So I’m moving on to a War of 1812 documentary (man, I love these History Channel documentaries) as part of my daily exercise regimen (mental exercise, physical exersion) since I want to learn more about James Madison and his wife Dolley (she’s one of my favorite American patriots in history and has been for a long time), who single handedly preserved numerous artefacts of the American Revolution and prevented them from being burned by the British onslaught of Washington. Really. Dig. This. History. Thing.
I also just started reading a recent (September 2006) Biography of Thomas Paine (Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations) by Craig Nelson. Fantastic stuff, Nelson really helps me to understand the man more and the really unfortunate treatment he got – Roosevelt would later call him a “dirty little atheist” despite the fact that he was actually a Freemason (and therefore believed in the Supreme Being) and a deist. People really misunderstood this man and continue to do so, despite the great things he did for the United States. It makes my blood boil, for some reason, at the injustice of it all. I’ve spent a few hours over the last few evenings sitting in Boston, drinking various herbal teas and reading this book – it’s better than watching TV.
Paine’s writings were a battle cry against the British Government, his work directly lead to American Independence, helped the French Revolution against their Monarchy and first coined the term “The United States of America”. But because he also happened to criticise the established Church of the day, he was alienated by those who knew him – a man before his time in many ways. For all his good deads, he died a lonely, hated man whose remains would later be dug up in a stuff-of-fiction late night grave digging and lost to history. He’s the only Founding Father who has no giant statue celebrating his life (excepting the one in Thetford, UK) and I think that’s a truly sad state of affairs. Maybe, once we as a nation finally learn to accept that not everyone has to be overtly supportive of established religion (and that it’s ok to reason about it) then he’ll get his statue.
Part of me wishes they’d taught us American history in school, it’s far more interesting than British Monarchs I could never get excited about (because they’re unelected and I detest that). The history in this part of the United States is just mindblowingly interesting – it’s not all great (and there are many historical compromises that we have come to denounce), but it’s very very interesting stuff.
P.S. I enjoyed reading about The News Of The World Getting Fucked Over. They deserve it – a truly horrible “newspaper” from Murdoch’s empire and I hope they get everything that’s coming to them for tapping phonecalls of the rich and famous (I may not like the Monarchy, but this is unacceptable).