The majority of military history enthusiasts, besides having a rows upon rows of books and publications gracing one room (or multiple rooms) of their dwellings, also house another collection.
Movies, films, documentaries that detail on screen the history of the American Revolution and the founding era of the United States. We can all name a few off the top of our head. We all have debated, either internally, with our significant others and family members, fellow history aficionados, or online about the historical accuracy or portrayal of those events.
This Sunday, join the Emerging Revolutionary War crew of historians in discussing this very same topic. During our historian happy hour, the ERW crew will debate, provide commentary and opinion, or possibly, just remonstrate on how the movie The Patriot is the most smeared film centered on American history that was ever produced.
With the slate of historians on tap for Sunday evening, you never know what will be debated and discussed. A safe bet is the mention of George Washington and who has depicted America’s founding father the most accurately on the big screen.
This Sunday, besides the beverage or choice, one may want to attain or make their favorite movie snack as well and tune in to ERW’s Facebook page for this lively “Rev War Revelry” discussion.
Doctor. Major General. President of the Provincial Congress. Author of political tracts. A true patriot. Forgotten.
All these words, plus many more, are titles that depict the life of Dr. Joseph Warren. However, the last term is most synonymous with the Massachusetts doctor who fell in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775 in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. That last word, forgotten, is exactly what author and historian Christian Di Spigna is hoping to expunge with his new biography, Founding Martyr.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, could have contributed to a forgotten shipwreck narrative, according to new research.
Based on studies of Franklin’s early life as a printer, Dr Hazel Wilkinson claims there are clues which provide information about Benjamin Franklin’s activities during his first visit to London as an 18-year-old printer.
Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes guest historian Kate Bitely
In the Foot Steps of James Madison.
Spring is finally here in Virginia and if you are looking for a place to explore that offers a great outdoor experience, get in the car and head to Montpelier, in Orange Virginia. James Madison’s plantation home offers visitors a glimpse of what life was like in colonial America. Be sure to start your trip with the feature film in the welcome center that provides highlights of Montpelier’s lengthy history dating back to the mid 1700’s. The preserved property has something to offer everyone including hikes, gardens, and a breath-taking view of the blue ridge mountains. The grounds are filled with opportunities to learn about our nation’s early history and the impact it still has on our country today. Continue reading “ERW Weekender: In the Footsteps of James Madison”→
George Washington’s estate on the Potomac River is one of the most-visited places in the greater Washington, DC area, as befits the home of the Father of his Country. Just twelve miles south (by road), however, sits an equally impressive 18th century plantation home. Gunston Hall was the estate of George Mason IV (1725-1792). Best known as one of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention who in the end opposed the Constitution’s ratification, Mason doesn’t always get his due in the stories of America’s founding fathers. But, he was a critical and thoughtful voice in forming the early United States government and enshrining its first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. Fortunately, his home is open to the public and easily accessible from the metropolitan Washington area.
A member of one of Virginia’s first families, Richard Henry Lee was a critical voice in America’s struggle against Great Britain. Born at the family home, Stratford Hall, in Westmoreland County, Lee was educated in England. In 1758, he entered Virginia’s House of Burgesses. Seven years later, Lee’s efforts on the road to independence began.
In response to the recent passage of the Stamp Act, Lee co-authored what became known as the Westmoreland Resolves. The document condemned fellow colonists who paid the related tax as well as the British Parliament. As tensions rose with Britain, Lee proposed a means for the individual colonies to communicate with one another. This idea birthed the Committees of Correspondence. In 1774, Lee was elected to the Continental Congress which met in Philadelphia. It was here in the early summer of 1776 that Lee suggested a bill for the colonies to break all allegiance with England and form a United States. The proposal was the basis of the Declaration of Independence. Continue reading “Review: First Founding Father: Richard Henry Lee and the Call for American Independence by Harlow Giles Unger”→
Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes guest historian Michael Aubrecht. A biography of Mr. Aubrecht is attached below.
In 2011 an exhibit titled “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty” started running at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum from January 27, 2012 – October 14, 2012. This somewhat controversial exhibition explored slavery and enslaved people in America through the lens of Jefferson’s plantation and was a collaborative effort between the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello and the African American History and Culture Museum in Washington DC. It helped to instigate public discussion about the dichotomy between the Founders and freedom. The paradox of course is that Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence and called slavery an “abominable crime,” yet he was a lifelong slaveholder. The exhibition provides a glimpse into the lives of 6 slave families living at Monticello and reveals how the paradox of slavery in Jefferson’s world is relevant for generations beyond Jefferson’s lifetime.
Constitutional Myths by Ray Raphael is a well written, if potentially controversial book that takes a fairly in-depth look at eight constitutional interpretations that are currently popular political positions. The 301-page monograph provides an excellent, brief synopsis for each topic, which is referred to as a “myth”. Each constitutional “myth” has a more elaborate explanation after the initial brief summary with a significant amount of supporting primary source evidence.
Raphael, a scholar of the Founding Fathers, has written extensively on the early United States and his frequent footnotes often refer to his previous research and primary documents from the period in question. Of particular note is his constant reference to the two most extensive constitutional documents, Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention and The Federalist Papers.
From the very beginning of the book, Raphael makes it clear that the Constitutional Convention set out to remedy the defects in the Articles of Confederation. Some of these defects were the inability of the central government to tax, draft citizens to form an army, or pass a variety of laws. In short order, this lead to a number of problems in the states and in all likelihood, the demise of a number of states to European powers. The pendulum that had swung to a severe distrust of a distant, powerful government was on its way back to establishing a strong government that could look out for the interests of its constituents.
Readers of the more conservative persuasion, who often take a position in favor of small government, impartial Founding Fathers, and originalism, will likely find some of the positions in Constitutional Myths controversial. Despite some of the positions that present day conservatives argue the founding fathers supported, Raphael goes to great lengths to refute those modern day positions and provide the context behind the decisions that were made in 1787.
One of the best examples of this in Constitutional Myths was the chapter devoted to The Federalist Papers. As detailed, The Federalist Papers were written by three authors; James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. They were written as a tool to advocate for the adoption of the Constitution, not to provide commentary on the finer points of the Constitution. Additionally, a number of the points in The Federalist Papers were made by delegates who did not necessarily agree with the argument they were making, but believed in the compromises of the constitution and were trying to sell the agreement to the necessary number of states for ratification.
Raphael’s treatment of originalism is especially thought provoking given its popularity in today’s political climate. The Constitution and its interpretation have been open for debate from the moment it was ratified. The delegates of the Constitutional Convention created a compromise and it would be a mistake to ascribe any specific meaning to the original intent; as any given founder may have had differing thoughts on what a particular clause might mean. The author makes the astute point that the Constitution is a framework inside which the various states, United States Congress, Supreme Court, and the president are meant to work.
336 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1595588326
Published by: New Press
*Jim Howell is a librarian in Northern Virginia and enjoys reading modern military history and science fiction*
“The field of knowledge,” said Thomas Jefferson, “is the common prosperity of all mankind.”
Jefferson’s words are inscribed in big bold letters in the entryway of Monticello’s visitor center. They’re written in architectural perpetuity in Jefferson’s “academical village,” the University of Virginia. They’re enshrined in the very concept of democracy.
He leveled the top of the mountain with gunpowder.
He began the project in 1768, when he was twenty-five. He had his slaves literally sheer off the tip of the mountaintop, peeling away soil rich in iron and clay, revealing bedrock of a local variety known as Catoctin greenstone.
On the flattened plane, he built his dream home. Over the next fifty-eight years, Thomas Jefferson would significantly remodel the house twice more as his personal tastes evolved. The house has a splash of Cavalier Virginia to it, but it also has touches of the classical and the continental.