05 July 2012


On this day after the national celebration of America's independence, it seems appropriate to take on some of the myths surrounding the American Revolution.  Historian John Farling, writing in Smithsonian, does just that in a well-researched essay which puts the lie to many of the cherished folk tales we were taught in school.  You will find his writing to be accessible and easy to follow.  Below is a summary of the myths he deflates ~

  • Great Britain did not know what it was getting into.
  • Americans of all stripes took up arms out of patriotism.
  • Continental soldiers were always ragged and hungry.
  • The militia were useless.
  • The Battle of Saratoga was the war's turning point.
  • General Washington was a brilliant tactician and strategist.
  • Great Britain could never have won the war.
In the spirit of sociologist James Loewen's critique of American history textbooks, Lies My Teacher Told Me, it is incumbent upon us as responsible, informed citizens to dig more deeply in order to fully understand our history .... lest we repeat it, as we are currently doing with regard to the wars we choose, the political polarization we tolerate, and the dogmatic fear of science which we encourage.  More on that tomorrow.  (Washington image above courtesy of Smithsonian.)

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