The best part of writing the post This Is Why I Have A Problem With Fundamentalists was summarizing the history of Christianity in Uganda. In fact, I had such fun researching and regurgitating history Goldfish-style that I thought I’d turn it into a series: History Lessons With Goldfish.
I’m going to take a bit of dry, boring history, digest it and spew it forth for you in a, hopefully, far more interesting form. We’re going to start with the American revolution, because Sarah Palin is a dolt.
A long time ago, I wrote a post aptly titled The Dumbest Thing about Sarah Palin’s brain fart when asked about the American revolution. Sarah Palin’s Brain Fart would be a great name for a band. Total Moran, the new single from Sarah Palin’s Brain Fart. That would rock.
Anyway, my version of history won’t be like hers where “John Hancock rode his headless horse across the Delaware river jingling the Liberty Bell and yelling ‘YEEEHAAAW!’ to warn the British that the Americans had two for one beer night and buffalo wings made from real buffalo at Ye Olde Taverne (pronounced Yay Oldie Tavernie).”
That’s not actually what she said, however, if I recall, her quote is just as dumb and accurate, but interspersed with more “uh.” I’d like to display thorough journalistic ethics here and give you the real quote, but I ain’t reading her stupid words again for fear of contagion. Click on The Dumbest Thing link above to see the real quote.
My point, if I have one, is that this is not asinine Sarah Palin history here; this is factual history as interpreted by me. I can read things and spit them back out in different words like a champ. Or, at least, like a kindergartener.
History Lessons With Goldfish: The American Revolution
A long time ago, several thousand miles from where I sit now, there was a Revolution and it was rather American. To figure out how that revolution started, and in fact, how there even became an America to revolutionize, we have to go way back to the beginning. In the writing business, we call this exposition.
Approximately 1014 years ago, a nice Viking fellow name of Leif Erikson found Newfoundland, which he called Vinland. The next European visitors to Newfoundland were Portuguese, Spanish, French and English migratory fishermen.
In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue on the Spanish dime looking for another way to get to Asia. He didn’t find Asia, but he did find the Bahamas. The indigenous people were peaceful and friendly, but they wore large gold ear ornaments, so naturally, Columbus took them prisoner and demanded they give up the gold. He is quoted as saying, “I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased.” Nice guy, that Columbus was.
He should have stopped at the Bahamas. I’ve been there. It’s really nice. But, he didn’t stop there; he blundered his way through Cuba, Haiti and The Dominican Republic, where he took more prisoners and continued discovering land people already lived on, but they weren’t European people, so I guess they didn’t count.
He made three more voyages to the Americas after that, taking prisoners, demanding gold and shooting people if they didn’t comply. I’m going to celebrate next Columbus Day by walking into someone’s house and demanding they show me where the good stuff is.
Five years after Columbus took prisoners in the Bahamas, King Henry VII of England said, I got to get me some of this and sent Italian explorer John Cabot looking for natives to steal from. Cabot landed in Canada. England claimed it for the British Empire and renamed it Newfoundland, because it was land that was newly found, even though Leif Erikson and all those fishermen found it a while ago.
Anyway, Cabot planted his flag there for England, which in a roundabout way, is why the Canadian twenty-dollar bill has a picture of the Queen of England on it.
Two years after that, Amerigo Vespucci went looking for Asia on Italy’s dime and found South America. He claimed the entire continent for Italy and coined the term America, if inadvertently. Vespucci’s Latin name was Americus Vespucius. In 1507, a German cartographer used Vespucci’s letters to make a map, which has the first recorded usage of the term “America.” It hadn’t been sullied yet by NSA spying, Guantanamo or drone attacks. I suppose we can be thankful that we don’t live in Vespucciland.
A bunch more people went looking for Asia and found parts of North and South America, including Ponce de León, Ferdinand Magellan, Giovanni da Verrazzano, Hernando de Soto, and a bunch of other European dudes nobody’s ever heard of, because after the first dozen or so people claiming to be first, no one really gives a hoot. For example, who was the last person to climb Mount Everest? Who cares!
So, at that point, in the mid 1500s, Italy, France, England, Spain, Scotland, etc. had flags planted all over the “New World” even though there were indigenous people living there already and not one of these intrepid explorers managed to find a new way to Asia. By the way, Asia is pretty far from America.
Spain, claiming to be technically first with Columbus’ assholery (over 500 years after Leif Erikson was “first” and who knows how many years first after the indigenous population was really first), sent a colony of people over to Florida in 1565. Woo! Spain! We’re number one! Florida, fuck yeah!
Later, back at home, England was kicking Spain’s uppity Grande y Felicísima Armada or Armada Invencible (“Great and Most Fortunate” or “Invincible Fleet”), better known as the Spanish Armada’s stern all over the ocean blue:
The Armada Invencible suffered an embarrassing defeat, accomplished precisely nada and ensured that nothing was ever named “invincible” again.
Really, people, calling something “invincible” is more like a challenge than a claim. The Titanic was called “unsinkable” and we all know how that turned out.
If I had an armada, I might call it Goldfish’s Fluffy Rainbow Armada, because who can dispute that? Besides, getting your ass handed to you by a Fluffy Rainbow Armada would be way more demoralizing. Which of the following sentences would you rather tell your homies at the bar afterward? “That invincible armada turned out to be aptly named” or “We got beat up by Goldfish’s Fluffy Rainbow Armada.” Just sayin’.
Anyway, after England proved that Spain’s armada wasn’t actually quite as invincible as they claimed, Spain was all “waaah.” The result of the armada’s defeat was that Spain’s flag planted on the New World kept getting smaller and smaller. The English pulled up Spanish flags and planted their own instead, not just all over the New World, but all over the Old World, too. In your face, Spain!
In 1607, a private English business, The Virginia Company, sent some colonists to America on the Scottish dime. They set up shop in Virginia, which is a bit colder than Florida. They named their settlement Jamestown after King James I of Scotland, who was paying for it.
Out of 105 people, only 32 were alive by the end of the year due to starvation and disease. Good job, Scotland. Plus, there was the fact that the indigenous inhabitants of Virginia, the Powhatan tribe, didn’t take too kindly to all the flag planting going on in their yard.
It would be similar to walking into my next door neighbor’s yard, planting a flag and saying “I discover this land in the name of Fish Of Gold and her Fluffy Rainbow Armada. Henceforth, this land shall be called Goldfishia,” while completely ignoring the fact that my neighbor discovered the land long ago and already has a house there. Obviously, my only choice is not to say, “Oops, my bad, didn’t see your civilization there,” and go find my own damn yard, but to, you know, murder him and his entire family and take his house.
Instead of writing Jamestown off and going somewhere friendlier, warmer and more disease-free, in January of 1608, The Virginia Company threw 110 more people at the problem. They started raping the land and sending things back to Europe including lumber, iron ore and tobacco. While those things might have been valuable back home, they didn’t do the colonists much good. You can’t eat tobacco, iron ore or lumber.
At roughly the same time, the Dutch East India Company sent Henry Hudson up the Hudson River, although it wasn’t called that then, because that would have been one hell of a coincidence. Hudson wasn’t the first explorer to discover New York; Giovanni da Verrazzano was there in 1524. By rights, The Hudson River should be the da Verrazzano River. Actually, it should be called Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk, which is what the Iroquois on one bank called it, or Muhheakantuck (“river that flows two ways”), which is what the Lenape on the other bank called it for generations before those white dudes came along, but no, it’s the Hudson.
The Dutch quietly planted a flag on Manhattan and set up a trading post. They brought the native population of what is now New England the gift of smallpox, which killed most of them. Wee! In your face, Native Americans!
The West India Company sent thirty families of Dutch colonists to New York, and eventually, in 1626, bought Manhattan from the Native American tribe that lived there, the Lenape, not for glass beads as is so often stupidly and erroneously propagated, but for 60 guilders. The cash value doesn’t include other considerations such as future trade and Dutch protection against neighboring tribes. Plus, some historians think that the Lenape may have considered the 60 guilders a rental fee, not a sales fee.
In any event, you have to credit the West India Company for entering into a real estate contract, instead of just planting their flag in someone else’s yard like the Virginia Company.
In 1619, some important things happened, including the very first government meeting in Jamestown with 22 representatives from 11 plantations. Also, slavery. Yup, slavery and government happened pretty much at the same time. The Dutch brought some Africans for sale to Jamestown and the Jamestownians thought it might be a good idea to buy people.
The next year, those Mayflower pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. I’ve seen Plymouth rock personally and it’s not very exciting. It’s just a rock.
You’ll note that the date stamped on it is c. 620 years after Leif Erikson, 128 years after Columbus, 55 years after the Spanish colony in Florida and 13 years after Jamestown was settled, but FIRST!
And yet, the Pilgrim nonsense, which isn’t even remotely accurate, is what we celebrate in America every year with Thanksgiving. Mmm pumpkin pie.
The reason, I suppose, is because the Pilgrims with the stupid hats and buckle shoes managed to sign one of the first treaties between colonists and Native Americans, with the help of Squanto, an English-speaking Native American.
“But, why on earth would Squanto speak English?” you may well ask as I did. Well, in 1605, A ship captain exploring New England captured Squanto and several other members of the Patuxet tribe, part of the Wampanoag nation. He took them to England and taught them English in order to be a guides and interpreters. Squanto signed onto an expedition to New England in 1614. On his way back to Patuxet, he was captured again by a slave trader planning to sell fish, corn, and captured natives in Spain for £20 apiece. Some Spanish Friars took Squanto from the slave trader to free him and convert him to Christianity, not in that order. After he was freed and Christianized, Squanto worked his way to London where, in 1619, he signed onto another expedition home only to find that his entire tribe had been wiped out by Spanish Conquistadors and an epidemic plague, not in that order. How totally suck is that? Squanto was the last Patuxet in history.
“OK, but why would he help the colonists who had gotten him into this mess?” Well, when Squanto finally made it back home, the Wampanoag, his former nation, no longer trusted him. With his entire tribe wiped out, he took a job as guide and translator for some white dudes. The Wampanoag captured him and would most likely have killed him had his white dudes not come to the rescue, which they did. Score half a point for white dudes. That act of brave insanity earned them some loyalty. Poor Squanto. Of all the fucked-up life stories, Squanto’s is pretty high up there.
In 1603, the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland were united when James VI, King of Scots, inherited the crowns of England and Ireland and moved his court from Edinburgh to London. His son, King Charles I, also monarch of the three kingdoms and happy with all the tobacco and stuff that Jamestown was sending back, decided to cancel the Virginia Company’s contract and plant his own flag on Virginia in 1624. He claimed Virginia in the name of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Sorry, Virginia Company, this be royal land now. It’s good to be king.
He also dissolved Parliament in order to rule as a totalitarian monarch, causing hundreds of English citizens to be the first of many throughout the course of history to say, “Screw you, I’m going to America!” It was the first of many royal acts to come that would lead to throwing tea into the Boston harbor and cause a revolution.
Crap. We’re this far along and still in the exposition. The problem is, there’s a lot of history. I still haven’t even begun to talk about Betsy Ross sewing the star-spangled banner by the light of the rocket’s red glare or Abraham Lincoln riding a bear:
Well, I’m just going to slap a “Part 1” in the title and continue our history lesson later. Be sure to come back for more history whenever I become motivated enough to finish it!
In addition to those already linked above, information was severely paraphrased from the following sources: