asides history

The Founding Fathers in a new light

History diversion: Today I learned… the “Founding Fathers” of America might not have been so pure in their motives after all:

As Ethan Allen: His Life and Times, a new and frustrating biography by Willard Sterne Randall, shows, Allen is hard to write about. He poses a challenge not so much because he is different from more famous Founders like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or Benjamin Franklin but because he resembles them perhaps a bit too much—in ways most Americans prefer not to think about.

Indeed, who wasn’t a land speculator in this freewheeling age? George Washington, a former surveyor, had amassed thousands of acres in the Ohio valley and spent 10 years lobbying the governor of Virginia to legalize his titles. Gen. Thomas Gage, who would lead British forces against Washington, held 18,000 acres, and had married into one of the greatest landowning families on the continent. When fighting broke out in 1775, these contested speculations loomed in the background.

If Allen had one thing in greater quantities than courage and verve, it was good timing. In the spring of 1775, just as officials were planning to arrest Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, a far greater insurrection broke out in Boston. Had the imperial crisis not come to a head just then, Allen would surely have been captured and executed.

and, alluding to the religious context of the time, the article makes mention of Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason, a text by one of the Founding Fathers that explicitly attacks Christianity in its then-modern form, along with straight-out calling the Bible just another book. Imagine someone on the level of the US President saying that these days – it’d cause apoplexies across the US and be liable to see him impeached before the week was through!

Fascinating that the US has warped into the strange country with conflicting drives that exists today.

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