It’s appropriate to start the fourth of July with a poster showing at the Museum of the American Revolution, in Philadelphia.
“Sometimes, freedom wore a redcoat,” is the slogan on the poster, showing a redcoat surrounded by African-Americans.
The exhibit highlights the fact that 15,000 African-Americans fought with the Loyalists; while only 5,000 fought for the Patriots.
Even the term “patriots” as against the “Americans” is a step forward in our understanding of the Revolutionary War; this was not a war between Americans and the British, but rather a civil war between two factions of Americans.
After more than 240 years, it’s healthy for Americans to realize this fact, and to appreciate that the war was not as simple as Hollywood (and books) have often made out.
After the conflict, many of the former slaves left for Canada and helped found Sierra Leone.
LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN
Of course, the Revolutionary War was not the beginning of America. There was 170 years of western civilization here before the struggle for independence.
It all began in Jamestown.
The first English settlement in North America began in 1607. (There was an earlier settlement on Roanoke Island, but it was wiped out.)
Jamestown itself was almost wiped out. It was a miracle that it survived.
I’ve been reading the book “Love and Hate In Jamestown,” by David A. Price, published in 2003. On a number of occasions things were going so badly that the settlers wanted to return to England. One young white man wrote his parents back home begging them to redeem him from indentured servitude, as he didn’t think he would survive the seven years he had to endure.
There is a promising series running on PBS right now titled “Jamestown.” However, it should not be confused with the facts. The series is very good in conveying the difficulties and challenges of every day life, but is a fictionalized account of the English settlement. However, the series is still one of the best currently showing on American television.
The TV series is in 1619-1620 right now, with the arrival of the first women and the first African-Americans in 1619 under the governorship of Sir George Yeardley. The same year saw the beginnings of democracy in the colonies, with the establishment of a parliament (the House of Burgesses). A major fault of the TV series is that life in Jamestown is seen through the eyes of three women, at a time and in a place where women were few and far between, and irrelevant when it came to decision making. It’s revisionist history, for sure. More for the 21st century audience than reality.
I am waiting for the uprising, which took place after Yeardley left. On March 22nd, 1622, one quarter of the colony were slaughtered by the natives, a major turning point in relations between the settlers and the Native Americans. This was a precursor of the long history of bad relations between the whites and the natives, which went on until the end of the nineteenth century. The date, March 22nd, was long commemorated throughout Virginia, in remembrance of those who had died.
It’s hard to imagine the heartbreak of those early years. Pocahontas died before she was due to leave England with her husband. He had to leave their two-year-old son behind, as he was too fragile to make the Atlantic crossing. Having lost his mother, he never saw his father again. He was eventually raised by his uncle.
In his last chapter, Mr. Price, who lives in the Washington DC area, looks at the Pilgrims and the Mayflower. Of interest was his account of the religious persecution of the Pilgrims. He relates how the Puritans wanted a ban on sports and the theater on “the Sabbath” (Sunday). “In 1618 King James overruled local Puritan magistrates who attempted to ban Sabbath day sports. “When shall the common people have leave to exercise,” he demanded, “if not upon Sundays and holidays, seeing they must apply their labor, and win their living, in all working days.”
“On the scale of European religious repression, King James’s treatment of the Puritans was relatively mild. At his behest, the bishops of the Church of England fired around ninety of the most conspicuous Puritan ministers from Anglican churches. He banned the worship services of a breakaway group, dissenters within the dissenters, known as the Separatists. On the other hand, his sponsorship of a new Bible translation, now known as the King James Bible, came at the suggestion of a prominent Puritan clergyman; several Puritans were also on the team of translators.
“In any event, a group of 125 Separatists left England for Amsterdam in 1608.” (“Love and Hate In Jamestown,” David A. Price. pages 223-224, 2003.)
“Politicians are granting free healthcare to illegal immigrants, while fining Americans for not having health insurance.” (“The state has become our nation’s real God,” by Gary DeMar, New American Vision)
EU CHANGE OF LEADERS
It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen in Europe right now.
The EU’s top officials are being replaced. Not democratically, of course. But their terms are up, so there’s going to be change.
Most significant so far are Ursula von der Leyen and Christine Lagarde. They have won the top two posts. Ursula von der Leyen had a mixed record as Germany’s Defense Minister. Christine Lagarde was the head of the IMF.
CNN reported 7/3: “Europe’s leaders have agreed to give two of the top four European Union jobs to women, but only after a marathon set of talks that exposed the continent’s simmering divisions.
“German defense minister Ursula Von Der Leyen emerged as nominee for president of the European Commission, and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, who is French, was put forward for the presidency of the European Central Bank.
“Von Der Leyen’s role must be confirmed by a vote in the European Parliament. If elected, she would be the first woman to lead the European Commission. Lagarde will be the first woman to head the bloc’s central bank.
“Outgoing European Council president Donald Tusk called the appointments “a perfect gender balance.”” (Bryony Jones)