Friday, April 15, 2016

In April, A New Englander's Fancy Turns To...

Lexington Green (Source
In April of 1775, matters came to a head between certain elements in the American Colonies and the British Crown. Angry words, petitions, tea parties, and the like were at an end. The British Army would soon march to seize arms and ammunition at Concord. They would be met by ineffective resistance at first. That resistance escalated until a battered and defeated force withdrew back into Boston.

Six long years later, their world would be turned upside down.

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, by John Trumbull (Source)

It has been said that at the time of the American Revolution, only about a third of the colonists supported the revolution, many of those, no doubt, in spirit more than in the flesh. Another third's loyalties rested with King George III, far away in "foggy London Town."

Another third, didn't really care one way or the other. Just get it over with so we can get back to our lives, they no doubt felt. Rest assured, if officers of the Crown were present, they kept those feelings to themselves. They probably hid that from the Continentals as well, feelings do tend to run high in wartime. One is smart not to seem too detached in the presence of supporters of a cause.

What brought all this to mind is the second season of Turn: Washington's Spies having recently become available on Netflix. I finished the first season quite some time ago. I was so enamored of the show (even with a minor flaw here and there, nothing big really) I actually attempted to watch the second season on <<shudder>> commercial television.

Got halfway through the first episode before the incessant commercials drove me screaming from the room. Metaphorically speaking, of course. I did note, after watching the entire first episode of the second season on Netflix, that after the introductory scene and the credits, there was approximately 38 minutes of content left.

So in one hour, I would have had to endure 20 minutes of commercials. Some not bad, even mildly entertaining no doubt, most not worth the time or effort it took to make them. But as this post is most assuredly not about commercials, I'll drop that right now.

I enjoy the show immensely, it's ambiance, the acting, the feel of it, if you will. The characters are drawn (mostly) from history and are well played by the cast.

The time of the Revolution (always with a capital "R") has always been one of my favorite periods in history. Growing up in New England as I did, one learned of that time period early on. (I don't know how that history fares now. Probably denigrated and despised like all of the rest of our traditions.)

Lobsterbacks, Bunker Hill, the Old North Church, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, Paul Revere, Fort Ticonderoga, the list (at least in my memory) goes on and on.

I have walked the grounds of Fort Ticonderoga up on Lake Champlain, listened to the skirl of the pipes as I walked the parapets looking out to the lake and across to the high ground of Crown Point.

I attended a reenactment and watched American militiamen melt into the forest, hotly pursued by His Britannic Majesty's red-coated infantrymen. Heard the pop of musket fire and the boom of cannon on a hot August afternoon.

Walking the streets of Alexandria and of Williamsburg down in old Virginia gave me a greater sense for those times in those particular places. I have also walked the grounds of Mount Vernon, the home of our first President, seeing the same sights as he and Martha beheld in their day. (Somewhat modernized, and I'm sure the President and First Lady would not have been thrilled with the long lines of tourists waiting to enter their home!)

I won't say those were better times, far from it in some ways, many of our countrymen were held in bondage. Some watched from their forest homes, wondering what all these Europeans were up to. Would they be content with their coastal conquests? Or would they move farther west once their internal squabble was finished?

As in any age, there were the haves, and the have nots. Though imperfect in some (perhaps many) ways, that Revolution was fought to throw off the rule of a man (and a system) many considered tyranny. After all, many people had come to this country to get away from the despotism of the Old World.

However, as Mather Byles asked, "Which is better - to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away or by three thousand tyrants one mile away?"

In these days, I do believe we suffer the latter condition. While I pray for a remedy which will not require bloodshed...

My hopes diminish with each passing day.

Is there no civility left in this nation? No common sense?

Where are the Americans? Where are the patriots?

I do not know.




16 comments:

  1. They're mostly in a rut, putting one foot in front of the other day after day, trying to convince themselves that their hollow and unhappy lives have meaning and purpose. And failing, because they long ago abandoned the hard work of reasoned principle for sloth and greed and envy, fueled by televisiopium, the interlemmingnet, and reflexive platitudes. Each and every one is a human being packed to the gills with unrealized potential. And when the rubber meets the road, most will end up in the belly of the beast.

    Or I could be wrong. Maybe it IS all rainbows and unicorns.

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  2. I recall well the American Revolution history taught in schools in MA; barely 30 miles from the Cradle of our Liberty - Boston. Heavy emphasis indeed and I fear, not so today. And as I look at things today I swear I can feel those true patriots spinning madly in their graves at what has become of their dreams, their vision for this nation. Today it's all about special snowflakes and safe spaces. I wonder what our Founding Fathers would think about what constituted a "safe space" for them...

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    1. No doubt they would be appalled.

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    2. Indeed, Kris (inNE): even when they'd won the exhausting, bloody war, even when, years later, they finally established a republic, they knew it wasn't a safe space, let alone what the term means today.
      The idea & execution of self-governance was & remains a fragile thing. Americans have become accustomed to taking this for granted, as if a birthright. I reckon the time is coming that we'll be reminded of the cost; I hope not in blood. Our increasingly divisive relations between economic & ethnic groups worries me.
      --Tennessee Budd

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    3. Those things worry me as well Tennessee Budd.

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  3. Somehow the reasoned discussion of differences is no longer in the equation.
    Now it it all about labels and name-calling.
    Even Democrat and Republican have become expletives.
    Sadly, those holding the middle ground, may be in the majority, but have no real voice because the money is at either end.

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  4. It's quite the thing to be in Boston in mid April, and walk the Freedom Trail all the way to Bunker Hill. One can easily feel the ghosts around you.

    Anyone who has been taught the real history, and not the Starbucks white brown and black latte version, understands the why of it. The reason for the British giving up was not defeat, but exhaustion, tired of fighting a war 4000 miles away with nothing to show for it.

    It's all very familiar - and look what happened to them when they gave up . . .

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    1. And those ghosts are not happy with what we've done with their legacy.

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  5. One third for. One third against. One third in between. Don't piss off that last one third. That's when the fit hits the shan.

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    1. Yup, whichever way they lean will be the difference.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)