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Posts Tagged ‘myths’

The Real Story of the Fake Sarah Munroe Letter (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Last week I noted a letter describing George Washington’s Presidential visit to Lexington in 1789. And I said it looked like a fake.

Polly Kienle of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum helpfully commented on that post confirming that young Sarah Munroe didn’t write that letter. Rather, it came from the pen of James Phinney Munroe (1862-1929), president of the Lexington Historical Society. And he spent years trying to live it down.

On 5 Nov 1889, J. P. Munroe wrote, he was invited to speak about the hundredth anniversary of Washington’s visit at a public dinner. He recalled, “Wishing ...

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Top Honors from the Journal of the American Revolution (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

The Journal of the American Revolution just announced its 2014 Book of the Year Award.

The winning title is Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities During the War for Independence, by Ken Miller. The Continental authorities housed 13,000 British and Hessian prisoners of war around Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and this is an in-depth study of how that affected the community. I haven’t read this book myself—without a New England connection, other titles keep going higher on my list—but I’ve heard good things.

Shortlisted and receiving honorable mentions are:
Nick Bunker, An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to ...

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President Washington in Sickness and in Lexington (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Having spent many autumn days outdoors meeting lots of American citizens, on 26 Oct 1789 President George Washington…got sick.

He wrote in his diary:
The day being Rainy & Stormy—myself much disordered by a Cold and inflamation in the left eye, I was prevented from visiting Lexington (where the first blood in the dispute with G. Britn.) was drawn. . . . in the Evening I drank Tea with Govr. [John] Hancock & called upon Mr. [James] Bowdoin on my return to my lodgings.
(The President’s encounters with Gov. Hancock will be the focus of T. ...

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John Hancock and the Bombarding of Boston (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

On 4 July 1812, the young Attorney General of the United States, Richard Rush, delivered an Independence Day oration to the House of Representatives. His main message was about how wise it was to go to war with Great Britain again.

For that speech Rush had consulted notes of his father, Dr. Benjamin Rush, about details of the last war with Great Britain, which had gone so well. According to Henry A. Hawken’s study of Fourth of July orations, Trumpets of Glory, the elder Rush wasn’t pleased that his son pulled him into the debate over the ...

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“Sergeant Smith and His White Horse” (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

In Anecdotes of the American Revolution, published in 1845, the anonymous compiler John Lauris Blake included this story titled “Sergeant Smith and His White Horse”:
At the very first exhibition of American courage, which proved so fatal to the British troops in their excursion to Lexington and Concord, Sergeant Smith showed himself a skilful marksman. Learning from rumor, which seemed to have spread that night with a speed almost miraculous, the destination of the detachment, he arose from his bed, equipped himself with cartridges and a famous rifle he had used at Lovell’s fight at Fryeburg, saddled ...

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The Sons of Liberty Medal (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

In 1874 James Kimball wrote in the Essex Institute Historical Collections:
The following is from a private manuscript in my possession, written by Col. John Russell in 1850, whose father was one of the “Sons,” and an active participator during those stirring scenes (with Paul Revere, [Thomas] Melville, [Samuel] Sprague, etc.), a school master living during the war on Temple street, Boston.

Col. Russell says, “The Sons of Liberty consisted of an association of spirited men, who were determined to resist the oppressive edicts of the British Ministry, and to sustain and support each ...

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Who Said “Hang Separately”? (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

In his Memoirs of His Own Time, first published in 1811, Alexander Graydon wrote:
Both the brothers, John and Richard Penn [shown here], had been governors of Pennsylvania; the former being in office at the beginning of hostilities.

By yielding to the torrent, which it would have been impossible to withstand, he gave no offence, and avoided reproach; though it was deemed expedient to have him secured and removed from Philadelphia, on the approach of the royal army in the year 1777. Mr. Richard Penn, having no official motives for reserve, was even upon terms of familiarity with ...

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Inoculation Lecture in Weymouth, 19 Nov. (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

On Wednesday, 19 November, the Abigail Adams Historical Society in Weymouth will present a program on “The History of Inoculation and Vaccination: The Experience of the Adams Family and the Modern Perspective.”

David Jones, M.D., Ph.D., the A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School, will provide a historical perspective on smallpox inoculation, highlighting the experiences of the Adams family.

John Adams’s mother was a Boylston, niece of the doctor who had done the first inoculations in Boston decades before, Zabdiel Boylston. His work as a lawyer riding the circuit ...

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Inoculation Lecture in Weymouth, 19 Nov. (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

On Wednesday, 19 November, the Abigail Adams Historical Society in Weymouth will present a program on “The History of Inoculation and Vaccination: The Experience of the Adams Family and the Modern Perspective.”

David Jones, M.D., Ph.D., the A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School, will provide a historical perspective on smallpox inoculation, highlighting the experiences of the Adams family.

John Adams’s mother was a Boylston, niece of the doctor who had done the first inoculations in Boston decades before, Zabdiel Boylston. His work as a lawyer riding the circuit ...

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“Washington Elm” Exhibit in Cambridge (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

On Thursday, 13 November, the Cambridge Historical Society hosts an opening reception for its special exhibit on “The Washington Elm,” featuring the photography of Bruce Myren (one example shown here).

That elm, as I’ve discussed, was associated in the late 1800s with a moment on 3 July 1775 when Gen. George Washington was said to have taken command of the Continental Army, often pictured as drawn up in ranks for his review.

In reality, Washignton probably took command indoors on 2 July 1775 when he met Gen. Artemas Ward, and he and Gen. Charles Lee inspected the ...

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The Evidence for Paine as a Staymaker (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

As I discussed yesterday, a claim appeared on Wikipedia last month that Thomas Paine started out making stays for sailing ships, not stays for women to wear, and that Paine’s political enemies misrepresented him as a maker of underwear.

This fraud apparently fooled every historian and biographer who has written about Paine. At least, the citations that Wikipedia editor “Jkfkauia” inserted after that statement did not actually name any scholar who had seen through the ruse. In fact, those citations offer no outside support for the new statement.

Normally I’d point out that “Jkfkauia” has the responsibility to ...

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This Season’s New Paine Claim (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Last month, on 24 September, someone signed in to Wikipedia as “Jkfkauia” in order to revise the Thomas Paine entry. He or she explained the editing this way:
(I am correcting a widely repeated piece of insulting misinformation about Thomas Paine. He was involved in youth with making rope stays used on sailing ships, NOT the stays used in corsets. This lie about his life story was invented by his foes.)
Wikipedia records four other edits by “Jkfkauia” in 2012 and 2013, none having to do with eighteenth-century history.

The section on Paine’s early life now reads in part:
...

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Daigler Speaks on Intelligence at Minute Man Park, 15 Oct. (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

On Wednesday, 15 October, Kenneth Daigler will speak on the topic of his book Spies, Patriots and Traitors: American Intelligence in the Revolutionary War at the Minute Man National Historical Park’s Visitor Center in Lexington. This event will start at 7:00 P.M. and end with a book signing.

Daigler is a retired career C.I.A. operations officer who has degrees in history from Centre College of Kentucky and the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. C-SPAN recorded one of his earlier talks.

One of our early first-hand sources on Revolutionary War espionage is a letter that Paul Revere wrote ...

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A Bite of Joel Christian Gill’s Strange Fruit (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

As I mentioned back here, I scripted one of the stories in the new anthology Colonial Comics: New England, 1620-1750. I wrote that script with the artist Joel Christian Gill in mind, and was lucky enough that he agreed to work on the project.

Joel is a professor and now chair of the Foundations Program at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. For years he was creating and publishing short comics about African-American history. As part of the process that led to Colonial Comics, the same publisher saw Joel’s mini-comics and signed him up for multiple books.

...

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Looking for the R.N.C.’s “Critical Topics” in A.P. U.S. History (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Having found the 2006-07 version of the College Board’s guidelines for the Advanced Placement U.S. History test (P.D.F. download), I decided to test it against the objections listed in the Republican National Committee’s resolution from last month.

The R.N.C. based its complaint on the claim that the new guidelines (P.D.F. download) omitted “critical topics that have always been part of the APUSH course,” though without specifying evidence for that assertion. “Always” is an easily tested claim.

The committee’s specific complaints about the new guidelines (as opposed to hard-to-measure value judgments) are:
little or no discussion of ...

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The “5-Page Topic Outline” and the “98-Page Framework” (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

One of the common complaints about the new Advanced Placement U.S. History Course guidelines is that they’re so much longer than they were before. For instance, World Magazine reported:
The new framework is 98 pages long, compared to the five-page topic outline teachers used previously, [critic Larry] Krieger said.
That criticism from Krieger, founder of Insider Test Prep (shown here), has been echoed on a lot of websites; just look for the phrase “five-page [or 5-page] topic outline” and the mention of “98 pages.”

That struck me as another claim about the College Board’s new course guidelines (P.D.F. ...

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What Lies Behind Complaints about the A.P. U.S. History Test (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

One of the hot topics is American historiography lately has been an attack on the new Advanced Placement U.S. History course and test guidelines (P.D.F. download).

Last month the Republican National Committee passed a resolution calling for those guidelines to be both rewritten and investigated.

The National Council for History Education, the American Historical Association, and the Organization of American Historians have dismissed such attacks as unfounded and politically motivated. (I was interested in what the right-leaning Historical Society might say, but it’s out of action.)

I’ve never been a classroom teacher. I haven’t taken ...

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Samuel “Rat-trap” Adams’s Revolution (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

According to Samuel “Rat-trap” Adams, the wire-worker and former town crier, he:
  • was six years old when the Stamp Act protests occurred, eleven in the year of the Boston Massacre, fourteen during the Tea Party, and sixteen in the first year of the war.
  • helped the Sons of Liberty, reportedly by guarding the door when they had their meetings along with other boys.
  • somehow served the Continental side during the Revolutionary War.
  • conducted a prisoner from Worcester to Boston Jail during the Shays Rebellion.
  • Ended up with a large striped banner that had been flown ...

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The Legend of Mme. Jumel (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Ben Carp alerted me to this gossipy Gothamist article by Danielle Oteri about Eliza Jumel, long-time owner of the Morris-Jumel Mansion in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan. A taste:
Eliza Jumel’s New York Times obituary [from 1865] states that her mother died shortly after giving birth and that she was placed in the care of “a good woman, and many clergymen visited her comparatively humble dwelling, so that the early years of the little one were passed amid good influences.”

In fact, Eliza “Betsy” Bowen was born in either 1773 or 1775 to a mother who worked as a ...

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Founders’ Favorite Quotations, part 3 (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Here’s the final run of “quotations” from America’s founders as chosen by some current tech company founders earlier this year. I put “quotations” in quotation marks because not all of them are, in fact, quotations from the people said to have said them.

I’m not holding these sayings to the original standards of punctuation, capitalization, or spelling, but I do want to see all the same words in the same order for them to qualify as quotations.

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the ...

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Founders’ Favorite Quotations, part 2 (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

As I explained yesterday, last month a website publishing for the technology world asked more than three dozen company founders to share their favorite quotations from America’s Founders.

Some of those were actual quotations from America’s Founders. Others, not so much. But we’re entering a good stretch.

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” –Thomas Paine
From Paine’s Common Sense.

“Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.” –George Washington
Washington to Gen. Philip Schuyler, 20 Aug 1775.

“Well done is better than well said.” –Benjamin Franklin
This saying appeared in ...

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Founders’ Favorite Quotations, part 1 (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Last month, Ronald Barba rounded up tech company founders’ favorite quotations from America’s Founders. But are all those quotations authentic enough to invest in? Let’s audit that list.

“The purpose of money is to purchase the freedom to pursue that which was useful and interesting.” –Benjamin Franklin
This is a quotation from H. W. Brands’s 2000 biography of Franklin, not from Franklin himself.

“If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him.” –Benjamin Franklin
Attributed to Franklin as early as 1849, but not traceable to any specific work by him.

“Here ...

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Midshipman Preble Chases a Sea Serpent (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Yesterday I quoted the memories of George and Luther Little of the day in May 1780 when their Massachusetts frigate chased a sea serpent off the coast of Maine. But did anyone besides the Little lieutenants leave a record of that giant fish that got away?

One of the youngest officers aboard that ship, the Protector, was Midshipman Edward Preble (1761-1807), later a celebrated U.S. Navy captain. James Fenimore Cooper’s profile of Preble for Graham’s Illustrated Magazine in 1845, republished in Naval Biographies, included his version of the chase:
Preble related the affair substantially as follows: The ...

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A Different Point of View on the “Bunker Hill” Song (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

As I discussed yesterday, in post-Revolutionary Boston young veterans of the war preserved and passed around the words to a song about the Battle of Bunker Hill written from the British point of view.

They had different things to say, however, about who had written that song:
  • The first surviving broadside says it was “Composed by the British Soldiers,” and an 1811 reprint says it was “Composed by the British.”
  • A handwritten copy of the verses kept by the merchant John Marston credited “one of the British army.”
  • The historian Samuel Swett apparently had a broadside headlined “Composed ...

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