Saturday, March 05, 2005
Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past by Ray Raphael
An incredible thing happened in 1774. The people of rural Massachusetts massed together in several towns and overthrew British colonial authority without any violence. Many common people stood in the streets and demanded the British leave, and they did. None of the “Founding Fathers” as defined by popular authors or state educational authorities were involved. It was a true people’s revolution. No recent school textbook includes this story, according to the author. He contends that there are many other good stories that are excluded from current texts. Over 100 declarations of independence were written, mostly before Thomas Jefferson wrote the one that gets all the attention; no school text tells this story. Most of the books say the war ended with the battle at Yorktown, ignoring another fifteen months of conflict. More Native Americans died during the Revolution than in the 19th century Indian Wars; numerous tribes that had aligned with the British were completely displaced. The author explains why the textbooks feature simple stories about easily identified heroes, some fictional like Molly Pitcher, and ignore these stories. This is a good book for discussion groups.