Why be a traitor?

So maybe I’ve walked or driven over the location of the house where Benedict Arnold owned in New Haven, CT. Maybe I did the same of the house where he lived before New Haven. Why would people mark the location of a house of a man who is the most vilified of the American Revolution?

Why did Benedict Arnold become a traitor? History tends to gloss over this question. I had a client who was telling me about learning about Arnold in class. After they told me what he had been learning, I asked if they had discussed Arnold living in New Haven and what he did for the Continental Army before his betrayal?

Guess what answer I got?

Betrayal doesn’t happen overnight. Keep that in mind.

Read The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold by Joyce Lee Malcolm.

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Thomas Hickey

Have you ever heard this name before? I hadn’t until a few days ago.

Perhaps because, unlike John Wilkes Booth, his plan (or was it?) didn’t succeed to kill George Washington.

The plot Hickey was involved in happened even before the Declaration of Independence was written. There were many others who were involved, some of whom were Washington’s own Life Guards, yet Hickey has the notoriety of being the person hung in the first public execution for treason against America.

Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch walk through the timeline of the plot to assinate George Washington step-by-step in their book The First Conspiracy.

What history has recorded and left behind, Hickey was the fall guy, the example. Washington made the call for a swift execution and Hickey was the most named and thereby became the example.

I know I’ve walked near, or maybe on, the spot where Hickey was executed. So have millions of others. Another piece of American history brought to light.

Spit like a Tommy Gun

Dear Eunice Hunton Carter,

I wish I had a chance to meet you and I want to get a copy of the picture from the cover of the book your grandson, Stephen, wrote about you.

The picture of you standing and holding the floor at a Republican convention, refusing to yield, is awesome. The picture is what drew me to the book. You stand out with the white ruffled collar and as you look closer, the dignity and poise become clear. I especially love the finger pointing down, showing that either you aren’t going anywhere or are calling someone to come and speak directly to you. Again, I would have loved to witness that confrontation.

Stephen’s book really struck a chord with me in a way that few books, especially biographies, ever really have. I may not have been there on your level, I don’t foresee myself ever working for a federal prosecutor, but I can only imagine the frustration, disappointment, and criticism you received and experienced. You made your choices. I just wish that you had left more of a personal record like journals and letters. Did you have them and throw them out, burn them, or chose not to keep them? I would love to know what you thought about what happened in your life.

What you thought would be such an inspiration. For women the word “ambition” can still be a dirty word for many different reasons, even among other women . You had it and never hid it and no matter how imperfect you were, I admire that. You never stopped and I admire that as well.

You obtained a position that many would envy to have yet were left with the “women’s issues” that ironically brought down a gangster that seemed not only untouchable, but invincible. This is something not even the best script writers can come up with.

I can only begin to imagine the sense of mourning and disappointment to want so much and even after giving up so much in time, family, and energy to be passed over it. Again, the reasons for this can only be guessed at. Stephen does an awesome job framing this and working through the possible reasons and rationale behind certain decisions. Yet we will never know the real reasons.

I’ve had my share of working tirelessly for people only to be publicly humiliated and shunted aside. For me this has led to showdowns in parking lots, nasty social media exchanges, nasty phone calls, etc. The story about the tea party made me laugh as I have been in similar situations. How did you handle this? On to Plan B? I know that’s what I would do. Onwards and upwards.

By the way, I went on the Internet and saw pictures of your house on Jumel Terrace. Gorgeous.

Wherever you are, I thank you for the inspiration.

Sincerely,

Angela

Be like Eliza….

I’ve never found history boring and have found the more one learns, the more there is always to learn. (The same can be said of science and other “subjects”, or areas of learning. Yes, math is included in this.)

Last night, even with a hockey playoff game going on in the background, I finished Tilar Mazzeo’s work Eliza Hamilton.  Eliza’s life was a Shakespearean type drama and Greek tragedy rolled into one. Eliza was born into the Schuyler family of New York, who were cousins to the Rensselaer family. Does this name sound familiar? Eliza’s father, Phillip, fought in the Revolutionary War and was one of George Washington’s top generals. This is how she came to meet Alexander Hamilton.

Mazzeo divulges into Eliza’s life before and after Hamilton and how her life afterwards was always under his shadow. Mazzeo also goes into how history isn’t always what we think it is and there is always much more to each story given. Mazzeo goes deeply into the Maria Reynolds affair: did it really happen and was it a cover up for something else going on? The whitewashed history books don’t talk about people’s fiances and back door dealings that all of the Founding Fathers partook in. Mazzeo’s biography of Eliza is only the third of fourth book I’ve read that tackles this subject. The two best history teachers I had were the only ones who discussed this and Hamilton’s link to the Crash of 1792.

Eliza not only lost Alexander in a duel. Her oldest son, also Phillip, was killed in a duel shortly before Alexander was. Eliza dealt with situations and events most people could not picture today yet she survived and preserved what she wanted to preserve of Alexander’s legacy. Eliza also took her grief and made it into something positive.

Be like Eliza.

The Power of Value & Dead Scooters

I was doing a Word of the Day for a while.  I found one of the notepads recently where I jotted down my ideas about the word “value”.

Value:

Value goes beyond money.

Volunteer value.

Value vs. Worth

Worth = money?

How much do you value……?

What is the value of…….?

Love/ monetary/ friendship/ financial

I was thinking of this word after an EMS shift where my partner and myself moved a couple of hundred pound dead mobility scooter.  The person who called is a “regular” and she called for a “fall” but the “fall” was really a dead scooter.  The home health aide said they told the person not to call but the person did anyway.

We dragged that scooter across a tiny condo to the person’s bedroom using a canvas stretcher.  Then we took the person’s vitals.

The service I work with doesn’t bill for refusals.  We couldn’t help the scooter.  The scooter was blocking access to the tiny kitchen.

I guess in this case our value went beyond money.

girl eating lollipop
Photo by bruce lam on Pexels.com

Caleb’s Crossing

Even though this book is a work of fiction, Caleb’s Crossing could easily be used as a jumping off point to teach early American history, women’s studies, Native American history, colonial history, and much more.

It was fascinating to read this as I have visited both Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts and the Mashantuckut Pequot Museum in Ledyard, Connecticut.  This is one of the many parts of American history I shake my head in sorry at and feel like Western civilization trampled and nearly killed off peoples who could have helped this country on a different course.  What Geraldine Brooks writes about is a “missing” piece of American history.  I will especially never look at Harvard University the same way again.

Rinker Buck: The Oregon Trail

This is a book about memory on both personal and national levels.  I didn’t want it to end.  Someone had it on the list for a local book club and karma bought it to me a few days later.  This is the type of book that is both heartbreaking and profound at the same time.  I will hold onto this book for a long time.

Rinker Buck is a fellow resident of the State of Connecticut.  Rinker takes a journey with his brother, Nick, across the Oregon Trail during the summer of 2011.  Rinker brings in his personal life and past into the American past and through self-reading brings out the truth about America’s past and the Oregon Trail’s past.  Rinker also talks about how the past is changed and hidden away and covered over and rewritten and reinterpreted. Many parts of the Trail are literally paved over.  Other parts have been taken over and renamed and their history glossed over.  Other parts are never discussed at all in the course of the teaching of American history.  Rinker brings these memories out to the forefront.  Yet reading it, I feel that his journey barely touched the surface.

A must read.