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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29362 times)
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Dzimas
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« Reply #210 on: May 21, 2007, 03:05:54 AM »

From Gordon Wood's description, Thomas Jefferson was a notorious second guesser.  He could come up with more counter-arguments than arguments for the ideas he apparently believed in, and emancipation was one.  He pushed for anti-slavery measures in the new Northwest Territories, yet couldn't bring himself to emancipate his own slaves.  I think this was largely due to his financial situation, but I also think he feared they wouldn't be able to cope in a society that had yet to accept blacks as freedmen.  Jefferson seemed to be the quintessential Doubting Thomas.  It is this vacillation in his principles that makes TJ perhaps the most compelling of the Founding Fathers, not to mention the ongoing debate of whether he had a long-time relationship with Sally Hemings.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #211 on: May 21, 2007, 03:14:16 AM »

I hope you had a good weekend as well, thanatopsy.  Seems like the good captain was mostly interested in his place in history and knew the good mileage he would get with stories like that.  It was interesting to read the debate over the Disney version of Pocahantas, which seems exactly the way John Smith would have liked to see himself.  It is interesting that Disney, which at one point wanted to create an American History theme park near Manassas, insists that it is interpreting history fairly.  Fortunately, the good folks of Manassas saw things differently and managed to defeat the proposed park.  I think Pocahantas is a good example of the type of history the Disney imagineers were considering for the park.
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weezo
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« Reply #212 on: May 21, 2007, 02:31:25 PM »


I was told another bit of trivia about Monticello ages and ages ago and had honest-to-God forgotten until just this moment and have no idea whether it is false: that TJ invented some contraption for his son's bed so as to be able to tell if/when he was masturbating.  Have you ever heard such, or was someone else's leg (3rd?) being pulled?

NY Temps,

I asked about your trivia on the Va History List and received the following reply today. You can decide if you want to read more about it!

 As Anne Pemberton noted in her query, Thomas and Martha Jefferson didn't
have a son; or more accurately their only male child survived only a few
weeks.
  And if I remember the date range correctly, Jefferson himself was long
dead before ingenious Victorians were inventing and marketing the
devices mentioned.
  Social historians have produced a considerable scholarly literature
about the 19th-century hysteria over the alleged medical consequences of
masturbation. Several of these works describe Victorian-era contraptions
designed to prevent "self-abuse." For anyone interested in reading more
about these aspects of medical/social history, the first two books by
Laqueur and Horowitz are probably the best place to start:

Thomas W. Laqueur, Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation (New
York, 2003)

Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Rereading Sex: Battles over Sexual Knowledge and
Suppression in Nineteenth-Century America (New York, 2002)

Roy Porter, Flesh in the Age of Reason: The Modern Foundations of Body and
Soul (New York, 2003)

Roy Porter and Lesley Hall, The Facts of Life: The Creation of Sexual
Knowledge in Britain, 1650-1950 (New Haven, 1995)

Roy Porter, "Forbidden Pleasures: Enlightenment Literature of Sexual
Advice," in Paula Bennett and Vernon A. Rosario II, eds., Solitary
Pleasures: The Historical, Literary, and Artistic Discourses of
Autoeroticism (New York, 1995), 75-98.

Alex Comfort, The Anxiety Makers: Some Curious Preoccupations of the
Medical Profession (London, 1967)

=======================================

Dr. Jon Kukla, Executive Vice-President
Red Hill - The Patrick Henry National Memorial
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weezo
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« Reply #213 on: May 21, 2007, 05:21:12 PM »

NY Temp,

Agreed, but here we have a few titles on history that is off the beaten path, should we want to pursue them.
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TrojanHorse
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« Reply #214 on: May 22, 2007, 10:43:55 AM »

Who has authority to start new topics?

Looks like American History needs to be broken down into a few sub-sets.  maybe just a little too broad a subject for one section.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #215 on: May 22, 2007, 11:59:06 AM »

What I do think would be fun would be to see The New World (yeah, I still think it's very much worth seeing) with Rountree...or maybe play it on DVD to be able to stop it when she felt the urge to comment.  From what I saw of her on the PBS program, that would be quite an interesting and entertaining exercise.

I caught the movie last night.  The focus of the movie is less on the historical aspects of the settlement and more on the spiritual.   The idea is that the English came over the sea and brought with them a powerful god (John Smith) who imposed his will on the weaker goddess (Pocahantas...whose name is never spoken in the movie).  There are many scenes portraying the spiritual culture of the "naturals."   In their natural spiritual setting, the natives are quite content, always portrayed as approaching life in a playful manner, lots of dance.  Horner co-opts Wagner's "nature" theme from the Ring and relates it to Pocahantas.  As the movie progresses, and Pocahantas becomes more Anglicized, she loses her playful spirit.  By the time she is a wife and mother (and a Christian)  in England, she has become quite British.  But the director (who apparently has little faith in the intellect of his audience) uses her death to return her to her natural state of grace.  The movie ends with her spirit dancing her way back to her origins.  And of course, Rolfe and son are shown sailing back to the New World....perhaps to practice some new form of corruption on the natives?
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #216 on: May 22, 2007, 02:13:11 PM »

Quote
Maybe, Hoffman (until now I've resisted saying "as in Tales of?" ;-)

  LOL..me too.

I think the depiction of spirituality was purposefully thought out by the director.  Beginning with John Smith, being brought back from the dead on three occasions.  First, he gets a last minute reprieve from his death sentence upon arrival at the colony.  Next, Pocahantas saves him when he is sentenced to death by her people.  Third, and most striking, is John Smith sailing back to the colony long after they thought he was dead.  (These things may or may not be historical, but the presentation has a sort of spiritual aspect in this movie.)  There is also a more subtle scene where Smith awes the natives and the Shaman by throwing gunpowder on a fire. 

Then, there are the spiritual aspects related to Pocahantas and the Algonquin relationship to the earth.  (Horner stresses this in his reiteration of the Erda/mothernature motif from Wagner's Ring which he relates to Pocahantas).  There are many scenes showing religious rituals related to crops.  And there is the scene where Pocahantas exchanges breath (spirit) with John Smith.  You are correct about her playfulness with her son, but that spun out scene at the end occurs after Pocahantas is dead.  I think the dancing Pocahantas is spirit.


If you watch it again, it might be interesting to look for the allusions to the spiritual.  Next time, I'll have to focus more on the historic.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #217 on: May 22, 2007, 04:00:15 PM »

Nytemps...One aspect of the movie I'd be willing to bet we agree on....visually stunning.  Malick's filming is pure artistry.
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Bob
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« Reply #218 on: May 22, 2007, 07:16:51 PM »

Lhoffman

Or perhaps it all did happen as Smith said it did.   Perhaps the spiritual aspects you bring up are as RESULT of these events, rather than the reasons for their presentation...or perhaps there's truth in them thar stories, but its now too late to decipher it from legend. This is not unusual  in American history where we have  real historical figures who are subject to legends--ie., Washington and Lincoln and to some extent John Kennedy.

One of the reasons I liked the subject in the first place and read so much about it is to try to separate, as best I can, fact from legend....but then again, one is as much history as the other...
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Bob
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« Reply #219 on: May 22, 2007, 07:28:23 PM »

weezo:

The Carter Biography mught be a good choice for discussion down the line.

DeVoto's COURSE OF EMPIRE is an excellent choice also, as long as everyone is aware that DeVoto's writing style is different than most historians. He write in a verty lyrical, sometimes eliptical  manner--and is really good when you get into the swing of the stytle. EMPIRE is a part of a trilogy, of which 1846 is a part as is ACROSS THE WIDE MISSOURI

Any other nominations for a book to discuss?
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Bob
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« Reply #220 on: May 22, 2007, 07:32:45 PM »

Who has authority to start new topics?
I would assume anybody could start a new topic....just fire away. It's a question, though, who will follow it given that a discussion is in progress. However, as you can see we sometimes divert from a discussion, get sidetracked--and that's OK also.
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Bob
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« Reply #221 on: May 22, 2007, 07:47:44 PM »

Getting back to Rountree, I think Opechancanough has always been overshadowed by Powhatan because of the Pocahontas story. I think if the legendary aspects of the Pocahontas saga didn't exist, he might at least have been treated  as being on a par with Powhatan. In the era in which he lived he was certainly as important as hios predecessor....yet few know of him  outside of people like us who study the era or who study Native American history. How many people know, for instance, that Pohatan's personal name, his real name was Wahunsenacawh and that Powhatan is the name of his people or the royal name he took on becoming paramount chief, much as English monarchs and Popes choose when they ascend to authority.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #222 on: May 22, 2007, 07:50:41 PM »

Bob...I agree.  Part of the interest of history is separating perception from reality, legend from truth.  But the legends that surround great men/women often tell us as much about ourselves as about them.  Maybe the hero culture is part of what has made America great.

And now I will stop interupting your very interesting book discussion.
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Bob
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« Reply #223 on: May 22, 2007, 08:20:34 PM »

Thanks for the reply---you are not interuptingat all. Join the discussion. 

On the subject of legends, every nation has them, and I'm convinced needs them. We are all human and all have a need to hold to beliefs which might not be entirely true, but which remind us of our values and our beliefs. We all need heros and we create them as we go along, real and imagined. After all there really wasn't any St George and there were no dragons--but its a hellava story of heroism and inspired many a kid and adult for centuries. I think its sad when we go too far and destroy the myths and legends, rather than let them exist with the full knowlege we know them to by legends--and that's there's nothing wrong with it----Disney is the stuff of legends from Pocahontas to Davy Crockett. Hollwood weaves great tales--that's what they're there for.

(By the way, it's the stuff of legends when Jack Valenti dies one day and the very next day, his  publishers released his autobiography. It's on the bookshelves already. What timing, what exquisite timing!!! Only General Grant matched it).
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #224 on: May 22, 2007, 08:34:07 PM »

Bob...wish I could join the conversation, but unfortunately, I haven't read the book.  Great group here though, and I hope I will be able to take part in a future discussion.
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