1776

Saturday, November 26, 2005
These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crises shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776.


I have just finished the wonderful new book by David McCullough, 1776. I liked this book as much as I liked John Adams. Mr. McCullough has the wonderful ability to bring history to life and to make the men and women of that long ago era relevant.

As I read the book one thing that struck me time and again was the sense of providence which seemed to hang over that fateful year. In spite of mistakes such as the failure to secure the Jamaica Pass and the loss of New York George Washington managed through sheer tenacity to bring about a much needed victory at Trenton just in time to save the Revolution.

No doubt today George Washington would have been ruined in the early days of the war, and he almost was in his own time, this book makes it plain that winning the war of Independence required great sacrifice. A rabble army with no military experience took on the greatest power in the world and won.

It was nothing short of a miracle.

Read the book.

When I read about the monumental tasks of turning shoemakers and farmers into soldiers I thought of the Iraqis trying to build their country. There was a time when the survival of the United States of America seemed like an even greater long shot.

[Peter UK, no hard feelings]

32 comments:

Buddy Larsen said...

I read that Condi Rice, the president, and others in the administration were reading the book.

Good choice--the lesson of tenacity and perseverence. And First Principals--meaning success or failure is a subject separate from rightness or wrongness.

I guess to rely on Providence is a bit dated. I sorta miss it. No, I sorely miss it.

Peter UK said...

Terrye,
Not at all,George Washington,John Adams,John Paul Jones,all good British stock.

terrye said...

Peter:

Martin Van Buren was teh first American president who was not born a British subject.

I was surprised when I read the book to doscover how much debate there was in Parliament as to the advisability of pursuing a military campaign in the Colonies.

In fact it was a Brit who first referred to the Americans as the Sons of Liberty.

terrye said...

buddy:

I am glad to hear they are reading the book in the White House, it will give them all some humility.

Washington's fate [more than anyone's] was dependent on the outcome of the Revolution and he never forgot his responsibility.

When things went well they loved him, when it looked bad he was maligned..in the end he was a legend.

The author of the book stated that while it was true the rebels recieved help from France and even the Netherlands, the real credit for winning went ultimately to Washington and his rag tag army of a few thousand Colonists.

It seems they did not know they could not win and so they did.

I also recommend Joseph Ellis's biography of Washington. He spent some time talking about Washington's view of slavery and the Indians.

He freed his slaves in his will, in fact he educated them and gave them some means of support.

As for the natives he felt it was inevitable that the Colonists would eventually rule the continent...but he said that if it was not done with some sense of fairness we would bear a moral stain on our history. How right he was.

Peter UK said...

Terrye,
Yes but take a look at these gentlemen I could find most of the names in my local telephone book.

Buddy Larsen said...

Petr, vot, dere's no Norveegians. O vell, Someboody hass to be bringing herrings vor de peeples.

Peter UK said...

Buddy,
How about.John Lansing Mr. Lansing is a practising Attorney at Albany, and Mayor of that Corporation. He has a hesitation in his speech, that will prevent his being an Orator of any eminence; -his legal knowledge I am told is not extensive, nor his education a good one. He is however a Man of good sense, plain in his manners, and sincere in his friendships. He is about 32 years of age.
Inventor of the loudspeaker.

Buddy Larsen said...

Ahh, yes, the 18th century loudspeaker...a dunce cap open at both ends....:-)

Peter UK said...

Glenn Reynold has a keeper on his site for those who understand the modern British argot.
SO I CAME DOWNSTAIRS and my sister-in-law was laughing out loud at this. Understandable, but that screws my plans to give her one for Christmas. . . .
Would you like to rephrase that Glenn?

Buddy Larsen said...

Argot: "Argot me own way o' tarkin'."

Doug said...

"a dunce cap open at both ends...."
---
Then someone rang a Bell,
added some string 'tween the caps,
and voila!
Der Telephonie.

Buddy Larsen said...

In comes the telephone, out goes the books, on goes the duncecap!

Doug said...

Buddy: This Brit is a Norwegian ,
and don't you worry yoseff to death:
There'll always be a market for natural gas.

Buddy Larsen said...

Great article...North sea has been good to the olde home folken.

Doug said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Doug said...

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation.

Rick Ballard said...

Terrye,

Had Lord North not been such a narrow minded twit we'd still probably be British subjects.

That would sure make the Hanoverian restoration project a lot less complicated.

truepeers said...

Hanoverian Restoration Project? Was it bombed out in the war?

Did you know that the "Dunce" (cap) was named for a famous philosopher: Duns Scotus? Them Brits got no respect for learnin'

Peter UK said...

Tell that to Isaac Newton,

The word Duns was used in various critical senses during this time. The earliest seems to have been Tyndale, in 1527, who referred to a "Duns man"--i.e., a follower of Duns Scotus--as a person who would make many subtle distinctions. Duns man and other forms (Duns learning, Duns critic) were found throughout the sixteenth century and a bit later in derisive reference to the sophistry of the Scotists.

By the late sixteenth century, dunce (in various spellings, but we'll stick with this for simplicity's sake) was applied to people in several ways: 'a follower of Duns Scotus; (hence) a sophist or hair-splitting reasoner'; 'a pedantic thinker; a well-read but unthoughtful person' (both obsolete); and the only surviving sense, 'a dull-witted or stupid person; a fool'.

Buddy Larsen said...

Hereabouts, we call that a "Kerry".

Peter UK said...

Buddy,
Ah! The Kerry Dunces.

Buddy Larsen said...

The homonym-ish "carried dunces" works equally well, or unwell, more pointedly. But, they ain't heavy, they're my bother! (*groan*)

truepeers said...

Considering that the Kerrys used to be Cohens, someone may well be thinking the Boston voter a Duns.

Peter, I've got much respect for your Newton. But wasn't the 'fig newton' named after the young king who got frustrated with an overly-enthusiastic teacher: "i don't give a fig for Newton"! the courtiers had to mollify him with more cookies.

On a more serious note, 1776 was indeed a blessed year. If the British (or, more exactly, the British North Americans) had not fought back against the rebels, if they had just let the colonies go, they would have not created the furnace and stage in which was forged the constitutional order that is America's great contribution to mankind.

And I wonder if there would be more or fewer of us freezin our butts off north of 49 and whether there would we one or - probably - many national flags north of the Rio Grande.

Peter UK said...

Truepeers,
Peter, I've got much respect for your Newton. But wasn't the 'fig newton' named after the young king who got frustrated with an overly-enthusiastic teacher: "i don't give a fig for Newton"! the courtiers had to mollify him with more cookies.

Issy says Hi!

No truth in the story,just another colonial marketing ploy

truepeers said...

Sometimes you wonder how incredibly smart you'd be if you had had the internet since the age of four. THe answer to everything is just minutes away. On the other hand, perhaps this sea of easy answers will mitigate against the development of the mental skills that make a genius like Newton.

Peter UK said...

Truepeers,
As a representative of the late Sir Isaac Newton's estate,may I inform you that royalties are due for any commercial usage of the name Isaac Newton,in whole or in part.
I would thank you therefore to release the production figures of "Fig Newton"
biscuits(Cookies)

Buddy Larsen said...

I hope the foregoing conversation is merely a fig newton of my imagination.

Peter UK said...

Buddy,
Go to your room!

Buddy Larsen said...

rats, went too far again....

truepeers said...

We can't pay, besides you can't copyright or trademark an alchemical recipe. Access is by proper initiation into the estoteric secrets, not ownership of the exoteric sign. If the Newtons get too pushy, we will rename it Fig Faraday.

Peter UK said...

I'm sure as the late Mr Faraday's representatives we can accomodate you.

markg8 said...

l';'l'l