The tea party world and the far right is abuzz about the tea party based movie, Courage, New Hampshire. The Pink Flamingo watched the previews of the film and was shocked at how horribly bad the costuming was. One of the things I am qualified to discuss is fashion during the period of Independence. ( I am also writing a book on American fashion history). It is a very sticky subject for me. If you can’t get the costuming right, you can’t tell the story right. By ruining the fashion of the era, the tea party film denigrates our founding. The costuming they used belonged to an era a century previous. It was an attempt to make the men and women of our founding look humble and religious. Instead, it made them look pathetic. One can also not grasp the era unless you have a grasp of the sociological and cultural world in which these men and women existed and grew.
Get it right, people.
Samuel Johnson once said that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”. He also said:
“A patriot is he whose publick conduct is regulated by one single motive, the love of his country; who, as an agent in parliament, has, for himself, neither hope nor fear, neither kindness nor resentment, but refers every thing to the common interest.”
“Let us take a patriot, where we can meet him; and, that we may not flatter ourselves by false appearances, distinguish those marks which are certain, from those which may deceive; for a man may have the external appearance of a patriot, without the constituent qualities; as false coins have often lustre, though they want weight.”
Don’t get The Pink Flamingo wrong, there is nothing wrong with patriotism. I consider myself quite patriotic. I am also a realist to the point where I find fake patriotism disgusting. I find it rather ironic that Samuel Johnson, who was a
dedicated Tory (conservative) is the reference for the comment that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.
“...In 1774 he printed The Patriot, a critique of what he viewed as false patriotism. On the evening of 7 April 1775, he made the famous statement, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” This line was not, as widely believed, about patriotism in general, but the false use of the term “patriotism” by John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (the patriot-minister) and his supporters; Johnson opposed “self-professed Patriots” in general, but valued what he considered “true” self-professed patriotism…”
He made the remark in the 1770s during the shattering debates within British politics over the developments in the Colonies. Today, because of the extreme ignorance of the far right and the alleged tea party “patriots”, important parts of our history is being revised, rewritten (to hide the vast ignorance of Bachmann and Palin) and generally ignored. Our ignorant tea party “patriots” and the ignorant “leaders” who finance and enable them, have as much grasp of history as The Pink Flamingo’s toy poodle.
There is a myopic version of the “Founding” of this country that does a tremendous dis-service to our country. What the far right needs to understand is the men (no women) who founded this nation were as L – I – B – E – R – A – L as they come. They were so liberal the far right, today, would consign them to the Netroot brigades. They were so liberal, today, I would find that I would not enjoy being around them. If they were alive today, they would be the people Glenn Beck would diagram on his now defunct black boards. They were so liberal, Rush Limbaugh would spend his time denouncing them.
It is at this time that The Pink Flamingo would like to propose the theory that the only reason the French bothered to help the Colonies with their war for independence against Great Britain was because the colonies were fighting the Brits. The reason the whole mess started was because from 1754 – 1763 the two parties were very involved in the French and Indian War. It was all a part of the Seven Year’s War, which was basically a war between the great powers of the day – a World War.
Ironically, George Washington may have set the whole thing off in 1755 when his blundering started the French and Indian War.
“…The campaign began with an attack led by George Washington, then a lieutenant colonel in the British colonial militia Virginia Regiment, at Jumonville Glen in 1754. The British attacked with bayonets the 31 French-Canadians sleeping in the early morning hours. Ten were killed, including commander Jumonville, whose brother pursued Washington. The latter surrendered at the Battle of Fort Necessity. In June of 1755, British Major General Edward Braddock, led about 2,000 army troops and provincial militia on an expedition to take Fort Duquesne but the expedition was a disaster…”
From that moment on, George Washington was a laughing stock, a charade, a bumbling failure. He was taunted, ridiculed, and treated with disdain. He was the Rodney Dangerfield of the Colonies – getting no respect. He was such a bumbling failure he even needed to go find a rich wife – and boy did he find one. Marrying the richest woman in the Colonies did not help his image.
During this time, the British were fighting a very costly war. In order to pay for wars, the usual thing to do is raise taxes. George Grenville, the PM between 1763 and 1765 was a liberal. Great Britain was broke. They were in the same condition we are at the current time. Grenville was a Whig. Whigs are liberals. Doing what any good liberal would do, he raised taxes. Because England was in such bad shape, financially, and the local tea partiers were almost violently opposed to raising taxes at home, he introduced the Stamp Act. It was imposed on the Colonies because the rabble rousing tea party patriots in England would not allow any additional taxes. At the time the Brits were basically at war against the lousy French (terrorists). Get the picture?
Samuel Johnson was a dedicated conservative, doing the Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin thing. He was a big fat hairy deal Christian Conservative who felt that his faith had a place in politics. He wrote popular pamphlets (the radio talk shows of their day) taking on the liberal powers that be. Johnson was having a difficult time. As a Tory, he did not approve of the succession of Whigs in office, but he approved of the taxes they were levying on the Colonies. It was the C – O – N – S – E – R – V – A – T – I – V – E thing to do. Samuel Johnson was the kind of person The Pink Flamingo would consider a good Republican.
Samuel Johnson was a Tory. He achieved what is still considered “one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship.” by writing the very first dictionary of modern English. He was not just any Tory, but perhaps the Rush Limbaugh of his day. He was the conservative’s conservative, advocating for traditional values in a kingdom that was being torn apart by what was beginning to appear to be a never-ending conflict with France. A true conservative, Johnson was quite vocal in his opposition to slavery. He made his black valet (not slave), Francis Barber, his heir. Johnson detested slavery in the Colonies.
If you were to compare Samuel Johnson to Benjamin Franklin, the average person, The Pink Flamingo included, would be honored to be an associate of Samuel Johnson. He was the perfect example of what a Christian, conservative, Republican should be. Unfortunately, if you want to be honest, Franklin would be the Ted Kennedy of his day, but a comparison to Franklin is insulting to Kennedy. While Franklin was a charming womanizer, he was also cruel and vindictive when it came to some of his children. Kennedy was a devout Catholic. Franklin dabbled with the Hellfire Club while he was in England. The Hellfire Club was the first manifestation of modern day satanism. Today, Franklin would be considered one of the worst of liberals.
“…The last of these pamphlets, Taxation No Tyranny (1775), was a defence of the Coercive Acts and a response to the Declaration of Rights of the First Continental Congress of America, which protested against taxation without representation. Johnson argued that in emigrating to America, colonists had “voluntarily resigned the power of voting”, but they still had “virtual representation” in Parliament. In a parody of the Declaration of Rights, Johnson suggested that the Americans had no more right to govern themselves than the Cornish people. If the Americans wanted to participate in Parliament, said Johnson, they could move to England and purchase an estate. Johnson denounced English supporters of America as “traitors to this country”, and hoped that the matter would be settled without bloodshed, but that it would end with “English superiority and American obedience”…”
The thing is, in order to be conservative, a man (women had no political voice) could not advocate for the position of the Colonies. The true Colonial conservatives packed up and returned to England when they realized the Colonies were advocating such liberal positions. The irony of all of this is the fact that it was the conservative Tory leaders who recognized America’s independence.
Perhaps one of the problems we have is in viewing our “Independence” as something unique. It was, but it was also part of a greater conflict between Great Britain that began with the French and Indian’s War, and ended at Waterloo. One of the great ironies of the conflict between Great Britain and France was the conflict between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
“…A few years later, in a strongly worded rebuke to Jefferson, Washington reflected on the vicious partisanship that had seized the country, saying that he previously had “no conception
that parties” could go to such lengths. He hotly complained of being slandered in “indecent terms as could scarcely be applied to a Nero, a notorious defaulter, or even to a common pick-pocket.” To Washington’s credit, he tolerated the press attacks and never resorted to censorship or reprisals….”
Jefferson is another of those Founding Fathers the average conservative worships. The problem with Jefferson and conservatives is that Jefferson was a womanizing deist. He only dabbled with married woman, and his slave mistress. Jefferson “loathed” the institution of slavery, but could never find the intellectual honesty to free the men and women he owned. In 1801 he was able to abolish the slave trade in the United States.
He also loathed George Washington.
Contrary to tea party “history”, Washington believed in a strong central federal government and a central bank. He felt that states had to be part of the whole, and now just pieces of a giant puzzle. He believed in a strong central bank. Thomas Paine detested Washington.
Washington believed in the unity of this nation. He chose his first cabinet, not because of ideological purity, but because of what they could contribute to the country.
“…In choosing his stellar first cabinet, President Washington applied no political litmus test and was guided purely by the candidates’ merits. With implicit faith that honorable gentlemen could debate in good faith, he named Alexander Hamilton as treasury secretary and Jefferson as secretary of state, little suspecting that they would soon become fierce political adversaries. Reviving his Revolutionary War practice, Washington canvassed the opinions of his cabinet members, mulled them over at length, then arrived at firm
conclusions. As Hamilton characterized this consultative style, the president “consulted much, pondered much; resolved slowly, resolved surely.” Far from fearing dissent within his cabinet, Washington welcomed the vigorous interplay of ideas and was masterful, at least initially, at orchestrating his prima donnas. As Gouverneur Morris phrased it, Washington knew “how best to use the rays” of intellect emitted by the personalities at his command….”
In his Farewell Address:
“….To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a Government for the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions, which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a Constitution of Government better calculated than your former for an intimate Union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This Government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true Liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established Government….
…All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests….
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty….”
Perhaps the worst mistake the new President Washington made was appointing his staunch political enemy as Secretary of State. Washington and Jefferson had differing ideas on Foreign Affairs.
“…He played a leading role in the decision to locate the permanent national capital in the District of Columbia. Washington played the central role in setting foreign policy, opting for neutrality in the wars between France (an official ally) and Britain (the leading trading
partner). Washington believed America’s future interests did not depend on Europe but on the American people and the western lands. In these and other instances, Washington’s work led to a restrained but effective use of the power of the executive office and the foundations for a strong federal government. The basis of Washington’s stature was his character, which epitomized 18th-century republican ideals of a man of virtue. Washington’s deep commitment to disinterested public service and a grave civility decisively shaped the character of the presidential office….”
Much to his credit, Washington refused to assist in the French Revolution. Washington, Hamilton and Adams were denounced for not going to the aid of the French.
“…Many of those executed had been friends of the United States, such as the navy commander Comte D’Estaing. Lafayette had fled France and ended up in captivity in Austria, and Thomas Paine went to prison in France. The Republicans in the United States denounced Hamilton, Adams and even Washington as friends of Britain, as secret monarchists, and as enemies of the republican values that all true Americans cherished.
France declared war on a host of European nations, with the Kingdom of Great Britain among them. Once again, Americans wanted to enter the war on the side of France. Jefferson and his faction wanted to aid the French while Hamilton and his followers supported neutrality in the conflict. Hamilton and the Federalists warned that American Republicans threatened to replicate the horrors of the French Revolution, and successfully mobilized most conservatives and many clergymen. The Republicans, some of whom had been strong Francophiles, responded with support, even through the Reign of Terror, when thousands were guillotined.
In order to avoid war with Great Britain, Washington refused to help the people in the French revolution.
While the American public was ready to help the Frenchmen and their fight for “Liberty, equality, and fraternity,” the government was strongly against it. In the days immediately following Washington’s second inauguration, the revolutionary government of France sent diplomat Edmond-Charles Genêt, called “Citizen Genêt,” to America. Genêt’s mission was to drum up support for the French cause. Genêt issued letters of marque and reprisal to American ships so they could capture British merchant ships. He attempted to turn popular sentiment towards American involvement in the French war against Britain by creating a network of Democratic-Republican Societies in major cities.
Washington was deeply irritated by this subversive meddling, and when Genet allowed a French-sponsored warship to sail out of Philadelphia against direct presidential orders, Washington demanded that France recall Genet. However, by this time the revolution had taken a more violent approach and Genet would have been executed had he returned to France. He appealed to Washington,
and Washington pardoned him, in addition to making him the first political refugee to seek sanctuary in the United States.
During the Genet episode, Washington issued the Proclamation of Neutrality on April 22, 1793. Washington declared the United States neutral in the conflict between Great Britain and France that had begun with the French Revolution. He also threatened legal proceedings against any American providing assistance to any of the warring countries. Washington eventually recognized that supporting either Great Britain or France was a false dichotomy. He would do neither, thereby shielding the fledgling U.S. from, in his view, unnecessary harm….”
It was all about the French Revolution. Jefferson truly did not grasp what was going on in France.
“….Because reports of events came slowly to America, there were great misunderstandings on all sides of the debate. In 1792, the news that France had declared war on the alliance of kings led Jefferson to believe that France had been forced to take pre-emptive steps. He was not aware that Lafayette had concluded that his government was out of control. While leading French troops against the Austrians, Marquis de Lafayette had defected from the army. His letters from jail posed delicate problems for an administration that wanted to help an old ally without committing America to either of the sides Lafayette had already taken. Jefferson pinned his hopes on Brissot de Warville, a leader of the Girondin faction, who spoke of “our” revolutions and republics
(Washington deleted “our” from one of Jefferson’s documents addressed to France, however.) The execution of aristocrats by popular tribunals led to nervous arguments in America and Jefferson’s famous letter on which he falls into arguing that the revolution’s glorious ends justified apocalyptic means: “My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to the cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam & Eve left in every country, & left free, it would be better than as it now is.”
After the king was executed, Jefferson began to have a change of heart.
“…When Jefferson wrote these words, he did not know that Louis XVI had been executed on January 21, 1793. By the end of the year, Jefferson’s feelings about revolutionary France had cooled, mainly because of the embarrassing efforts of Genet to undermine Washington’s neutrality policy-efforts Jefferson thought might discredit him and his allies. Jefferson later denounced the atrocities of Robespierre; he wrote that he would have voted for removing the king but not for killing him. The notorious XYZ Affair, whereby Talleyrand and the French Directory attempted to exact tribute from American diplomats, further alienated him from the Jacobins’ successors. Thomas Paine had even tried to arrange to have Louis XVI conducted into exile in America. Americans began to realize that revolution meant one thing in a country deposing its ruler and another in colonies seceding from an empire. The death of the king raised the stakes of this revolution, for its sympathizers as well as its participants. Jefferson concluded that the French people were not yet “virtuous” enough to accept a sudden
republicanism after so many years of superstition and despotism and that Louis XVI could have been retained as a limited monarch, thus staving off “those enormities which demoralized the nations of the world, and destroyed, and is yet to destroy, millions and millions of its inhabitants.”…”
Washington was treated like dirt by Jefferson and by Benjamin Franklin’s son. When viewed in the light of what he did to Washington, Jefferson appears to have been something of a snake. Thomas Pain wrote nasty things about him.
“…At the start of his presidency, Americans still viewed Washington as sacrosanct and exempt from press criticism. By the end of his first term, he had shed this immunity and reeled from vicious attacks. Opposition journalists didn’t simply denigrate Washington’s presidential record but accused him of aping royal ways to prepare for a new monarchy. The most merciless critic was Philip Freneau, editor of the National Gazette, the main voice of the Jeffersonians. Even something as innocuous as Washington’s birthday celebration Freneau mocked as a “monarchical farce” that exhibited “every species of royal pomp
Other journalists dredged up moldy tales of his supposed missteps in the French and Indian War and derided him as an inept general during the Revolutionary War. In his later, anti-Washington incarnation, Thomas Paine gave the laurels for wartime victory against the British to Gen. Horatio Gates. “You slept away your time in the field till the finances of the country were completely exhausted,” Paine taunted Washington, “and you had but little share in the glory of the event.” Had America relied on Washington’s “cold and unmilitary conduct,” Paine insisted, the commander-in-chief “would in all probability have lost America.”…
There’s an interesting sidebar here that would be flashing bright flamingo pink if it were today. Of the “most important” Founding Fathers, only George Washington was a practicing Christian, but had problems with his Episcopalian denomination at times. John
So was Thomas Paine. He wrote:
“...How different is [Christianity] to the pure and simple profession of Deism! The true Deist has but one Deity, and his religion consists in contemplating the power, wisdom, and benignity of the Deity in his works, and in endeavoring to imitate him in everything moral, scientifical, and mechanical…”
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson did not get along. Abigail Adams treated Martha Washington like dirt. The women from the northern states all made fun of the first First Lady before she arrived in New York to become First Lady. The Adams were Unitarians.
Abigail was one of the nation’s first feminists.
“...Education. Women, she believed, should not submit to laws not made in their interest, nor should they be content with the simple role of being companions to their husbands. They should educate themselves
and thus be recognized for their intellectual capabilities, so they could guide and influence the lives of their children and husbands. She is known for her March, 1776 letter to John and the Continental Congress, requesting that they, “…remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation….”
Martha was so wealthy she could do and believe anything she wished.
Jefferson was a typical libertarian. If we learn from history, we should realize that what libertarians envision for this
nation will be a disaster.
“…Jefferson wanted to eliminate the national debt because he saw it as a cesspool of patronage and corruption. He warned his Treasury Secretary that debt would commit the nation “to the English career of debt, corruption and rottenness, closing with revolution.” Nevertheless the Louisiana Purchase was such a golden opportunity that Jefferson borrowed the gold in England with Treasury bonds to pay for it.
Jefferson believed that the nation did not need to carry a line of debt in order to build foreign credit, a policy that Hamilton vigorously advocated while in the Washington cabinet. Jefferson repealed many Federalist taxes including the tax that prompted the Whiskey Rebellion which was made up of many Republican supporters. Jefferson believed that the federal government was able to operate exclusively on customs revenue and need no direct taxation. While initially successful, this policy would later prove disastrous when trade to the United States was interrupted by the Napoleonic Wars between Great Britain and France.
Jefferson also decreased the size of the military, which he believed was an unnecessary drain on the resources of the republic. Much of the federalist navy that was created under the Adams administration was scrapped. When Federalists criticized this policy as leaving the nation vulnerable to foreign attack, Jefferson responded that he believed citizen soldiers would arise to defend the country in case of attack, much as they did during the American Revolution. Recognizing that military leadership would be more crucial when taking civilians into battle, Jefferson did create the Army Corps of Engineers and established the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1802….”
Much of the conflict during the Washington Administration and later years was the abject hatred Jefferson, Madison, and to a lessor extent Paine felt against Washington and to a lessor extent Adams. They had differing world views.
“…Jefferson was fond of summoning up idyllic scenes of an agrarian America peopled by sturdy yeoman farmers. That poetic vision neglected the underlying reality of large slave plantations in the South. Jefferson was a fine populist on paper but not in everyday life, and his defense of Virginia interests was inextricably bound up with slavery. Hamilton–derided as a pseudo aristocrat, an elitist, a crypto-monarchist–was a passionate abolitionist with a far more expansive economic vision. He conceded that agriculture would persist for decades as an essential component of the economy. But at the same time he wanted to foster the rudiments of a modern economy–trade, commerce, banks, stock exchanges, factories and corporations–to enlarge economic opportunity. Hamilton dreamed of a meritocracy, not an aristocracy, while Jefferson retained the landed gentry’s disdain for the vulgar realities of trade, commerce and finance. And he was determined to undermine Hamilton’s juggernaut….”
They also differed on their view of the French Revolution.
Where does this take us? The Pink Flamingo has a problem with the current crop of tea party patriots and members of the far right. I think they are abjectly ignorant when it comes to history. Nothing proves this more than a recent Rasmussen poll:
“…A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 45% of Likely U.S. Voters agree with the following statement: The gap between Americans who want to govern themselves and politicians who want to rule over them is now as big as the gap between the American colonies and England during the 18th Century….”
It proves that the average tea party “patriot” is profoundly ignorant when it comes to their knowledge of history and the founding of America. The Pink Flamingo finds it ironic that the qualities the far right sees as “patriotic” are those best
seen in the figure of Samuel Johnson, who was totally and completely against the Colonies splitting from England.
There are some tremendous ironies here. Libertarians appear to be acting true to form and are terribly nasty at times. Republicans try to stay true to traditional beliefs. Liberals believe in upsetting everything. It is quite obvious, if you look at some of the actions of the Founders, they were simply doing the very liberal thing.
The true irony – Samuel Johnson today defines what a real Christian Conservative should be.
Oh the pain…!
Perhaps this all boils down to how you look a things. If you are a compulsive fan of Jane Austen, as is The Pink Flamingo, you understand the roll that Napoleon plays in all of the above story. In many ways, the founding of the United States, and the subsequent floundering around in foreign policy, with all the atrocious mistakes Jefferson made, is little more than a footnote during this time in history.
The real action was in Europe, where Napoleon was attempting to make himself the ruler of a continent. The War of 1812 is now seen as part of that conflict. Thanks to Jefferson, Madison and Paine, and their affinity for all things French, it is perhaps one of the few times this nation has been on the wrong side of a major conflict. At least Washington wanted to stay neutral. Jefferson had played the libertarian to the point where he destroyed much of our military, winding it down to nothing. He had to rush to catch up and recreate what he had destroyed.
There is a lesson in this for the tea parties, and for those who are following the libertarian hard line. Their policies are utter and complete disaster. The problem is the fact that the idiots who support the policies are so ignorant, they are already on the road to doom as they begin repeating those mistakes.
Those of us who are compulsive Jane Austen fans and readers of the Regency “romance” already know most of this. We also know what is coming in the way of abject economic disaster. Just read up on the Corn Laws, which were protectionist tariffs and the Enclosures. This led to riots, the downfall of Liverpool as the PM. This led to the reforms of Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington) and Charles Gray (Earl Gray). The only way the UK was able to survive was by reform and an expansion of modern industry and the railroad infrastructure.
It is about the birth of the modern world. Those who wax poetic about our patriotic founding have a tendency to look upon it in rose colored contact lens, seeing only the images they wish to see. They look upon our founders as men (not women) in knee breeches, and powdered wigs. Women wore humble little saque gowns and mop caps. They were humbly clad, wearing the same togs that their Puritan ancestors wore, a century previous.
“...The 1770s in fashion were notable for extreme hairstyles and wigs which were built up very high, and often incorporated decorative objects (sometimes symbolic, as in the case of the famous engraving depicting a lady wearing a large ship in her hair with masts and sails—called the “Coiffure à l’Indépendance ou le Triomphe de la liberté”—to celebrate naval victory in the American war of independence). These coiffures were parodied in several famous satirical caricatures of the period….”
If you can’t get the history right, how can you get the patriotism right? By denigrating and not getting the fashion right, you lose the real story. American Colonials in the 1770s were not these backwoods, backward and poorly dressed barbarians the tea party would like to portray. The outlandish fashions of the era of Independence were perhaps the last truly “over the top” fashions the Western world has seen.
“…A tax on the use of Hair Powder was introduced by an Act of Parliament in 1795. Citizens who wore powdered wigs (or powdered their hair direct) had to obtain a certificate from the local Justices of the Peace to confirm that they had paid the annual tax of one guinea [ £1 1s 0d, or £1.05 in modern money ]….”
Of course, by then, fashion did not allow for powdered wigs, even in “patriotic” America. They were “out”. Our ignorant tea partiers and conservatives would have you believe there is a humble fashion for our early nation. This is not true. Women in 1790 America were just as interested in modern fashions and wearing the very latest style as they were in England or France. In fact, when Jefferson became President in 1801, his daughter refused to be his First Lady until she had the very latest French fashions!
To have this simplistic view of Americans and their new country is simply false and irrational. Women in 1780 were no different than women today. They wanted to wear the latest fashions. If they could not afford the latest fashions, they improvised.
Fake patriots do not comprehend the world and the way of the world from the founding of this nation, up until, 1820 was the same time frame of the Regency in England. It was a time of great change. If you truly want to understand the era, you must understand Regency England. It is a time that is comparable to 2012 United States. In order to understand how we get out of this mess, you must understand Regency England.
If you do not understand the fashion of the founding of this nation, you don’t know the true nature of how vibrant this nation was, from day one.
I challenge your patriotism.
In order to keep things in perspective, use this timeline of cultural, political, and scientific events.
- 1776 Declaration of Independence
- 1783 End of Revolutionary War
- 1784 Franklin Invents Bifocal Lens
- 1788 Constitution Ratified
- 1788 Federalist Papers
- 1789 George Washington POTUS
- 1789 French Revolution Begins
- 1791 Tom Paine The Rights of Man
- 1791 Vermont Statehood
- 1792 Kentucky Statehood
- 1793 Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette Executed
- 1793 Eli Whitney Invents Cotton Gin
- 1794 Lady Susan First Published
- 1795 French Directory
- 1795 Napoleon Begins Rise to Power
- 1796 Beau Brummell Begins to Define Modern Men’s Fashion
- 1796 Tennessee Statehood
- 1797 John Adams POTUS
- 1797 First draft of Pride and Prejudice begun
- 1799 Washington Dies
- 1799 Nelson Wins Battle of the Nile
- 1780 Jane Austen moves to Bath
- 1780 US Government Moves to Washington, DC
- 1800 Voltra Invents Electric Battery
- 1801 Thomas Jefferson POTUS
- 1803 Louisiana Purchase
- 1803 Dalton Creates Table of Elements
- 1804 Lewis and Clark
- 1804 Napoleon Becomes Emperor
- 1805 Battle of Trafalgar
- 1805 Napoleon Occupies Spain
- 1808 Beethovan’s 5th
- 1808 Importing of Slaves Prohibited
- 1809 James Madison POTUS
- 1811 First Steamboat Trip Down Mississippi
- 1811 Regency “Officially” Begins
- 1811 Sense and Sensibility
- 1812 Louisiana Statehood
- 1812 British PM Spencer Perceval assassinated
- 1812 2nd Earl of Liverpool becomes PM
- 1812 War of 1812
- 1812 Napoleon Defeated in Russia
- 1814 Mansfield Park
- 1815 Waterloo
- 1815 Emma
- 1816 Indiana Statehood
- 1816 Beau Brummell’s Exile to France
- 1817 Mississippi Statehood
- 1817 James Monroe POTUS
- 1817 Jane Austin Dies
- 1817 Construction Begins on Erie Canal
- 1818 Illinois Statehood
- 1818 Northanger Abbey
- 1818 Persuasion
- 1819 Alabama Statehood
- 1819 Victoria Born
- 1820 Missouri Compromise
- 1820 George III Dies
- 1821 George IV Coronation
- 1821 Missouri Statehood
- 1822 Florida Territory
- 1822 Stephen Austin’s Texas Colony Founded