A piece of British colonial history, the King's Road linking St Augustine with New Smyrna would have looked exactly like this during its earliest years. This is an original off shoot of what was King's Road leading into Bulow's Plantation. Bunnell, FL
It always amazes me that of our more ambiguous history, it is so much more interesting than most of the well known narratives. Take Florida's British colonial period and the role it played in the Revolutionary war. I think it's because people have short memories. Of that lesser know history, most of it is all around, right under the feet and noses of those living out their lives in the urban sprawl that is Florida's towns and cities. From the yet hidden mounds of the Timucua and Ais, to failed settlements or lost forts, or among the many forgotten indigo or sugar plantations Florida has a lot to offer the eager historian.
I want to share with you a piece of forgotten America, the Old King's Road
. How old? George III old. Inspired by an awesome book
I read recently, I learned a lot about this area's history and the many significant events that played out along this stretch of 18th century highway. So, we here at TMF like to go beyond the books, which is why we traveled the original route from St Augustine, FL all the way to its southern terminal point at New Smyrna to bring to you the exciting history one might find as they journey down Old King's Road.
History British map of East Florida.
In order to retain Cuba at the conclusion of the Seven Years War, Spain was forced to cede to Britain its colonies of East and West Florida. While not being very populated, the region certainly had its potential. Many indigo plantations started to spring up around St Augustine while sugar and rice would soon follow. Florida's live oaks were also an extremely important resource for ship builders, its pines for lumber and turpentine, while the local Natives played a resourceful role as well in trade.
One English gentleman that saw the great potential in what Florida had to offer was Dr. Andrew Turnbull
. A Scottish physician married to a Greek woman, Turnbull got the "brilliant" idea of investing in a settlement that could grow to rival any in the British Americas. By recruiting Minorcan and Greek indentured servants to grow rice and indigo, he believed that the Mediterranean workers would easily weather the sub tropical heat while being more productive than slave labor. Turnbull worked tirelessly in the mid 1760s to recruit settlers, gain investors, and achieve land grants for what would eventually become New Smyrna. Named after his wife's birthplace, this settlement eventually gave it's name to the present day city where it once stood.
Many preparations needed to be made in order for the coming of the settlers, for unlike those at Plymouth, the Minorcans needed logistical infrastructure in place to aid in a better chance of survival. Besides immediate housing and food that would have to last until achieving a state of self sufficiency, a road would have to be built in order to facilitate quick transportation to St Augustine where they could get supplies or convey goods to market.
This road would be known as King's Road
. (It wasn't old yet people.) Starting with a 1764 survey by English engineers, this road would eventually extend from Colerain, GA to St Mary's, down through Cowford (present day Jacksonville), and on to St Augustine. By continuing the road south to Turnbull's New Smyrna settlement
, this would ensure easy transportation required for continued settlement and growth. It is this Southern route that is the primary subject of this article, and was the responsibility of then Deputy Governor John Moultrie
The engineers and surveyors had a fairly simple task of following already established routes and indigenous trails that had been prescribed by famous British engineer William DeBrahm, until they made it to the area surrounding today's Pellicer Creek (Palm Coast, FL). As the terrain becomes less flat, it also becomes very swampy requiring a more curvy route to negotiate the landscape.
The problem of the swamp was up to field engineer John Funk. He would solve the dilemma with the employment of three (funky) tactics. The first was to simply modify by creating a causeway. This method was also the most labor intensive, requiring massive earthworks produced with 18th century technology.
The second means would be to elevate the road as in a causeway, but less drastically. This was called a corduroy road. By felling logs and laying them horizontally against each other along the path, the road took on a look of the linearly bumpy cloth. On this would be piled and graded road base which would eventually be paved with crushed coquina and shell.
Lastly, the desire for a perfectly level and straight path could be abandoned to simply maintain the route along the high ancient coral bed, thus following the ancient trails of Florida's first people. As the legend has it, it was a local Native man, Grey Eyes, that marked the route through this area while herding 500 head of cattle down to New Smyrna in preparation for the coming settlers. You can read more about this story in Bill Ryan's historical fiction novel I am Grey Eyes.
Through intermittent employment of the above three methods, the road was constructed by slave labor, horse drawn bucket graders, and wagons. The road top, which can still be seen in few places today, consisted of crushed coquina stone and shell. Where the road crosses a creek or river, cypress bridges were built or a ferry was used. Long after the arrival of Turnbull's Minorcans, the road was finally completed around 1775, and used well into the second Spanish period.
Once Florida was ceded to the US in 1819, the road was heavily populated by farms, plantations and mills, continuing to be a vital conduit for local people. It was during the start of the Second Seminole War that most of these plantations were burned to the ground, and many military outposts sprung up to combat the hostiles and protect St Augustine. It was near one of these forts, Ft Peyton, that Osceola was captured on Old King's Road, which remained an important military route into the Civil War and later became the main route for Florida's first tourists. While the original route has been straightened by modern civil engineering and is covered by modern roads, there are still a handful of sections in existence.
The best way to explore Old King's Road is to simply drive the contemporary route which can easily be deciphered through old maps. The original route is basically a combination of US-1 and the "modern" Old King's Rd. Read Bill Ryan's book Search for the Old King's Road
. It's an awesome resource and a fun read for anyone interested in Southern history.
The Journey A section of the original route on the southern edge of St Augustine, FL. This section exhibited traces of crushed coquina and shell, but mostly old pavement probably dating from the 1940s,
Our task was simple; drive from St Johns County to Brevard County in one day. It's usually just over a two hour drive. I made sure it took all day. It had been a long week of traveling, archaeology, and reenacting at the British Night Watch but we had to get home to my parents' house. Leaving Sunday morning from St Augustine, we followed the scent of the Old King's Road to many exciting historical sites, the first of which may not be around much longer.
Osceola's Capture Site
Author standing at capture site.
This historically significant location is probably the least visited site we came across on our entire trip. Most people are unaware of its existence, but those who are also know the likelihood of the site's demise through development. There are no signs, markers, or boardwalks to denote a location of historical magnitude. The site is technically on private property and surrounded by subdivisions, overshadowed by the possibility of becoming one. There have been recent local efforts to nurture awareness of the site. Scouts have intermittently tried grooming the site and trails leading to it, making it easier for others to visit.
In 1837, suffering from malaria, the Seminole war leader Osceola approached Ft Peyton on the Old King's Road under a white flag of truce only to be captured and taken to Ft Marion where he was held for a short while before being transported to Ft Moultrie near Charleston where he died from his illness just weeks later. http://staugustineteamrealty.com/TheStAugBlog/?tag=osceola-capture-site-st-augustine-fl-2
To visit the site, follow the directions at the above link. They're simple enough. The road that's gated off is illegally blocked due to the fact that it's been a public byway for 250 years, but whatevs.
If you find the partially obscured coquina obelisk, you're standing at the site that was pointed out by veterans of Ft Peyton and witnesses to the actual event. The brass engraved plate had since been stolen, but the stone marker still stands. Only the future will determine whether this site remains a memory or becomes completely forgotten.
It was from here that we continued southward onto a location that's literally littered with 18th century lore. unable to follow this exact original piece of road, we hopped onto I-95 and exited onto US-1.
Florida Agricultural Museum Bob Garver demonstrating a bucket well, while he explains their popularity with the Spanish explorers.
Once off the interstate, we turned onto modern day Old King's Rd and then into the Florida Agricultural Museum
. It was here that we met up with fellow historians and reenactors Bob Garver and Brian Bowman who pulled out the red carpet to give us one hell of a private tour.
We met Brian on our first night in St Augustine when we were graciously invited by our hosts to attend a meeting of the Men of Menendez, a 16th century Spanish reenacting organization. Brian is the organization's president, curator at the Florida Agricultural Museum, and a general wealth of knowledge in all things Florida history. I met Bob, a British RevWar reenactor, while shucking oysters at the British Night Watch party Friday night. When he told me where he worked, I explained our Sunday plans. Not enough can be said about these two men or the museum.
Being host to a full equine center, the "park" (I'm calling it a park and not a museum from now on. The vast majority of it is outdoors, has walking and riding trails, and it's huge) also contains a collection of original 19th c buildings from around Florida, including an 1890s homestead with perfectly reconstructed farm. Visitors to the park can get hands on exposure to cracker cattle and horses, a wild boar, and view antique vehicles and equipment used during the property's years as a logging camp. Partially state subsidized but privately owned, the park also generates income through equine boarding and event hosting. It is a hidden historical treasure, and a top notch operation full of domestic and wild animals. Don't miss a chance to visit.
Hewitt's Sawmill and Twin Bridges The PVC piping lain across the ground denotes the outline of the 18th century archaeological site of Howell's sawmill.
Groomed trails around the sawmill with interpretive signage lay on the original route of King's Road.
Across the highway on undeveloped property which was donated to the museum, lies an important piece of Southern colonial history. It was on Woodcutter's Creek, now Pellicer Creek, that a dam for a water powered sawmill was built by an English contractor John Hewitt. Hewitt's Mill
supplied much of the lumber required to rebuild St Augustine after the Spanish exodus in 1763. Much of the lumber produced here was probably transported northward on the King's Road, while the majority could have been floated down the creek to the Matanzas River. From there, using the tidal shifts, it was a simple ride upriver to St Augustine.
We walked along the original Road which is now an interpretive walk, while Bob Garver explained the area's history. The dam was constructed in a way that it also acted as the King's Road itself, making an easy conveyance of finished lumber from the mill. He pointed to a low swampy section of creek where the dam would have created a massive reservoir which would have contained the necessary amount of fluid to drive the sophisticated saw. This concept was better explained by a detailed model of what the mill would have looked like that's back at the visitor's center.
With that box checked, Bob walked us back to the parking area while giving directions to a site I had previously thought inaccessible. He left us to our own devices and would meet us back at the office with Brian so that they could continue our tour.
The site in question are the remnants of a pair of bridges from the time where Old King's Road intersected the two tails of what's now known as Pellicer Creek, later named for Francisco Pellicer (Minorcan carpenter). It was here that the route of King's Road took on a path that was anything but straight.
Traces of original road were dozed out of the woods to provide not only walking trails, but firebreaks as well. As we continued along, we descended in elevation towards a long straight corduroy causeway through the swamp until it simply stopped.
Location of the 2nd of the twin bridges. High tide :(
Elevated roadway approaching the Southern bridge.
Unknown to me at the time, the water was unusually high. If it were not for this fact, I'm told cypress pylons of the original bridge are usually visible here. My only way to discern the fact that this was indeed the crossing was by probing with a palm frond. There's quite a drop off there, trust me. Original 18thc roadway.
The first of the twins is in a private gated community known as Sawmill Creek. Identified by a private landowner, the first of the two bridge sites now has its own privately funded historical sign and everything. I was able to see it from the second bridge, but not get to it.
We had a lot else to see on our journey, yet there was no way of getting out of there without Brian and Bob showing off their pride and joy. We got to see a working homestead from the 1890s that has been meticulously relocated to the park, a wild boar, plenty of ducks and chickens, and their small herd of cracker cows. These are the cattle introduced to North America by the Spanish. This is what they looked like right here.
We said our good-byes and thanked the gentlemen, but once again, we were off. Still mostly leaving behind the 1700s we concentrated more on this fateful road's later history. Time now being a factor, we jumped back on I-95 to get to our next location before it closed.
By the early 1800s, many plantations were popping up along King's Road that produced things like sugar, indigo, and rice. The lumber industry had created fertile areas of clear cut land ready for planting. With plenty of water and a road nearby it was an easy choice for many investors. One such man, Charles Bulow, picked this site in 1821 to start what would become the largest sugar cane plantation in Florida. With his passing in 1823, his son John Joachim took the helm and continued to develop the plantation. A massive processing plant was constructed from local coquina stone and iron, as well as a sizeable mansion. The operation relied on upwards of 250 slaves, both in the fields and in the plant.
As the story goes, John was very friendly with the local Natives, by this time in history they were Seminole. Coacoochee himself was a good friend of the family. The Natives were often relied upon to provide fresh game for the Bulows so they were common visitors. With the outbreak of the 2nd Seminole War, John actually fired upon American soldiers attempting to commandeer the plantation and was subsequently arrested. Eventually abandoned, the plantation was burned to the ground, everyone having fled to either St Augustine or the Bahamas.
Today the site sits on Bulow's Plantation State Park near Bunnell on Old King's Rd where visitors can view the impressive ruins of the old plant. We pulled in at 4:30 in the afternoon with only a half hour to spare before closing time. The plan was to get a few pictures taken amongst the ruins dressed as Charles Bulow. I thought it would be cool to create an image of a pre 1820s gentleman envisioning his grand plans while simultaneously standing amongst the ruins, or some such artsy fartsy nonsense.
The lighting sucked because it was getting late, but yet the conditions gave the site an eerie cast as if to remind me of the warnings by Chris Kimball. "You know it's haunted right?" he says when I told him what I wanted to do. Chris would know, as probably the foremost Seminole War expert, living historian, and blogger. Check out his blog here http://seminolewar.livejournal.com/ ; it's well worth it for anyone into Florida history. "Yeah," he says. "There's a weird tree where people keep having strange experiences." I didn't get much more information from him, but did find the tree. I think. It seemed pretty obvious because Anna wouldn't let me get near it. As we wrapped up the shoot, I quickly changed back into my 21st century digs and hopped into the driver's seat of the borrowed pick-up that had been functioning flawlessly the entire trip. The battery was dead.
Having visited a lot of historically significant places, when events that happened there were really dramatic, you can feel its spirit or spirits of those that played a role. The Bulow's Plantation was definitely no exception, with more than a couple very sad events playing out here, it feels permeated with emotion. I try to go out of my way to do what I can to make sure these things go unforgotten, and I think the spirits reward people for that. They help you. Maybe this time they wanted me to stay and hang out with them for just a little longer. Maybe they were trying to trap me there for swamp monster bait? Either way the park resident was able to give us a quick jump and off we went. It was late, getting dark, and we were hungry, having neglected to eat for the hurry we had been in all day. It was supper time.
River Grille on the Tomoka What Red Lobster tries to be, but isn't.
It had been a long day of missing meals to stay in a hurry, but we could hold out no longer. It was a good thing our next, and final, stop on the trail of the Old King's Road was a restaurant in Ormond. While necessary at some point, it might not seem too historically inclined. The River Grille on the Tomoka lies on an ancient bluff above the river right where US-1 crosses the water. Once called "Buckhead Bluff", this was the site of an 18th century English plantation started by Richard Oswald. This was also the site of the King's Road ferry crossing of the river starting the last overland leg towards New Smyrna. Line of vegetation through salt grass denotes the old road.
After placing my order I popped out onto the elaborate decks that the owners installed out back on the river. I still had a enough light left to view what I came to see. Just between US-1 bridge and the railroad bridge can still be seen a line of trees and vegetation unambiguously cutting through the marsh from the tree line towards the river. This is the original old King's Road bed. It was there that the ferry crossing was pulled back and forth on a cable system to convey goods, cattle, and people.
I came back inside to eat, and boy did I. Being a skinny hypoglycemic, I usually can't put away too much food, but between Anna and I, we took care of everything they put in front of u including appetizers and desert. The food was excellent, being very fresh seafood. We liked to keep things old school on our trip. We started out with gator tail and then put away the entre of crab legs, mussels, sausage and potatoes, shrimp, and the best hushpuppies ever. I sipped the hot coffee that would keep me alive for the last leg home with the brownie sunday. We had the opportunity to speak with the owner's son Alex, who was managing that evening. He told us what he could about the history of the place saying that it was also the location of an old hotel that played a role in early Florida tourism along Old King's Road, before route 1.
We thanked him for the great food and service and started the pick-up, without trouble this time. The rest of the trip southward was uneventful; moving onto New Smyrna where we eventually got back on the interstate.
Immediately after merging onto I-95 I checked my rearview mirror once more when I noticed the two stowaways. There in the back seat sat the ghosts of John Bulow and Coacoochee. After the first fifteen minutes of awkward silence, John finally asked if I'd put on some music while nonchalantly passing up a CD. It was Chicago's greatest hits. I asked Coacoochee if he had anything to contribute while tossing back John's CD. "John Anderson?" was his response. I let them both out at the next rest area and took off.
Strung necklaces of appropriate antique beads for 18th c Native portrayals.
This is an article I've been itching to write for some time, but only recently able to. As a reenactor sometimes portraying a Southeastern Native, trade beads have been something of a mystery to me. I used to think that the documentation as to what beads were common to the colonial Southeast is ambiguous at best. It is also my opinion that the use of beads by Native reenactors has been a neglected subject that hopefully this article goes a long way in correcting. Wishing that I had a resource like this in my early days, the following has been a long work in progress over the last two years of collecting, not only informational sources, but the actual beads themselves. We'll gain the ability to properly identify period correct beads by looking at their history, manufacturing techniques, and the various styles. We'll also be taking a look at beads coming from specific archaeological sites around the South so that the reader will have a clear picture of what to look for in choosing beads for living history.
The first thing we need to do in understanding beads, whether we are collectors, reenactors, or otherwise, is to comprehend the dialogue associated with them. By understanding the categories and styles, we'll have an easier time in communicating with folks. The problem with this is that there does not seem to be a perfectly uniform vernacular among the bead savvy. While some names for beads are widely understood, at the same time exists several other terms for the same thing. This can lead to confusion for the uninitiated, so while the information given here is the best that I can offer at the time, it should by no means be taken as complete. The common nicknames associated with certain beads are usually created based on a beads basic appearance or place of origin. While the color and shape of two separate beads may be similar, the method of construction might be totally different, eventually leading one into either confusion, or hopefully, a better identification when one goes shopping for authentic antiques.
The history of trade beads
can parallel with the history of glass, as this is what they're made of. While it might seem counterintuitive today, with the commonality of all kinds of glass and the tools needed to work it, long ago the world of glass making was very secretive. In ancient hubs of bead manufacture, like Venice, Aleppo, Amsterdam, and Bohemia, there existed very closed communities of glass workers whose proprietary knowledge of chemistry allowed them to create beautiful little creations sought all over the globe. When silicon dioxide (glass) is combined with certain chemicals in certain ratios, it takes on various hues. By understanding the slightest variance in recipe will vary the appearance greatly, we begin to understand the fact that some colors of glass will never effectively be reproduced.
Glass also has a certain acidity. I don't know how, but it does. Like getting a blood transfusion, we want that blood to be of the same type as ours so not to get rejected. Much in the same way, in order to get two glasses to bond well together, it's best that they are close together on the Litmus scale. As you can see in early multicolored beads, the layers, stripes or inlays usually wear off or fall out. Just the same as the improvement in color, chemistry is used to solve the adherence issue, but it does take time. This fact helps us in the identification process, as does the means of manufacture; using these indicators we can very accurately place a bead in a proper historical context.
A fine display of Venetian rod showing how it would have been used in the manufacture of individual beads. -Collection of AJ White.
Beads can be typed and effectively described by their methods of manufacture. Many "wound" beads were made by winding molten glass around either a tapered mandrel or wire from which they can be left plain or decorated by being "drawn on" with another contrasting color. Another type of drawn bead implies a hollow rod is drawn from the molten stock to be broken into individual beads once cooled. Many of the multi layered tubular types were made using this method. Some beads were cast from molds, while others had facets ground or pressed into them.
As far as aging goes, the rule of thumb (with many exceptions) is that a bigger bead is an older bead; older beads have bigger holes. As manufacturing technology progresses, beads get smaller and tighter with more and more complex decoration. Otherwise primitive beads look just that, while later beads posses complicated features.
It is important for the reader to remember that these things were traded globally from a very early time. Coveted by all, the same exact beads can be found in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, wile being traded to indigenous cultures from alternative sources. For instance, the bead commonly known as a "Russian blue" was of Bohemian manufacture while "Dogon" beads were of Dutch origin. Many Chech beads were made of Venetian glass and the three main European superpowers of the 18th century were all trading the same sorts of beads all over the world. This may seem to muddy the waters, but it actually goes a long way in helping us understand the simplicity of the bead trade, while simultaneously allowing for multiple sources in todays bead market for the kinds of beads collectors or historians might be looking for.
Let's take a look at the types of trade beads commonly found throughout the South in the colonial period. I'll remind you that exact dating can be difficult as many beads were produced over long periods of time. The only definitive way we can place a bead to a certain context is to look at the archaeological record, which we will get into after a bit. I would also like you to be aware that the following list is by no means complete, although is a good demonstration of the most common types of beads attributed to the colonial South according to my research. Let's start from the earliest beads and work our way forward chronologically.
The following examples all show up in dig sites related to 18th century Indians of Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina. Again, this is by no means a complete representation of what existed, but only a wide cross section of the beads present at the time. If I've not come across the bead in documents relating to a Southeastern site, they're not listed here either. This is not to say these beads can't be found elsewhere, like Africa, New York, or otherwise.
We can not definitively determine from who these beads were obtained, as it could be through either direct contact with Europeans or indirect trade with neighboring tribes. For all intents and purposes, we should consider them as objects of British trade, being found in areas of British occupation and alliance. I think this suits us best as the vast majority of us portraying 1700s Natives are typically representing a people heavily allied to the English. That being said, consider the fact that almost all of the Indian trade of the colonial Southeast flowed through Charleston. Goods destined to the Indians of Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas traveled from Charleston to Augusta and beyond, feeding the English necessity of maintaining positive relations to their neighboring tribes.
As a result, the same beads found in Alabama sites, are exactly identical to those found around Beech Island, SC or Western Carolina and Tennessee. By studying one region we can learn much about another. It is my opinion that in the study of bed trade, it is the period of study rather than the locale that should take precedence.
Early Beads (Late 1500s-late 1700s)
Dogons Early Dutch wound beads commonly referred to as dogons. Author's collection.
The oval type of dogon sometimes known as "pidgeon eggs". Author's collection.
Widely cherished by the author, rendezvous-ers, and the Dogon people of Mali
, many of these beads today are coming from that area giving them their misnomer. They can generally be considered as dating as far back as the 17th century, although it is my belief that they can be pushed back as early as the 1500s. By 1580, bead makers from Murano had established a factory in Amsterdam.
Beads of this type were traded by the English, Spanish, and others from Florida to Canada. A large strand of these has been found near my home in Wyoming, demonstrating the extensiveness of their reach.
They can be made from either opaque or transparent glass, very round as shown or more oval. ranging in size from seed bead to almost 20mm in diameter, they are some of the most rare and expensive collectible beads today. The opaque varieties usually come in several shades of blue, white, black, and less commonly green, red or yellow. The transparent colors range from cobalt, clear, amber, and teal. Some even have an amethyst hue. Many beads of this shape and size have been attributed to China, leading to some contention and confusion, however, they are still widely known as Dutch beads.
The larger type are the most expensive today, being less available than the smaller varieties. A single strand of large dogons can hardly be had for much less than $100.
Pidgeon eggs are what I call them, although depending on size the term rat beads can be heard. These are made the same as above, although more elongated. The smaller the bead it seems, the more uniform the shape. They can be found in the same colors as described above and are known to date to the same period.
These longer beads of lesser diameter are sometimes known as Rat turd beads because of their resemblance to rat shit. Author's collection.
Dutch Donuts Dutch Donuts. Author's collection.
Also being from the same family of the dogons, these wound German beads are also a very early bead that can be found in 16th c sites. I have never seen one made of the opaque glass, but they do come in the same varieties of the translucent colors as the other Dutch beads. Cobalt blue is probably the most common, followed by clear, with green and amber in the back stretch. These beads were made as to be used as spacers when strung with other beads.
Were it not for the lighting in this photograph, these spacers typically look black. Made from sections of drawn tube just like the Cornaline d'Aleppo, these too are a type of spacer bead. Having flatter sides than the donuts, they can resemble tires rather than inner tubes. While I've thrown them into the Dutch category, they may actually be Venetian......or Venetian workers that escaped to Amsterdam, or whatever...get over it.
Delft Fanciest of the Dutch beads. Two in foreground are the "pillow ticking" type. Author's collection.
These are usually quite small, ranging from 6-9mm in diameter. Very common throughout the 18th century South, they are very hard to find today. After the white glass was wound, blue lines were drawn into the bead creating a floral looking design, much like delftware ceramics. This tactic in bead design is known as lampwork
, this being one of the earliest examples. A sub variety, also shown here, has stripes spiraling around the equator by one third giving it the look of blue striped pillow ticking. While generally considered a Dutch bead, they are more likely Murano made imitations of Dutch beads.
Faceted No collection of Indian trade beads is complete without these, but good luck finding them. Author's collection.
These beads are sometimes attributed to the Ethiopians or Egyptians, however it's the colors of glass that mirror exactly those of the transparent glass used in other Dutch beads. These have been found all over the Southeast. While very common in Creek sites of Alabama, I have personally found examples in Florida and South Carolina dating them to being very common in the mid-1700s.
These wound beads are simple versions of translucent dogons that have had facets pressed into them while still plastic on the mandrel. [But Beau! I thought you said they were made of glass? Plastic is an adjective, fuckers.] Four facets on top, and four on the bottom lead others to call these "cornerless cubes". Clear and cobalt blue are the most common, although some green and amber can be found. Many times the clear glass has somewhat of a amethyst tinge.
Rattlesnakes Looks like someone's mom made him bring his little brother to the party. Author's collection.
Mostly referred to as rattlesnakes due to the diamond pattern created with the crisscross lines, these are a wound bead. This would be the predecessor to all future drawn on or lampwork
beads of the 19th century. These can also be referred to as tire beads or Chinese beads, as the irregular lines look like Chinese letters to some. The drawn lines can not only be white, but yellow, and more infrequently, gold (from copper filings), but almost always drawn on black. They have been found across many 18th century sites associated with Native trade, from Tennessee to Alabama, and are mostly associated with the British before the 1760s.
This example from the same family, but of Venetian make is known as a pineapple bead. One of the earliest fancy beads, these have been found in North Florida. A pink variant has also been found in a Susquehanna River site. Collection of the author.
The Venetian glass workers were some of the finest. Setting the bar early with intricate decoration, they have created some of the most complicated and unique beads throughout history. Mostly famous for the striped beads, the easiest method for creating them was drawn rod. Not to say some weren't wound, as we'll soon see. Their later beads really got more and more creative as their technology exploded with contact to other glass workers from around the world. Glass makers in Murano had very early start in the European bead industry giving influence to other guilds of the region.
Nueva Cadiz Nueva Cadiz beads. The clear twisted square cane in the back belongs to the same family. Author's collection.
While considered to be a Spanish trade bead, these are VERY early beads believed to have been produced by the Venetians. This is a multi layered drawn glass bead, usually blue on the outside. Many are quite large at almost a half inch wide, however, it seems the more petit examples were traded to the Americas. Of those pictured, they range from 10mm to barely 1mm thick. Some can be round while most are 4 sided. These easily date to the early Spanish colonies. These are with out argument the most rare and expensive of trade beads to acquire, some individuals going for as much as $100 per bead.
are not only some of the earliest, but were also some of the most prolific making them easily obtainable today at a relatively cheap cost. Many strands can be had for as little as $30-40. [Much like the average video gamer's mother.] Originally attributed to Aleppo, Syria, they are a multi layered Venetian bead, made from tube glass into beads of varying length. While the outer brick red layer is obvious, the inner core usually appears black. It's not. Upon closer inspection in good lighting, it appears to be more of a sour apple green with a slightly translucent quality. Another popular variant which is less common today has a opaque white outer layer as opposed to the red. When both varieties are found in a longer shape, these are known as firecracker beads. Many are also decorated with striping.
Same as above but with yellow, white and black striping. These may be attributed to the Venetians who are better known for striping. Author's collection.
Gooseberries Larger gooseberries. Made from rod, these sectional beads are quite different from the wound beads. Author's collection.
Resembling a gooseberry, these striped beads are of clear glass, sometimes having a pink, yellow, or lavender cast. With dense white stripe of varying numbers, they can range in size from 10mm down to half that. These have been found almost everywhere the British or Spanish did business at very early sites.
Slightly less than pony bead size, these small gooseberries have nice rounded edges. Collection of the author.
Chevrons Examples of Venetian chevrons found throughout the reaches of English trade. Those in the rear are sometimes called American flags. Collection of the author.
Probably the most elaborate of trade beads that can be attributed to the colonial period, early styles are rumored to have been on Columbus' first voyage. They get their name from the sawtoothed pattern within the various strata. Many examples have been found on early English and Spanish sites of the 1600s. Most were either blue (as shown) or with a green outer layer (not shown). These beads were probably quite rare at the time, being only distributed to chiefs, or the most wealthy. Their popularity did continue right through into the 1800s. Oh if I had a dollar for every time someone pooh-poohed these beads being used for 1700s interpretation. They had them, they were around.
While not a true chevron, this "Manhattan" bead falls into the family based on its similarity. If you believe the story about Manhattan being bought from the Indians with beads and brandy, then this would be that type of bead used in the transaction, thus giving it its nickname. Author's collection.
Bugles Tube beads like these are very prolific among Southeastern dig sites. Collection of author.
Most of us are familiar with the use of shell in the indigenous manufacture of tubular beads known as wampum. While mostly associated with the Algonquin tribes, the extent of its use is widely underestimated in my opinion. These tubulars, known as bugle beads, are still produced in Venice and Czechoslovakia using the drawn or extruded glass method. Being more efficiently made in Europe, they became a cost effective staple of American Indian beadwork. This alternative to wampum grew very popular, yet still not as valuable as the hand made shell version.
These beads can be found in various colors. White and blue are most common, followed by the less popular reds. Many striped versions existed known as candy stick beads in resemblance to candy canes. Their sizes range from just over a milimeter in diameter to almost a quarter inch thick. Being sectioned or broken from rod stock, the lengths can be varied.
Many colonial era dig sites are littered with the broken bits of clay pipe stems. Whether these may have been used as beads is up to ones opinion, but I can't imagine they weren't. Author's collection.
Melons Giggity. Author's collection.
The term "melon" is most commonly applied to spherically fluted beads. These were either produced from a mold or having the flutes pressed into the bead while the glass remained plastic. I have seen the early versions produced almost exclusively in yellows or blacks, the smallest at about 2mm to the largest at around 11mm. One example in my collection of the smallest variety seems to have been plated with a copper based enamel, giving it a bronze luster.
Melons are particularly useful in obtaining other bead types as evidenced by the collection belonging to my girlfriend.
Other Early Beads The earliest example of drawn on striping. I haven't come across a term for these. Author's collection.
These are nice and large mandrel wound beads with large holes, much like the Dutch beads. While they very well may be, the striping leads me towards classifying them as being Venetian. Many beads are quite hard to attribute, however their presence in the American archaeological record allows for at least some definitive context.
Seed Beads Venetian.
The absolutely most common trade bead throughout American history is without a doubt, the versatile seed bead. Unfortunately the archaeological record cannot reflect this, for unless material from a dig site is being initially screened very fine, the majority of the beads can go unnoticed. These beads are relatively easy to find today, and cheap. Used from everything to weaving and appliqué, seed beads were produced by almost all manufacturing centers in the most prolific of colors. Many of the Venetians are striped, and eventually many had contrasting inner cores. Mostly you'll see white, black blues, amethyst, and clear in the 1700s. It's not until later on in the 19th century that the wildly bright colors that we associate with contemporary Native beadwork came about.
Some of the most common examples of antique seed beads were produced by the Venetians, Dutch, and others by both winding and extruding, although almost all were tumbled round. Collection of the author.
Late Beads (1800-1900)
Not all of us are into colonial living history. While others are into the 19th century, many of us do both. The following is a good description of later styles of beads that would be appropriate for portrayals ranging from the War of 1812 to the mountain man fur trade era and beyond. Many of these beads I use for Second Seminole War events.
This period is where we see the Czech glassmakers really come into their own, while the Dutch seem to fade away into obscurity. Meanwhile, the Venetians are still continually improving their product as they still do today. Beads get finer and more intricate while decorating methods become more extreme. As chemistry improves, so does the color.
Being newer beads, although still very vintage, most of these examples are far more common in todays bead markets than those from the earlier periods. As a result, they are almost always cheaper. Some may still be rare and expensive depending on the style, like the voyagers (Lewis and Clark beads) for example.
Vaselines Like the beads above, these are also commonly referred to as cornerless cubes. Author's collection
The moniker for this style of Czech bead lies with the common yellowish transparent color. Resembling petroleum jelly, these beads never seem to be too small. They are mostly around the 9/16 3/4 inch range. The nickname is descriptive of the type of glass more than anything, for this family of beads comes in many different shapes. Ground faceted, rhondelles, and melon shapes are among the most common. The holes are always tapered. These beads would have been somewhat common in certain regions of North America starting around the second quarter of the 1800s.
These melons exhibit vibrant color. Some ambers and greens are also quite common. Author's collection.
Russian Blues An original strand of quality blue cut beads like these can be had for no less than about $70. Collection of the author.
Made popular through Russian trade, these Bohemian beads were sometimes made from Venetian glass cane. Each bead then being broken off, they were faceted by hand on metal wheels, making them quite the time consuming project. Almost always Cobalt blue, some teal and lavender examples exist, and some measure up to several inches long. The color usually ranges from a deep transparent cobalt (earlier) to a milky opaque blue.
Found everywhere from the tip of Florida, to the Columbia River, they were traded to a great extent throughout the 19th century. No Seminole outfit is complete without them.
Most commonly called "skunk beads
", I prefer the term "eye bead" denoting the spotted decorations. I refuse to call them skunks, after all, what do they have to do with a skunk? They are spotted and not stripped. The spotting should be considered the most early example of millefiori
work, meaning multi-flowered. These Venetian beads were just as widely popular as the Russian blues, making them a staple of 1800s plains culture. The most common varieties were black and red with many other colors available as well. While early examples may have been around in the late 1700s, they are so uncommon as to lead me to counsel you on reserving these for use in 19th c events.
Cornalline d'Aleppo These turquoise and green white heart pony beads are much less common than the reds and cobalt blues. Collection of the author.
They're back once again, only this time better than ever. Still being made in Murano, the heart beads are now being made with new and exiting colors. Starting in the very late 1780s, yellow started to replace green as the dominant core color. By the time of the beaver fur trade in the mid 1800s, white glass was being used. These "white hearts" became so prevalent in the fur trade that they can commonly be referred to as Hudson's Bay beads.
Mostly red, they consisted of an opaque milky white wire wound core, over which was wound with a transparent color. Unlike the original green hearts, which were made from drawn tubes, the early yellow and white hearts of the 1800s were made with the wire wound method. Once demand exploded, the Venetians once again adapted the bead back to being made from extruded and tumbled cane stock.
Here the winding construction can be plainly seen. This variety is sometimes known as "rose over mustards", or "cranberry" beads. Internet photo.
Another bead that carries on into the future is the chevron
. Still being produced today, Chevrons of the 1800s started to become much more refined than their predecessors. With more layers and sharper teeth, these are some of the most collectible beads today. The vintage variety are fairly common, yet expensive, while quality modern reproductions are much less so. They were made from blue, green, red, white, and many other flavors of molded cane.
I wonder if anyone is reading this. Potato. A J White's personal collection.
The Archeological Record Author volunteering on a dig site in St Augustine, FL. 4 Dec, 2014.
The site that these came from is considered having direct contact with De Soto's party in the mid 1500s The original site was found and destroyed during construction of I-75 in Florida. Collection of the author.
While documentation is good, well placed extant examples are better. By looking at artifacts found from dig sites pertaining to our target period, we gain good intel by leaps and bounds as to the popular material culture of the time. Now that we've created a baseline for what types of beads we expect to find, we can begin to have a better understanding to properly identify beads we encounter.
Unfortunately many archaeologists are not bead experts. In most operations, beads are simply described and cataloged, never being photographed or illustrated. This is the problem I've run into in searching through records of found beads. Experience helps us to understand these descriptions, so that when we see "wound" our first thought might be "Dutch". We read on. Oh but now it has two layers which obviously makes it Venetian, and so on. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so hopefully I've given you the tools to begin to identify the correct beads.
The internet is, as always, a great source of info as long as you know what to look for and how to go about it. Some skillful google-fu can yield great results. For example check out the St Catherines site
, or a research paper talking about British colonial trade beads in the Southeast
. The internet is also a great place to find books on the subject.
One of the most helpful books to me has been Alabama Trade Bead Checklist Vol II
. This has been a great resource in cross referencing beads to English trade of the 1700s. This is a virtually complete list of common beads to the Southeast, since most of these would have been obtained by English trade routed through Charleston and Augusta. The descriptions given are good enough to infer with a high degree of certainty which beads are mentioned. At the same time, one could use these written descriptions to go out and find very similar modern beads at very little cost to stand in as reproductions.
But still, despite how one goes about researching this, or any subject, nothing beats pulling something out of the ground and saying "Ah-ha!" So with that I'll share more of my collection of beads. The following are not African market beads like those above. These examples are actual samples coming from various sites in the South. We'll take a look at each sample and see if we can't draw some conclusions.
Destroying the whole rule of thumb thing, these small seed beads should be considered among the first of trade beads to ever hit the shores of Florida. Having traipsed all over the Southeast in the 1500s, De Soto would have introduced beads like these to many of the original late woodland tribes that he encountered along the way. In these very early beads we see a lot of opaque olive green, yellow, transparent cobalt, with white thrown in for good measure. A sample of trade beads from a site in Charleston, SC. Collection of the author.
While not being a good representation of a wide color scheme, we have many unique specimens here. All are either clear or milky to an opaque white. The cylindrical pieces in the back are most likely Dutch. Some of these seem like they were cast, like the yellowish leaf bead on the right. In the upper left is a very early eye bead, along with the dark bead next to the leafy one. The clear bead in the upper middle is a press faceted. The UFO looking bead is pretty different in shape, but same color and size of other oddly shaped beads found in St Augustine. It's commonly called a dog's tooth, and commonly comes in opaque colors like black and white. The far left bead looks like an opal in color. These are called moon beads, and can be quite commonly found. Amelia Island, FL. Collection of the author.
Here we have a very wide array of colors and styles. These beads, found where they were, could be attributed to the northernmost reaches of Spanish Franciscan missions, or the Southern end of the English colonies. Either way, we see the same beads again in Alabama. We have gooseberries, early chevrons, white Venetian striped slicers, clear seed beads, striped seed beads, and a few of translucent greens or purples. The teal bead just below the red and black chevron in a small clear pentagonal seed bead. It is also in this lot that we're seeing a couple very small melons, just a couple mm thick. Tatham mound. Tampa, FL. Author's collection.
These beads are almost some of the earliest. Found near Tampa, these come from a site which has been associated with contact to De Soto. We're already seeing Dutch donuts along with other wound beads. We have black in the back, cobalt, and a couple striped seed beads that definitely look Venetian. The red bugle up front looks as if it had a candy stripe at one time. The other plain seed beads are clear, turquoise and white. St Augustine, FL. Author's collection.
These beads recovered from private property must have been from the "party" period. With the exception of the two striped cornalline beads (yellow over grey) all are opaque yellows with multicolored striping. Only one has been tumbled round with the rest sectioned from drawn rod. Other than these shown, I have personally witnessed some clear faceted Dutch come out of the ground.
Susquehanna River site, PA. Author's collection.
Here's another unique bead commonly associated with both Spanish and English trade. This clear glass bead has raised nodules giving it the common name of "raspberry." This very bead was found in a 1750s trash pit of the late first Spanish period of St. Augustine.
Moving away from the South, we still see the same beads up north. Here is a fine sample of melons along with the ever present stripped seed beads. Two Dutch delft beads are shown having lost their blue inlay long ago. Found at a battle site in Bushnell, FL.
So now we have a site from a particular later time period. Dec 28, 1835 particular enough? The Seminoles must have loved blue, except for that one purple bead. Almost all are cut Czech "Russian" blues. Note the blue tubes on the lower right. Oh look, those little teal pentagons are still around.... neato... Now remember folks, Indians never went into battle with their beads on.
Conclusions These beads date back no farther than the last decade of the 1800s. Durham site Ft Myers, FL. Collection of the author.
We've covered the basics of American trade beads in the South by discussing the types of beads commonly found with illustrations to boot. We've somewhat made an attempt to prove the theory by comparing descriptions in Archaeological documents with an actual, yet small, sample of beads from colonial Florida to the Carolinas. So hopefully by now, you're feeling a bit more confident about what beads to apply to your reenacting persona, or maybe even you've gained some understanding for your bead collecting hobby.
I think the above has shown that by taking a look at extant artifacts, we can use that information to more confidently interpret our portrayals. Use this information to go out and get yourself a solid selection of authentic antique beads that best suit you. While this may be expensive, consider the cost of every thing else involved with reenacting. It's a drop in the bucket.
On the other hand, I respect the fact that this is not always practical. By also using this information, modern beads can be employed in living history as well. Many of the beads talked about are either still being manufactured, or are being convincingly reproduced. Most of these beads are relatively cheap by comparison. Before walking into my favorite restaurant tonight, I quickly stopped into my local bead store to take a quick gander. I noticed whole hanks of black seed beads with 4 white stripes exactly like one shown above. They also feature some nice chevrons made from Venetian cane.
For the price of a cup of coffee, I would have enough to make several necklaces, and no one would know the difference. Many of these reproduction beads can be found in catalogs like Crazy Crow
. Shipwreck Beads
has also bought out the last of the Venetian collection from South Dakota, and are now distributing these at a very reasonable cost.
Please, show these beads you care.
These necklaces are all made from inexpensive and newly manufactured beads. All of these closely resemble a type of bead common to the 1700-1800s.
I think that one reason for a lack of understanding of beads might be lack of exposure to the bead culture. By living in Wyoming, and being around a place that was so heavily involved with fur era Indian trade, I've come to meet a lot of people whose understanding of trade beads is almost unparalleled in other regions. Within the living history community out west here, trade bead history is almost a universal common knowledge. I feel very fortunate to have been exposed to those who know so much about this and are so very willing to share their wisdom.
Without my involvement with the rendezvous historians, I doubt I'd be able to write this article. I owe thanks to people like A.J. White and Tim Thornburg who have sold me many strands and several books on the subject. Actually I hate AJ White. I can't stop at his house for a friendly chat without it costing me several hundred dollars! :) Carrie Donnan of the Ancient City Inn in St Augustine has really gone a long way in developing my knowledge. Thanks are also owed to Moises Sztylerman who invited us to help out on one of their digs last week where several great examples were found of beads attributed to the 1750s. I can't wait to see what he finds next. Many thanks go out to Bartleys of Beech Island Historical Society who graciously shared their finds from the FT
And last but not least, thanks to AnnaLee's melons for providing the perfect backdrop to a stellar collection.
So hopefully in the first part
we left you with at least a general concept of the early evolution of America's two party system. We talked about he division between the liberal Jeffersonian Republicans, and the Hamiltonian conservative Federalists. We talked about how the Jeffersonian Republicans eventually succumb to the human condition an started to adopt more conservative policies. In the next few paragraphs, we'll pick up where we left off with the Jackson administration, and continue on to today's two party system, or lack thereof.
With Jackson and his Democrats taking the election of 1828
we see both the Republican and Democratic parties being formed as we see them today. Or do we? Let's find out. While Jackson was a fairly libertarian dude, which was the reason for support by the Old Republicans, his Democratic support (think old Federalists) came from his enforcement of tariffs. Tariffs
had long been employed as a means of protecting northern factories and industry after the War of 1812. The sad fact of the matter was that this was needed to offset the low quality and poor workmanship of the American products. While in continual competition with imported European manufactured goods of higher quality, the northern manufacturers needed protection. The biggest burden of this equation was being paid by the South. By placing these importation taxes on European goods, the South, a major producer of sugar and cotton, ended up getting less for their products as well. The Tariff Act of 1828
, enacted by Adams was a major issue at the time, and much of Jackson's support came from the expectation that he would do something about it. Needing funding for a strong standing military, he didn't.
A rift formed between his supporters in the South, and especially so in South Carolina, the home state of Vice President Calhoun
. By resigning from the Vice Presidency, Calhoun felt that he had a better chance of fighting the tariffs from the Senate. In order to curb his opposition, Jackson signed a compromise tariff
in 1832, which only continued to piss off the Carolinians, who declared both the 1828 and 1832 tariffs as being unconstitutional and unenforceable. This nullification tactic continued to come to a head; while threats of secession flew, Jackson prepared for military intervention in the enforcement of the tariffs. With the real threat of federal military actions by executive order, Calhoun and his South Carolinians finally settled down on another compromise that reduced the tariffs, even if only slightly.
At this time in our history, we really start to see a blurring of the political spectrum as those we deem as liberals start exhibiting really conservative actions, being fought by those who were earlier labeled as what was once known as conservative. While Calhoun would continue to fight for libertarian ideals such as states' rights clear into the Civil War, the Nullification Crisis
during Jackson's administration would be the beginnings of the main division between the North and South leading up to the Civil War.
It starts up once again during the Mexican-American War
when the idea of Texas becoming a state is viewed as a threat to the north. If Texas was annexed as a new Southern state it would most likely become a slave state, thus upsetting the balance in congress between free and slave state representation. The concept of military intervention to aid in secession, once again was at the forefront of American politics. In January 1848 Lincoln said: “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better.” In less than a decade and a half he would have to express his views on secession once again, only this time his opinion would be grossly different.
Why the reversal you ask? Consider that by the election of 1860
the northern Whigs had been pretty much absorbed by the Republicans, which by this time, was mostly a northern party. In 1854 the Whig Party imploded with northern remnants combining with disaffected anti-slavery Democrats to form the Republican Party, and chose the Illinois Senator Abraham Lincoln as their candidate. The Southern Whigs formed the Constitutional Union Party and chose John Bell of Tennessee as their candidate. At the same time the Democratic Party was splitting. Northern Democrats chose Stephen Douglas of Illinois, while those in the South chose John Beckinridge of Kentucky. Out of these four, not one was really a national candidate. By proxy this election really turned into two. We had Lincoln running against Douglas in the north, and Beckinridge running against Bell in the South; so that no matter who won, much of the nation would feel disenfranchised. Witout even appearing on the ballot in most of the South, Lincoln took almost 40% of the popular vote, and close to almost all of the northern electoral votes giving enough for the South's vote not to matter.
It was the deep Southern states that voted for Beckinridge that seceded over the election. In the upper South, maintaining sympathy for their Southern brethren, states that carried Bell chose not to secede so long as there was no military aggression against the seceded states. It is important to remember that, just like 12 years earlier, the majority of the country believed in the right to secession, just as the original 13 colonies had done from England 80 years prior. While most of the north did believe that secession was about the preservation of slavery, most were disinterested in going to war over that. Even those against the concept of secession, like President Buchanan, still disagreed with the need for military involvment to enforce the view.
While I could white a whole other article on the causes and events leading up to the Civil War, we'll try and stay on topic. Until then I'd encourage you to read two documents, the first being the The Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union
, which is basically the Declaration of Independence for South Carolina. While slavery was mentioned, the tariffs that the South was no longer willing to pay were much needed by Lincoln to finance his big government goals. The other side of the story would be Lincoln's first Inaugural Address
. I believe no further research is needed once these two simple documents are consumed in understanding the real causes and issues for the Civil War of tariffs, and how the issue of slavery was used as a mask on both sides. So moving on, we see a great division between the northern and Southern states that lies on party lines. As the war continues on in infamy, this great struggle only helps cement these regionally based political party divisions. The Republicans in the north were fighting a war against the Southern Democrats to suppress free trade, which was against every principle of the Republican Party.
As a result of the war, as in most military endeavors, the costs became almost overwhelming. Not deterring Republicans before, or since, some measures were taken to ensure the continuance and ability to wage wars for the sake of intervention. Federal expenditures grew 20 times over between 1861 and 1865. Since raising taxes twenty times over would have put every Republican out of office and our of the war, stealth expropriation through devaluation of money and hidden borrowing from the future had to do. With Salmon Chase's
1862 issuance of 150 million dollars worth of "greenbacks", he promised that the government wouldn't issue such unbacked paper again. Easy money, being a narcotic, "never" was redefined as five months, so another 150 million more was issued in July of that year, and yet again in early 1863. The markets adjusted for the massive inflation, but the dollar which had basically remained fairly steady since the formation of the Republic, began to slide by a couple cents per month against gold. Since bad money drives out good, specie began disappearing from circulation. America's first income tax was instituted in 1862 after other stealth taxes and massive borrowing failed to provide enough capital. With the backing of Ohioan Whig Jay Cooke and Senator John Sherman, the brother of William Tecumseh Sherman, the National Currency Acts
were passed. These acts partially dismantled the semi-free market only to replace it with quasi-national banking which eventually led to the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.
This collusion between government and business, and the economic meddling by the Republican federal government was pretty bad, but it didn't stop there. With opposition forming within the north as well as the South, Lincoln took some drastic measures to curb disapproval of his actions. Suppression of rights, suspension of habeas corpus, imprisonment of Maryland legislators and journalist, and the Emancipation Proclmation are but a few of these measures Republicans of the time can be remembered for.
As Author Mark Ledbetter puts it in America's Forgotten History: Vol II
, "The flip side to Lincoln's enormous legacy is the road not taken. If, for example, he had let those seven states go in peace [as he said he would], what might we supposed would have happened? A libertarian spots two things. Free trade in the South would have forced the North to adopt the same. A North without fugitive slave laws would have forced the South to abandon slavery. Once both of those were accomplished, anyone who understands economic value of freedom will predict economic advancement by both nations, with both nations, as a result, becoming comfortable with what had been forced upon them by the other.
With the stumbling blocks of free trade and slavery voluntarily removed, it is possible the Confederacy might have rejoined the Union."
If the conservative Republicans had really been about free trade, small government, low taxes, and the like; they should have let the above scenario play out.
As the War came to close, the problem of reuniting the disaffected states rest upon the shoulders of Lincoln. Part of his solution was to woo Southern Whigs, the former plantation slaveholding elite, back into his new version of the Whigs, the National Union Party. New voters could also be cultivated within the black suffrage movement. John Wilkes Booth would make sure, however, that Lincoln would not be the one to finish this work. Radical Republicans in congress actually celebrated the assassination, believing all obstacles had been removed in their plan to lad the former slaves into the Promised Land. Their hope was short lived with the overestimation of Johnson's radicalism. Andrew Johnson was a Democrat, a Southerner, and a Unionist. Picked as a running mate by Lincoln, he was to be used a symbol of amicable reunion. Ironically he instead became a symbol of Southern assertiveness in a time when the Republicans faced the dilemma of preserving the Union while simultaneously preventing a loss of power.
War is a very destructive power, although it's also very conducive to constructing new methods and means of destruction. An industrial revolution occurred in the north during the Civil War that would influence the course of American politics well into the next century. When just before the War's start, for example, a couple of entrepreneurs got the crazy idea that they could refine this nasty black goo oozing out of the ground in western Pennsylvania. Their product, superior to whale oil, could become cheap if this black goo cold be extracted through drilling. By the war's end, many were making money hand over fist while simultaneously wrecking the whaling industry and putting many out of work. The amount of jobs created through this new petroleum industry, however, far exceeded those destroyed, creating a boom with this new cheap fuel that continued to power the industries, which in turn, would help raise billions of people throughout the world from poverty.
The Reconstruction Amendments
, 13th, 14th, and 15th, were a mixed blessing from a liberal (libertarian, or classic liberal) perspective. The ends reflect everything about what the constitution stands for as the very heart of libertarianism; abolishing slavery, while recognizing equal rights for all. The means, however, open the door to super sized government, which must be a bureaucratic and regulatory state, something that threatens both rights and property. No one can argue the good of abolition that the 13th Amendment gives, yet the 14th would be the first amendment that expanded federal power instead of limiting it. The 15th would be adopted during the Grant administration in 1870 once the Republicans realized that they were doomed without the black vote. Southern states, not likely to ratify amendment that would reduce their political strength, were essentially removed from the Union once again, this time not by secession but by a decision of Congress. By making ratification of the 14th Amendment a requirement for readmittance, irony once again ensued. Only a state could ratify, but if they were conquered provinces, and not yet states, how could this occur? If they really were states, and not provinces, should they not be allowed the freedom to vote as they saw fit? Like many Civil War era Catch-22s this problem was ignored, as were the withdrawn ratifications of several Northern states. Flagrant disregard of legal procedure is usually a feature of dictatorships, or one party states. Post- Civil War America, as it seems, was a de facto one-party state.
Fueled by the desire for a rejoined union, and the literal cheaply fueled expansion of wealth and industry, the North and South reunited under expansionism in the later 19th century. Built on the groundwork, laid by Webster, Jackson, Polk, and Seward, a post-Civil War Union forged ahead in tying to fill empty continental spaces. This union of expansionist motivations has been with us ever since. The desire for the development of mercantilist driven wealth, combined with Southern emotionalism has created a breeding ground for imperialism. A rise of the tycoons in the late 1800's led to government intervention in the form of not only regulation of business, but also collusion with the same. This chrony-capitolism, federal market regulation, and continual military interventionism, eventually leads to economic boom and bust cycles, continual expansion of government, and a more permanent centralized federal banking system. As this country drifted farther away from its Jeffersonian roots deeper into Hamiltonian Conservatism, many in the rural North and South took notice, quickly tiring of increasingly shrinking liberty.
A little over twenty years after the war, a new movement started to form on the left. The Populists, otherwise known as the People's Party
, owes its roots to the late 1880s. The drive to create a new political party out of the movement arose from the belief that the two major parties Democrats
were controlled by bankers, landowners and elites hostile to the needs of the small farmer. The movement reached its peak in 1892 when the party held a convention chaired by Frances Willard
(leader of the WCTU
and a friend of Powderly's) in Omaha, Nebraska
and nominated candidates for the national election. The party was short lived when the Democrats, still fighting an uphill battle for regained dominance through new support, took on many of the causes preached by the Populists during the election of 1896. Some historians see the populists as forward-looking liberal reformers. Others view them as reactionaries trying to recapture an idyllic and utopian past. For some they are radicals out to restructure American life, and for others they are economically hard-pressed agrarians seeking government relief. Much recent scholarship emphasizes Populism's debt to early American republicanism
. Clanton (1991) stresses that Populism was "the last significant expression of an old radical tradition that derived from Enlightenment sources that had been filtered through a political tradition that bore the distinct imprint of Jeffersonian, Jacksonian, and Lincolnian democracy."
The problem is that a lot of these populist views that the Democrats picked up were actually quite conservative. It was in its early years that an alliance between liberal and conservative Populists gave way to the adoption of policies in favor of graduated income tax, federal regulation of railroads, telephones, and telegraphs. Because the movement got its start among the agrarian population of the South and mid-west, these policies toward putting farmers on a level playing field with industry required some federal intervention and regulation. Like every party before that sought expansion though inclusion, concessions of values had to be made, leading the party away from its original voice. This inclusion of conservatism is what eventually gave us the Democratic Party that we're dealing with today. What had once been the torchbearer of Jeffersonian politics, the truly classical liberal, was once and for all dead in the modern American two party system.
At the same time, Republicans using the same strategy as always, sought to include those that took notice of this this trend, only to become disaffected from those of the sinking People's Party fleeing towards the Democrats. This mistake being made on both sides, we can almost see a reversal of terminology at the 1898 mark in American politics. Democrats have since been mistakenly deemed leftist liberals, while at the same time, we have ever since thought of Republicans being right wing conservative. Neither of these are correct. Moving into the dawn of the 20th century, we continue to see the same policies being enforced by the same emperors, but in new sets of clothes.
It is the "New Deal
" Democrats that gave us income tax and centralized banking in 1913 with the Federal Reserve Act and the 16th Amendment; used to continue expansionistic imperialism abroad. Social Security, the adjustment of interest rates, tinkering with farm subsidies and creation of short-term make-work programs are all spawn of these New Deal policies. Meanwhile the Republicans fight tooth and nail against the Democrats' policies. Is it because they were now all of a sudden for less government intervention? Was it because they were for small government and less spending? Those are great questions to by asking my friend, but those are questions we should still be asking today as well.
In a two party system there can be only one body in power and one in opposition. If not for this duality how could we know who to vote for? No matter what the grand issue of the day is, we can be either for or against it. So despite a traditionally conservative view of big government, the Republicans for the most part, opposed the policies of the New Deal. Meanwhile, we Americans with goldfish sized brains, started to gradually forget that conservatism and Republicanism really was always about those same efforts of the 1930's Democrats. This post Populist movement America is when we really loose ourselves. Herein lies the reason for the modern Democrats desire to not be called "leftists" but instead choose the term "progressive".
Remember my mention in Part I
of the difference in European and Jeffersonian views on equality? What we are actually dealing with today
are two opposition parties, both on the right (conservative), both for expanded and centralized power, both with interventionist views, and both for corporate-government collusion. The main differences are that the Democrats are trying to bring about economic equality imposed by force, while the Republicans merely pay lip service to free trade for the sake of its supporters. Neither party today can really call itself liberal, although the modern Democrats do have a legitimate claim of owing their roots to Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans.
To me, the fall of these Democrats can best be illustrated by the story of Henri de Saint-Simon
, a French veteran of the American Revolution as well as a French revolutionary. At the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789, Saint-Simon quickly endorsed the revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity
. In the early years of the revolution, Saint-Simon devoted himself to organizing a large industrial structure in order to found a scientific school of improvement. He needed to raise some funds to achieve his objectives, which he did by land speculation. This was only possible in the first few years of the revolution because of the growing instability of the political situation in France, which prevented him from continuing his financial activities and indeed put his life at risk. During The Terror
period, Saint-Simon was imprisoned on suspicion of engaging in counter-revolution activities. He was released in 1794 at the end of the Reign of Terror. After he recovered his freedom, Saint-Simon found himself immensely rich due to currency depreciation, but his fortune was subsequently stolen by his business partner. Thenceforth he decided to devote himself to political studies and research.Politics played a central role in his thought. He considered that as the emergence of a new society (industrial society) occurred, a new form of politics would be necessary. Saint-Simon believed that this new politics would be founded with the neutralization of power by itself, from its dispersion. New, "non-power" politics, linked to industrialization, science, and even a new religion, would bring social improvement that would culminate in the socialist society imagined by Saint-Simon.
Heavily influenced by the absence of social privilege he saw in the United States, Saint-Simon renounced his aristocratic title and came to favor a form of meritocracy
, becoming convinced that science was the key to progress and that it would be possible to develop a society based on objective scientific principles. As a thinker Saint-Simon was not particularly systematic, but his great influence on modern thought is undeniable, both as the historic founder of French socialism (which played a role in influencing the thought of Karl Marx
), and as suggesting much of Auguste Comte's
theory of industrial progress, which in turn influenced Émile Durkheim
. Apart from the details of his vision of socialism, which are vague and unsystematic, the ideas of Saint-Simon regarding the reconstruction of society are very simple. Those that deserved to rule were those who best suit to mold the country into a perfect utopia.
It was the same human condition that led Saint-Simon from being a through and through libertarian to a conservative socialist, that led Thomas Jefferson into the trap of military intervention and eventual expansion of executive powers. It was actually this very economic paternalism in behalf of certain privileged groups that, according to Jefferson after witnessing it in France, was the main source of tyranny and political corruption. Since collective memories can be short, let's not forget that while socialism may seem to be the polar opposite of libertarianism, it is actually conservatism to which the title is owed. Now I can already hear you dyed in the wool conservative freedom loving Republicans foaming at the mouth while mumbling, "What about Reagan?!"
While always portraying himself as a classical liberal, champion of small government, and free market, he absurdly labeled himself as conservative. Like all Republican politicians since the 1930s, he immediately forgot the minute he got elected. What irritates me the most is that he wasn't the only one with early onset dementia. Take a look at his eight years at the helm of California. The California budget grew 122% during that 8 years, state employment rose 22%, and meanwhile he's bragging about having "stopped the bureaucracy cold
." In his first year in office, he raised taxes by $1 billion, along with two other hikes after his reelection in 71 and 72. By the end of his eight years state income taxes had tripled while he created 73 new state counsels and commissions. While claiming to have reformed welfare in California by removing 510,000 from the rolls, he boosted the amount paid to the remaining 43% so that the burden to the taxpayer didn't really decrease at all.
Forgetting to take a look at his former record, he was elected by the people, and once again, both taxes and deficits increased under President Reagan. The tax cut of 1981 wasn't really a tax cut at all when bracket creep is considered. While the deficit stood at $74 billion at the end of Carters final year, it ballooned to $155 by Reagan's final year. Compulsory draft registration renewed by Carter, continued after Reagan's promise to end it. He imposed a 100% tariff on Japanese electronics, required eighteen countries to accept voluntary restraint agreements on steel imports, and by the time he left office, 25% of all imports were restricted. As Murray Rothbard
noted "Reagan has ben a master at engineering an enormous gap between his rhetoric and the reality of his actions."
The same story plays out again and again with two other Republican administrations, and yet those of us leaning towards free trade, small government, individual liberties, and low taxes continue to support a party that has clearly never been about any of that. It's time we stop paying homage to those simply paying lip service to the values we hold dear. So why do they? because it works! Regardless of these tactics, the fault is ours alone in failing to learn or recall the past behaviors of those we wrongly associate with. Is it any wonder that approval ratings are at an all time low on both sides of the aisle?
Hopefully by telling the story of our country's party system we might wake up to the patterns that have been haunting us all along. We need to start correctly identifying ourselves and our beliefs, and stop rooting for the same old team out of a sense of belonging. By realizing that our two party system basically consists of both parties being on the far right, only one being slightly more right of the other, we can finally come to realize that those of us clinging to the libertarian values of Jefferson are the real left wing liberals.
The only solution I can suggest to this calamity is the formation of a third, left wing party. The Tea Party would seem to fill this void if it were not for the fact, as it's happened so many times before as it happened to the People's Party, too many still associate with the conservative right. With the pandering of disaffected conservatives, the Tea Party movement has been infused with those that will eventually do it more harm than good. On the same note, the culture of habitual military intervention is just too hard for many of us to shed, as if patriotic sense of pride was the Siamese twin of Libertarianism. The idea of freedom and a willingness to fight for it go hand in hand with our liberal ideals. While the concept is an honorable one, we must tread carefully, for it has been this very weakness that has forced us into centralized banking,massive spending, and debt. In conclusion, while the Tea Party could have been a viable option for disaffected Republicans and Democrats alike, I think we need to take an honest look at ourselves, start using correct terms, and form a new coalition. It's would be a long hard uphill battle, but that's never stopped us before or since. Until then, I'll be out training and waiting for you to join me on the field. Muster up there America, when you finally sober up and pull your head out of your ass.
So as it seems, every year around this time there is a flurry of articles in mainstream media and elsewhere drudging up new history to challenge the old on the "real origins" of our national holiday, Thanksgiving. From new theories to where the first thanks were given in the new world, to retellings of the original Plymouth narrative, we see all manner of speculation popping up, this year especially. Hopefully this quick article will not only enlighten us to some of the progressive narratives, but will hopefully clear up for the reader what the origins of the holiday proper are, but also clarify some of the more false yet traditional stories we've been brought up with.
First off, I get the impression that this year everyone is in a race to lay claim to the original Thanksgiving by chronology; the front runner being the state of Florida, through aggressive emphasis on being the oldest mainland colony in the New World. Obviously since this is a United States holiday we're talking about, we're trying to keep the context to within the CONUS, right? I don't know, I'm not making the rules but so far it seems that way. http://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/life/holiday/2014/11/25/first-thanksgiving-held-in-florida/70086286/
So here we have the City of St. Augustine laying claim to the first CONUS thanksgiving feast. This narrative retains much of the same traditional elements as the termination of a long, dangerous, yet successful voyage. We also retain the sharing of this feast with Native Americans. The main difference as the article points out is that, unlike the Puritan example, the Spaniards had no prep time as in a year of crop growing, but an immediate ceremony upon landfall consisting of remaining maritime rations. So should Menendez and his band of conquistadores lay claim to the first Thanksgiving in 1565? I'll let the reader decide, as well as holding on to my own opinion after we explore further. Despite the new media coverage on this event, this story and the site have been well known, albeit overlooked, for quite some time. A on-site reenactment of this very event has been ongoing for years, Pedro Menendez being portrayed by Chad Light. I wonder if he ever thought of becoming the poster boy of Thanksgiving? I'll ask him if I happen to run into him next week.http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2014/11/20/first_thanksgiving_florida.html
Here we have another article from earlier this week citing Dr. Kathleen Deagan on how the original Thanksgiving feast was actually at the Fountain of Youth site in St Augustine. The article is short, sweet, and pointless beyond letting the reader know the good news. In fact, the only argument made to that effect it seems, is that because this is the "oldest" permanent CONUS settlement, then obviously the first Thanksgiving belongs to this site. Weaksauce I say.
Let's start over. We'll get back to this revisionist Florida situation, but first let's take a few steps back and try to get an objective picture of what the real first Thanksgiving was all about. And what do we do when we want to know about something? Google, duh. By a search of the terms "first thanksgiving" a number of nonsense comes up, but let's start with the obvious narrative that we've all heard since kindergarten.
So this is the first video to pop up. It's a pretty inaccurate, yet traditional story of the first Thanksgiving feast of the Puritans in Massachusetts that came over on the Mayflower.
Let's now take a look at the REAL story of the Plymouth Puritan's first year in their new colony by exploring who they actually were, where they came from, what happened when they got here, and their infamous relations with the indigenous peoples they found.
The real story of this Thanksgiving starts much, much earlier in a land far, far away, England. The year is 1608 and King James I has some very conservative policies regarding the Church of England. The more Protestant sect of Calvinists known as the Puritans, moved to Holland to avoid religious persecution by the King. Their beliefs that the reforms of the Anglican Church had not gone far enough led them to seek refuge in a place much more tolerant. After 12 years, they decided to move again, only this time to a place where they could have the freedom of creating their own church as they saw fit. The threat of their dissolution into Dutch society being the main cause for this decision. After arriving back to England to gain the backing of the Virginia Company, an agreement was signed with the financiers. This seven year contract signed July 1, 1620, before leaving Plymouth England, stipulated that the Pilgrims were to pool, for common benefit, “all profits and benefits that are got by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means of any person or persons…” It further noted “that at the end of the seven years, the capital and profits, viz. the houses, lands, goods and chattels, be equally divided betwixt the Adventurers and Planters…” During this time the colonists were to “have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock and goods of the said colony.” This is important, although not for now. so we'll come back to this. One hundred two individuals set sail in a pair of ghetto as hell merchant ships, in no way fit for transoceanic travel. The first ship was the Speedwell, which gave up its proverbial ghost almost right out of the gate. The second vessel, named the Mayflower, reluctantly took on the passengers of the Speedwell, to further hinder its chances of making the successful voyage to Virginia.
While almost to Virginia, storms forced the vessel to anchor off the horn of Cape Cod. The plan had changed, so a legal document was drafted known as The Mayflower Pact
. This document would be important as the outline for the form of government for the new settlement. We seem to know the rest. A settlement was founded known as New Plymouth. Having almost nothing the new settlers encountered many hardships during their first year. Luckily they found a dandy site to lay a town. Have you ever wondered why the name Springfield is so common across the New England states? Europeans had already been traveling to the Americas for almost a hundred years. By the Pilgrims landfall in 1621, about 99% the eastern Native population had been wiped out by disease spread by these European traders and fishermen. Many Native settlements resided on cleared fields with nearby springs. These abandoned villages made easy pickings for newcomers trying to hack an existence from the harsh wilderness.
But of course no Thanksgiving narrative is complete without Native involvement
; A bold Native by the name of Samoset strolled into the English settlement on the 17th of March, 1621. He spoke a little English, learned from English sailors he had hitched a ride with from his homeland in Maine after an epidemic. He left the next morning with a few presents, returning a day later with five “tall proper men”—in colonist Edward Winslow’s words—with three-inch black stripes painted down the middle of their faces. The two sides talked inconclusively, each checking out the other, for a few hours.
Enter Squanto: stage left. We all know him as that name, but few know his real name, Tisquantum. This Patuxet gentleman was the lead interpreter for the head honcho, Massasoit, of a people known as the Wampanoag Confederacy. This confederacy was a loose association of people recently devastated by the aforementioned epidemic only five years earlier. On March 22, 1621 Massasoit marched, entourage in tow, to an abandoned village recently occupied by foreigners. What is scarcely known is that Tisquantum was actually a captive of Massasoit, brought along for the fact that he spoke English. Captured as a young warrior, he was taken to England, where he lived for 4 years. In order to return home he'd had to cross the Atlantic three more times to get back anywhere close to his people, only to find them virtually wiped out upon his return. This forced him into a position of reluctantly staying with the Wampanoag and using his unique skillsets to maintain an existence. Having been depopulated by disease, Massasoit's concern was with not only protecting his people from their stronger and hostile neighbors, but also establishing dominance in possible trade with the Europeans. The coastal groups of Indians had long been using this tactic to gain footing as the middlemen to the more inland peoples.
After Tisquantum made his presence known to the Puritans by timidly walking into their town with Samoset and greeting them in English, Massasoit and his followers remained hidden close by to gauge reaction. They let the pair engage the English for about an hour before appearing on a nearby hill alarming the wary Puritans. The settlers then fell back to a crudely constructed breastworks where a couple cannon had been placed, and a standoff ensued. It just as quickly came to an end when Winslow waded across the stream to the Natives and offered himself up. Realizing a mutual lack of threat, Massasoit was taken to a half constructed house, given some cushions for sitting, and the Puritans along with the Wampanoag exchanged pleasantries and gifts.
With the continued help of the Wampanoag and Tisquantum, the colonists now had a slight edge. By Fall they had managed to build enough provisions that they threw a three day feast, inviting Massasoit who brought about 90 individuals. Everyone ate and then sat around complaining about the Naraganset. This was essentially the first Thanksgiving.
Massasoit made a great effort towards involving these colonists into Native politics. His motivations consisted mainly of gaining an alliance with these Europeans so that he had protection from their enemy, the Naraganset. He had surely been educated by Tisquantum about the European cities, arms, and superior technologies. The Natives reasons for helping these newcomers were actually more selfish than the traditional narrative describes. Tisquantum also had his own reasons for ensuring their survival. After escaping Massasoit's grasp, he eventually fled to the Plymouth settlement to live under the protection of the Puritans. He continued to foment distrust in Massasoit, claiming to the settlers that Massasoit was planning an attack along with the Naraganset. He even went so far as to start a nearby village with remaining Patuxet. His idea was that with European protection and trade, he could effectively unseat Massasoit from the sashemship of the Wampanoag. He was so helpful to the colonists, in fact, that after being captured by a band of anti-English Indians, a rescue party was sent to retrieve the asset. It is known that he helped them to grow corn, although the idea of using fish for fertilizer was actually a European tactic he had picked up along his travels. Tisquantum continued to live under the protection of the settlers until his death, brought on by a sudden illness.
So now that we have a slightly different perspective, we can see that the help from the indigenous population was given as a possible investment towards relations that could possibly help them politically. It backfired by allowing a solid European foothold to facilitate further immigration, which would eventually push out the eastern Native populations completely.
Truth be told, the success of the Plymouth settlement might not lead so much to the help given to them from outsiders, but might actually be a result to their internal efforts. Let's look back on that initial agreement before leaving England in which all produce would be held in trust for the common good and redistributed to the individual families as they needed. Many take note that a reversal in this policy actually increased their productivity and ability to survive. This failed experiment in socialism was what actually saved their lives, and not the intervention from secretly hostile overtures. You can read more about this topic, here
, and here
, but it's really a whole other subject.
So, now that we've cleaned up the "traditional" narrative, are we closer to finding the origin of the "original" Thanksgiving? Let's now flash forward to when we declared the last Thursday in November to being a national holiday. Again our trusty tool, Google, arrives us at our destination. As illusive as it might seem, anyone doing a cursory search on Thanksgiving will hopefully, yet simply, arrive at Wikipedia to gain a wholesome understanding at the origins of our holiday.
Truth be told, it's not only an older English tradition, it's almost universal around the world. Many countries celebrate a national day of giving thanks, yet none share in the mythological tale of the Plymouth puritans of 1621. The tradition appears to go back much farther in England to the 16th century. Noting the earlier Spanish instances in Florida and Texas, we also see a continuance of a European trend brought to the new world.
Following the logic that a very old European tradition was brought to the new world, we can then start to accept the real "first Thanksgiving" was not by the Plymouth Puritans, but much, much earlier. Menendez is starting to sound a bit more legit, right? Not by a long shot. While the St Augustine settlement of 1565 is pretty early, we obviously overlook a few significant settlements that came even earlier. Ironically, Florida still leads the charge. Let's keep an eye on Menendez and his Spanish for the moment. Why was he where he was at this time in 1565? That's a good question reader, I'm glad you asked. The French actually settled slightly earlier in 1564 somewhere around the mouth of the St Johns in present day Jacksonville. Laudonierre, a French counterpart to Menendez, establishes Ft Caroline in order to gain a foothold in Florida so that they could attack Spanish treasure ships. Menendez kinda took offense to this and basically ended Laudonierre and the boys. After completely destroying the French near present day Rattlesnake Island, Menendez found a nice place to settle down, and did. So actually being here first, is anyone talking about crediting Laudonierre with the first Thanksgiving?These Folks
are claiming June 30, 1564 as the date of Jean Rene Laudonierre's Thanksgiving while bringing up a few other interesting points as well. We can continue to push it back farther and farther. From 1610 Jamestown, to the Texas Thanksgiving held by Cortez in 1541, we have at least 5 documentable cases of a European Thanksgiving feast here in present day US happening prior to the 1621 case. Honestly if you want to really be a Thanksgiving Nazi, you should say that Juan Ponce de Leon should get the credit since he landed in Florida in 1513, and obviously they HAD to have a thanksgiving feast, right? Melbourne Beach represent! Why aren't y'all out making a fuss about firstsies?
My opinion? Who cares? Is it really about who dunnit first or is it about our present day national holiday? If it's about the holiday
, then our first Thanksgiving can be blamed on General Washington, after the victory at Saratoga in 1777. However, it wasn't until the 1840's that people started talking about having a consistent annual holiday. The author of "mary had a little lamb", Sara Josepha Hale, heavily influenced by the 1621 story, started petitioning the presidents for a national holiday. It wasn't until 1863, that President Lincoln decided a national day of thanksgiving would be a good idea, so he settled on the last Thursday in November for the date. As we came into the 19th century, this time of year became an important economic period as folks began to prepare for Christmas. Spending became so increased during this time that President Roosevelt changed the date to the fourth Thursday in 1939 to extend the Christmas shopping season.
Now you have the naked truth on the real origins of "thanksgiving". Despite the facts, it can still be argued depending on what the reader considers as the context of deciding what denotes and actual or first Thanksgiving. We've taken a look at how the tradition here simply comes from a more ancient tradition, simply brought to the new world by Europeans. We've taken a look at the traditional view on Native involvement, or lack thereof, and we've seen how the holiday has been used for political gain, in the seventeenth century to the nineteenth. In conclusion, the author's view awards the first Thanksgiving to Ponce de Leon in Florida. If you're a Catholic hating Protestant, then Laudonierre and Jacksonville gets the trophy. Purely speaking, the credit goes to Lincoln for signing the bill that makes this an official national holiday. Let's all keep this in mind before next year, so we can stop rehashing this please.
Things are not as they seem. The whole country has been turned upside down, without any notice. A couple weeks ago, we all went through a very important mid-term election. As I surfed through Facebook, I noticed a lot of the usual political posts, but only this time, it was with a whole new perspective. Always being the skeptic, I wonder if the majority of public even knows what they're talking about while being so politically outspoken. Based upon research of the history of our two party system, I quickly realize that the answer to this question is a resounding no.
Most Folks that know me understand what my political beliefs are; I'm not very cryptic about it. I'm definitely what most would consider right wing conservative, and this article is about how they're dead wrong. While it might seem easy to label each other as either liberal or conservative, one might not find it so simple after reading what I'm about to write. You might even consider switching sides of the political spectrum completely! Bold statement you say? Consider the following.
While being able to understand what each other's beliefs might be, it seems to be much more of a challenge to define another based on our perception of another's beliefs. To hopefully understand the dynamics of American politics, we must start from the beginning. Despite what we might think, the world is not at all different from the one just a few hundred years ago. In the next couple articles, I will attempt to show how we have undergone a reversal of terms used to describe our politics, and how the recollection of these redefinitions might not only help ourselves gain a better understanding of those current politics, but properly define our own beliefs so that we can best support those causes and issues which we deem most important. A misguiding hand can easily persuade the unknowing.
Even at the most embryonic stages of the United States, a division was forming politically that would carry on for hundreds of years. This split could be easily distinguished by two vastly different mindsets. To best explain this division, it is best that we look at a later event, the French Revolution. The terms we used today to describe the political spectrum, "right and left", first apear in the fall of 1791 at the French Legislative Assembly. When the assembly convened, the substantial minority dedicated to preservation of the monarchy sat on the right side of the hall and thereby gave a name to conservatives everywhere. The liberals sat on the left in an elevated section, while 355 delegates who refused to be labled, sat in the middle section.
We need to understand that what we mean by the terms "liberal" and "conservative" today, is not the same as it was in the eighteenth century. At the time, liberals, called that because of their libertarian beleifs, were all about personal freedom and decentralized government. These two political mindsets were the same two forming in the Americas as the same time. To explain it further by defining the extremes; to be on the extreme left, you believe in complete anarchy, while those on the extreme right would be for a complete dictatorship.
Another consideration to look at would be the difference in French and American views on "equality". When Jefferson wrote, " all men are created equal," he was meaning equality before the law as equal rights. By contrast, to some of the French revolutionaries, it meant much more than that. Ludwig von Mises summarized their view more than a hundred years later, "not enough to make men equal before the law. In order to make them really equal, one must also allot them the same income. It is not enough to abolish priviledges of birth and of rank. One must finish the job and do away with the greatest and most important priviledge of all, namely, that which is acorded by private property. Only then will the liberal program be completely realized, and a consistent liberalism thus leads ultimately to socialism, to the abolition of private ownership to the means of production." This level of equality is one that must only be imposed upon a populus by force, thus requiring a strong and centralized governtment to carry out such policies. What what we see evolving is a liberal ends being carried out through conservative means. This is what we are seeing now with the current Democrats, and I'll continue to illustrate how this gradual trend metastasized.
The first liberals, called the Democratic-Republicans, were a party commited to extending the revolution to ordinary people. Champions of seperation of powers and states' rights, they drew their support from many segments of American society. Key republican leaders were wealthy Southern tobacco elites like Jefferson and Madison. They despised the Federalists, who considered themselves "freinds of order." The Federalists, beleived in a strong centralized and powerful execuative branch. By conserving federal power, they would have a better ablitiy to provide and regulate comercial enterprises to a more viable economy. These first Conservatives had their strongest support from those who favored Hamilton's policies, John Adams becoming the Federalist candidate in '96.
Let us begin with the first real two party election that this country experienced. The year is 1796. The War for Idependance has been over for thirteen years, we've got ourselves a constitution, and we're coming to close on our first eight year presidential administration. With Washington bowing out after two terms, we have several front runners battling intensly for electoral victory. Vice President John Adams, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, British Envoy Thomas Pinkney, and New York Senator Arron Burr were the popular choices. The key to this election would be the mid-Atlantic states, whose political lines were less developed as in the Southern and New England states. Adams narrowly won the electoral college 71-68 over Jefferson, who overwhelmingly carried the South. The reader will remember that at this time, the runner up to the presidential ellection was awarded with the VP spot, so Jefferson became the 2nd VP to Adams. This would be the first and last time that our president and VP come from opposing parties, as this was prior to the concept of running mates and the adoption if the 12th amendment. Jefferson would work hard to oppose the agenda of Adams, and for this effort, he would be propelled into the presidency after Adam's one and only term.
At this point it's important to anylize the reason for the regional split. If you read my latest article mentioning the four major English folkways to come to the American colonies during the 18th centrury, then you'll be able to understand the basic regional demographics that formed in our early years. While the South filled with everything from wealthy plantation owners to the hard headed and independant Scotch-Irish fronteirsmen, it congealed into very liberally minded region. The North, however, being mostly settled with merchantilist interests still connected to Great Britain, these religiously conservatives retained a feeling for wanting to be stronly managed. The states of New York, Connecticut, and Massachusets are known still today for being more interested in a more powerful centralized executive branch. Some historians have outlined this regional split being simply and extension of the same old English rift that lead to the English civil war, and that our civil war was simply a continuation of the same two sides duking it out for dominance. Either way, we still see its effects today.
After the war of 1812, patriotic feelings left the country in a positive state. While the Federalist party all but collapsed, the Hamiltonian beliefs do not. The Republican party was soon to follow not quite a decade later. In 1824, some of the surviving Federalists joined with former Republicans, like Henry Clay, to form the National Republican party. Once they again coupled with other anti Jackson groups, they formed what was known as the Whig party in 1833. At the same time, some former Federalists like James Buchanan, Louis McLane, and Rodger Taney; men of a more conservative persuasion formed the Jacksonian Democrats. With the leadership of John Randolph, some "Old Republicans", refusing to join an alliance with the Federalists, set up a separate opposition force. The reason for this was that the original Republicans, Jefferson, Madison, Gallatin, Clay, and Munroe, had in effect adopted Federalist tendencies toward Hamiltonian ideals, like implied powers (used to make the Louisiana Purchase) and centralized banking. These Old Republicans were also opposed to the tariffs that had been raised to protect northern industries, federally sponsored internal improvements, and a standing army and navy. All of these measures were opposed to the strict construction of the constitution which was the formal basis of the liberal Democratic-Republicans; but the drift of the original party went unchecked.
Much of the reason for this lies with the supreme court, whose influence as a nationalizing factor first became apparent with Chief justice John Marshal
. Through Marbury vs Madison
, Marshall rebranded the Supreme Court as an equal branch of government; by establishing the power of the Supreme Court to interpretation of the constitution and giving judgment on the constitutionality of the executive actions. These dangerous precedents would continue to have effects on not only the way the federal government operates, but in its continual expansion. Here in the first quarter century after the adoption of the constitution that we already start to see a descent from our original founding ideals of the preservation of liberties, towards the trend of federal expansion of powers. Not only this, our short term memories fail to keep record of who the Republican party really consisted of.
As we come into the couple decades leading up to the Civil War, it becomes once again important to keep track of who the liberals and conservatives really are. To do this, let's take a closer look at the dynamics of the election of 1828 and the election of the War of 1812 hero Andrew Jackson. With running mate John Calhoun, the Democrat Jackson received most of his support from the Old Republicans. Running against him was incumbent John Q. Adams, like his father, a Federalist at heart. Most of Adam's support coming from the former Federalists, mixed with more progressively conservative Republicans, now rebranded as the National Republicans. But wait a minute....Didn't we just say that the new Democratic party was formed by left over Federalists? Yes. You see, despite being a Southern backwoods good-ol-boy, Jackson being the military man he was, had enough conservative tendencies to garner support from within the former Federalists. As the Democrats come into being around his campaign, we start to see the parties form into the political movements as we see them today. The election of 1828 would be known as the beginning of our current two party system, although we start to see less and less of the original Jeffersonian ideals, and more of the Hamiltonian causes come to fruition.
At this point I hope the reader has at least gained a sense of the origins of our current two party system. In part two, we'll continue to look at its evolution into modern times, we'll show how Jeffersonian liberalism appears to die off, and then how it becomes revived within Republican conservatism. I know that makes no sense, but that's kind of the point of this article. Wake up America!, you're drunk and not making any sense. Don't forget to read PART II
I am a cracker. That's right, I said it. This is a term that has interested me for some time. Growing up in Florida, we hear the term quite frequently in a historical context referring to the old cowboys of the 19th century who allegedly used long bullwhips to motivate the cattle through the thick southern scrub. But is this the origin of the term? Let's investigate.
The Term has come back to public attention with the recent Treyvon Martin debacle in which he allegedly used the word to describe his shooter.
The word cracker has no doubt been around for a while used both pejoratively, and with a sense of pride for those of Southern heritage. But where does it actually come from? I grew up hearing the bullwhip story, but also one about the style of backwoods Southern architecture resembling a cracker box, and whose inhabitants were obviously described as crackers. How could such a benign word become something so pejorative? Another etymological tale said that it had to do with the early American backwoods poor, who relying on a cheap food source, would eat dry parched corn. None of these stories convinced me.
The word actually came back into my attention when I came across it in research. In my study of 18th century Southeastern Native culture I eventually stumbled upon Milfort's Memoirs
. Louis leClerk Milfort was a French adventurer who traveled the American colonies in 1775 before eventually stumbling into a Creek village near present day Wetumka, Alabama. Long story short, he lived with them for twenty years only to become not only the brother in law to Alexander McGillivray
, but also the Creek war chief during the revolution. Talk about a living like a boss.
In chapter 35
of his memoirs
in which he relays a story of a sort of people he refers to as "crakeurs or gaugeurs". He describes them in a very negative light, talking about how they were prone to much fighting and drinking. It seems they were very well known for their own form of liquor made from potatoes and consumed very heavily. He took note of their fingernails which, when left long, could be hardened with bear grease and a flame, much the same way quills were hardened for writing. These natural weapons, along with heel spurs, were employed in drunken brawls. A winner in a fisticuff duel was chosen by the assembled crowd, only after his opponent was relieved of an eye, plucked out by his aggressor's bare fingers. At this point, the victor would typically mount a stump, and in a fervor, would challenge any who might think they could best him in combat.
I highly encourage everyone to click the link provided to read at least this chapter, if not the entire memoir. Here he tells the story of his stay with these backwoods folk, and it is way too hilarious to miss.
So at this point I was pretty sure the stories about the cowboys and the cracker box houses was bunk, since Milfort dates the term from at least the mid 1770s, long before the start of the Florida cattle industry or store bought boxed crackers. But how old is the word cracker actually? Try Shakespeare old.Shakespeare's King John
(1595): "What cracker is this same that deafs our ears with this abundance of superfluous breath?"[10
Here we have the term being used in its original context. We've all heard the phrase "to crack a joke." This is where the real origins of the word lay. A cracker was one who was boastful and arrogant. One might be called a cracker if they were prone to pretentiously tell tall tales. This certainly fits in with Milfort's exposure to its use, as the backwoods settlers of the early colonies had the reputation for being very bold and outspoken folk. Couple this with a little overindulgence in alcohol which was so common at the time, and there you have it.
This usage is illustrated in a letter to the Earl of Dartmouth
which reads:"I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by Crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia, who often change their places of abode."[3
So now we have the term going back at least as far as the turn of the 17th century in England, but who exactly are we describing, and from where did they come?
In a recent read of mine, author David Hackett Fischer described the early American influx of English immigrants, which happened in four big migrations. Each migration of a unique brand of people came from different areas of England; each one settling in as different a place in the new world as from which they came. The book is called Albion's Seed
, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in early American culture. It goes a long way in explaining our early political development and how that continues to effect us today.
To paraphrase the gist of the book, the first main migration of English to the new world were mostly Puritan folk, coming from the southeast of England between the mid to late 1600s. Each of these folkways were a unique subculture, the Puritans being no different. They typically settled the Massachusetts area while slowly migrating outwards into New York, New Jersey and down to Connecticut. While they were very religiously and fasionably conservative, believed in centralized government, and had a strict division between gender roles; they also brought a strong sense of equality of wealth. These are also the people that brought the "Norfolk whine" and the yankee drawl to the northeast US. These hard Rs and Ahs can still be heard today.
The second big push was made between the late 1600s and early 1700s. These Cavalier people, coming from southwest England typically settled among the Virginia colony, and bled out towards the Carolinas and the frontier. Having a stong sense of personal independence, they were more comfortable with the idea of social inequality; their clothing styles reflected this fact. Slavery was not a new concept, and neither was their more agrarian tendencies which they used to build wealth and status, while maintaining a more reserved, less powerful form of government. Unlike the Puritans that came before them, they were not here to pursue religious freedom, for there were fortunes to be made.
These are the people to which the new world received from England, the extra softer vowels one might hear in the contemporary South. Terms like "mess of greens" and rearranging of pronouns that we hear in modern Black American subculture; what has been coined as "Ebonics" in our time is actually the well preserved vernacular of old southwestern England.
The third migration, coming from the northern midlands of England brought the Quakers. By founding and settling the Pennsylvania and Delaware colonies between the late 1600s and mid 1700s, they brought another religiously and fashionably conservative folkway to their new settlements. Being just as different to the previous migration as the Cavaliers were to the Puritans, they spread out throughout the Delaware river valley bringing another form of wealth equality and
religious freedom. They were a very liberal sort, practicing equality of the sexes, while maintaining an abolitionist point of view. Their unique vernacular can still be heard today in the streets of Philadelphia.
The last major emigration to the American colonies from Great Britain is the more pertinent one to this discussion. The borderlands of North England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland provided the characters of this act, arriving to the western outskirts of Pennsylvania on south. The big influx happened just after Queen Anne's War starting around 1715, and terminating just before the American Revolution. These border-landers were the most unique of the lot; bringing a very independently minded, war like, sexually equal, and religiously liberal temperament. Their existence of almost perpetual warfare in the old world led them to a culture of impermanence, with an already built in sense for social inequality. These are the people that brought the concept of the cabin to the American South by continuing a cheap impermanent style of architecture. Most of these immigrants were very poor; settling the backcountry of the frontier, the only land open to the not so well to do. We can still find their speech-ways in the American South when we listen to the hard A or R one might hear when the word "fire" is pronounced "far." Here we have the origins of the original crackers, and those who the term originally described.
Many of us whose families come from the South owe our bloodlines to these early immigrants. They too are described in Albion's Seed
much in the same way as they were by Milfort. Fisher recalls a story published in 1811, as a memoir from Thomas Ashe, an Irish traveler.
" The border sport of bragging and fighting was also introduced to the American backcountry, where it came to be called "rough and tumble". Here again it was a savage combat between two or more males (occaisionally females), which sometimes left the contestants permanently blinded or maimed. . . A crowd gathered and arranged itself into an impromptu ring. The contestants were asked if they wished to "fight fair" or "rough and tumble." When they chose "rough and tumble" a roar of approval rose from the multitude. The two men entered the ring, and a few ordinary blows were exchanged in a tentative manner. Then suddenly the Virginian "contracted his whole form, drew his arms to his face," and "pitched himself into the bosom of his opponent," sinking his sharpened fingernails into the Kentuckian's head. "The Virginian," we are told, "never lost his hold . . . fixing his claws in his hair and his thumbs in his eyes, [he] gave them a start from the sockets. The sufferer roared aloud, but offered no complaint." Even after the eyes were gouged out, the struggle continued. The Virginian fastened his teeth on the Kentuckian's nose and bit it in two pieces. Then he tore off the Kentuckian's ears. At last, the "Kentuckian, deprived of eyes, ears and nose, gave in." The victor, himself maimed and bleeding, was "chaired round the grounds," to the cheers of the crowd."
The South's willingness to fight, our staunch independence and our sense of honor and personal freedoms are all owed to these early American settlers.
However, the term "cracker" wasn't always the one employed in describing this kind of folk. Fischer continues,
"The word hoosier comes from hoozer or hoozier in the old Cumberland dialect, which meant something or someone who was unusually large and rough- in W.J. Cash's phrase, "a hell of a fellow." After coming to America in the 18th century, the noun migrated north to Indiana with so much of backcountry culture, and was attached to the citizens of that state to distinguish them from their yankee neighbors.
Another term for this rural proletariat was redneck, which was originally applied to the back-settlers because of their religion. The earliest American example known to this historian was recorded in North Carolina by Anne Royall in 1830, who noted that "red-neck" was " a name bestowed upon the Presbyterians." It had long been a slang word for religious dissenters in the north of England."
-Fischer D.H. Albions Seed (New York,1989)
It's easy to see how these terms developed such a derogatory tone after reading these descriptions. We see the pejorative use of these terms today, just as we often hear the same sort of terms used to describe other races. (Looking at you, N-word.) Having both sides of my family line flowing down from these Irish and Scottish back country roots, I can relate as my surname originates from Peeblesshire, in southern Scotland. Our ancestors mold our personal beliefs, our speech-ways, religions, and habits. We owe much to them, and by studying our roots, we gain a better appreciation and understanding of not only ourselves, but of others as well.
Welcome to the debut post of TMF.com! Hopefully these first few articles will help to give the reader a sense of who I am and what I hope to achieve with this site. We've got an exciting line up of future articles, so stay tuned.
We like to think the science of history as being a black and white subject. Reenactors and historians alike feel most comfortable when we have a concrete form of evidence to stand on when voicing an opinion. If this is the case then why are there so many opinions? We've all been party to the discussions in the living history community as to what's appropriate for this, or what's most accurate for that. This can be most confusing to beginners who are trying to do their best while being mentored by conflicting opinions! I argue that history is an art. For how else do we portray and teach it in an objective manner while not letting our own biases get in the way? As historians, can we even be objective, or is the idea of objectivity naïve at best? This is a question that only we can answer for ourselves from our own perspectives.
Americans have been warring over each other since time immemorial over the contents of textbooks used in our schools and universities. What we know about our history will determine our willingness to honor and preserve its ideals and traditions. This is what will determine the kind of society we choose to strengthen and perpetuate.
History, n. An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
-Ambrose Bierce The Devil's Dictionary
So as historians, what can we use as reliable sources for the information we need to build our case? We have both primary and secondary source documentation, government generated documents, the archaeological record, daily newspapers, journals, pamphlets, extant examples of material culture, and art. While these all sound nice and dandy, they are not without flaw. Government documents might only reflect what they deemed acceptable for the public, while pamphlets are usually propagandizing. Journalism of the time may just as well be biased after being edited for content, and can only be based on testimony from skewed accounts or sources that may be tight lipped. Has the archaeological record been formed on data gathered in a systematic way thus increasing the chance for contextual integrity? How can we know for certain of a extant item's origin without a complete trail of documentation to follow said item's past? These non-deterministic variables create a problem for the objective historian in achieving a measurable level of objectivity.
The main source of bias is not from quality of the record, but from what bits and pieces of the record we choose to present. While the greatest level of objectivity would come from presentation of every imaginable piece of data, this is neither possible nor practical. We must be forced to pick and choose what to present and what facts and pieces of data to emphasize. Since none of us can do this without our own personal beliefs getting in the way, we find that historical objectivity is risky at best.
The importance of doing one's own research can not be stressed enough. While opinions are like assholes, they command much more respect when being laid on the more sound foundation of a well put together arsenal of documentation. It is here that most educators fail. The sad fact of the matter, to no fault of their own, is that the vast majority of those in the teaching professions in the history field have no degree, if not even a minor in history. The solution to building a curriculum has always been the textbook. Like a narcotic, an already well laid guide, lesson plan, and teaching material in the form of the textbook becomes the staple to which the vast majority of this country have received most of their historical knowledge.
The ebb and flow of contention over the content of historical textbooks could be a topic unto itself, however, suffice it to say things have been progressing towards the better since the early eighties. There should be no doubt as to the long pattern of the historical record being tweaked being the means to satisfy political and social ends. It is because of this that we must remain vigilant as historians and scholars. We must continue to strive for objectivity through outside the box thinking.
By understanding this dynamic, we can hopefully gain a better understanding of each others opinion which enables us to maintain a productive dialogue. Welcome to the field.