Monday, March 02, 2009

On the Revolution

My planned vacation to Colonial Williamsburg has jump-started my interest in the American Revolution. That, and I am really getting into the political scene again. I used to be fairly knowledgeable about politics in high school, but through college and early adulthood, I admit it - I fell victim to cynicism and didn't much care who got elected. Shame on me. When there are so many around the world who do not have a voice in their government, I should never take my political voice for granted.

To that end, I've been reading
about the Founding Fathers, and just yesterday, I ordered a few books to help me truly understand the debates surrounding the ratification of the Constitution. Two important factions arose from the debates - the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. In elementary and high school, we were basically taught that the Federalists supported the Constitution and the Anti-Federalists didn't. There is much more to it than that. In fact, the Anti-Federalists are largely responsible for the Bill of Rights being included with our Constitution. So that I can understand the debates more, I ordered The Essential Federalist and Anto-Federalist Papers. No television or Internet to get your point across in those days - just good old fashioned pen and ink.

It's funny how all the history you learn in school fades throughout the years. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Frankline, and the rest become sort of mythic heroes. But they were ordinary men who found themselves in extraordinary times. And when I think of what they accomplished and that the country they created is still here today, it is just inspiring on so many levels. I sometimes think every American needs a refresher course in the American Revolution, one that goes beyond the legends and the stories and gets to the heart of what these men really did. No matter what way you look at it, these men fought against incredible odds and won. It should inspire us all to remember their sacrifices.

11 comments:

  1. Good for you! One of my pet peeves is people (not you!) who make broad statements invoking the founding fathers, but who really don't know anything about the men or the actual history. We must be on a similar wavelength...I've just received a series of lectures called American Ideals: Founding a "Republic of Virtue". I just love digging into substantive information to learn things for myself. It beats the heck out of watching people scream at each other across the internet :)

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  2. My fall trip to Philadelphia made me want to brush up on my history as well.

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  3. What a great way to expand upon your passion for history, reading about and seeing the landmarks. There's nothing like immersing yourself in subject matter you love, hope you'll use it in your writing too!

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  4. I am so impressed with you! I admit I would groan and die before I would buy any books on history---I like to visit the places or watch it on TV but not read about it unless it was done well and not fact like.
    Enjoy learning!

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  5. Should be annual reading requirment for us all followed by a test! :)

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  6. ROTFL - I immediately thought you were talking about the FRENCH Revolution when I saw the subject line of today's blog :)

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  7. Great plan! I was sorting through some old books recently and came across a US history textbook published in the late 50s. It looked like one that was aimed at late elementary school or early middle school kids. As I sat on the floor I began flipping through the book and found it was really good as a refresher for nuts and bolts things: who was who, when a certain war was fought and why, that sort of thing. Enjoy your historical journey! And BTW, if you drive to Williamsburg and have the time, I recommend side trips to Monticello and Mount Vernon. They are each much smaller of course than Wmsbg but they have a very authentic feel. You actually walk through bedrooms where Washington & Jefferson slept, where they ate their meals, that kind of thing.

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  8. Lisa - Exactly why I want to study up on things. I don't want to say that George Washington would be against something in our current government if he really wouldn't be! Need to know my facts. :-)

    Debbie - I think I'd enjoy a trip to Philadelphia, too.

    Joanne - Oh yes, definitely will use it in the writing! I have a feeling it will spawn some great story ideas.

    Terri - That is my big complaint with a lot of history books - BORING. Still, there are some out there that don't read like history books at all. Wish they were all that way!

    Angie - Agreed! We all need to keep this history at the forefront of our minds, especially when we make decisions about our government - whether it be state, local, or federal.

    Tess - Hahaha! I do love the French Revolution, too. My original plan in grad school was to study women's roles in the American and French Revolution, sort of a compare/contrast thing. Alas, my lack of French language curtailed that.

    Pam - I'd love to go to Monticello and Mount Vernon! Hopefully I can get there when I take the Williamsburg trip!

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  9. Yeah, my step-dad and hubby are both very into the history channel, so I get my fair share in that department. I swear that stuff sinks into your brain whether you try to ignore it or not. So, I gave up and started enjoying myself watching it. :)

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  10. Melissa - that would have been a FANTASTIC thesis :) But yeah, you'd really need the French for that - depending on translations for that kind of work is definitely not a good idea.

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  11. Jenn - One thing I miss about not having t.v. is not having the History channel! :-)

    Tess - I always wanted to take French and it was never offered in high school or the undergrad school I went to. I did have to take some German in grad school and that helped with my WW2 thesis, but I wish I could learn languages easier!

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