Growth of Pre-Revolutionary America Part 2

The Virginian

An ambitious and somewhat aloof young surveyor from Virginia helps to ignite the conflict in 1754. His name is George Washington.

In battle, he will discover his gift for war and leadership.

The French hold a vast territory from Canada to Louisiana. They control it all with heavily armed forts.

Serving in the Virginia militia, the 21 year old Washington goes to the French Fort of Le Boeuf, which guards the Ohio Valley, with a message.

The message demands the French withdraw from their own territory. The French commander refuses, violently.

Washington later said, “I have heard the bullets whistle and believe me there is something charming in the sound.”

Promoted to Colonel in the militia, he volunteers to act as a guide for the British General Braddock. Braddock arrogantly rejects the young Virginian’s advice how to fight a backwoods war.

He pays the price- Braddock and 400 of his men die as the French commander answers his message with an ambush. Washington has two horses shot out from underneath him in the battle.

Washington learns an unexpected lesson from the encounter, one he will remind of himself again and again in a few years- the British Army is far from invincible.

Despite Braddock’s death and a few other losses England eventually wins the war and drives the French out of the Ohio River Valley.

Young Washington begins the war hoping for British recognition. By the end of the war he feels more like a Virginian than an Englishman.

The war between England and France will forever change America.

Taxation without Representation

At war’s end England is nearly bankrupt. She insisted that colonies pay a share of their own upkeep for defense.

England passes the Stamp Act of 1765 in the middle of a Colonial depression. It affects bibles, almanacs, legal documents along with anything printed.

It is the first direct tax ever levied on America. It leads to riots across the colonies. Outrage runs like a fever through the land. It alienates the colonists from their identity as British subjects.

Outrage

In the Virginia House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry, the son of a frontier farmer bitterly denounces the tax. His wealthy fellow Virginian George Washington, likes it no better.

The Stamp Act is repealed the next year, but England continues to insist that it rules the colonies. And no matter how much they might rebel the Americans do not, in fact, rule themselves.

Prelude to War

The British presence in the colonies grows more inflammatory with each passing year. New taxes lead to new riots and violence escalates.

In 1770, it is neither taxation nor representation, but ice that leads to tragedy.

An angry colonist throws a chunk of ice at a British soldier guarding Boston’s customs house. It knocks him down.

British reinforcements soon appear to control the crowd. In a moment of terrible confusion several of the British soldiers mistakes a shout for an order to fire.

Five people die including a sailor named Crispus Attucks. He is of African-American and Indian ancestry. He is the first of many of people of color who will die in American history.

The incident becomes known as the Boston Massacre. It fuels the growing fury.

Boston Tea Party

Frustrations erupt again on December 16, 1773. Again, in Boston, but this time over tea. Protesting restrictions on the tea trade. A group of local mechanics, artisans, and merchants head down to the harbor dressed as Mohawk Indians.

They are led by Sam Adams, a former beer maker. He is better at brewing trouble. They call themselves the Sons of Liberty.

They drop several thousand pounds of the finest tea into the ocean.

For Sam Adams and others, it is a chance to keep up colonial anger toward the mother country. Adams intentions are clear. He wants to be free of England. This means only one thing- revolution.

The Continental Congress

They congregate to demand their rights as if freeborn Americans. Fifty-five of the wealthiest and most influential men in the colonies gather. They include Sam Adams, his cousin John Adams, Patrick Henry, John Hancock- they meet together in September 1774 in Philadelphia.

Violence is the air and the Continental Congress resolves that if the British use force against the people of Massachusetts. All Americans are to support them in resisting.

On March 23, 1775 firebrand Patrick Henry utters the words that still ring in our ears today, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, God Almighty! I know not what course others may take, but for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

Eve of Revolution

On the eve of revolution of open warfare, few colonists consider revolution. Most Americans have no desire for independence from England. They want fair treatment.

It will be the King and his army of occupation in Massachusetts that will push them to the edge.

On the 18th of April 1775, General Thomas Gage, commander of all British troops in North America, readies a column of 800 men.

His orders are put to down the rebellious local militia known as the Minutemen. Night does little to mask the British movements.

Boston is full of patriot spies. Silversmith Paul Revere races ahead to warn of the coming raid. It is the most famous horse ride in American history.

He awakened almost every house until he got to Lexington. He screamed, “The British are coming!”

The Shot Heard Around the World

At daybreak, 841 British troops-the Red Coats, arrive in Lexington Green to face a ragtag group of Minutemen.

No one knows who fired the first shot. In minutes eight Americans are dead and 10 wounded. The British march on unimpeded.

At North Bridge in Concord, a larger force of Americans await them. Now both sides suffer casualties. Two Concord men die and three Red Coats fall. The whole thing is over in three minutes.

This is the Shot Heard around the World.

Hearing the actual musket fire, revolutionary leader Sam Adams exclaims, “What a glorious morning this is!”

As the British fall back to Boston, they are besieged on all sides by patriots. 273 English soldiers are killed or wounded. Within 24 hours, the city of Boston is occupied by British troops, and is under attack by Patriot militia men.

The decision to go to war

Proclaims the Continental Congress, “Our cause is just, our Union is perfect.

Now openly rebellious the Continental Congress establishes an army to fight for the right of all Americans. But who to lead it?

One Virginia delegate arrives at the hall in uniform and volunteers as Commander-in Chief for no pay. Although he untested as a general Congress unanimously accepts his offer.

This is the moment that General George Washington has strived for. He is utterly confident that he is the right man for the job.

 

Growth of Pre-Revolutionary America Part 1

I wanted to explore the beginning of America. The ideals of freedom, democracy and liberty came from the Greeks. The Romans added laws and citizenship. America took all those concepts and made them unique.

Of all things I am, I am most proud of my nationality as an American. Of all things I have done, I am honored that I had the chance to defend my country.

Looking back at my service it was the one time in my life I actually lived the values I always espoused. It was the one time I saw the best and worst of myself.

I was scared and forever changed by the experience, but it made me love my country even more. Most frightening experiences do that- they push you in one direction or another.

To define what it means to be an American, We have to start the story at the beginning.

Intro

New immigrants push settlers west in search of land. Up and down the Atlantic seaboard, colonists resist British oppression. It culminates in the battles of Lexington and Concord.

Starting with the original inhabitants of this great continent. To all the original colonists, and immigrants and countless slaves brought here by force. Freedom is the touchstone of the American Dream.

The endless search and infinite struggle that would shape the destiny of America.

Growing Colonies

The colonies grew at an alarming rate. People of every sort came to America’s shores. People from England, Holland, and France. All of them came looking and hoping to create a better and freer life.

America is a land of immigrants. They are farmers, clerks, and tradesmen. Over half came as indentured servants.

After working for several, long, hard years they will be set free to make their way in the New World. For these Europeans, America promises one thing above all- land.

The colonies are a place where a man by pluck or guile, and sometimes both, can own his own piece of land. This is something he can never do in the crowded town and villages of the old world.

Slavery in the New World

For other new arrivals, neither land nor freedom is within reach. To replace white indentured servants the planters purchase African slaves to do the backbreaking work.

Considered an inferior person the African slave lives in a state of permanent slavery. As will their children and their children’s children.

The Issue of Slavery

When you look at the issue of race you are looking at the idea of skin color. Before America was settled in the early 17th century African slavery had been the primary labor force for producing wealth in Europe for almost 200 years.

As America grew so did the hunger for slaves. The overwhelming majority of slaves shipped to the New World were captured and sold by other African tribes. The majority of native tribes in Eastern Africa are Muslims.

Slavery is not new. In Islam, slavery has a long tradition. A beaten people are sold off as war booty. Usually in one generation the enslaved tribe becomes a part of the new, conquered people.

The idea of multi-generational slavery system is a European invention.

Europeans developed an idea over several centuries that should not enslave each other. They could fight each other, kill each other in wars, but they did not enslave each other. Christians did not enslave Christians.

The great advantage of Africans is they that were outside of the European community. Most of the Africans were Muslims- a constant source of irritation for the west, even today. For the first time race becomes a marker who can be enslaved and who could not.

As America grew so did the need for cheap labor. By the time of the American Revolution in 1776 there were 700,000 African slaves in America. The ideals of freedom of the American Revolution passed by the African- American slaves.

Promise of Land

British or French, Servant or Aristocrat, everyone wants a piece of the bounteous American continent. Some colonists head west for the frontier.

This is a vast land beyond the edge of Boston, Philadelphia and Charleston. In the clear, open air of the vast frontier, they seek the chance to invent whole, new lives.

These same frontier lands mean freedom to the Native Americans. It is essential for the survival of their ancient communities.

To keep colonists at bay some tribes signed alliances with the British and others with the French. In 1750 Colonists and Native Americans will be drawn into a huge conflict called the Seven Years War.

French and Indian War

Seven Years’ War (1754 and 1763) involved most of the great powers of the time. It affected Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines. It was truly the first global war.

In the North American theater it was called the French and Indian War. It was a long imperial struggle between Britain and France.

France’s expansion into the Ohio River valley brought repeated conflict with the claims of the British colonies. A series of battles led to the official British declaration of war in 1756. It will leave the New World exhausted and bleeding.

Still Striving to be a Man of Letters

A Humanist

The second meaning for a Man of Letters is a Humanist. A classical scholar or student of the liberal arts. A man who turns the classics of philosophies to come closer to living a more meaningful life by trying to understand the universe in which he lives.

I am striving in no small way to become a renaissance man. By focusing my energies on history, philosophy, politics, art, drama, poetry, and literature (classic and contemporary).

My goal is to be renowned for the pure breadth of my erudition and expertise in the arts. To do this you have to correspond with experts in the fields of endeavors that important. That is why I email all you every day. In doing so I am already becoming a better man. Each of you is my greatest of friends and men I love as brothers.

By writing to you every day is has helped me to organize my writing and I can already see leaps in only the first couple of weeks. Sharing with you insights to writing and military history has made my life immeasurably better. I am always open to constructive criticism. It’s how one grows.

Building Character

Reflection helps to build character. Writing and introspection has amazing therapeutic benefits. Writing down your deepest feelings about emotional upheaval in your life can really help you view a situation. Some writers have found their immune systems strengthened. Others have seen their personal relationships improve. Sometimes entire lives have changed.

To do anything well you have to practice a lot. I write to you guys, update several websites where I work on blog content, attempt to write three to four letters or postcards a day. In the end is to become a better writer whose prose is more efficient and effective.

Practicing the Craft

A known fact for becoming an adept Man of Letters you have to spend long, solitary hours writing. I best at this first thing in the morning. I get up at four every day and spend the next six hours writing, exercising or reading.

I also have been trying to get out more. Using the writing to live an isolated life is no excuse. A couple of local hangouts have become my stomping grounds. This allow for important social interaction and lively conversations. Many of them are perfect fodder for writing material.

I am a t-shirt and jeans, hamburger and beer kind of guy. My family on both sides were deep blue collar in the coal mines and steel mills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Despite that I have been trying to become more cultured. I have been going to local museums, local expositions and visit the library almost daily. All of these places are provocative and help kindle ideas.

In the end I have tried to develop an appreciation for art, music, poetry and the great literary works. It’s been hard trying to find balance between contemporary and classical art forms. I have been trying to do it all without being a snob. Being a pretentious know-it-all is no gentleman at all.

Being a Gentlemen

My mother once said, “A true gentleman understands the reality of a situation and does the kindest thing to help a person.” In the end it’s never about where you live but how you live.

Glad to have you guys along for the ride. Tomorrow we will start our study of war and literature. One day will be about the many forms that war may take. This will be the narrative vehicle we use to study history.

The next day will begin our study of literature will start at the beginning of recorded time. Great literary works provide a backdrop as to how man reacted to warfare and his changing world around him.

To have an understanding of both will help us live more meaningful lives. Know you are loved, missed and thought of often.

Book Title

Intro

I struggled with trying to name the book about the Oregon Army National Guard Embedded Training Team. The team had 17 men on it. They fought alongside Danes, Brits and Afghan soldiers in the explosive Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

The Title for the Book

Trying to come up with an awesome book title is tough. There is a lot riding on the title of a book. It’s the readers’ first impression of your work.

You want the title to be eye catching, unique and a small description of the story. Some great titles of war adventures immediately come to mind: ‘Blackhawk Down’ or ‘Band of Brothers’ or ‘We Were Soldiers Once… and Young’. All of them capture what the story is about in a few words.

Hemingway would use passages from the Bible and Shakespeare: ‘The Torrents of Spring’ (1925); ‘The Sun Also Rises’ (1926); ‘A Farewell to Arms’ (1929); ‘To Have and Have Not’ (1937); ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ (1940) are some of his works.

Some titles use poetic language: ‘Gone with the Wind’; ‘Of Mice and Men’; ‘Grapes of Wrath’; ‘Snow Falling On Cedars’; ‘The Fault in Our Stars’.

Some use simple titles that become a few word series that become pop-culture phenomena: ‘Twilight’; ‘Game of Thrones’; ‘The Da Vinci Code’; come to mind.

Moral Syndromes

Jane Jacobs, who is best known for her 1961 masterpiece ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities.’ It is a reflection on what she calls the “moral syndromes.” She talks about how “syndromes” drive societies.

It is out of these two primitive groups: traders (who espouse a commercial syndrome) and warriors (that espouse a guardian syndrome) that different patterns of behavior emerge.

Jacobs then argues that each set of occupations has developed its own cluster of moral principles or ethics she calls a “moral syndrome”. These syndromes operate around a number of values.

Two very different ways of dealing with our needs, we also have two fundamentally different systems of morals and values – both systems valid and necessary.

The first is Commercial Moral Syndrome. This syndrome is to support human activities around trade and the production of goods.

Guardian Moral Syndrome is the code for warriors, governments, and religions. This system arose primarily to satisfy the needs of organizing and managing territories.

 

Jacobs warns that society must have both of these sets of values or else they will be unhealthy. If you are a commercial entity and you develop guardian values you are operating under the wrong set of values. Similarly, a government who holds commercial values operates under the wrong set of values.

Soldiers fall into the Guardian Moral Syndrome.

The Guardian Moral Syndrome (GSM)

The GSM shuns trading and exert their prowess by being obedient and disciplined to their society. They adhere to tradition by being loyal to each other. They show fortitude and honor by treasuring honesty.

A few years ago a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and author Dave Grossman wrote a book called “On Killing.” Grossman is a former airborne ranger and infantry officer who says the human population can be divided into three groups: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs.

Grossman says most people are sheep. He’s stating the fact that most human beings are kind, gentle, and peaceful.

Wolves are bad guys. Wolves are the sociopaths who commit violent crimes or ignore moral or ethical boundaries with impunity. Think Dexter without “Harry’s Code.”

Sheepdogs are society’s protectors. GSM of the population. They are a pastoral dog born for the purpose of protecting livestock from predators. As puppies they are placed within the flocks they will protect so they can “imprint” with the animals they will care for and safeguard.

Strongly bonded to them, the sheepdog will perceive other species as predators and protect those it knows from these potentially hostile outsiders. This is what “Guardians” do as firemen, police officers and soldiers.

Like actual sheepdogs, they live among the flock – one of them, and yet different and set apart. They protect the perimeter and vigilantly watch for evil “wolves.”

The Title

I settled on “Guardians of Helmand” for the book title. Their mere presence of the Coalition soldiers of Afghans, Brits, Danes and Americans kept the Taliban from turning on innocent law-abiding citizens.

When they did attack, the “Guardians” acted as human sheepdogs alert and ready to be aggressive. They were prepared to make a stand against those who would do others harm, but outside of times of crisis, they were gentle and trustworthy.

Grossman describes human sheepdogs as individuals who have a capacity for violence but also a moral compass and a “deep love for [their] fellow citizens.” No better description can be given to those brave soldiers’ decision to respond to the Taliban’s challenge.