When Bolivarianism Was Cool in the U.S.
Time was when you might find a kid named Bolivar Johnson or Bolivar Miller in any town in the U.S.
Caitlin Fitz has an amazing OpEd yesterday in the L.A. Times about a moment now so distant, it feels impossible:
Almost 200 years ago, as the United States approached its 50th birthday, a new baby name swept the nation. It wasn’t biblical or even Anglophone. It was Bolivar. Hundreds of mothers and fathers, living in Kentucky log cabins or Illinois farmhouses, named their crying, crinkly newborns after Spanish America’s most celebrated revolutionary: Simón Bolívar of Venezuela.
The baby Bolivar boom wasn’t an isolated oddity, either. Other Americans named their new towns, their boats and even their livestock Bolivar, adopting the Spanish-speaking revolutionary as one of their own.
It’s really worth reading the whole thing, including its stirring —for gringo internationalists— centerpoint:
Our early 19th century predecessors saw themselves as political kin of people with clear cultural, linguistic and sometimes racial differences. Turning south of the border, early U.S. patriots adopted internationalism as a credo.
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