Posts Tagged ‘1776’

The 4th of July

129 years ago today, on July 4th, 1886 my paternal grandmother, Gertrude (Smith) Brindle was born in England in Accrington, England. That’s her sitting In the chair.

Brindle Family circa 1959-60

As you can tell, she was the product of the Victorian Era. I don’t recall her as a particular warm person and she was a lousy cook but I do recall her cozy, old-fashioned kitchen with a big, black iron coal-fired stove and her attempts to make me happy.

However, I didn’t start writing this today to reminisce about my grandmother. Instead, what struck me was that only 60 years prior to her birth, on July 4th, 1826 both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the 50th anniversary of July 4th, 1776. (You’ve probably heard the “Jefferson Lives” story when Adams didn’t realize that his friend had already died).

To the kid in this picture, sixty years would have seemed like an eternity. To the man who he’s become, it doesn’t seem so long ago. Top put that in perspective, sixty years ago today was July 4th, 1955 when Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline” and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” were playing on the radio.

Understanding that my grandmother’s life wasn’t that far removed from those two Founding Fathers helps me feel a little bit less out of touch with American history.

Thanks, Grandma. Rest in peace.

Thoughts On Thomas Jefferson And Making History Come Alive

I’ve just finished Jon Meachan’s biography, “Thomas Jefferson-The Art of Power”. It reminds me of the inadequate job that our education does in making history interesting and engaging for the teens in our school systems.

Did you know that there were people who wanted to impeach George Washington? That Jefferson received letters with death threats while he was President? That Meriwether Lewis of the famed Lewis & Clark originally was an aide for President Jefferson prior to being sent on the famous expedition and many years later reportedly went insane and committed suicide (or was murdered)? I didn’t.Thomas Jefferson The Art Of Power

As I listened to the audiobook version of Meacham’s book, I kept thinking how much more I would have taken away from my history courses in high school and college had my instructors explained the stories in context with events that were going on in the world at the time rather than on the this was the date/ this was the event/ this was the result approach.

I was also thinking about how great it would be if HBO reunited members of the cast from its John Adams series to recreate the same roles in a mini-series version of “Thomas Jefferson-The Art of Power”.