Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Good Books

I have read a lot of really good, entertaining books lately - James Rollins' Bone Labyrinth, Alafair Burke's The Ex, Shirley Rousseau Murphy's Cat Shout For Joy, Margaret Maron's Long Upon the Land, and Preston & Child's Crimson Shore, plus a few new Clive Cussler books.  But the book that I recently read, that made me very thoughtful, was Independence Lost: Lives On the Edge of the American Revolution by Kathleen DuVal.  Some people might consider the book a little too dry and tied down by footnotes - but it is one fantastic read, especially if you like American history.
   I grew up and attended school in Florida, where I suppose I received a pretty run-of-the-mill background of American history from my school books.  Certain aspects of different eras of our history made me ask more questions, which led to wider reading.  I've read a lot about 'the Founding Fathers' and the battles of the American Revolution.I particularly studied the impact of the Revolution on the colony, then state, of Virginia.  I thought I had a pretty well-rounded grasp of the Revolution from both the American and British points of view.  Professor DuVal's book made me consider the Revolution from the viewpoint of colonists not living in the confines of the original thirteen colonies - people living in Florida, in New Orleans, slaves working for freedom outside the western boundaries of Georgia, and the fates of several Native American tribes caught up in the colonial turmoil.
  When I hear, or read, the words "American Revolution," I consider only the original 13 colonies, and Great Britain.  I know that France came in with support - who can forget the Marquis de Lafayette? - but I had forgotten that Spain came in on France's side, too.  Florida was Spanish, and then New Orleans became Spanish (via the French) and the Native Americans were trying to work out the best deal they could get from everyone - Great Britain, France, Spain, and the new colonies.  I had never even thought about the Mississippi and Ohio valleys in terms of the American Revolution, property rights, tribal rights, and European meddling.
   Originally, the African slaves in the southern and western areas of the colonies were allowed to earn money for themselves, so they could buy their own freedom.  Soon after the American Revolution, this practice ceased to be lawful - especially as the plantation way of life bloomed in the South.  Soon, it became hard to earn any money for a slave to keep for him- or herself, and then they could no longer purchase their own, or their loved ones', freedom.
   Early agreements between the white colonists and the Native Americans stated that the white colonists would not move further west than five miles from the seashore.  That soon became seven, then ten, and, finally thirteen miles in a treaty with the governing body of Georgia.  And the colonists believed that they had a right to any land not claimed by another white settler.  They made huge in-roads into hunting territories of the local tribes; they took over villages and planted fields that belonged to the Natives; the colonists kept pushing further and further west, and south.  This was causing the eastern tribes to collapse back upon other tribal areas to the west and south.  Native Americans fought among each other, then turned against the settlers.   I can't blame them at all.
   One of the numbers that completely stunned me was that in a 10 year period, from 1782, more than 25,000 families moved west into what was then Indian territory - much of it still east of the Mississippi River....  Most settlers claimed 20 to 100 acres, but some claimed square miles, and sold it, or developed it into hated plantations.
    I love my country, but I sometimes dislike the way that the colonists and settlers took over the land - and I know it's a futile dislike.  It happened too long ago, and nothing, really, can be done today to make up for the loss of land, the loss of a way of living, and the loss of faith in fellow men.....

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