Fall Semester 2013
26 October 2013
1- Benedict Arnold: A Traitor, but Once a Patriot
2- Being George Washington; the Indispensable Man, as you’ve Never Seen Him
3- Abraham Lincoln’s Attitudes on Slavery & Race
4-Abigail and John Adams Spar on Women’s Rights and the American Revolution.
Benedict Arnold: A Traitor, but Once a Patriot
“The one-time war hero chose a path of betrayal after becoming disillusioned with the cause”
This article tells the story of Benedict Arnold. It tells the story of his childhood; he was the 2nd of 6 children born to his mother and father whom was a prosperous and close-knit family. His mother turned to religion and his father turned to alcohol after 3 of their children died of diphtheria. When his mother died his dad turned into the town drunk to which the author proclaims “gave Arnold an early taste of the disgrace that would color the rest of his life”. Ambition and business took him from merchandising to international trade. By the time he was 22 he had made enough money to buy back the family homestead that was sold to pay for his father’s debts. He then resold it for enough profit to buy a fleet of ships. He was oppressed by British taxes, which imperiled his livelihood so he devoted himself to resisting British tyranny by joining and then leading the local chapter of the sons of liberty.
It goes on to praise Arnold as the hero of Fort Ticonderoga and also the Battle of Saratoga where he was wounded in the same leg in each battle yet it also states that Arnold never felt its nation’s gratitude. Petty jealousies kept his name off a list of promotions and inferior military officers generated rumors that hurt his reputation.
I like this story of Benedict Arnold and many others that I read but I can’t help but wonder what would have been if he hadn’t been overseen and rumored against and also I don’t know why so many went against him. I believe that his wife had a lot to do with his last decisions; she played on his emotions and his greed of riches that caused the ruins of his name and reputation. He knew he was a hero and he knew that he had even put his own monies into the fight for liberty so why he really made the decisions he did is hard to believe that he had as much anger as he did without some great persuasion from someone else. I think that Washington knew the “real” Arnold and his heart and I think that is why he gave him leadership over West point. A fly on the wall moment would have been to know what really went through Arnold’s mind after Washington came to him and offered West Point. Did he want to pull out of the cahoots with Andre? It is upsetting that someone that should have had praise of a hero got so little from many around him.
Being George Washington: Glenn Beck’s View on how to be a George Washington in today’s world
Beck takes a walk through the history of George Washington and while he gives you the facts of the history with correct dates, places and people he tells a story of how GW might have felt, thought and reflected in these moments. Beck makes the case that GW was a man with immense strength but he was also a humble and praying man that let the hand of God lead him through his journey and he encourages us all to become that kind of person to lead in our time. As Beck tells the story of Valley Forge he claims there are witnesses that GW was known to go into a grove and pray for help and guidance as a leader and refers to a letter written by GW in 1778.
“Humble and grateful thanks are due to the great Author of all the care and good that have extended in relieving us in difficulties and distress” Beck then adds “One who believes in a great Author and Divine Providence must also believe in miracles-and no matter what the critics say, Valley Forge had plenty of those”
In the book Beck tells his story on the history and then in a grey background enlightens the reader with his opinion although in one such passage he asserted that when congress heard of the Yorktown victory, Representatives walked to a Philadelphia church which they were joined by around 1000 people. Congress then recommended that the entire nation should observe a day for “public thanksgiving and prayer” to celebrate. The Congressional prayer resolution of 1781 states that all ranks of the United States should observe and thankfully acknowledge the interpositions of his Providence in the soldier’s behalf. Beck in his normal “throw it in your face fashion” comments “Sure sounds like the Founders were a bunch of religious fanatics to me”.
I enjoyed Beck’s spin on this book and thought it was interesting that he thought it was important to pick out GW’s flaws and mistakes to make him seem even more humble. I had no doubts that Washington or any of the founding fathers were God fearing men. It states it right in the Constitution, US currency and many legal documents but to imagine the backbone of America in his hardest moments kneeling to pray for help and guidance…praying for his soldiers in need, praying for safety and his family and praying for help to become the man he needed to be and do the right things at the right time is breathtaking. It makes Washington seem like a bigger man than I had imagined before but that is my belief system and I am sure I would have those critics that disagree.
It is interesting to ponder what the United States would be like if more congressional leaders were like Washington. He didn’t only look out for himself and his riches (He had riches when he married Martha and he was a great business man to build more wealth). He genuinely wanted to see the American people have freedom from Britain. He listened to those around him even if they were “beneath him”. He knew that his service as a General and a President were going to be so important to the future generations. I am sure he would hang his head and cry if he were to walk into congress now. Do you think he would wonder if he was among his British enemies of his time whom only wanted power and wealth for themselves? I wonder what he would do to make the necessary changes to get what he envisioned in the first place.
After reading this book I believe more now in the American dream. It seems so hard for people to wrap their heads around the idea and people think it is too hard or unreachable but in learning about the history of the actual American dream one can’t deny that it has always been hard, it has always been work and it depends on a select few to get their hands dirty and fight for what they believe. Those that wait around for something to be given to them are not dreamers, they depend on others to dream big and then reap the benefits of those people’s actions to reach that particular dream. They are not visionaries because if they were, they would know they too had to get their hands dirty in the actions. They are fearful, they fear failure so much that even if they can see the dream or vision they are too afraid of putting their selves into the actions that make the dream come alive. Thank Heavens that our founding fathers were not afraid of dreaming, hard work, action or failure!!
Glenn Beck, Being George Washington; the Indispensable Man, as you’ve Never Seen Him,
USA: Simon & Shuster, 2011. PRINT
Abraham Lincoln’s Attitudes on Slavery & Race
Lincoln has always been one of my favorite presidents of America. Main reason obviously being that he believed in human rights. This article not only mentions what he did to abolish slavery, how he felt about it and also how he himself eventually took advice from a black man showing he had no bad feelings towards “black” people.
He grew up in a family that was opposed to slavery (interesting when his own father had a hard time finding work due to the free slaves in the North). He created his own opinions about the subject when he saw it for himself in New Orleans and then in Kentucky while he was at a friend’s house. He seen 12 slaves chained together that were going to be sold off. Lincoln stated in a letter to his friend’s sister that they were being taken from their families and made to put their pasts behind them but he was impressed by the way that no matter what these men were facing they were still singing, laughing and joking with one another. This woman he wrote to was a daughter of a slave holder herself.
One of his role models in politics was Henry Clay. Clay was called a “Great political mediator between the North and South and he also drafted the Missouri Compromise and was also an advocate of repatriation of African Americans which let free blacks be relocated to Africa on a voluntary basis. Lincoln believed in this as many of people in the North. Thinking that blacks and whites would never live in harmony with one another. Most people liked this idea and because it took the black people out of the job market it would give whites more opportunity. Amazing that the North didn’t believe in slavery but they still thought we could not all live together as a community all because of skin color but I guess it was a beginning to something wonderful and a much better viewpoint than the South. They thought they were being civilized in their decisions and this quote from Henry Clay shows a wonderful spirit despite this outlook. “There is a moral fitness in the idea of returning to Africa her children, whose ancestors have been torn from her by the ruthless hand of fraud and violence”.
In 1862 Lincoln invited a group of African Americans into the white house. In that group was Fredrick Douglas, he was a run-away slave himself and was a self-educated man like Lincoln. His sons fought for the Union army and he wanted equal service pay for the black soldiers. After meeting with Lincoln he wrote in his diary “I felt at eye level with a white man for the first time. Lincoln was equally impressed with him. After that meeting Lincoln sat down and drafted his statements on the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation. I think this is when Lincoln really decided that he needed to put some power behind the fight for slavery. His speeches contained more about the subject and it was more projected than ever before that the black people needed to be included in the phrase of the Declaration of Independence that “all men were created equal”.
Abigail and John Adams Spar on Women’s Rights and the American Revolution.
In this Dueling Document Abigail Adams writes letters to her husband John Adams. She complains that he doesn’t write her letters even half as long as she does him and she all but demands that he tell her where he is and what is going on with the new laws which she knows he has been working on. She asks of him not to forget the ladies in these new laws and that he be more generous and favorable than his ancestors were. Abigail insists not to put all the power into the hands of husbands for all men would be tyrants if they could. John Adams answers her letting her know that things are in a critical state and that she must excuse him for not writing long letters letting her know what is going on with the new laws. He answers her request to remembering the ladies “As to you extraordinary code of laws, I cannot but laugh”. He goes on saying he had basically heard it all about how their struggle had loosened bands everywhere and children and apprenticed were disobedient, Indians rebelled, and negroes were standing up to their masters but her letter was “the first intimation that another tribe more numerous and powerful than the rest were grown discontented”.
This article caught my attention because not much is said about women’s rights until after the 1800’s. I feel like she was a very strong courageous woman of her time and I cannot imagine how she felt when she read his letter and he turned down her ideas, laughed and made a sarcastic remark like he did about “another tribe” and calling her “Saucy”. I love her response back to him because she lets him know how it is. I have a feeling John Adams didn’t “master” Abigail in a way that other husbands at that time did. Pure curiosity about Abigail Adam’s made me dig a little deeper into her legacy. She not only wrote to her husband about women’s rights she wrote to him often about political things and John actually valued her opinions and stood behind her in her believes about slavery and religion. She was a self-taught woman and could recite poetry from heart. She believed everyone should have the freedom to be educated and that included free black people.