tv American Revolution Misconceptions CSPAN July 3, 2021 10:55pm-12:01am EDT
implement the law under my constitutional obligation to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. >> follow us on social media @ c-span history for more this day in history clips and posts. the office of historic alexandria, in partnership with the emerging revolutionary war, hosted a symposium on the war. next, four symposium presenters take part in a discussion and answer audience questions about misconceptions about the american revolution. the office of historic alexandria provided the video. >> since this is about misconceptions, or the hindsight of 2020 and 2021, i will throw this to the panel. what is one misconception, either that was not covered, or
was covered by a different panelist in the general topics? for instance, vanessa covered southern campaigns, what is one misconception she missed picking on my fellow park ranger, there. >> i missed none. i'm going to say that. >> i will talk about one huge misconception. the fact the war ended after yorktown. there are so many people that think that. especially in south carolina and georgia. it was the same in the north, but it was really a hotbed in a relatively small, confined area in south carolina. then in georgia before savannah. that is a big thing right there. i find the south carolina and your chopper in really interesting.
i know enough about them to be interested, not enough -- not of anything to learn, i want to go over the terrain. >> as a moderator, i probably should not jump in, but i'm excited, because there were recent archaeological findings for the complete reaver that were -- john lawrence was killed late in the war. unfortunately, i think it is still on private property, but it would be cool to see that location, as well. one o the tragicf deaths -- one of the tragic deaths of the american revolution. >> that is why i like the deposition. he mentions being discharged just before, right after lawrence was killed. so yes, it is a shout out to john lawrence, even though he can't hear it.
>> i would say another misconception, i think travis talked a little bit about it. just how not defined the lines of patriot and loyalist were. i talk a little bit about it with john, as far as trying to tease out which side people were on, but here is a good percentage of people who the war that were either trying to play both sides, or looking out for themselves or their families, which i think anybody can admit -- it is easy to hold up those who put country or service ahead of their own individual beliefs. but i think there is a large percentage of people trying to get by and survive in this war any way they could.
it is not always the most heroic or ennobling stories, but it is the truth for many people they were trying to do. just get by, and it was siding with patriots, it is that, if it is loyalists, it is that. both at different times, that as well. it is something, we tend to think of it the blue coated americans versus the red coated british. it was not that simple through the war. >> todd did some nice work on the number of men who changed sides. captured by the british or the loyalists, so they didn't have to stay in prison, they changed sides. some of them deserted, and some stayed in those units and went over to the west indies. some of them applied for pensions after the war from the federal
so-the- it was definitely not a cut and dried black and white war. it was really complicated. >> yeah. and some of the research i'm doing after the charleston, revolution, and this is the case in new york, too, where -- they were putting a lot of the american prisoners in. and yeah, the british in charleston were actively trying to recruit from these prisoner populations and you had to go fight in the west indies. and it must have seemed like a way out for a lot of guys to get off of what would have been the most horrible conditions of the british prison ships. and that's where, you know, when you talk about things that are ennobling or putting your country ahead, the fact that so many guys refused to do that, you know, is amazing to me that somebody would have an out of getting out of starving to death or dying of malnutrition or
disease on a prison ship but refused to do that and instead, you know, stick it out, you know, and sometimes pay with their life. what motivates somebody to take that stand is pretty amazing to think about. >> i actually just read a nice article by larry babbitts on the deserters -- not deserters but the guys who would turncoat and decided to join the british legion. and whether they had an effect on cowpens. and that's -- there's still so much to be written about this period which makes it a great -- a great -- i think still an open period for a lot of historians. and that's why i think it's so fun. >> definitely second bet, john. a whole lot, a whole lot to study and a whole lot to write and a whole -- and i appreciate that you mentioning about some archeological stuff that's been found because that's continual
and ongoing. and we can always learn more. and i think that's something that's going to be fun to explore as more and more people start paying attention relating to the 250th coming up or happening and you'll have people wanting to know this, this and more information. so we've got our work cut out for us. >> something you said, vanessa, about i actually teach. and i don't take any offense at what you said earlier. so -- >> ok, good. [laughter] >> how to follow up on that, why there's so much conceptions. and being in the teaching world, at the high school level, they're not being taught revolution -- at least -- i can only speak for pennsylvania and i don't know if that's true countrywide. but they're not taught early american history in high school. they don't get it. we start in 1920 in high school. and so why is that a problem? because in theory they should be getting it in middle school but they're not. because basically until they get to high school, nobody is forced to actually learn anything.
so we have kids coming in the high school that don't have basic skills let alone the base knowledge they should be coming in with because they're socially promoted until they get to ninth grade. so even though they're technically being taught early american history in eighth grade in pennsylvania, they're not actually learning it or remembering any of it and then they come to high school, they're not taught it. so getting your point where we're producing high school graduate that don't know the america' founding there's the reason. >> in south carolina it's fourth grade when they learn about basically a lot of the -- almost did. and i think you're right that we're -- we're trying to teach them some of the stuff slightly under age but really it should be in high school when we start to dive into some of the universal meanings behind the american revolution. sheen, if you boil it down to its most simplest terms, most fourth graders, most sixth graders, they're getting some of it. but once you hit high school and
you start to have more of that -- want to go life experience or you start to have a better understanding of the world around you, just because at that age, and the way your brain has started to develop, that's the time to really instill some of these life lessons that you can learn from our american history. and so it's -- it's unfortunate that we don't have that kind of more in depth curriculum. i get that they're learning about a lot of world history at least from my experience with studying any sort of high school curriculum. and thank you, mike, for being a wonderful teacher despite your limited resources. but yeah. that's -- i get that they're trying to understand things at the global level but we miss a lot of opportunity for them to really take to heart some of what we can learn from the american revolution. and you're right. we're having adult -- i mean,
the most -- the best math class i ever took was in college and it was the "dumb" math class because i hate math even though i took like calculus in high school. i don't know how i passed was when i basically learned how to balance a checkbook because i took the dumb math class and how to apply for a loan. so though are life skills. well, think of the life skills that we can learn from history that we're not teaching kids before they leave the regular school system. >> and history -- because you're right about the standardized test issue because we're not a tested subject, we get pushed aside. and then they don't care if kids pass that class because we're not important. >> yeah. yeah. and i don't want to say -- i have friends that teach in other districts. it's across the board. it's happening. >> and also not a new problem. i remember 20 years ago when i was in high school, growing up here in northern virginia, near
alexandria, you know, one of my first exposure to the history of the revolutionary war and georgetown was going to mount vernon, learning about the history at the actual places where the history happened and waiting in school, you know, excitedly to finally get to the revolution and in high school we actually did learn about the revolution and it was all of -- you know, a half-hour class and it was more about the causes and more about the effects and it was like oh, yeah, and there was a battle at lexington and yorktown. but if you want to learn more about that, you can read on your own or whatever. and it was like i've been waiting all the time to actually be able to talk about this in class. and it was -- it was blown over and just a couple of sentences. and that's where -- you know, personally, that's where i think like the places, being able to go to gadz by's tavern and prandy -- brandywine battlefield and the places where the actual history happened is great because -- because you actually go there and learn from the site and from people who are as
knowledgeable about the importance of these places and that history that oftentimes is kind of blown through in school or classrooms that, and teachers have all sorts of competing interests in, you know, lots of different subject matter, lots of different things. technology. >> i'll tell you, i think in -- in light of the time constraints and curriculum constraints and all that stuff, i think the best thing that a history teacher can do or an english teacher or whatever history but history teacher is what we're talking about right now is to ignite an interest in a lot of kids, a couple of kids, you know, one kid, that's -- if you can do that, then -- and it means they go on and look at stuff on their own that's phenomenal. i think at its best history again, this is the best of all possible worlds, history,'only
give you an idea of our history or world history but like in america, we'll make you familiar with the founding documents. make you familiar with our government. and also like -- like english class, or literature class, should teach you empathy. because, you know, when you get into the first person documents, and you see what people have experienced on a personal level, which is a way to build -- which is the way to build an understanding of like a larger event, that's where you're going to get empathy from. and that's where you get from literature and all that. and that's -- that's a huge thing for understanding history right there. >> so i know i'm supposed to just be the moderator but i'm going to interject here. a unique experience. i graduated from a high school on a military base in northern new england and a department of defense school. from there it was actually interesting because our history in civics classes were a little more attuned with what was
happening -- i graduated in the early 2000's so right after 9-11. i was on a military school for bosnia-herzegovina. so like we actually -- our teachers tried to tune it into what was actually happening with the military and the history as well. so it was kind of interesting to see the lines on maps that we talk about and how the routes they made it through to yorktown and so forth and having someone talk about how they used that in military practice and theories and so forth on the frontline. and actually having -- i thought it was so cool being in the fifth grade when someone's father came in dressed in his battle dress uniform or something and he talked about how they're studying the same thing we were doing and so forth. so that's -- that's probably why i got caught up in history. so you can blame that department of defense schools and everything for my -- but i do have -- want to get to this question because i think it will be great for the panelists. so it came in from one of our
attendees and probably most americans' picture of the rev war at 250 will be some yet to be produced film or tv series. what would you pitch as the perfect story to tell americans on film about the rev war at 250 fiction or non-fiction? and he finishes his question with saying, like a saving private ryan of 1781? so you have to pick one, you're going to pitch it to spielberg. what's it going to be? >> that's easy. the ever mountain men, they gather and march toward the battle of king's mountain because totally the -- what i was talking about before in my presentation that kind of grassroots idea of, you know, you got to protect your home and country, literally, because you get this threat from ferguson saying if you don't fall in line, i'm going to basically destroy your farms and kell all your family and just completely destroy you. and these mountain men, these frontier men, these back country men were like i don't think so.
and they marched over 300 miles to find ferguson and well, we know how that ended. >> before we move on, vanessa, isn't that pretty much the patriot right there? like -- >> my god, i knew mention being the patriot earlier was going to come back to haunt me. it's a work -- ok. so i have a lot to say about hollywood and historical films. it all started when i first saw the santa fe trail about john brown's raid on harper's ferry and what a disaster. it is so amazing that hollywood tries to do -- i want to get off my soap books soon i promise but so amazing hollywood tries to turn history into this fanatical fantasy world when the actual history is just as crazy and exciting and thrilling and adventurous and sad and -- thrilling as what hollywood wants to make it.
so they need a proper telling of that story. and tell the story of the individuals that participated in that. and not fictionalize it. >> i do feel like some of the mountain men would have had facial hair like me. by the time they marched. >> definitely. >> me or michael right here. so -- >> but the thing with facial hair is if they did have it, it would have been -- wouldn't have been cultivated. >> yes. >> wouldn't have been nicely cultivated. and it would have been -- and eventually they would have shaved at some point. but yeah. >> i appreciate john, you they this is cultivated so i do appreciate that. [laughter] >> vanessa, i'm biased toward my own campaign. those were -- i'm working on a theu book to cover the river war with fort mercer and fort mifflin. and i think the seeds of fort mef lynn and what those guys went through would be -- i think you got to tell the story from the average soldier. and almost like a band of
brothers but you create a rev war version of that. and the stories of that siege and what those guys went through and that swamp -- it wasn't an island. it was a swamp. you know, accounts and fresh officer -- not the foray -- >> deflor. i'm pretty sure. >> his description of the fighting on that island, i think that would make -- even if it was just a one-hour documentary i think it would make a compelling story. >> and then you have the explosion of the augusta and then you have the battle of redbank so that's leak through the roof. >> that's what i'm currently working on. the mile from fort mercer, john. >> that's -- >> fort mercer and back to the high school, cross country. it's awesome. >> that's awesome. i'm actually going to give a shoutout to my northern compatriots because only within the past like 10 years really
that i've really learned about the day of lexington and concord. it's not just the battles of lexington and concord but the day. and how people evacuated their houses. you had women and children and old people and pregnant women and leaving their houses and going out in the country side. you have the -- you have the concord minutemen with some other join-ins standing on a hill past concord bridge watching the british march past them. not firing on them. they marched past them to go to another house to look for artillery. and it wasn't until the british came back and on the other side of the bridge that the firing finally took place. you know, so there was a question about whether they actually wanted to fire on the british. and then -- and toward the end of the battle you have these horrible -- horrible, bloody incidents closer into boston where the british -- the british were massacring people that they cornered. and if people saw that they
would be horrified. if they saw the true story of that entire day, not only would they -- were they exhausting but they would be horrified. and that's an event that everybody thinks they know everything about. but -- there's so much that's not known about it. and that's just a small microcosm of the entire war. there's just so much -- you can bring in experiences of women, women with the army, women at home trying to keep things together, blacks who joined lord dunn more. you could have -- you could have the story of colonel titus in -- and ternl tye in new jersey who basically commanded an integrated group of whites and blacks, loyalists. so there's so many really cool stories. and we could never trust anybody to do it justice because they would mess it up somehow. >> someone did say that you have ken burns do it, we're good. so there it is. it's in the chat right now.
ken burns does it. >> well, hey, i like what you say, john, about like having people see something that they don't -- i think that people view the american revolution as idealized in like a painting like washington crossing the delaware and don't view it really as messy, bloody, difficult as it actually was. that's actually one of the things i actually do like about the pea trot it focuses on this military conflict. you watch a lot of things and the focus is on the causes, the ideals, the formation of our government and our country which is all important and -- but there was a war that had to happen in order for all that to happen. and being able to show that, really do like the idea of beine miniseries to try and show this. i think a great unit to follow through would be the third virginia regiment which saw action in new york, trenton, princeton, brandywine,
germantown was at valley forge, does the -- the march down to charleston. and probably ends like braveheart where, you know, these guys all get captured or whatever. >> have you been talking to jim taub? [laughter] >> i've been talking to -- this idea. and some hollywood execs. >> i think any 250th film i would love to -- and i'm sure there will be some. but i would also love to get that -- that dynamic of kind of harking back to travis' presentation of like that kind of where loyalties lie and how you figure that out. i think there's a lot that can be said, you know. we automatically are like oh, yeah, the brer, they were the bad guys and we won and that's fine. but there's so much more to it than that. and that would be really interesting to explore, do a deep dive into a band of brothers type series. because you could really explore
that. >> yeah, yeah. and i was going to say early on i read -- i got into reading kenneth roberts, rebel in arms, ar -- and stumbled on his book of oliver wiswell about a loyalist. what a great book. he takes -- he takes him from boston all the way down to the carolinas. and you get -- you get a view for being written in the 1930's or 1940's still a great book. and he gives you a whole view -- the whole loyalist side and brings it down to a human level. and that's the kind of stuff that -- yeah, that's really amazing. >> i'm going to interject here because i think it would be awesome to do a social network of the 1775-76 -- after lexington and concord and pass this memg -- message down from the carolinas by april 28. everyone remembers plain as a kid the game of telephone in the classroom. by the time you got around 12
kids the story is distorted. so it's amazing that this story passed down the eastern seaboard and it actually still had a semblance of truth. so i think it would be cool to have the mark zuckerberg of the 18th century and do the social network. the correspondence. so -- >> and have the comedy version where it ends up at the end and all screwed up. >> the poor people in georgia going what's going on? so we have this from billy coming in. washington is not known for being a tactical genius. and in your opinion, who was the best battlefield commander in the american army? >> wow. i got to think about that. >> mark, you're excused since you're a george washington phanatic. -- fanatic. i'll go first and say this. that washington, wheel yes, tactically he made some mistakes as i mentioned in my talk
earlier, his battlefield composure, inspired his men and helped lead to some of the victories that were important. and just also meld it into our last discussion, too. there really does need to be a good biopic on washington. although i will say i think david morris' portrayal of washington and john adams is superb. and i think those -- the best version, i think, jeff daniels says -- an all right job in the crossing. but nobody beats david morris. >> and all portray him too old. >> that's what rob says. he's too old, yes. he looks old. but he gets the composure, the reserve, the dignity. he nailed it with that. >> rob is sitting off camera here right now just -- shrugging his shoulders and i'm not even on the panel -- yeah, name dropped. >> maybe daniel morgan. >> that's who i was going to say. the big leagues.
>> even if it's just beafd on cowpens, with a really tiny force at the end of his tether, and basically his tactics inspired green's at guilford courthouse where they basically, you know, beat the crap out -- they lost the battle but they decimated the british ranks. so yeah. i mean -- >> that's what i was going to say. that's who i was going to say. you got this gruff kind of soldier who's leading and inspiring the soldiers. but he's also taking advantage of as much information as he's got. and using it. and the way he's able to -- i just really love the fact that he took what -- was a misconception about militia and used it to his advantage at cowpens successfully. and it's kind of like -- i mean, how -- how can you not like
daniel morgan? he was going to be who i would have said. >> but to defend -- to defend washington, before he became a real bureaucrat, with the onset of 1977 and especially 1778 he was a bureaucrat before that. but at the battles of trenton and princeton he would let loose and he didn't have as many responsibilities. it was basically do or die. and so his tactical -- just in those two battles his tactical -- you know, verve right there was -- was probably enough to keep him up top. and like i said, i think after that, his responsibility just really overwhelmed him. and he would -- try to keep an army together and try to direct all the division commanders and -- but i think at trenton and princeton he was able to let loose and become a -- basically a small unit commander to a certain extent. and -- during the war.
>> i'm racking my brain trying to run through everybody that i worked with like in terms of research. and because i focus so much on the 1777 campaign suspect has a bunch of lackluster people under him, man. >> in answer, billy was looking for, is that what brian threw up in the -- in the chat and that's benedict arnold being the best battlefield commander in the sense of -- i think that's on his -- the boot monument that's up there at saratoga saying that he is the most brilliant of the american commanders. and brian mentions, yeah, he won on land and at sea at valker island and was known as a particularly -- you know, enabling general. but yeah. i think -- everybody's view of him as being obviously tarnished by his ultimate treason. but yeah, tactically speaking, i
mean, yeah, and any argument could be made that arnold was one of the best tactical commanders on the american side. but yeah. as michael said, he doesn't have much competition. >> all right. so here's another question. now that billy is not allowed to ask any more questions, so he's already been disqualified, in the background of most of our screens here are multiple volumes of books. do we have a question that came in that said what is your pre-2000 or non-modern favorite book on the american revolution? and it can't be the merchant rev war series or ones that have been published -- or other publishers like they were good soldiers. >> mine is -- mine is charles royster's revolutionary people at war. i mean, admittedly the continental army is my focus.
even though i do branching out a little bit. but that's -- that's a magnificent book. it really is. and it will real open your eyes as far as motivation and, you know, brings it down to a personal level. i mean, there are others. but that's -- for me that stands at the top. >> a journal or diary in some way had published? >> sure. >> johan awall's diary. >> that's another one. >> that's a great one. >> officer -- >> i'll peggyback off mike and say joseph plumb martin. that's what i was thinking i don't know how much of his information is 100%. but it really summers you in the experience, i think -- immerses you in experience, i think. >> another one that's not a diary or journal but the series of books that philip frenal published for the buy single. -- bicentennial.
a few which are really simplified and they're ok but there are some brandywine, long island, saratoga, they're phenomenal. and then some of the other really off the wall books. they're so good. >> trying to look across the room at my rev war books. >> and in early 2000 or pre-2000's but derrick beck's series on igniting the american revolution is -- and i don't know if you've had the chance to read. a two-volume series basically on the prelude into the american revolution. and igniting and i'm trying to bring up the other title because it's missing the war before independence. >> that's cool. >> two-volume series and almost read like fiction. and realize that you get to the footnotes or the end notes at the end of the book and oh, it's done. those -- the type of books. >> what's the author's name? >> derrick beck. >> daryk beck. >> great guy. the work for independence. bringing it up to 1776. because the questions -- that's always baffled me is obviously
that oh, well, we just started a war. how did they become patriots and so forth? spending years at george washington's berth place national monument, and from british provincial officer to suddenly leading the american revolution. and what was that -- everyone wants that one moment where they switch. but it's not really that one moment that it switches. but -- so yeah. so i know i'm struggling assed moderator because i have to intersect because i'm a history guy. but mark, besides victory or death, what is the one book? >> pre-2000, i would say -- one of the best i think is douglas freeman's washington biography. and i think that because of how he takes it, as far as from washington's point of view what information he is gathering at the time. you know, it's a great campaign study from his point of view. and the other one i would say is devil of the whipping. about the battle of cowpens.
because babbitts takes it not only the -- you know, the accounts of the people who fought in the battle but also using archeology and experiment -- re-enactors and sprmtal archeology to judge this, and stuff like that and trying to, you know, on the landscape, you know, being able to interpret that battle. i just think -- by taking all these different aspects it really brings it to life. and so yeah. i would argue that's one. >> so without -- we have someone that's asking, is anyone currently working on a new biography of daniel morgan? do you think he need a new biography out there? he's been talked about a little bit. so no, i'm sorry, whoever asked that question. nobody in this panel is currently working on a daniel morgan biography. >> claire wrote something about him. not too long ago. it was pretty good.
>> i was going to say, i will work -- because mike was talking about haize necessary's regiment. holly mare did a book in the 1990's, belonging to the army and wrote a book on haizen's regiment and everything from holly and what i've heard of it sounds like it's really good. so that's -- that's a -- you are getting more unit stud he is out of the revolution -- studies out of the revolution. euft to be a civil war thing but now getting more unit studies. >> also -- i'm and a question for blaine but i'm going to add to it. he said a future symposium topic could be the race to dan river after the battle of cowpens. we've seen a lot of southern literature on this southern gambit, or to the ends of the earth, or -- to the ends of the world. why do you think historians are focusing on this -- on this race to the dan?
>> probably because green -- he was a masterful -- not a tactician but an operational commander. i mean, he -- he was amazing for what he did in the south. basically leading corn wallis on a long run and let him basically just -- you know, take his army on the rocks in the carolinas even though the army survived. i mean, he ran one hell of a good race. and kept his army intact. which is what washington did on a larger scale. plus in the carolinas, not easy. as cornwallis found out but as the american commanders as green found out, that's a huge -- the fact that he was quartermaster for a period, valley forge winner and afterward, that was a huge, huge part of what enabled him to do that campaign so successfully really. so yeah, it's a fascinating -- it's a if as neath campaign.
and the -- a fascinating campaign. and the fact that it was done with a minimum of bang-bang shoot-em-ups. there was a lot of maneuvering. so yeah, i would second that. >> i think it's good for any, you know, focus on the southern campaigns during the revolution because i think, you know, until again, as much as you hate it "the patriot" i feel like there really wasn't -- there's not much focus on how important these battles were. and obviously you have the american civil war that most of the population, some sort of emotional or intellectual attachment to. and then -- but the revolution played an important role that like it's often overlooked. so i think that it's great that, you know, as we start hearing the 250th, i hope that there's more interest in encouragement
in researching, learning more about the southern campaign of the revolution because they are -- yeah, pretty significant and yeah, so i think it's great, you know, if it's green's march to the dan or guilford courthouse or cowpens or charleston or any of these things i think it's great. so keep -- >> green and morgan. best partnership, strategic and tactical. is there a better partnership than those two gentlemen in the american revolution? >> washington and knox. >> there we go. yeah. >> oh! >> yeah. >> from plate 1957 to 1776 onward, right. >> the only thing that kills me is after the revolution, in -- when washington is president, os
presidency, they're in the quasiwar, washington puts hamilton to lead the army in front of knox. i think really hurt knox's feelings. but i think they've always been. >> knox, after what happened to germantown? >> everybody has -- everybody has a failing now and again. >> a really bad day. >> and actually how knox died, someone goes what happened to germantown? that's when he choked on that chicken bone. ian: he had a hiccup there. >> it's unmilitary to leave a captain in your rear. >> you're going to get me fired up. >> do we need a therapy session on henry knox at germantown, so
michael can get it out of his system here? so -- >> going have to be electroshock, i think. >> like telling me that -- >> somebody else i did one of these other -- i forget, a roundtable and somebody was trying to say that sullivan was to blame for our arm's problems throughout the war. >> poor guy. >> wow. >> the french may agree with you. but -- and newport there. >> talk about a scapegoat there. >> i mean, so all right. let's test your -- expertise as historians here. we've talked a lot about myths and misconceptions of the war. most of them have been on the military side of things. outside of the military sphere, is there a myth or misconception that the general populace has become ingrained with that you would like to reverse? we'll start right now and we're going to bust a trend. so a meth outside the military
of the american revolution. >> i think the most basic one would be that all the colonist supported the war -- colonist supported the war effort. we hit on that with the loyalist discussion but i think there is a misconception from average americans that everybody was for independence. >> and i agree with that, yeah. >> that's mine. >> mike's claiming it. >> i'm claiming one. >> so i'm going to reverse. i'll throw this out there. that -- i mean, as it becomes a more world war with france and spain and everything going on, we have this misconception that we are the 13 colonies had the most important colonies in the british empire. but you actually notice that the british, they -- philadelphia, where do troops go? they go to the caribbean or west indies and go to the florida and so forth. because they are vastly more
important. and a few years ago the b.c. time, before covid, i was able to go to barbados and the whole island has tunnels dug under where they could bring infantry and calvary. a guy could go into the tunnels of barbados and go across the island and come out to the other side. that's how important barbados was to the british. a misconception when the american colonies revolt the biggest issue in the british empire. and i think we get that because obviously we are all americans and so we think we're kind of a big deal as they say the kids say today. but thoag it out there. -- throwing it out there. >> to piggyback off that, bill, you know, i think we all could think that when we did win our independence, that we would thet was out there, you know, and what was -- the reality was that they signed a treaty and then every european country would --
like a bunch of vultures standing around the colonies waiting to pick these people off because they didn't think that we would be able to stand as our own country. and i think that's why it's so important when you follow early american history up through and past the war of 1812 until we actually, you know, make ourselves a player on the world sphere. you mentioned ewald's diary. ewald and his guys are up in canada basically waiting for this experiment in american liberty to collapse. and then you have these colonies there up for the pickings. and so i think we tend to think of ourselves as we -- you know, it's all happened, washington crosses the delaware, we won yorktown, we became a country, we signed the constitution, and we became the world power. and it really didn't play out that way. and there's all these kinds of constant -- the whole idea of this being an experiment is -- it couldn't be more true. that's a perfect word for it.
and up until this very day, we're still experimenting this whole idea of -- some would argue the revolution that really hasn't even stopped. and we constantly are redefining ourselves and how this whole idea of self-government, you know, is tested during the civil war and constantly being tested. and so it's interesting to view ourselves not as a world power of that started in 1776 but really something that evolved from, you know, independent states that dlaryd their independence and fought this bloody war and continued to make it work over the years. >> well, england had the english channel and a navy and we were -- we were lucky enough to have the atlantic ocean and no navy. otherwise we might not have -- might not have survived. >> someone actually put in the chat, a great comment which -- by elaine the new declaration
that the -- that the declaration of independence was signed on july 4. and it was actually a month later than most i think -- august 2 or august 4, i think a lot of the folks come in to sign it. getting some. dates mixed up. thrown out as a imagine r major misconception. >> and to peggyback on that, that it was one thing and that was it. like ok. declaration of independence and now we're off and running and really this big buildup and wasn't one single r single thing and let's geh back together and make this decision. you have two continental congresses that happen. and they're having these conversations and trying to figure out if this is the right thing to do. and it's not just one time they all got into a room and signed this declaration. done. that it was really complicated and it ties into some of those thoughts and ideas that we've been talking about with some of
the people who were experiencing this history where it's like which side do you pick? do you pick the comfort of british rule where, you know, you're protected and you got troops that are going to be able to -- or british troops that can help protect you against native american attacks? or do you -- you know, rebel against the only government you've known. and it's -- it's so complicated. and so complex. and it builds to yes, july 4, independence, whatever. but there's so much more even after that before we can really get to the heart of ok, here, we're doing this. >> when you figure the -- after the declaration was signed, it looked all over. it looked like it was -- halves going to be the end right there. i mean, and then later on, you had the economy was horrible. it was -- the -- there was rampant inflation and they were having a hard time feeding the
army and keeping it together. and waves during the war it really did. and again, a lot of people just don't realize that. they really don't realize that at all. what a near thing it was for a number of times. >> our first september 11, september of 1776, john adams and ben franklin are meeting with the hal brothers to discuss the peace commission, the peace commission. you know, that's only a few months after they signed the declaration. >> yeah. yeah. >> yeah. i think a good word is the fragility of the whole thing. i think -- yeah, people don't realize how fragile everything was and that it was all -- yeah, it could have all gone away. and anytime -- numerous points throughout the war. so pretty amazing that it did fall into place the way it did. >> and we got a little over 10 minutes left. i want to throw a hand grenade
into this. >> knox, henry knox? >> beside henry knox. one of the -- and we are dealing with a pandemic and inoculations and vaccinations and washington introduces inoculation or -- to the continental army. so with that being said, besides the smallpox inoculation, what is one thing on the periphery that actually let me go back to that. let me ask -- is that a good idea? what do you view on the view of smallpox, the epidemic, the belief that smallpox would have been a major player if washington does not inoculate, is that a myth, is that blown out of proportion? because you hear a lot about all these -- this virus being so magnified. so is that just 21st century reading and later on after the war you have the whole fever
epidemic and hear about two big viruses. are they blown out of proportion? or are they pretty accurate on how detrimental they could have been if they didn't do such vast efforts like inoculation? >> it would have decimated the army. i mean, you look at what it did to the northern army right after the retreat out of canada. i mean, it even killed -- i forget his name. but it was john -- >> thomas. >> john thomas. even killed john thomas. but on the islands up in st. lawrence, they -- i think it was cirel, basically there was a smallpox camp in the middle of the island and full of bodies and diseased people. the fact that -- the fact that he began in spring of 1777 and early winter of 1777 with the smallpox camps, i think -- i think that made a huge difference. just after yorktown this huge
victory at yorktown and then i think -- i think john howe's diary a lot of other accounts, the army was being decimated by some by smallpox. but also i think by other diseases. i think it was tvus and or things as they headed north from yorktown, to head back to the northern states, they were being dropped off at different parts. and i mean, the philadelphia hospitals and barracks were full of these guys. and yeah. i think it really would have been a real mess. and if you've ever read about -- if you ever read about the effect that smallpox have on people which i just -- did it for an article not too long ago, it's freaking horrific. it's -- it's a horrific disease. if it doesn't -- at the very leaf, it's probably going to leave you disfigured with pox scars all over your face. and-the-liable to -- i forget what the percentage of deaths
from smallpox was but relatively high. but it was a horrible death, too. just -- it reminds me of elba. -- ebola. that's the kind of death it was. so yeah. i think it was -- it was a huge thing that he -- got the smallpox vaccine or inoculation into the army at least. >> and full disclaimer i finished the book pox. and on my head here. and i -- just finished it yesterday. and it was like wow, how it -- literally went through the canadian army. and the militia and so forkt. it killed what, three out of every soldier it killed on the battlefield. with two or three would die of smallpox. and so forth. so i just didn't know. what you guys thought about it and bring it up because you can't escape current news today about a different virus that is threatening our world. might as well connect it. >> the fact that we've
eradicated knock wood we've eradicated smallpox at this point. which is -- another -- unbelievable huge thing. and i think it's one of the few diseases we've actually been able to eradicate. >> and also just to talk about misconceptions, i think that just how deadly all this stuff was, you know, first of all how deadly the whole war was in the sense that, you know, about 25,000 americans die, about 25,000 crown forces die. i mean, you're talking 50,000 people deaths. and you're talking about in the colonies at that time you have a little over 2 1/2 million people, that's 1% of the whole population dies as a result of the war which, you know, in today's population, you're talking like three million people dying. and you're also talking, you know, and the majority of these deaths, are battlefield deaths. the majority of them are from
disease. and just how, you know, yeah, terrible these diseases were. and as you mentioned, you know, what we're experiencing now with covid and that's with all the signs and technology -- science and technology, and how terrifying it would be not knowing how these different diseases are being spread. i wrote a whole blog post about 1793 yellow fever pandemic. in philadelphia. and just the total lack of understanding of how that disease spread. they were wearing masks, lighting bonfires in the streets. you know, doing all these things not realizing that it was the mosquitoes that were passing this disease around. and so, you know, just the fear that must have pervaded society at that time, you know, how they were able to deal with that kind of uncertainty. and it makes -- we should all be grateful we live in the time period we do. because it would have been terrifying not knowing, yeah,
how often death would be coming around everybody's door. you mentioned -- john mentioned yorktown. camp fevers. george washington's own stepson, catches camp fever and dies. just a couple of weeks after the surrender at yorktown. i mean, this did not -- yeah. did not choose between class or skin color or anything else like that. everybody was -- a lot of people were getting sick and people were dying left and right. and it was a common thing that everybody had to deal with. and so yeah. we should be grateful we live in the time period we do, actually. >> that's a great point. i mean, we always talk about that other war that happens and how big the population was and the deaths and so forth. but that's i think one of the misconceptions of the american revolution how much death and dying and loss of life there was. i mean, 1% of the population is -- astronomical figure at that time. and i think that gets written off because of later wars and so
forth. but yeah. great point there. mark, so we got about five minutes left. i would like to conclude, let go around to the top of my screen from michael all the way down, vanessa, you're last. no offense. but we have other meetings to tend together. so that's why you're last. but any last points, misconceptions, hindsights that weren't covered? michael. >> i mean, just because of the work that i do, i think people, neat to understand how much maneuvering these troops went through in between these battles. i think people see battles as set piece things and don't realize what goes on in between them and how it affects. and working on my -- in washington, between brandywine and germantown and the miles those guys put on in that basically three-week period, is insane. i don't know the number off the top of my head. but it's probably close to 60,
70 miles that they put on just marching, not mentioning the other skimmishes and minor engagements that take place. i don't think people appreciate that aspect of soldier life when they -- you know, they can understand the con flight of battle and what people go through. but what about in between those battles and how does it affect their fighting ability going into the next battle? i just think that's something that needs to be appreciated a little bit more. >> and that's a great point. thanks, mike. john. >> i'll actually go back to african-americans or americans of african descent. and you had -- you had the number that actually fought for the whig side, the cause of independence. and you had all the africans wht for the british but they went over to the british side. and that wasn't done because the british were against slavery.
that was done as a really pragmatic strike against the americans. against the rebels. they did -- they did promise them their freedom. but when you look at how they were treated during yorktown campaign especially, when they caught smallpox, which largely was -- and they were left by the wayside where they were -- or cheafd out of the british lines basically to fend for themselves. and basically pawns. they were pawns of the british and the situation that -- at the time. people hear the talk about negroes and the end of the war and all the black americans who went to canada and gained their freedom, some were sent to liberia. some went to the west indies. a -- fewer were actually reenslaved. it wasn't because of this great largess, this great idea of the british wanted freedom for blacks. it was a pragmatic move.
that the british actually stood by the african-americans and the blacks at the end of the war, says a lot for them. because washington wanted them returned. that's why the book of negroes was made. washington wanted a list, a documentation of all the blacks that had been basically "stolen" from americans. and he wanted them returned. but carlton refused to do that. so that itself is a shining light. but the treatment post-war in canada was not always good. again, a really tough and not -- you know, and i don't mean this -- again, not a black and white situation. so that's my two cents. >> thank you, john. mark. >> yeah. you know, i'll go back to the campaign i mentioned trenton and princeton and we just talked about how fragile everything
was. i think nothing shows that more than that campaign. and although the myth is this painting of washington crossing the delaware, confidently, and going on to great victory in the founding of the country, that at the time, it was -- how close we came to actually defeat and i love this quote, you know, from john adams to his wife when he says posterity, you'll never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. i hope you will make good use of it. if you do not, i shall repent in heaven that i ever took half the pains to preserve it. and that's a great quote and to realize how grateful we should be and that -- and that all of this, that this entire -- the cent as we know it today would not have been possible without the sacrifices and the efforts of these people, 250 years ago.
so yeah, no. not -- not this myth that this was actually happened. >> great, mark. and ms. smiley. >> you make me follow that? oh, man. >> and he is a fellow park ranger. >> i know. i got to one up hip, right? no. piggybacks on what mark was saying that there's -- there's essentially that misconception of the fact that maybe this history doesn't matter or that it's not relevant to today. but it is. and i think that's our biggest challenge going forward and to the 250th is obviously we're commemorating a lot of this -- a lot of these events. but really finding the deeper kecks and truly understanding why this history is important. connecting with these stories. that are both unknown and
untold. and really just seeing how these stories are relevant to today's modern time. and i think -- i think we've got a lot of work ahead of us. but events like this and continued programming are what's going to help us get there. so hopefully one day we canpell the misconception a 250-year-old history doesn't matter anymore. because it does. >> mike, john, mark, and vanessa, for being part of the panel. great questions and answering. thank you for all those who put questions in the chat as well. so for the conclusion eel pass it over to liz here to end our day. >> well, thanks again all. this was really amazing. and we've got a lot of love in the chat for our full day of conversation. and i got to say it's my tavern heart is happy because these are
the type of things that would have happened in our public dining room these conversations and these debates. and we kind of pick up at gatsby's tavern museum and pick up from all of these stories that we've heard over the course of today. and we pick up -- we won, yay. what happens next? what do we do? how -- what do we become? so i highly encourage you to come vest us in alexandria because we explore that story of what happens next. and it's -- it's just as complex and messy as the revolution and prior. so again, thank you to our speakers. thank you to everyone at home. and as we always say at gatsby's tavern museum a huzzah to everyone. >> on american history tv, you can watch lectures in college classrooms. tours of historic sites. archival films. and our series on the presidency and the civil war. and all of our programs are archived on our website,
c-span.org/history. where you can also find our schedule of upcoming programs. american history tv on c-span3. exploring the people and events that tell the american story. every weekend. sunday, at 6:00 p.m. eastern on american artifacts, the arrival of the reconstructed french ship hermione at the 18th century of port of yorktown, virginia, designed after the french vessel that brought major general markieff de lafayette in 1780. exploring the american story. watch american history tv this weekend on c-span3.
>> this week we're looking back to this date in history. ♪ >> the army displaysity missile arsenal. and give the first demonstration of the hercules, of the anti-aircraft nike ajax and the key cities and hercules can carry an atomic warhead. in two minutes, smashes a target 55 miles off. the washington press corps turns from government and politics to a lighter matter. and ike and mamie's 42nd wedding
anniversary celebrated with a crew on the potomac aboard the presidential yacht barbara ann. major and misjohn eisenhower and the president's four grandchildren accompany them. that big box carried aboard might be a cake or it might not. and any gifts were exchanged the white house kept them secret. one of the things that made this anniversary celebration noteworthy is the first time ike has used the yacht since his trip to newport last september. a happy outing for the nation's first family. >> follow us on social media @cspanhistory for more this day in history clips and posts for more. on lectures in history, university of california riverside effexor catherine all gore teaches a class about the lives of women in the early republic. the history of the period has
often focused on the actions of men in battlefields, with women portrayed as strictly home centered and only achieving political influence through their husbands. professor allgor argues for a broader view of revolutionary era women, looking how they exercise a small, but increasing amount of political and the economic freedom during and after the war. >> hello. welcome to week four. we will talk about liberty's daughters, republican mothers, and what beyond is. let's start in the spring of 1776. john adams was in philadelphia debating whether or not the colonies were going to declare an independency. and his wife, abigail adams, wrote him what would become the most famous letter written by a woman in american history.