tv American Revolution Misconceptions CSPAN July 6, 2021 6:10pm-7:13pm EDT
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and answer audience questions about misconceptions about the american revolution. the office of historic alexandria provided the video. >> since this is all about misconceptions or hindsights of 2020 and 2021, i want to throw this out to the panel, whoever wants to respond first. what is one misconception either that was not covered or that was covered by a different panelist in the general topics. for instance, vanessa covered southern campaigns. what's one misconception that she missed picking on my fellow park ranger there. >> i missed none. i'm just going to say that. >> i'll talk about one huge misconception is the fact that the war ended after york town. i mean, there's a -- there's so many people that think that. and, you know, especially when you go down to south carolina
and georgia, it was not ending. it was the same thing in the north but it was really a hot bed in a relatively small confined area in south carolina. and then there was georgia before savanna. so, that's a big thing right there. and i find those south carolina and georgia operations really interesting. one because i don't -- i know enough of about them to be interested in them and not enough about them to, you know, not have anything to learn. i want to get down there and go over the terrain. >> i'm the moderator, i probably shouldn't jump in here, but i'm excited as well. there was some recent archaeological findings from the river about where john lerons was killed there late in the war. unfortunately i think it's still
private property, but it would be cool to see that location as well. one of the tragic last deaths of the american revolution. >> that's a reason why i like that one pension deposition. he mentions being discharged just before, right after he was killed. so, yeah, it's a shoutout to john lorens even though he can't hear it. >> and i would say another misconception, i think travis was talking about it. but just not how defined the lines of patriot loyalists and how this -- i talked a little bit about it with john honeyman as far as trying to tease out which side people were on. but i think there's a good percentage of people throughout the war that were either trying to play both sides or, you know,
looking out for themselves or their families, which i think anybody can, you know, admit is -- it would be a -- it's easy to hold up those who put country or service ahead of their own individual beliefs. but i think there's a large percentage of people who try and get by, you know, and survive this war any way they could. and it's not always the most heroic or the most nobling stories, but i think it's the truth for many people that they were just trying to get by. if it's siding with the patriots, it's that. if it's siding with the loyalists, it's that. siding with both at different times, it's that as well. we tend to think about the blue coated americans versus the red coated british, and it wasn't that simple throughout the whole war for sure. >> actually todd has done some
nice work on the number of men who changed sides. captured by the british or loyalists and basically so they didn't have to stay in priso they changed sides. some of them deserted back to the americas and some stayed in the units and went over the to west indies. system of those guys applied for pensions after the war from the federal government and got them. so, it's -- you know, that's -- it was definitely not a cut and dry, black and white war. it's really complicated. >> on that same point, some of the research i'm doing on the revolution, you know, this is the case in new york too where they have these prison ships where they were putting a lot of the american prisoners in. and the british in charleston were actively trying to recruit from these prisoner populations 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 prisonships. 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 refuse to do that is amazing to me that somebody would have an out of getting out of, you know, starving to death or dying of malnutrition or disease on a prison ship but refuse to do that and instead stick it out 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 serving -- they're not deserters, but the guys who decided to turn coat and join the british leej i don't know and whether they had an effect.
there's still much to be written about, which makes it a great -- i think still an open period for a lot of historians. and that's why i think it's so fun. >> i definitely second that, john. i think it's a whole lot to study, a whole lot to write. i appreciate you mentioning about 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 50th coming up or happening. i think you're going to have people wanting to know this and more information. so, we've got our work cut out for us. >> i want to follow-up on something you said. i actually teach but i don't take any offense to what you said earlier. >> okay, good. >> but i want to follow up. there are so many
misconceptions. actually being in the teaching world at the high school level they're not being taught revolution -- at least i can only speak for pennsylvania. i don't know if that's true countrywide, but they're not taught early american history in high school. we start in 1920 in high school. so, why is that a problem? because in theory they should be getting it in middle school but they're not. basically until they get to high school, nobody is forced to actually learn anything. so, we have kids coming into 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. even though they're technically being taught early american history -- i think it's eighth grade in pennsylvania -- they're not learning it or remembering any of it. and they come to high school, they're not taught it. we're producing high school graduates that don't know america's founding. there's the reason. >> in south carolina it's fourth grade when they learn about basically a lot of the -- and
it's almost it. and i think you're right that we're trying to teach them some of the stuff slightly under age. but really it should be in high school. we start to dive in the some of the universal meanings behind the american revolution. i mean, 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 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. so, it's unfortunate that we don't have that kind of in depth curriculum. i get they're worried 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. i get that they're trying to understand things at the local 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. the best math class i ever took was in college, and it was the quote/unquote dumb math class because i hate math even though i took calculus in high school. i don't know how i passed. when i basically learned how to balance a checkbook because i took the dumb math class and how to apply for a loan. those are life skills. think of the life skills we can learn from history that we're not teaching kids before they leave the regular school system. >> and history's -- 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 their kids pass that class because we're not important. >> yeah, yeah. >> and i have friends that teach in other districts. it's across the board. >> and i would say this is 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 george washington was going to mount vernon, learning about the history at the places where the history happened and waiting in school excitedly to finally get to the revolution. and in high school we did learn about the revolution, and it was of a half-hour class and it was more about the causes and more about the effects. and it was like, oh, yeah, there was a battle at lexington and bjorktown, but if you want to learn more about that you can
read on your own or whatever. it was like, i've been waiting all the time to be able to talk about this in class and it was blown over in just a couple sentences. and that's where, you know, personally that's where i think the places, being able to go to the tavern, brandywine battlefield, the places where the history happened is great because you go there and learn from the site and from people who are as knowledgeable about the importance of these places and that history that often times is kind of blown through in school or classrooms. you know, teachers have all sorts of competing interests in lots of different subject matters, lots of different things. >> i'll tell you i think in light of the time constraints and curriculum constraints and all that stuff, i think the best thing the history teacher can do
or an english teacher or whatever but history teacher is what we're talking about is right now, is to ignite an interest in a lot of kids, a couple kids, one kid. that's -- if you can do that, 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 -- that history will not only give you an idea of our history or world history but in america will help make you familiar with the founding documents, make you familiar with our government, and also, 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 a larger event -- that's where you're going to get empathy from and
literature and all that. and 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 because i had a unique experience. i graduated from a high school on a military base in northern england, so department of defense school. and from there it was actually interesting because our history and service classes were a little more in tune with what was happening. i grange waited in early 2000 so right after 9/11. i was on a military school for bosnia. our teachers actually try to tune it into what was happening with the military and history as well. it was interesting to see the lines on maps that we talk about how the routes they made it through to yorktown and so forth and talking about using that in military practice in theories on the front line. i thought it was so cool being
in the fifth grade when someone's father came in dressed in battle dress uniform and talked about how they were studying the same stuff we were doing. that's probably why i got caught up in history. so, blame the department of defense schools and everything for my -- but i do have a -- 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 here. probably most americans' picture of the war 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 of fiction or non-fiction, and finishes this question saying like "saving private ryan." >> that's easy, the overmountain men as they gather and march
toward the battle of king's mountain because it's totally the -- what i was talk about before in my presentation, that kind of grass roots idea of you've 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 kill all your family and just competely destroy you. and these mountainmen, these frontiermen, these back country men were like, i don't think so. and they marched over 300 miles to find ferguson. well, we know how that ended. >> isn't that pretty much the patriot right there, what they do? >> oh, my god. i knew missing "the patriot" earlier was going to come back to haunt me. okay. so, i have a lot to say about hollywood and historical films. it all started when i first saw
the "santa fe trail" and what a disaster. it is so amazing that hollywood tries to do -- i'm going to get off my soap box soon, i promise. it's amazing hollywood tries to turn history into this fanatical fantasy whorld 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 men would have had facial hair like me. >> definitely. >> me or michael right here. so -- >> but the thing with facial hair, if they did have it, it wouldn't have been cultivated. it would have been nicely quaffed and cultivated. eventually they would have shaved it at some point. >> yeah.
appreciate, john that you think this is cultivated. i do appreciate that. >> i'm biased towards my own campaign. for those that don't know i'm working on a new book to cover the war. and i think this story of the siege of fort mifflin and what those guys went through -- i think you've got to tell the story from the average soldier, almost like a band of brothers but you create a rev war story of that. the story of the siege and what they went through, that swamp -- it wasn't an island. it was a swamp. and the accounts, the french officer -- not deflore. >> i think you're right. >> his descriptions of the fighting on that island, even it was just a one-hour documentary, i think it would make a
compelling documentary. >> then you have the red bank. that's through the roof. >> that's what i'm currently working on. fort mercy. >> that's cool. >> i ran cross country in cool and for practice we had fort mercer to the back in high school. >> that's awesome. that's awesome. >> i'm going to give a shoutout to my northern compatriots because it's not within the past -- it's only within the past ten 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 it's the day and how people evacuating their houses. you had and women and children and old people going out of their houses into the countryside. you had the minutemen past concord bridge watching the british march past them, not firing on them. they march past them to go to
another house to look for artillery. and it wasn't until the british came back on the other side of the bridge that the firing finally took place. so, there was a question about whether they actually wanted to fire on the british. then towards the end of the battle, you had these horrible, horrible bloody incidents closer into boston where 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 it be exhausting, but they would be horrified. and that's an event that everybody thinks they know everything about. but it's not -- 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 could bring in experiences of women with the army, women at home trying to keep things together, blacks who joined lord
donemore. you can have the story of colonel titus. there are 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 would have ken burns do it, we're good. >> yeah. >> so, there it is. it's in the chat right now. ken burns does it. >> well, having people see something that they don't really -- i think that people view the american american revolution as the painting of washington crossing the delaware. they don't view it as messy, bloody, difficult as it was. that's one of the things i do like about "the patriot" is it focuses more on the military conflict. i think 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. but there is a war that had to happen in order for all that to happen. and being able to show that -- i really do like the idea of being a band of brothers type miniseries to try to 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 march down to charleston, probably ends like "braveheart" where these guys all get captured. >> have you been talking to jim todd? >> i've been talking about his idea. >> i think any 250th film i would love to see -- i'm sure there will be some. i would also love to get that
dynamic of kind of harking back to travis' presentation of 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 british, 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 and do a deep dive into a band of brothers type series because you could really explore that. >> yeah. yeah. >> early on i got into reading kenneth roberts and i stumbled on his book of oliver about a loyalist. what a great book. he takes him from boston all the way down to the carolinas. and you get a view for being written in the '30s or '40s, it's still a great book. and he gives you a whole view of the whole loyalist side and
brings it down to a human level. that's the kind of stuff that's really amazing. >> i want to interject here because i think it would be awesome to do a social network of the 1775 after lexington-concord and how they're able to pass this message on from all the way down to the carolinas by april 28th. and everyone remembers playing as a kid the game of telephone in the classroom. by the time it got around 12 kids, the story is distorted. so, it's amazing the story passed down the eastern seaboard and had a semblance of truth. it would be cool to have the mark zuckerberg and do the social network. >> we could have the comedy version where it ends up at the end that we're 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.
in your opinion, who was the best battlefield commander in the american army? >> wow. i'm going to think about that. >> mark, you're excused since you're a george washington fanatic. we'll excuse you. >> i'll go first, and i'll tell you that washington, while, yeah, tactically he made some mistakes. as i mentioned in my talk earlier, his battlefield composure inspired his men and helped lead to some victories is important. and also meld it into our last discussion too. there really does need to be a good biyopic on washington. i think the portrayal of washington and john adams is superb and i think that's the best version. i think jeff daniels does an all right job in "the crossing" but nobody beats david morris. >> you all portray him too old.
>> that's what rob says. he says he's too old. he looks old, but he has the composure, the reserve, the dignity. he nails it with that. >> rob is sitting off camera here right now just so like i'm not even on the panel and i'm being -- yeah -- name dropped. >> was it morgan? >> that's what i was going to say. >> even if it's just based with a tiny force at the end of his tether and basically inspired greene's at gillford courthouse where they basically beat the crap out of -- they lost the battle but they decimated the british ranks. so, yeah, i mean -- >> that's what i was going to say. that's what i was going to say. i mean, you've got this gruff kind of soldier who's leading
and inspiring, you know, the soldiers underneath him, 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 cal pence successfully and it's kind of like -- i mean, how can you not like daniel morgan? he was going to be who i would have said. >> but to defend washington, before he became a real bureaucrat and was on the i don't know onset of '77 and especially '78, he was a bureaucrat before that. but at the battles of trenton and princeton, i think he was let loose. he didn't have as many responsibilities. it was basically do or die. his tactical -- just in those two battles, his tactical verve
right there was probably enough to keep him up top. and like i said, i think after that his responsibilities really just overwhelmed him and he was trying to keep an army together and trying to direct the division commanders. but i think at trenton and princeton he was able to let loose and become basically a small unit commander to a certain extent. >> i disagree with that because i'm wracking my brain to think of who i've worked with in research and all. he's got a bunch of lackluster people under him, man. >> i think the answer billy was looking for is what brian threw up in the chat, and that's benedict arnold being the best battlefield commander in the sense of -- i think that's on his boot monument that's up there at saratoga saying that he
is the most brilliant of the american commanders. and brian mentioned, yeah, he won on land and sea, and was known as a particularly, you know, enabling general. but, yeah, i think everybody's view of him has been obviously tarnished by his ultimate treason. but tactically speaking, yeah. i think the argument could be made that arnold was one of the best tactical commanders on the american side. but, yeah, michael, he said he doesn't have much competition. >> yeah. >> so, here's another question now that billy's not allowed to ask anymore questions. he's been disqualified. on the background of our screens are multiple volumes of books.
we have a question came in that said, what is your pre-2000 or non-modern favorite book on the american revolution. and it can't be the "emerging rev war" series or one published like they were soldiers. >> mine is charles roisers "revolutionary people at war." admittedly the army is my focus, even though i do branch out a little bit. but that's a magnificent book. it really is. and it'll really open your eyes as far as motivation and brings it down to a personal level. i mean, there are others, but you know, that's -- for me that stands at the top. could be a journal or diary that somebody had published? >> sure. >> johan awald's diary. >> there you go. yeah. that's another one. >> that's a great one.
>> i'm going to piggyback off mike and say joseph martin. that's what i was thinking. i don't know how much of his information is 100%, but it really immerses you in the experience, i think. >> actually i'll give you another one that's not a diary or journal and i won't even say a specific one. the series of books that phil press published for the bicentennial. that's a great set of books for how old they are. >> there are a few which were really simplified and they're okay. but there are some brand wooin, long island, sear toga, they're phenomenal. and some of the other off the wall books, they're so good. i'm trying to look across the room at my books. >> wasn't pre-2000s but derek beck "igniting the american revolution." it's a two volume series basically on the prelude to the
american revolution and uniting. i'm trying to bring up the other title because it's missing the war of independence. it almost reads like fiction. you get to footnotes or the end notes at the end of the book and it's done. >> what's the other name? >> derek beck. "uniting and the work for independence." bringing up to 1776. the questions that's always baffled me is obviously that, well, we just started a war. how did we become patriots and so forth. spending years at george washington birth place monument, where did he come from, british officer to reading the american revolution. everyone wants that one moment where they switch. it's not really that one moment that it switches. so, yeah. i know i'm struggling as moderator because i have to interject 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 because of how he takes it as far as from washington's point of view what information he's gathering at a time. you know, it's a great campaign study from his point of view. and the other one i would say is "devil of a whipping" about the battle of cal pence because babbitts takes it -- not only the accounts of the people who fought in the battle but also using archaeology and reenactors to judge distance and place and stuff like that and try to arm the landscape, being able to interpret that battle. i think by taking in all these different aspects, it really brings it to life. i would argue those. >> so, we have someone asking is
anyone currently working on a new biography of daniel morgan. do you think he needs a new biography out there? he's been talked about a little bit. i'm sorry whoever asked that question. nobody in this panel is currently working on a daniel morgan biography. >> i think sarah wrote something about him not too long ago that was pretty good. >> i was going to say i will recommend -- because mike was talking about hazen's regimen. holly mayor did a book on hazen's regiment. i haven't gotten it yet but knowing holly and everything i heard of it, it sounds like it's going to be really good. so, you're getting more unit studies out of the revolution, which used to be a civil war thing. so, you're finally getting more and more unit studies.
>> we're also seeing someone add a question for blaine but i'm going to add to it. he said future topic could be the race to the dan river after the battle of cal pens. we've seen a lot of southern literature on this southern gambit or to the ends of the earth, ends of the world. why do you think historians are focusing on this race to day end? >> probably because greene was -- 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 cornwallis on a long run and let him basically just, you know, take his army on to the rocks in the carolinas. even though the army survived, he ran a good race. and he kept his army intact,
which is what washington did on a larger scale. police subsisting yourself in the carolinas is not easy. as greene found out, that's a huge -- the fact he was quarter master for a period during the valley forge winter and afterwards, that's a huge part of what enabled him to do that campaign so successfully really. so, yeah, it's a fascinating -- it's a fascinating campaign. and the fact that it was done with a minimum of bang-bang shoot-em-ups, it was a lot of maneuvering. so, yeah, i'd second that. >> i think it's good for any, you know, focus on the southern campaigns during the revolution. i think until -- again, as much as you hate it, "the patriot," i feel like there's not much focus
on how important these battles were. and obviously, you have the american civil war that, you know, most of the population has some sort of emotional or intellectual attachment to. but, you know, the revolution plays such an important role that it's often overlooked. so, i think that it's great that, you know, as we start hearing the 250, i hope there's more interest in encouragement, in researching and learning more about the southern campaigns of the revolution because they are pretty significant. so, i think it's great. you know, if it's greene's march to the dan or go for courthouse or cal pens or charleston or any of these things i think is great. so, keep it coming. >> all right. so, greene and morgan. best partnership. strategic and tactical. is there a better partnership than those two gentlemen in the
american revolution? >> washington and knox. >> oh. >> yeah. >> oh. >> are you kidding me? >> from late '75 to '76 onwards, yeah, right. >> the only thing that really kills me is that after the revolution when washington is president or even after washington's presidency during the quasi war, washington puts hamilton to lead the army in front of knox. i think that really hurt knox's feelings. >> did you read the book? >> what? >> sandra, what happened in germantown? everybody has a failing now and again. >> you're a really bad guy. >> that's actually how knox
died. i think someone goes what happened to germantown and that's how he choked on that chicken bone. he had a hiccup there. >> it's unmilitary to leave a castle in your rear. >> you're going to get me fired up. [ laughter ] >> do we need a therapy session on henry knox at germantown so michael can get it out of his system here? >> it's going to have to be electroshock, i think. >> it's like telling me that there's somebody else did one of these other -- i forget what round table it was. somebody was trying to say that sullivan was the blame for all the army's problems throughout the war. >> poor guy. >> wow. >> the french may agree with you, but -- at new port there. >> talk about a scapegoat. >> yeah. >> i mean, so, all right. let's test your expertise as
historians here. we 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 populous has become engrained with that you would like to reverse? we're going to start right now and reverse the trend. so, a myth outside the military of the american revolution? >> i think the most basic one would be all the common support of the war effort. we kind of hit on that with a little discussion today. but i think there is a misconception out there from average americans that everybody was for independence. >> i would agree with that, yeah. >> yeah, mm-hm. >> that's my -- >> mike's claiming it. >> i'm claiming it. >> so i'm going to reverse.
i'm going to throw this out there that as it becomes more a world war with france and spain everything going on, we have this misconception that we are the 13 colonies, most important colonies in the british empire. but you actually notice that the british, they evacuate philadelphia. and where do troops go, they go down to the caribbean and west indies and floridas and so forth because they are vastly more important. a few years ago, i'll call it 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 cavalry. a guy could hit on a horse and got into the tunnels of barbados and go through the tunnels on the other side. that's how important the island was to the british. i think that's a misconception. that's the biggest issue in the british empire.
i think we get that because we are all americans and we think we're a big deal, as the kids say today. but throwing it out there. >> yeah, to piggyback off that, bill, you know, i think we also think that when we did win our independence that we were then this world player that was out there, you know. and what was reality was they find the treaty and every european country was a bunch of vultures standing around these colonies waiting to pick these people off because they think we would be able to stand as our own country. i think that's why it's so important when you follow the early american history up through and past the war of 1812 when we make ourselves a player on the world fair. awald is up in canada waiting for this experiment in american liberty to collapse. and you have these colonies that
are going to be up for the pickings. so, i think we tend to think of ourselves. this all happened, washington crossed the delaware, we won yorktown, we became a country, we signed a constitution and we became a world power. and it really didn't play out that way and there's all these kinds of constant -- you know, the whole idea of this being an experiment is -- it couldn't be more true. that's the perfect word for it because all the way up until this very day, we're still experimenting, this whole idea of -- some would argue the revolution really hasn't stopped. we are kind of redefining ourselves and how this whole idea of self-government is tested during the civil war and is constantly being tested. so, it's kind of interesting to view ourselves not as a world power that was started in 1776 but really something that evolved from, you know, 13 independent states that declared
their independence, fought this bloody war and, you know, continued to make it work over the years. >> so, england had the english channel in a meeting. we were lucky enough to have the atlantic ocean and no navy. otherwise we may not have survived. >> someone actually put in the chat a great comment, a huge misconception is that the declaration of independence was signed on july 4th. so, that's one of the most obvious. it was actually months later. i think august 2nd or august 4th that i think folks came in to sign it. getting some of the dates mixed up. but, just yeah, throwing it out there as one of the major misconceptions. s i think part of thals attopiggyback on that, i think part of that is also that it was this one thing and that was it. okay. declaration of independence and now we're off and running, that it was really this big buildup
and it wasn't just one single thing that we were like let's all get 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, sign this declaration and done. it was really complicated. and it ties into some of those thoughts and yesterdays that we've been talking about with some of the people who were experiencing this history where it's like, you know, which side do you pick? do you pick the comfort of british rule where, you know, you're protected, you've got troops that are going to be able to -- british troops that can protect you against native american attacks, or do you rebel against the only government you've known? and it's so complicated and so complex, and it builds to, yes, july 4th, independence, whatever.
but there's so much more even after that before we can really get to kind of the heart of, okay, here, we're doing this. >> the army, after the declaration was signed, it looked all over like that was going to be the end right there. you know, i mean -- and then later on you had the economy was horrible. there was rampant inflation and they were having a hard time feeding the army and keeping it together. it went in waving during the war. it really did. and a lot of people just don't realize that. ft they really don't realize that at all what a near run thing it was a number of times. >> our first september 11th, september 1776, john adams and ben franklin are meet being the hal brothers to discuss the peace commission. you know, that's only a few months after they sign the declaration. >> yeah, yeah. yep. >> yeah.
i think a good word is the fragility of the whole thing. i think that people don't realize how fragile everything was and that it was all -- yeah, it could have all gone away any time at numerous points throughout the war. so, it's pretty amazing that it did fall into place the way it did. >> we've got a little over ten minutes left. i want to throw a hand grenade into this. >> why am i not surprised? >> besides henry knox. throughout the course we are deal being a massive pandemic, inoculations, vaccinations. washington introduces inoculation to the continental army. so, with that being said besides the smallpox inoculation, what is one thing on the periphery
that -- let me go back. let me ask, is that a good idea? on the view of smallpox, the epidemic, a belief that small box would have been a major player if washington does not inoculate. is that a myth? is that blown out of proportion? you hear a lot about this virus being so magnified. is that just 21st century reading onto it? later on in the war you have the yellow fever epidemic. you hear about these 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 and, i mean, look at what it did to the northern army right after the retreat out of canada. it even killed -- i forget his name, but i think it was john -- >> thomas. >> yeah, john thomas.
he didn't kill john thomas. but in the islands of st. lawrence -- or i think it was sirral, there was a smallpox camp in the middle of the island and it was full of bodies and these people. i mean the fact that he began in spring of '77 maybe early of winter '77 with the smallpox camps, i think that made a huge difference. i mean, just after yorktown, we had this huge victory at yorktown, and then i think it was john hal's diary and a lot of other accounts. the army is being decimated some by smallpox but also i think by other diseases. i think it was typhus and other diseases. as they headed north from yorktown to head back to the northern states, they were being dropped off at different parts. 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 of smallpox have on people, which i just did for an article not too long ago, that's freaking horrific. it's un -- it's a horrific disease. disease. at the very least, it's probably leaving it a with pox scars all over your face. it's liable to, i forget the percentage of deaths from smallpox, but it was relatively high. it horrible death also. it reminds me of ebola. that's the kind of death it was. i think it was a huge thing he got smallpox vaccine, or inoculation into the army at least. >> for disclaimer, i finished the book, so it's all in my head here. i finished it yesterday. i was like wow.
i mean, the canadian army, the militia and so forth. it killed three out of every soldier it killed on the battlefield with two or three dying of smallpox and so forth. i didn't know what you thought about it. i thought to bring it up because obviously you can't escape current news today about a different virus that is going through our world. >> the fact we've eradicated smallpox at this point, which is another unbelievably huge thing. i think it's one of the few diseases we've been able to eradicate. >> just to talk about misconceptions, i think how deadly all this stuff was. first of all, how deadly the whole war was innocence that 25,000 americans die, 25,000 crown forces die.
50,000 people deaths, and you're talking about the colonies, over two and a half million people. 1% of the whole population dies as a result of the war, which in today's population, you are talking 3 million people dying, and talking majority of these deaths, battlefield deaths majority of them are from disease and just how terrible these diseases were. and as you mentioned, what we are experiencing now with covid, that's with all the science and technology we have. you can't imagine how terrifying it would be not knowing how these different diseases are being spread. i read a whole blog post about 1793, yellow fever pandemic in philadelphia. . the total lack of understanding about how that disease spread. they were wearing masks,
lighting bonfires in the streets, doing all these things. not realizing it was mosquitoes passing this disease around. so, just the fear i must of pervaded society at that time. you know, how they were able to deal with that kind of uncertainty. we should all be grateful we live in the time we do, because that would've been terrifying not knowing how often death would be coming around everybody. you mentioned, john mentioned yorktown. george washington's own stepson catches the fever and dies just a couple weeks after the surrender at yorktown. not choose between class or skin color, or anything else like that. people were getting sick, people were dying left and right. it was a common thing everybody had to deal with. like i said, we should be
grateful we lived in the time period we do. >> that's a great point. we always talk about the other war that happens and how awful the deaths were and so forth. that's one of the misconceptions of the revolution, how much death and dying and loss of life there was. 1% of the population is an astronomical figure at that time. i think that gets written off because of later war's. great point. mark, we've got five minutes left, i'd like to conclude. let's go around to the top of my screen from michael down to vanessa, no offense. we have other meetings to tend together that's why you are last. but any last points, misconceptions, hindsight's that weren't covered? michael? >> because of the work i do, i think people need to understand how much maneuvering these troops one throw in between
these battles. i think people see bottles as set piece things and don't realize what goes on in between them and how it affects everyone. i've been working on my germantown book, the man to move maneuvering between the myles those guys put on and basically three week period is insane. i don't know the number off the top of my head, but probably close to 60 70 miles they are putting on, marching. . not mentioning the other skirmishes that take place. i don't think people appreciate that aspect of social life when they try to understand the conflict the battle, where people go through. what about in between those battles? how does it affect their fighting ability into the next battle? i think that's something that needs to be appreciated a little more. >> great point. thanks, mike. john? >> i will go back to african
americans or americans about condescend. you had the number that fought for the cause of independence. then all the africans who didn't necessarily fight for the british, but went over to the british side. that wasn't done because the british were against slavery. that was done as a pragmatic strike against the americans, against the rebels. they did promise them their freedom. when you look at how they were treated through the yorktown campaign, especially when they caught smallpox, largely led by the wayside where they were chased out of the british lions to fend for themselves. they were basically ponce, they were ponds of the british and
the situation at the time. some people hear about the book about all the black americans who went to canada, gained their freedom. some were sent to liberia. some went to west indies. if you were rian slaved. it wasn't because of this great idea of british wanted freedom for blacks, it was a pragmatic move. the british actually stood by the african americans at the end of the war says a lot for them. washington one of them returned. that's why the book of negroes was made, they wanted a list of documentation of all the blacks that had been quote unquote stolen from americans. he wanted them returned. carleton refused to do that. that itself is a shining light. their treatment post war on canada was not always good. again, it's a really tough and
i don't mean this as upon, it's not a black and white situation. those are my two cents. >> thank you. mark? >> i will go back to the campaign i mentioned, 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, going on to great victory and the founding of the country, that at the time it was how close he came to actual defeat and i love this quote from john adams to his wife when he says austerity, you never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your
freedom. i hope you make good use of it. if you do not, i shall repent in heaven and cast the pain to preserve it. it's a great quote, to realize how grateful we should be, and all of this, the country as we know it today would not have been possible without the sacrifices and the efforts of these people to hundred 50 years ago. it's not this myth, this was actually happening. >> thank you for sharing. >> you are making me follow that? oh man. >> he is a fellow park ranger. >> i know, i've got to one up him. >> it kind of piggybacks off of what mark was saying,
potentially that misconception of the fact maybe this history doesn't matter, or it's not relevant to today, but it is. i think that is our biggest challenge going forward. we are commemorating a lot of these events, but finding those deeper connections 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 in today's time. i think we've got a lot of work ahead of us. but events like this and continued programming or what's going to help us get their. hopefully one day we can dispel the misconception that 250 year old history doesn't matter anymore. it does. >> thank you all. john, mark, vanessa, for being
part of the panel. great questions and answering. thank you for the questions in the chat as well. for the conclusion, i will pass it over to liz to end our day. >> thank you again everyone. this was really amazing, we've got a little love in the chat for our full day of conversation. i've got to say, my tavern heart is happy because these are the types of things that would've happened in a public dining room, these conversations and debates. we kind of pick up at gatsby's tavern museum, we pick up from all of these stories we've heard over the course of today, and what happens next? what do we do? what do we become? i highly encourage you to come visit us and alexandra because we explore that story of what happens next. it's just as complex and messi as the revolution.
again, thank you to our speakers, thank you to everyone at home. as we always say at gatsby's tavern museum, has not everyone. >> tonight on american history tv, a look into the supreme court landmark case, plus levers is ferguson which solidified the separate but equal doctrine and provided legal protection to segregation laws passed by the states. scholars look at its impact on education and housing's. and how we still live with a legacy and the decision. we will look at the life and legacy of the first african american supreme court justice thurgood marshall and his impact on u.s. history. watch tonight beginning at 8 pm eastern.