Spread the word

It is a civic duty to inform your friends about this blog.  Why?  Because the odds are they don’t know much about the Revolutionary War era.

The American Revolution Center commissioned the first national survey to assess adult knowledge of the American Revolution. The results show that an alarming 83 percent of Americans failed a basic test on knowledge of the American Revolution and the principles that have united all Americans. Results also revealed that 90 percent of Americans think that knowledge of the American Revolution and its principles is very important, and that 89 percent of Americans expected to pass a test on basic knowledge of the American Revolution, but scored an average of 44 percent. The survey questions addressed issues related to the Revolutionary documents, people, and events, and also asked attitudinal questions about the respondents’ perception of the importance of understanding the Revolutionary history and the institutions that were established to preserve our freedoms and liberties. The survey results highlight the importance of, interest in, and lack of understanding of our Founding.

You can find a report on the survey here.  The list of questions are contained in the body of the report.  While a few of the questions were a bit tricky, and required knowledge that probably extended past what you should learn in grammar school, it wasn’t exactly brain surgery.  Only 11 percent knew that John Jay was the first Supreme Court Chief Justice, and somehow 1/3 of respondents couldn’t identify which decade the revolutionary war started. Yeesh.

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 1:55 pm  Comments Off on Spread the word  

Shelby Foote

“I am a Mississippian. Though the veterans I knew are all dead now, down to the final home guard drummer boy of my childhood, the remembrance of them is still with me. However, being nearly as far removed from them in time as most of them were removed from combat when they died. I hope I have recovered the respect they had for their opponents until Reconstruction lessened and finally killed it. Biased is the last thing I would be; I yield to no one in my admiration for heroism and ability, no matter which side of the line a man was born or fought on when the war broke out, fourscore and seventeen years ago. If pride in the resistance of my forebears made against the odds has leaned me to any degree in their direction, I hope it will be seen to amount to no more, in the end, than the average American’s normal sympathy for the underdog in a fight.”

 

It is very rare for a great historian to also be a great novelist.  Shelby Foote was a national treasure and the country was poorer when he passed from the scene in 2005.  To truly understand America I think it is very important to have a firm grasp of our Civil War.  Foote, with his magisterial three volume epic,  did all Americans a service by giving us a readable and comprehensive study of that vast conflict.  He spent 20 years of his life doing it, and the care with which he crafted each page shines through.

The Civil War, there’s a great compromise, as it’s called. It consists of Southerners admitting freely that it’s probably best that the Union wasn’t divided, and the North admits rather freely that the South fought bravely for a cause in which it believed. That is a great compromise and we live with that and that works for us. We are now able to look at the war with some coolness, which we couldn’t do before now, and, incidentally, I very much doubt whether a history such as mine could have been written much before 100 years had elapsed. It took all that time for things to cool down.

 

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 6:32 am  Comments (4)  
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