Balladeer’s Blog wishes a happy birthday to the USA! What happened in early July of 1776 certainly needs no rehashing so in keeping with my blog’s theme of addressing more out of the way subjects this post will examine various events that took place on other July 4ths throughout American history.
JULY 4TH, 1778 – George Rogers Clark led his rebel forces in taking the British stronghold of Kaskaskia, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Kaskaskia Rivers. Clark and his Rangers were on a mission for then-Virginia Governor Patrick Henry.
JULY 4TH, 1783 – The Massachusetts Supreme Court is finalizing its written decision holding that slavery has been illegal in the state since adoption of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights in 1780. Continue reading
It may be my fondness for mythology that makes me love to watch particular movies around particular holidays. I say that because many of the well- known myths were recited on ancient holidays when their subject matter was relevant to those holidays. The stories helped accentuate the meaning of the special events and that’s the way I use various movies.
At Christmas I watch countless variations of A Christmas Carol, around Labor Day I watch Eight Men Out, at Halloween The Evil Dead and the original Nightmare On Elm Street, Thanksgiving Eve I do Oliver! and for Frontierado (which is just a month away now) I do Silverado.
Since the actual 4th of July is loaded with activity I always show 1776 on the night before. It’s a great way to get in the mood for Independence Day. It’s a musical but with brilliant dialogue portions and the story involves the political maneuvering surrounding the Original Thirteen Colonies at last announcing their independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the shots fired at Lexington and Concord started the war.
The story is excellently conveyed and is moving, comical, invigorating and poignant all at once. As long as you know which parts of the tale are depicted accurately and which are complete b.s. it’s a terrific way to spend each 3rd of July. Continue reading
Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are familiar with my fondness for old Silent Movies. America was D.W. Griffith’s 1924 production about the Revolutionary War. The movie is pleasant enough for the July 4th holiday season, but don’t expect a classic like The Phantom of the Opera, The Mark of Zorro or many other masterpieces of the silent era.
Batman fans may enjoy the fact that a very young Neil Hamilton – Commissioner Gordon on the much later Adam West Batman show – starred in America as Nathan Holden, a rebel Minute Man in Massachusetts. Nathan is part of a Romeo and Juliet-styled romance and is in love with Nancy Montague (Carol Dempster), who belongs to a Tory family still loyal to England.
The Holdens can’t stand the snobbish Montagues and the Montagues pompously look down on the Holdens and the rest of the rebels. Nancy’s father would rather see Nancy married off to the prominent British military officer Captain Walter Butler, played with aristocratic and sadistic flair by THE Lionel Barrymore.
The star-crossed lovers Nathan and Nancy struggle to keep their romance alive against the backdrop of historical events like the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Ride, the Battle of Bunker Hill and many others.Various actors portray figures like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, William Pitt, King George III, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and, of course, George Washington. Continue reading
Another look at an individual state’s representatives who signed the Declaration of Independence:
PENNSYLVANIA – (Nine reps)
### 1. George Clymer – His home was ransacked by the British who destroyed all his furniture and stole all his booze. After the war Clymer’s business acumen saved the University of Pennsylvania from bankruptcy.
2. Benjamin Franklin – Just about everything is known about him so I’ll throw in two often-forgotten episodes – Continue reading
With the Fourth of July holiday fast approaching, Balladeer’s Blog makes with another often-overlooked item from our war of independence from Great Britain.
SECOND BATTLE OF MACHIAS – Previously I covered the First Battle of Machias from June of 1775. After that action Machias became a busy base for Privateering vessels. This second battle was fought August 13th-14th, 1777.
British Commodore George Collier learned of American Rebel plans to launch a second Siege of Fort Cumberland (Nova Scotia) after the first one – a nineteen-day stretch often called the Eddy Rebellion after Jonathan Eddy – had failed in November of 1776. To nip those plans in the bud, Commodore Collier launched an amphibious attack on Machias, ME, where supplies and troops for the new siege were supposedly gathering.
The supplies and men for a second siege of Fort Cumberland had not yet arrived in Machias, so the battle wound up instead being fought for possession of the town. Commodore Collier had five war vessels plus a force of 120-150 Royal Marines to throw at the seaside rebel village. The Americans, under Colonel Jonathan Eddy, fought back with an unknown total number of Militiamen as well as fifty or more Native Americans from the Maliseet, Penobscot and Passamaquody Tribes. Continue reading
With the Fourth of July Holiday coming up Balladeer’s Blog will be making some seasonal posts, like this one, covering often-overlooked elements of America’s war for independence from Great Britain.
FIRST BATTLE OF MACHIAS – This battle took place June 11th and 12th of 1775, less than two full months after the Battles of Lexington & Concord kicked off our Revolutionary War. At this point in the 1700s Maine was still technically a Department of Massachusetts, which is why Maine is not listed as one of the original 13 colonies despite all the action that took place there.
With British forces under siege in Boston, Loyalist sellout Ichabod Jones contracted with the Brits to supply their troops there. A few of Jones’ ships plus the British war sloop Margaretta arrived in Machias, ME on June 2nd.
Initially the townspeople of Machias voted against doing business with Ichabod Jones since he intended to provide supplies for Redcoats in Boston. The Margaretta, commanded by James Moore, pulled to within bombardment distance of Machias, frightening just enough citizens to change their votes in favor of trade with Jones and his merchant ships.
Colonel Benjamin Foster, leader of the local Rebel Militia, gathered his men to fight back. Continue reading
Two thousand fishermen from Cape Cod had gone off to enlist in the Continental Army, and in their absence the British had repeatedly landed raiding parties to harass the citizens.
Every man, woman and child on the Cape hated the soldiers and sailors of King George and would do anything to work them harm. When the Somerset was wrecked off Truro in 1778 the crew were helped ashore, but they were immediately marched to prison.
It was November – the night before Thanksgiving Day in fact – and ugly weather caused a British three-decker warship to yaw wildly and drift toward land with a broken tiller. No warning signal was raised on the bluffs; not a hand was stirred to rescue. The New Englanders who saw the accident watched with sullen satisfaction.
Ezekiel and Josiah Breeze – father and son – stood at the door of their cottage and watched the warship’s peril until three lights twinkling faintly through the gray of driving snow were all that showed where the enemy lay, straining at her cables and tossing on a wrathful sea.
They stood long in silence, but at last the boy Josiah said “I’m going to help the ship.”
“If you stir from here to help King George’s men, you’re no son of mine,” said Ezekiel. Continue reading