul Dickson the American journalist and lexicographer H.L. Mencken claimed the nickname could be traced to Continental Army soldiers who kept the piping on their uniforms white through the application of clay. When the troops got rained on the clay on their uniforms turned into “doughy blobs,” supposedly leading to the doughboy moniker.

Group portrait of soldiers during World War I. (Credit: PhotoQuest/Getty Images)

However doughboy came into being, it was just one of the nicknames given to those who fought in the Great War. For example, “poilu” (“hairy one”) was a term for a French soldier, as a number of them had beards or mustaches, while a popular slang term for a British soldier was “Tommy,” an abbreviation of Tommy Atkins, a generic name (along the lines of John Doe) used on government forms.

America’s last World War I doughboy, Frank Buckles, died in 2011 in West Virginia at age 110. Buckles enlisted in the Army at age 16 in August 1917, four months after the U.S. entered the conflict, and drove military vehicles in France. One of 4.7 million Americans who served in the war, Buckles was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Today imagery of the doughboy persists in more than 100 World War I commemorative statues across the United States. Most of the statues were erected in the 1920s and often through the fundraising efforts of grassroots veteran’s and women’s groups. Even small communities were able to pay for the statues since versions of the doughboy statue were mass produced and, therefore, more affordable.

An American Doughboy memorial sculpture in Greencastle, Indiana. …read more


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One Way Forward: Confirm Kavanaugh Now

September 28, 2018 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

When Professor Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Brett
Kavanaugh first became public, I thought that, in our toxic
political environment, there was no need to reopen the Supreme
Court confirmation hearings to consider last-minute claims from the
mists of history.

Once a new hearing was set, I thought it would be pointless at
best and mutually destructive at worst. I was wrong on both counts
— not because we have now definitively resolved anything, but
because the tie goes to the runner: The American people deserved to
hear from both sides, but we simply can’t let unproven claims to
destroy careers and lives.

That’s not to say that I don’t believe Ford. She was
a remarkably human and relatable witness. Her trauma was palpable.
Her testimony was credible. But it wasn’t enough to warrant
the ruin for the country that rejecting Kavanaugh on that basis
would mean.

Because the nominee was all-too-human too — and perhaps
even more emotional than Ford. His passionate defense of his own
life and his attack on the “political hit” and
“sham” that this process has become. In this
culmination of two weeks of denials, the would-be justice who by
all previous accounts has led an exemplary life in no uncertain
terms reiterated that he had never done “anything like

The American people
deserved to hear from both sides, but we simply can’t let unproven
claims to destroy careers and lives.

I wish that Ford’s allegations could’ve been
investigated by the FBI as part of its standard background check
— the sixth one that Kavanaugh has passed — when her
confidential letter first reached the Judiciary Committee soon
after Kavanaugh was nominated. But the ranking member, Sen. Dianne
Feinstein, sat on the letter, at one point trying to dissuade her
colleagues by saying that the allegation was too old and flimsy to
be worth considering.

Once everything came to a head, with a Washington Post article
that came even after the Judiciary Committee’s private
closed-door hearing — when senators ask nominees about
sensitive matters like alcoholism, sexual history and gambling
debts — it was both too late and pointless to have a
confidential FBI check. So the committee investigators took over,
dutifully collecting sworn statements from alleged witnesses and
holding multiple sworn phone calls with Kavanaugh — in which
investigation the Democratic staff declined to participate.

That brings us to a hearing that revealed no new evidence but
failed to overcome the presumption of innocence that anyone in
Kavanaugh’s shoes must have. Not because his accusers must
present proof beyond a reasonable doubt — this isn’t a
criminal trial — but because a he-said/she-said situation,
when compounded by …read more

Source: OP-EDS