Another view of the use of Mind Mirror

Sarah Laskin was a participant in an earlier version of the Monroe Institute course featuring Mind Mirror, and in the institute’s blog shared her experiences, which should be of interest.


TGU: Trusting life

Sunday, July 15, 2018

4 a.m. So, guys – wheezing? I started to ask, “clarity?” but got diverted, probably by you yourselves.

Well, we did want to put in a word about wheezing and your life. Though it is now only a mild annoyance, once in your life it was a major annoyance, a disruption, even a threat.

I well remember.

But you were not remembering, that’s the point. Well and good to make progress, but much better to remember what you progressed from, and to.


You are pleased with, but didn’t take much notice of, your [healing] working with ___’s husband, adapting your spiel instinctively to his comfort zone.

___ noticed.

And he isn’t the only one, nor will he be. But what about you? Are you noticing?

Not taking it for granted, you mean?

Not noticing that you – and others – take it for granted.

I suppose this ties in to what I was thinking about when I got up, just now. I was feeling a certain amount of decent envy, as I often do, of what other people accomplish in their lives – in this case, Jim Lewis and Bob Holbrook, I think – and Jim pointed out how impressive he thought my work was. I said, more or less, “But to me it seems like such a narrow, limited area of achievement.” But he didn’t see it that way. I suppose anybody else’s life looks more successful, more fulfilling, than one’s own.

Don’t over-generalize that statement. That is your pattern; it doesn’t necessarily extend to others.

Still, that is my pattern. I look at my life as largely a waste of opportunities and abilities.

And how does it serve you to feed that particular robot?

You mean, I take it, that what I know about my life isn’t necessarily true.

It isn’t necessarily in perspective. For you to get here required many trade-offs, and you don’t have any idea what your life would have had to be, for you to be where you are in certain abilities and yet be other places in achievement.

Well, I’ll take some reframing, if you have it in the offing. I can’t seem to take it from anyone else who is available.

Then here it is. Your horoscope is a promise that you live in faith [i.e., live believing, on faith] will be fulfilled, can’t possibly not be fulfilled. So, as your life is not chance and coincidence, and as you trust it, trust all of it. That includes trusting your own past sins of omission and commission.

That’s a somewhat different concept – trusting our sins.

Look at your failures and successes, your vices and virtues, your inabilities and abilities, your evil deeds and thoughts and your good deeds and thoughts, fairly. That is, don’t weight the scales one way or the other. Don’t heavily emphasize the “good” (that is, the things you approve of) and discount the “bad” (what you disapprove), nor the opposite. Come to a fair reckoning. It is hard enough to get a balanced view of your life without making it harder by being too hard or too easy on yourselves by deliberately miscounting.

You have always said we can’t judge our lives (let alone anyone else’s life) accurately because living in 3D time-slices prevents us from seeing things in perspective. But this is a little different, seems to me.

Not so much different as an extension into another realm of thought. Your view of your lives is distorted by more than one factor; time is not the only agent warping your perspective. So, to repeat, to overcome the drag of the robot that says, “I’m not good enough, I’m not a satisfactory result of so much raw material,” the answer is: Trust your life. And we want to say a little more about that, as usual aiming our remarks not at you as a particular example (though you are that) and not even at certain of your friends as examples (though they too could be that) but at everybody living their lives moment by moment in 3D, struggling or swimming in a continuing movie that they may or may not be enjoying.

Let us say this as bluntly as we can, if only to get your full attention: It is stupid to distrust your life. It may also be self-indulgent. Certainly it is not productive for you, nor – you may not have thought of this – is it helpful to others.

Angst over missed opportunities, perfectly natural, as is angst over things you’ve done or omitted to do that you would give lots to have a chance to choose differently. But regrets are merely judgments in two senses of the word “judgment,” unhelpfully coupled. In the sense of discernment, sure; it is always good to be as aware as possible. But in the sense of self-condemnation, no. All that does is freeze you in position. It is a form of being wedded to a description of your possibilities that you despise. What good can come of that?

Similarly, if you feel you have been held back by others – external 3D others or internal non-3D others – what are you doing but painting yourself as victim? “I deserved better. I wuz robbed.” But if you put your life in the scales against [holocaust survivor] Viktor Frankl, where are you? Suppose you were robbed, so to speak. Can that have been an accident, in a world in which chance and accident do not exist?

You’re saying we have a tendency to feel sorry for ourselves, and should get over it.

Not quite. Many of you are quite valiant in bearing the burden that your life feels like to you. but we are saying: “Stop thinking you know better than life. Just because you have other preferences doesn’t mean you know what you are asking.”

Trust life.

Well, what is the advantage to dis-trusting life? What is the advantage to wishing things had turned out differently, that you had turned out differently?

None that I can see. I can imagine some people asking, though, if we should thereby be perfectly delighted with our lives including the things we are ashamed of, or regret, or remember with pain.

You know your grandmother’s saying, “Everybody rides the mule.”

Everybody has something to bear, yes.

Everybody has valid reason to complain, and valid reason to rejoice, on an on-going basis. Which one you do, or what proportions you allot to doing each one, is up to you. it’s your choice – only, don’t think you are the victim of cosmic injustice, just because you don’t approve of what is. Maybe the world is larger than your comprehension of it.

When we started this, I thought it was going to be private, but I see that with a couple of discreet omissions, I can post it, and, I gather, you’d like me to.

It’s your choice, always, but it may help people.

May help me, for that matter. Okay, then, always pleasant talking with you. our thanks for this, and we’ll talk to you another time.


America’s Long Journey: The Panic of 1837

The Panic of 1837

Brace yourself: This entry is about economics. But actually it is neither as dull nor as dismal a subject as you might expect. It is curious that the Great Depression of the 1930s, which was the nation’s worst financial crisis ever (at least, so far), was mirrored a century before by the nation’s first.

The business cycle consists of alternating expansions and contractions of credit, that is, loosening or tightening of the conditions under which banks will lend money. A sudden contraction of credit, leading to business slowdowns, used to be called a “panic,” perhaps because of its connection with bank failures.

The Panic of 1837 was the first contraction of credit since the country began to industrialize, and it touched off the nation’s first major recession. In the new economic and social conditions, the panic’s effects manifested in unfamiliar ways. Nobody quite knew what was going on, and so everybody blamed it on somebody else’s villainy or stupidity. (Where was the Internet when it was really needed?) Vindictive and fearful know-it-alls spread conspiracy theories with their usual certainty, although not at electronic speed, and it helped poison the body politic.

Today, we know some of the factors that helped cause it.

As usual, the financial crisis was the result of a previous period of expansion, in which the prices of land, cotton, and slaves had risen sharply. Abundant amounts of silver were coming into the United States from Mexico and China. Land sales and tariffs were generating substantial federal revenues. Cotton exports and the marketing of state-backed bonds in British money markets attracted significant capital investment from Great Britain, which financed railroads and canals and industrial growth.

Then, in 1836, directors of the Bank of England raised interest rates in order to rebuild its financial reserves, for reasons that had little or nothing to do with the United States. But Great Britain in those days was what New York is today, and the British Pound Sterling was the world’s reserve currency. When British banks said “frog,” American banks in the United States had to say, “how high?”

On May 10, 1837, banks in New York City announced that they would no longer redeem commercial paper in specie (coin) at full face value. They scaled back on lending, and raised interest rates, which forced down the price of American securities. The demand for cotton fell by 25% in two months, and the price per bale followed the drop in demand. This was disaster in itself, as the country depended heavily on stable cotton prices to balance its trade deficit and procure foreign exchange earnings, but its effects down South were just catastrophic. The sharp decline in cotton prices led to over-extended plantations being foreclosed, and banks (from whom they had borrowed money on future expectations) collapsing.

This rippled through the economy, and the reduced availability of capital led to the collapse of the contemporary land bubble. Over the next seven years, banks collapsed, businesses failed, prices declined, and thousands lost their jobs. (You might think that declining prices are a good thing, but they aren’t so good if you are a producer, or if you are a consumer who loses his job because the producer he worked for has to reduce his outgoes, or goes out of business.)

Virtually the whole nation felt the effects of the panic. Of 850 banks in the United States, nearly half either closed entirely (343) or failed partially (62). In the absence of deposit insurance, runs on banks were common, bringing down even banks that were healthy, or at least forcing them to call in loans and demand payment from their borrowers, which further restricted the circulation of money in the economy, and made things worse.

In some places in the cities of the East, unemployment was later estimated to have been as high as 25 percent, as in the Great Depression of the 1930s. The agricultural states of the Midwest (then referred to as the West) were unaffected until 1839, when crop prices fell, and then they joined their compatriots in economic misery.

The cotton states of the South got the worst of it. Many southern planters speculated in land, cotton, and slaves, taking out loans from banks under the assumption that cotton prices would continue to rise. When cotton prices dropped, and the planters could not repay their loans, many of their banks were jeopardized.

Many individual states defaulted on their bonds, which hurt British creditors, who had long memories. It made it harder to obtain international finance to help build future railroad and other infrastructure. In fact, the United States withdrew from international money markets until the late 1840s.

None of this was particularly the fault of President Martin Van Buren. He was in office only five weeks when the panic began. But, like Herbert Hoover nearly a century later, he was blamed for being the heir of the policies of his popular predecessor, and for not finding a way to fix what was broken. As happened to Hoover in the 20th century, Van Buren’s opponents maintained that the damage and duration of the panic had been worsened by his refusal to respond with government intervention. Perhaps so. In any case, the panic and its consequences shook the nation’s confidence as never before.

Choice and forced choice

[I have had to fill in some blanks here, connections not necessarily clear to those on the outside of the “me-and-my-guys” loop, which I have done with comments in brackets.]

Thursday, July 12, 2018

4 a.m. I wake up aching, neck stiff and actually cracking as I move it, and I wonder why, and I think, too, this is what makes people think their health is beyond their control. Then I remember spending so much time desperately gasping for my next breath, convinced that I could make the asthma attack – by then a condition, not an attack – correct itself by somehow getting hold of it, and fighting – and going on and on, to exhaustion and beyond, never thinking to go to a hospital –

Valiant in its way, I suppose, but to no degree sensible.

4:30 a.m. Perhaps the assist I got at the Discovery program is wearing off. [I was wondering if the difficulties with my body reflected a lessening of the mental or call it spiritual level I have been living on since then.] Guys?

You will always find others to compare yourself with, and the results will always be unsatisfactory – but this includes other versions of you and the life you live. You might have done this and that much better; you might have done them much worse. Comparisons are futile and indeed can be harmful.

I understand that, though perhaps I never thought to extend it to other versions of my own dealing with living.


Well, yes, but. [Basically, “But what can I do that is useful?”] But – oh, I get it. Continue to trust.

Your friends ___ and ___ show you the futility of living without faith. Valiant, but not sensible.

Interesting analogy.

Why not use the help that is available? [Non-3D help, in this case.]

I see. Even help to be employed against a part of our own psyche, so to speak.

It is easy, in 3D-constricted circumstances, to be tempted to give up to what seem to be external circumstances. But that is a choice, not a forced choice.

“Forced choice” as in chess, where your opponent has maneuvered you into an impossible or anyway undesirable situation?

Life is not chess, and it is not a matter of rigid rules and fixed places and a built-in zero-sum situation featuring an active opponent. Instead, it is a free-form dance in which many people (seen and unseen) participate, skilled and clumsy, deft and clueless, not so much in antagonism as in competition for shared space at the same time. Rules are provisional and are different for everyone, in that one is bound only by the rules one cannot disbelieve in.

[I particularly like this: “Rules are provisional and are different for everyone, in that one is bound only by the rules one cannot disbelieve in.” That explains a lot about life, it seems to me]

One attempting to apply chessboard rules to a free-form dance is going to be subject to frustrations and anger.

I can see that.

When things get worst, the greatest potential for redefinition is manifesting. What you do with it, of course, is up to you.

I think of defeated Germany in 1945. That situation would qualify as a worst-case situation for them, I would imagine.

And they were only a few years from resurrection as a vibrant democratic state rather than as a moribund state in the clutches of a determined group of pirates.

But how would their way forward be said to be up to them? East Germans had a quite different experience of postwar life than West Germans, as it depended upon which countries had conquered and occupied them.

We never said nor implied that one consciously chooses one’s circumstances (other than in the ways that common sense and experience tell you that one does).

But – it seems to me you just did say exactly that.

Everyone chooses his or her reaction to circumstances shaping (constantly) the life they lead. There is a difference.

Okay, I see that, and sure, big difference.

That’s all you need, a choice of attitude. Or, as we said, live in faith. If it was good enough for Abraham Lincoln, it will be no less good for you. Not that one person’s trials and burdens are comparable to another’s, but still it is illustrative. Life in its detail is far too complex for anyone in 3D or out of it to comprehend, but life in its motivations and ground rules is relatively simple. Get those right and you have, not a road map, but a sure orientation as you proceed upon what is necessarily an unmarked trail.

This is helpful and I will put it out, minus the two specific names.

That [deletion] will be helpful in its own way, in that it may cause some to wonder, “Are they talking about me?” – and the answer to that is, yes, to some extent probably we are, for discouragement is a pandemic temptation in 3D circumstances.

I certainly have found it so, although not recently. Our thanks for this.


Symptoms as biofeedback

July 10, 2018

4 a.m. I’ve just experienced something that I actually interrupted in order to come upstairs and type it out. I wouldn’t ordinarily interrupt an experience, but this is different.

I woke up at 3:20 a.m. or so, congested and not really right. (For the past few days, the temperature has been in the 70s rather than in the 90s as it had been previously, and while that is pleasant in itself, the dip seems to have affected me in the way that the coming of Autumn does: For several days I have had to use the inhaler to stave off asthma.) So although I got up and got out my journal, I wasn’t really up to doing anything. I made a couple of notes, checked email, played a game.

In the course of listing what was going on with me – a song stuck in my head; nose and ears stuffed up; sniffles – I wrote, “It will be interesting to see if this keeps me from living in alpha,” which is my shorthand description of what I have been doing since discovering it in last month’s Discovery program. That is, maintaining an even, calm, eyes-open high alpha. And as I wrote that, I thought, do the waterfall.

(The waterfall meditation was given to Rita and me many years ago. It amounts to this: Envision yourself standing under a waterfall, with the waters – the waters of life and health – flowing not only over you, but through you. As they flow over and through you, the waters carry away detritus from your physical, mental and emotional life. That is, they wash away what is no longer serving you, and leave you refreshed and to that extent regenerated.)

So, I did the waterfall. And as I envisioned the waters flowing through me, I followed them, so to speak, watching (feeling, really) as they progressed from my head to my toes. As I did, I noticed as usual that they flowed easily through some places, and sort of stuck at others, and those other places were of course the areas needing help. It occurred to me, the way to use that bit of feedback was to split my attention, with one part following the waters smoothly and another part offering extra assistance, so to speak, to the places where the “stuck” spots indicated something needing help.

As I did:

(a) The tune in my head didn’t quite go away, but vastly reduced its volume, until it was only a scarcely noticed background presence. (It’s still annoying that I can’t get rid of it at the moment, but I’ll take “better,” any time.)

(b) My nose cleared up, and after a while one of my ears popped and most of the congestion was gone.

I take it that (b) may have been the result of the waterfall, but (a) is probably the result of the effort of moving into alpha. And then it occurred to me, we can use the reduction of symptoms as a feedback mechanism! Yes, we want the symptoms to go away, and even more so the causes, but at the same time, they may be useful in and of themselves, as biofeedback.

I got all excited at the idea of sharing that thought, so there it is. I hope it helps somebody. Symptoms as biofeedback.

Post-Discovery puzzles

My experiences following last month’s Discovery program featuring the Mind Mirror technology continue. Some are quite private, but this one may be of interest.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

5:40 a.m. A moment to describe what just happened, then back to the council room, I hope.

I lay down with sleep mask on and assumed the eagle, flew up to the council room in a tree, shifted to human – or to a point of awareness, I guess, really – and first had to try to get the Jessica Williams piano tune to stop playing in my mental background. When I did, I was back in the calm space I experienced at Discovery. Then I tried to talk to my council, and found it hard to stay there. The temptation to give in to sleep was strong, but I realize now what is happening in such moments, so I followed Judith’s advice to sensualize as best I could. By pressing my fingertips against the bed and envisioning myself as pressing them against the tabletop, I held on. But it was difficult rather than easy. I wanted something visualized to help me hold it. They questioned that, and I realized that this process, writing sitting up with eyes open, gave me the sensualization I need – as long experience demonstrates. So here I am at the desk again.

Now, gentlemen and ladies of the council, let me bring my awareness back among you. What is it I realized – and realized I would lose if I continued to try to do it the ordinary shamanic way?

You would lose the whole proceedings, for one thing. You were thinking of yourself as the executive officer of the ship, or alternatively as the most junior officer, invited to speak first so that his opinion would not be inhibited by prior expressed opinions from his superiors.

Yes, so I was. I don’t even know what should be on the agenda.

No, but you’re excellent at listening, despite what you and others sometimes think.

I’m willing to listen, anyway.

If you begin to visualize our sessions differently, they will of course change correspondingly.

Is that in our best interest?

We like the “our.” Yes, it is, because you are at a new stage, a point reinforced when you listened to tapes of yourself from more than a dozen years ago.

All right. Should I give over to you?

You can’t really do it, and it wouldn’t be good if you could do it. But you can be guided.

Well, that’s the name of the game, isn’t it, guidance?

It is if that is what you accept, if that is what you want. It could be other things.

Such as?

Pure information to assist you on a pre-determined course, for one. It isn’t for us to choose for you, though we may set out the choices.

In setting them out you may make my choices all but pre-determined.

You might think so, but free will is more to us than a buzzword or a sham. The goal is for you to choose. What you choose is not nearly so central.

Then let’s go about it in a different way. What is the most valuable thing you can offer me today? How do we proceed?

You don’t yet quite realize it, but this change in procedure is itself a new departure.

Immediately, I think, “I’ve got to share this with Dirk and Jim.”

That is part of your function, networking awarenesses and understandings.

So, today’s agenda?

Your long-held desire is closer contact with other parts of yourself. “Past lives,” at first.

Yes, and the difficulty has been (1) no visualization, but knowing, which makes verification impossible, and (2) no over-arching concept to help me get a sense of it.

No over-arching concept? What have we been doing, all these years?

Clearing ground in preparation, I would say.

Yes, true enough – but it is somewhat staggering to think that you really have no idea.

Why should that come as a surprise to you? You know my mind from the inside, presumably.

Well, yes and no. The effective points of contact aren’t the same as the sum total of theoretical points of contact.

You mean, it never came up. But even that surprises me. How could I be aware of it – as I have been for nearly two weeks – and you not? Am I getting bad information here, or making bad interpretations or something?

Let’s put it this way. Who you are is one thing. What you think is another, and what you feel is yet another.

Sort of like Bob Monroe envisioning the mental and emotional bodies separate from the physical and energy bodies.

It was a way to experience different aspects differently, yes. Well, your mental categories come to us in the context of where you are at any given moment.

It still doesn’t explain why you wouldn’t know where I was or am mentally.

Let’s drop the subject.


It can’t be productive. Let’s move instead to a useful structure for you to use as scaffolding, in place of previous scaffolding which, we see, has evaporated in the light of recent experience. You had flirted with this new awareness in Luigi and Thomas’ class, but it did not hit home until you sat down to work last month.

I have been thinking of 3D-me as part of All-D me, an emanation from an All-D Sam.

Good enough as far as it goes.

Yes, but when I came to consider past lives, etc., where do they and I fit together? Yes, I may be a ring comprising strands that are other lives, and I in toto may be a strand for other lives, but that now seems both too simple and too complicated.

The difficulty surfaced when you began to see yourself as a point of awareness.

Yes, so it did.

So who is this around the table?


All right. But you do realize? The difficulty you are experiencing is due to incongruities in an accepted framework, and will not go away, but will change, if we change framework. You are still you, think of yourself how you will.

Still, a new scaffolding ought to be useful.

We’ll see.

Anything to make my new acquisition more permanent (as opposed to retrogression, I mean) and more useful?

We can do that. Consider first, who is it around this non-3D table?

Various members of my guys upstairs, I presume.

Suppose you couldn’t presume that. Then whom?

Past lives, I assume. Any part of my total self that I am not consciously aware of.

You see – or rather, feel – the problem?

I am beginning to. If I do the defining, I cannot transcend my own conceptual limitations. So why don’t you do it for me? That’s more or less what I’m asking.

But this requires thought, and a fresh mind.

I’m still suspicious of how you can not know what I know. Your preliminary statement strikes me as doubletalk.

We are aware of it. Perhaps we can fold that explanation into the new scaffolding, whatever it turns out to be.

Turns out to be. Puzzling.

Remember, from the beginning we have turned out to be other than what you expected – which is the same as saying, than how you had conceptualized us.

Yeah, I hear your wisecrack: “Remarkable, given that we may not exist.”

Not entirely a wisecrack. Enough for now.


8 a.m.Let’s try playing “Potential” from Discovery, and see what happens.

Your move, guys. [Vague visuals and associations from the visuals. A round table, Camelot, the musical, reflections of the faces on the tabletop]

Mistake to think of them as individuals – more like representatives of qualities. So, Hemingway in his fifties, writing – the picture on my wall – is more certain aspects of him than him as a package. Not packages at the table, so much as personifications, qualities. By listening, we can absorb those qualities for the moment. The longer we listen, the longer we borrow the qualities. At some point they are also your own.

You are a point of awareness surrounded by influences and resonances. Not one individual and other individuals though that is how it seems. One focus of consciousness among all others. You personify what you are, and thus represent those qualities for others. They don’t exactly experience you as an individual but more, your qualities that resonate with them.

But – relatives and friends we connect with?

That’s different. You – we compound beings – are both. Both individual and yet representative of qualities.

We interact differently depending on if we seek out the individual (for conversation) or the qualities (for guidance).

That’s roughly correct.

So the mistake is in seeing ourselves and others as too individual.

As exclusively individual, and as too particularly individual. Frank and Margaret did not share lives in Spain, but they are connected to those who did. Drawing on the connection, they draw upon the lessons and wisdom of those lives; that doesn’t make them “past lives” in the way people think of past lives.

You’re going to have to make it clearer than that.

Give us a clearer conduit.

I would if I could.


All right, delta was flooding up, only now I know to fight it. Forcing myself back awake may do it.

You have new tools and can learn to employ them. But it may take time.

Still., it is a new tool, that knowledge. I’ll have to tell Judith I’m grateful for it.

So now when you envision yourself as a point of awareness, think not of self as a point in a vast cave or bag or total, but as the entire container whose


Good image. Your awareness extends to the whole thing, but you are one concentrated part of it. You can extend without changing.

Still fighting waves of sleep. There is much more to get if I can learn to fight it off, isn’t there?

You don’t need an answer to that.

No, I don’t. But I need a way to remain here without struggle.

This can be part of your next novel, once you master it.

That doesn’t help me now, though.

Still you got what you need. You may have to work it a bit – and realize that an understanding that suits you won’t necessarily suit everybody.

I’m fighting these waves of sleep – I often have them, reading – and I think just pausing may do it. But it is a struggle.

What comes up?

The council room,, the delegates – just an approximation, an image, a visualization of what really is.

Do you need a visualization?

It would help, I think.

Will the geode help?

Colin talked of waves of sleep in The Outsider, I think, or in Religion and the Rebel.

Yes, it isn’t effort, it is transcending energies inflowing, that brings the delta.

I don’t think geode will quite work.

It could, if you remember the split geode Dave Garland brought you long ago, filled not with space but with crystals.


Now flirt with sleep – with hand in the air, maybe, to wake you up – and see if there is more.

A bit from Colombo – the diver’s car.

[Then as I held myself on the edge, my hands were filled with energy. I turned them toward each other, and they were buzzing, so to speak. I thought, healing hands. I used the energy experimentally, and I’m sure it’s what I need.

[At this point I had a headache, as I have had at other times at the edge of sleep. I wrote: “Need to release the energies, I think,” and just as I wrote that, the CD ended, and I stood up and walked around, awake, if a little spacy.]










America’s Long Journey: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

President Martin Van Buren’s bid for re-election was severely hampered by the fact that his administration was blamed for the long economic downturn that followed the Panic of 1837, in the same way that Herbert Hoover would be blamed for the Depression that followed the stock market crash of 1929. This is a case of “live by the sword, die by the sword,” for of course any politician will take credit for anything good that happens, and they can hardly expect to escape being blamed for the bad.

The Whig Party, nominating by national convention for the first time, met in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in December, 1839. The nomination went to former senator William Henry Harrison over Army General Winfield Scott and Henry Clay, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and congressional leader of the Whigs. To balance Harrison, who, though born in Virginia, was considered a Northerner (as an Ohio resident), the Whigs chose Clay supporter (and former Senator) John Tyler of Virginia. Harrison, 69 years old, was a hero of the Indian war of 1811, was an ex-governor of Indiana Territory (which comprised far more than present-day Indiana) and the most successful of Van Buren’s opponents in 1836.

In May, 1840, the Democracy re-nominated president Van Buren, but – bad omen! — was unable to agree upon a running mate, which left Van Buren running alone, the only man ever to do so..

The newly formed Liberty Party, whose only plank was abolition, chose Kentucky politician and slaveholder-turned-abolitions James G. Birney as its nominee. He thought so little of his chances that he went off to England during the election. (He was nominated again in 1844, and may have won enough votes to swing the election. After 1848, the Liberty Party disappeared, subsumed into the more vigorous Free Soil Party, whose members soon found their way into the Republican Party.)

Harrison was the first president to actively campaign for office. He couldn’t very well campaign on the issues, given that the Whigs were a coalition with little in common except a desire to win. So he ran as a war hero and man of the people, his supporters using a log cabin as his symbol.

In actual fact, this common man was the scion of a wealthy and influential Virginia family. Van Buren, portrayed as a rich snob, was much poorer and had always been a working man. But politics uses facts the way artists use canvases – as raw material, not as the end product. The Whigs cried “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too” (Tippecanoe referred to a military victory in 1811 over some Shawnee Indians at a river by that name in Indiana) and carried model log cabins in torchlight parades, and the log cabin campaign succeeded. Harrison won easily in the electoral college (234 to 60) though more narrowly in popular vote (53% to 47%).

At that, the joke was on the Whigs. They got “Tyler, too” with a vengeance! Harrison died after exactly one month in office, which meant that the man soon named “his accidency” served out nearly the entire term, and managed in that time to do a tremendous amount of damage to the Whig Party, being officially read out of the party before the first year was up. In the next election, James K. Polk brought the Democracy back into the White House, and brought on the war that produced another Whig war hero candidate. But the Zachary Taylor/Millard Fillmore administration of 1849-53 was the Whigs’ swan song.

The Whigs elected two war-hero presidents, and both died in office and were succeeded by less popular vice presidents. But that isn’t why the Whigs disappeared. The 1840 election, like Jackson’s, demonstrated political power continuing to shift toward the common man of the frontier, and away from the old Eastern elite. The Whigs rode that shift in 1840, but soon enough westerners gravitated more and more toward the Democracy, and the shifting sands suffocated the Whigs. The divisive slavery issue merely hastened their demise.