Monday, January 7, 2008


i am reading this book entitled "The Unknown American Revolution" by Gary B. Nash. I can't put the book down. The author's intent is to bring recognition to those who helped establish North America's independence as a nation.

"We cannot capture the "life and soul" of the Revolution without paying close attention to the wartime experiences and agendas for change that engrossed backcountry farmers, urban craftsmen, deep-blue mariners, female camp followers and food rioters--those ordinary people people who did most of the protesting, most of the fighting, most of the dying, and most of the dreaming about how a victorious American might satisfy the yearnings of all its peoples"
-Gary B. Nash

The names of those who did not make the cut into our history books have been short sided. It used to be "unpatriotic" to speak of other men and women who played major roles in the Revolution besides George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Frankline, John Adams, etc. But we see that when we leave out the names and exploits of the individuals who bore a great burden; to see liberty and justice be for ALL. Not just those who are in the "state of society" and not for those who didn't measure up to be included in so.

One of my favorites is a Quaker named Joshua Fisher who in his last years of life, 1776, freed all of his slaves and spent ten years traveling in order to locate and buy the freedom of any of his past slaves offspring no matter where they were geographically. Or Samuel Hopkins who was a minister at the Congregational Church in Great Barrington, where years later W.E.B. DuBois grew up. Hopkins shaped his sermons around anti-slavery and presented them to his congregation who was full of slave owners and slave traders. In 1773, Hopkins and Ezra Stiles sent a letter out to all of the New England Churches promoting a complete ban of the slave trade. Someone who stood up for what he knew was to be truth.

The list will go on and on. So why is it that these names are not brought up when talking about the "independence" of America? Why is it that we hear the great deeds of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson only? These men who owned over 100 slaves and were "treacherous in private" have become the only stories told which is unfair. Yes, these men did great things for our country but they hardly were the only ones who were fighting for independence and equality. Ben Franklin had advocated abolition yet he owned 5 slaves until he died and instead of freeing them upon his death, he signed them over to his daughter.

The question is...Who fought for liberty and freedom?...True justice, liberty, freedom and equality.

If we look at a more rounded picture of America in it's historical movement we find a magnitude of individuals who fought and died for a dream. A dream that came from the hearts of ALL of those who lived and died in America. They saw a nation that was diverse and equal and they were strong enough to do whatever it took to make it happen even if it meant death. There were so many hangings for those who had committed "treason" but in my mind i didn't see it as treason, i saw it as committing true equality. The ones who died for a good cause might have used force, but looking at the circumstances they were in I do not hold it against them when nothing but force had been experienced.

People whose names find their ways into the historical books are not the only ones who made a great impact on this nation and might not even be justifiable. So, instead of looking to do something great that might possibly make it into the history books...desire to be great. Recognize the greatness of seeing the best in everyone you come into contact with. Recognize your ability to make a difference in this country without even being admired for it. This is true greatness...Fighting for what is truth without an audience. God give us strength.

1 comment:

alex said...

Great point, Spence.