I often look around at this crazy mixed up world, and wish I could have lived back during a simpler time. Whenever I think about life back then, it is devoid of selfishness, envy, lust, laziness, politics and all other human tendencies that are detrimental to society.
Sure, there was the occasional town drunk, duel, adultery or other abuses, but for the most part it was just good old-fashioned hard work, family time and everyone reaping what they sow.
Our Founding Fathers loved our country and each other. There was no such thing as partisan politics, newspapers wrote unbiased news, no one tried to take advantage of their neighbor, slander was unheard of, and people who called themselves patriots would do whatever they could to further the cause of America and liberty.
People were just better back then.
Could I have been any more naive?
I just finished Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. This is the second book that I have read of late that makes me want to double check the time period that it is supposed to be written about. Are we SURE this isn’t about today’s society ? Are we SURE we aren’t talking about 21st century world politics?
I wasn’t surprised by how the British viewed the Colonial soldiers who fought for Britain during the French and Indian War. The hierarchy of military rank was tiered beyond that of officers and enlisted men. The lowest rank of enlisted men from Britain was considered of higher rank to that of a Colonial General. No matter how hard the colonials fought for their Mother Country, they would never be seen by the Crown as the free English men that they were. I wasn’t surprised by how the British, to their eventual detriment, ignored the constant warnings of Colonel Washington that the old style of fighting was useless while waging war against the natives of the land.
Given the innumerable slights and prejudices that the British heaped upon Washington and the other colonials, I’m not at all surprised that events unfolded the way they did. Tierney and oppression has a way of doing that.
I was however, surprised that the colonials did not, at the onset of the Revolutionary War, have independence in mind. They considered themselves free British subjects and were outraged at the ludicrous demands that the Crown were putting on them while turning up it’s nose at their needs. They were happy to pay taxes, they loved the King and their country. They did not, however appreciate that not only were they taxed without having any representatives in Parliament, but none of the money they paid in taxes was distributed back to the colonies for improvements, etc. It wasn’t until a year after the war started, long after it became clear that the King didn’t care about the colonists, that the colonists declared their independence.
I was surprised how hard it was to find people willing to serve in the army. When it came down to it, most people would rather talk the talk then walk the walk.
I was also surprised to find out that Benedict Arnold was a hero many times over for the American Cause. It was, among other things (lack of patriotism, pride, an inflated sense of self-importance) his being passed over several times for promotion after multiple victorious battles that caused his defection. He was a brave, heroic man who, more then once, made the difference between victory and defeat. And because of his pride and selfishness, he will always be remembered as a traitor and a coward. And he didn’t just fade into the background after his treachery. He took up the cause against the land of his birth just as passionately as his had previously fought for it. I once thought that he had always been a spy and just got caught. Nope. Just an ambitious man who felt that furthering the cause of his own life took precedence over that of his country. He died an angry and bitter man. He could have died a hero.
I was sick when I learned the true situation of Valley Forge. 12,000 troops hunkered down in Valley Forge, PA to wait out the winter. We have already heard all about the awful situation. How many had little or no clothing, how they survived on flour and water cakes baked on hot rocks. How many froze to death, how there was little or no no wood for fires. Disease ran rampant through the damp and crowded quarters. We know how Washington constantly petitioned Congress for relief but they could not, or would not provide any.
But what sickened me was WHY they were in those conditions. George Washington was not a fool. He chose Valley Forge because of it’s prime location. It was located smack in the middle of patriot populated farmland. Washington, while not a fool, made an assumption that was fatal to many of his men. He assumed that the “patriots” would lend a hand if they needed it. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Rather then donate a portion of their harvest or stores to feed their destitute and starving army, these colonists who called themselves patriots decided to SELL their harvest to the BRITISH troops!
When push came to shove, they were more concerned about their wallets then their liberty.
I guess people haven’t changed as much as I thought after all.