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
My fellow fans of J-Horror know that Japan practically invented weirdness. What none of us knew is how far back they go with that mastery of entertaining madness.
Their view of American history is mind-boggling. This 1861 work of “J-History” if you will, features little-known events like JOHN ADAMS FACING A GIANT SNAKE (left) and George Washington hitting a tiger. It also corrects the mistaken assumption that Washington’s wife was named Martha when her real name was apparently “Carol.” (?)
Balladeer’s Blog’s Presidential Action and Horror Films bit only WISHES it could be this mind-bending. Credit Nick Kapur with drawing attention to this item from the Waseda University Library.
My favorite part: the illustration of Benjamin Franklin casually HOLDING A CANNON IN HIS ARMS while firing it at a squadron of Red Coats! Now that’s badass. And begs for a movie – “The Rock IS Benjamin Franklin!” And he’d have to follow up blowing away the Brits with an action hero quip like “A penny saved is a penny earned, you bastards!”
To see every page of this acid trip AND Continue reading
For the most part the silly conspiracy theories about the establishment of the United States are good only for laughs. One of my favorites, however, features a speech from a mysterious figure usually associated with Freemasons, Rosicrucians and/or the Bavarian Illuminati of Adam Weishaupt.
I don’t believe for one minute that such an enigmatic man showed up and tipped the balance toward ratifying the Declaration of Independence with a fiery, impassioned speech. However, I DO believe that the wording of that fictional tirade is pretty moving and nicely captures the feel of Independence Day.
Here is the relevant part. I’m omitting the ridiculous section where this mystery man supposedly made Nostradamus-style predictions about America’s future.
“They (the British) may stretch our necks on all the gibbets in the land. They may turn every rock into a scaffold, every tree into a gallows, every home into a grave and yet the words of that parchment can never die!”
“They may pour our blood on a thousand scaffolds and yet from every drop that dyes the axe a new champion of freedom will spring into birth. The British king may blot out the stars of God from the sky but he cannot blot out His words written on that parchment there. The works of God may perish … His words, never!”
“The words of this Declaration will live in the world long after our bones are dust. To the mechanic in his workshop they will speak hope. To the slave in the mines, freedom. But to the coward kings these words will speak in tones of warning they cannot choose but hear.” 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.” Continue reading