Friday, November 30, 2007

Book Review: Duel by Thomas Fleming

Dueling - it's a concept that people have a hard time relating to these days. Yet it was a practice steeped in chivalric tradition - a tradition that still informed the Founding Fathers and their time.

Several years ago, historian Thomas J. Fleming plunged into this “affair of honor” custom - specifically, the one, which claimed the life of Alexander Hamilton. Fleming's book Duel gives the reader more than a study in the 18th century culture and ethics of dueling. In the words of Duel's dust jacket, Fleming examines the “post-revolutionary world of 1804, a chaotic and fragile time in the young country as well as a time of tremendous global instability.”

Follow this link for a review of Duel.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Washington the Warrior

This is an outstanding History Channel documentary on George Washington as military leader and "action hero." If you haven't seen it, order the

USA & France: Friends or Allies of Convenience?

The United States appears now to be reaffirming its friendship with France. Much of that is due to France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

The history of America's relationship with France has been one ranging from deep affection and enthusiastic camaredie to simmering hostility. Kind of like a family relationship? :-)

In a column posted on the History News Network, author and historian Thomas Fleming argues that the United States and France should be seen as longtime friends and allies. As Fleming points out, the main reason for some of the hatred of President Washington was Washington's refusal to openly support France against Great Britain.


An interesting article from Wikipedia shows that relations between France and the United States have NOT always been as strong as Fleming implies.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Barry Bostwick on "American Treasury"

Does anyone remember these "American Treasury" spots?

Better yet...who remembers Barry Bostwick playing George Washington in the CBS television miniseries?

National Treasure - Get it on DVD

Before National Treasure: Book of Secrets comes out in December, be sure to see the FIRST one! It should be available at your local video store. While I can't say it is a fully accurate history lesson of our founding era :), I can say that it's a LOT of fun!

Here is the trailer...

Click on this link to see the trailer for Book of Secrets.

And then here's a review of the film I wrote some time ago. Have fun!

American Revolution Blog Nominated!

Ladies and gentlemen,

The American Revolution Blog has been nominated as the Best New History Blog for the History News Network. Congratulations to the founders and writers for that great blog. If you haven't visited the American Revolution Blog, you're missing out.

Of course, don't forget about this blog here. I'd like to think it's worthwhile too. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving from George Washington

Happy Thanksgiving from the Father of our Country! Take some time to read George Washington's original Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.

And, of course, don't forget to eat plenty of turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Is the United States a "Christian Nation"?

Republican presidential candidate John McCain recently caused stirs when he described the United States as a "Christian nation." McCain was quoted as saying that "that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation."

This was either a slip of the tongue, an example of reckless pandering, or an embarrassing mistake for a presidential candidate to make. Why? Because the word "Christian" appears nowhere in the United States Constitution. In fact, the Constitution very pointedly establishes the federal government as a secular institution.

Now, don't get me wrong! I actually agree with the rest of what Senator McCain had to say, especially the part about the United States of America being a "nation founded on Christian principles." On that point, McCain was absolutely correct.

That the United States was founded by men who largely identified themselves with Christianity is beyond dispute (though fellow blogger Jonathan Rowe disagrees). The overwhelming majority of the nation's founders expressed, to one degree or another, agreement with the basic teachings of Protestant Christianity.

Whether the men we know as the Founding Fathers were actually Christian comes down to what we mean by the term "Christian."

However one defines the term, it is fairly clear that most of the Founders thought of themselves as Christian.

Another assumption made about the founding era - typically from those left of center or libertarian in their political thinking - is that the Founders endorsed complete secularism in matters of morality and public policy. The truth is that the Founders preferred state and local governments to get involved in those matters, and wanted the federal government to assume a minimal role.

Court rulings, congressional legislation, and cultural changes over the decades have, however, shifted the focus of policy-making from the state and local level gradually up to the national level. It is therefore not a stretch to assume that, if the Founders had witnessed this shift, they would have expected the federal government to encourage public virtue and morality. In fact, one needn't even make this "stretch," since the national Congress (during and after the Revolution) had no problem issuing calls for prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving as well as funding the printing of Bibles, the appointment of chaplains, and so forth.

The idea that the Founding Fathers wanted a purely secular society is simply wrong.

For more reading on the subject of religion, Christianity, and the Founders, I recommend the following articles...

"We Hold These Truths: The Founders' Rejection of Postmodern Relativism"

"The Role of Religion in US Politics"

Monday, November 05, 2007

Evaluating Thomas Paine

Roger Saunders has written a worthy piece on Thomas Paine, which can be found over at Suite101 Colonial America. Saunders makes the case that Paine, despite the controversy of his post-Revolution years, nevertheless played a critical role in the founding of the United States.

The controversies dogging Paine can basically be summed up as follows:

1. Thomas Paine was always better at tearing things apart, than he was at building things up. John Adams was known to have made this comment about Mr. Paine - and he was right.

2. Paine's association with the radical and bloody French Revolution

3. Paine turned against George Washington, and...

4. Paine attacked God (at least in the minds of many) when he blistered the Bible and wrote The Age of Reason

Think about it....Thomas Paine went after God AND George Washington. That takes either guts or stupidity. In Paine's case, it brought him intense notoriety that forever marred his legacy.

George Washington: Animated Hero Classics