Sunday, June 21, 2009

Warfare is no reason to be impolite

Despite popular reports from several years ago, General Washington was not made of radiation (Thank you, TV Tropes page for this disturbing video I thought I had forgotten), but he was a pretty impressive figure and wrote some vastly entertaining letters.

1777 was not a really great year for the American forces, as General Howe took New York and then the sort-of capitol of the colonies, Philadelphia. George Washington wrote that circumstances were so bad that, "if [he] could have justified the measure to posterity and [his] own conscience" it would have been better if he had "retired to the back country, and lived in a wigwam."

As amusing as such a phrase is, the Amateur Historian likes this letter best:

Octr 6. 1777

General Washington's compliments to General Howe. He does himself the pleasure to return him a dog, which accidentally fell into his hands, and by the inscription on the Collar appears to belong to General Howe.

Manners were important in 18th century society, after all. I'll bet Washington would have looked up the land permits before building his backwoods wigwam, too.


  1. You read Tv Tropes! I love that site! I don't really know much about American history, being a backwoods down underian so I find all these figures to be grand but vaguely rendered in my mind. Though it must be said I know far more about American presidents than Australian anything because...well no one in Australia knows anything about history/politics or cares. Sigh.

  2. Hi Danielle,
    I think that lots of Australians are interested in politics but most don't care about history. Part of the problem is that Australian history tends to be so...well...boring, unfortunately! If only more good writers would liven it up!

  3. Sorry Viola, I was a overgeneralising a bit :) but I think compared to other countries there is a lack, more in a sense of historical understandings than support for parties and current events. I know at least amongst my generation very few of us have any idea how the system works or politics back more than 10 years...not encouraging, since politics tend to follow patterns and you can predict the future via current figures predecessors. You are quite right, it would certainly help if it were better illuminated and frankly, as you say, less boring! Or made less so, if possible :D