Twitter Storm: 1776 

 

Dateline Philadelphia July 5th, 1776.  Lester Holt’s great, great, great, great grandpa dressed in colonial garb, including powder wig and tricornered hat, is reporting live from outside of the Pennsylvania State House.  “Since learning that twelve of the thirteen British colonies have declared their independence from the English crown, King George III has erupted in a storm of angry twitter posts directed at the Second Continental Congress in general and specifically outspoken members such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, his brother Samuel along with Ben Franklin.  The last exchange was just minutes ago with the king tweeting, “I dare you!” and Tom Jefferson responding, “Yo Mama!”  (New York did not sign the original document until later.)

A former student sent me down that pig trail which led me to Alice’s rabbit hole. Tom Meilinger posted, “What would it be like if there were social media in 1776? Would King George and Thomas Jefferson be in a Twitter war? Would British citizens be commenting on how the colonists should find a new colony to move to if they didn’t like the British empire? Would they hope their British nine pin team might lose to another country because someone on it wasn’t a loyalist?”  I wondered too and Tom and I don’t usually agree on much.

Tom triggered a mental vision King George III sitting on a porcelain throne, his considerable girth covered by a gold, terry cloth robe, hammering out angry tweet after angry tweet.  There are some things that can’t be unseen…the mental vision will haunt me for a while.

Image result for George the Third

Understand, there was plenty of propaganda that flowed from both sides of the Atlantic during the lead up to our revolutionary war.  I say our revolutionary war because our little skirmish was just a small part of what became a larger conflict, The Anglo-French War.  The difference with propaganda then was that correspondence was considerably slower than our current form.  A month or more to get the news out as opposed to instantaneous.

Benjamin Franklin drew this now-famous cartoon of a disjointed snake in 1754 — telling fragmented colonies that if they didn't join the fight, they would perish.

Patriots such as Ben Franklin and Paul Revere created stunning propaganda art including Revere’s copper engraving depicting a highly sensationalized version of the 1770 “Boston Massacre.”  Newspapers, pamphlets, and periodicals on both sides were guilty of sensationalizing any and everything.  Kind of like today only not at light speed.

This copper engraving by Paul Revere is a sensationalized depiction of the

Can you imagine the meme’s that could have been created over the Boston Massacre?  Jackbooted English lobster backs firing on innocent colonists throwing snowballs.  “Just boys liquored up and having a bit of fun.”  Or from the other side, Crispus Attucks dressed in a hoody and portrayed as an “Antifa Thug!”

Image result for Cyprus Attucks

I doubt King George would be tweeting that there were fine people on both sides and please realize, the Patriots were the Antifa of 1776 or at least the Anti-monarchy…Antima?  See…that could have sparked a heated social media argument…and may still.

Three years later drunken members of the Sons of Liberty would badly disguise themselves as Native Americans and dump chests of “cheap” British Tea into Boston Harbor.  Were they really upset over the Tea Tax or was it that, even with the tax, Britain had undercut the black marketeers?  “How can an honest criminal make a living?”  Tweets would fly.  “How dare they dress as Native Americans?  Racist liberal scum.”  Tweets from loyalists, Royalists, King’s Men, or Tories would fly, only to be returned by patriots, revolutionaries, continentals, colonials, rebels, Yankees, or Whigs.  Pick a name…any name.

Image result for Boston Tea Party

On April 19,1775, Emerson’s “Shot heard ‘round the world” would find its way onto a million Facebook memes as Minute Men sent British Troops packing back to Boston from Concord and Lexington.  King George would tweet, “Bunch of chickens!  Very bad, hiding behind trees.  Real men fight out in the open.”  Thomas Jefferson would counter with “Yo Mama wears combat boots!”

The next eight years would give ample fodder for tweets, Instagram posts and of course Facebook.  Most non-combatants viewed the war as a football game between rivals…except football hadn’t been invented.  It’s okay, neither had social media.

Early on it didn’t go well for the colonists and loyalist could post hateful GIFs, Thomas Jefferson being hung while the loyalist chanted “Shimmy up a toothpick, slide down a pine, look on the scoreboard and see who’s behind”.

Later as the winds of fortune shifted to the continentals, tweets about Patrick Ferguson, the only British soldier killed at the Battle of Kings Mountain, would erupt along with chants like “Chewing tobacco, chewing tobacco, spit, spit, spit, Exlax, Exlax, go team go” or “Don’t come round these here hills stirring up trouble.”

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In October of 1783, an end run by the French fleet and Washington’s Continental Army supported by the French under Comte de Rochambeau caught Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown and led to hundreds of tweets about how unfair it was.  “Battles should be fought one on one.”  “Cheaters, cheaters, cheaters.”   “We were having to play against the officials too.”

George the Third was beside himself as he tweeted, “I should have fired Cornwallis after Guilford Courthouse.  He couldn’t find his butt with both hands.  So very sad.”

Image result for cornwallis leaves yorktown

Yes, Tom, it would be interesting if social media existed in 1776…well…as interesting as it is today.

Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM.  Stop by and give him a little love.

Image 1:  George the Third of Great Britain  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_III_of_the_United_Kingdom

Image 2:   Ben Franklin’s cartoon of a disjointed snake https://www.businessinsider.com/pro-independence-propaganda-from-the-american-revolution-2015-7#this-parchment-was-used-to-call-american-patriots-to-arms-as-the-war-heated-up-1

Image 3:  Paul Revere’s copper engraving of the Boston Massacre https://www.businessinsider.com/pro-independence-propaganda-from-the-american-revolution-2015-7#this-parchment-was-used-to-call-american-patriots-to-arms-as-the-war-heated-up-1

Image 4:  Crispus Attucks, one of five killed by British fire during the Boston Massacre http://crispusattucks.org/about/who-was-crispus-attucks/

Image 5:  Sons of Liberty at the Boston Tea Party.  They weren’t that well disguised.  https://chapinus.fandom.com/wiki/Boston_Tea_Party_(Final_Draft)

Image 6:  Patrick Ferguson, the only Briton killed at the Battle of Kings Mountain.  The rest were Loyalist or “Over the Mountain Boys.”  https://www.knowitall.org/photo/major-patrick-ferguson-kings-mountain

Image 7: Cornwallis’s surrender.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornwallis_in_North_America

Featured Image: Some of the signers, https://www.historyextra.com/period/georgian/why-does-united-states-america-celebrate-independence-day-4th-fourth-july-declaration-holiday/

INDEPENDENCE DAY AND BARBEQUE

My introduction to BBQ came in the early Fifties during Independence Day celebrations held at my school. As a family, we would load up the car and go to the school for an afternoon of celebrating our independence from Great Britain; fun, games and, most importantly, BBQ. I cannot remember if there were decorations, I am sure there were, but I remember going to the field behind the school and seeing the pole that had been set up for the greased pole climb and a small cage with a greased pig. Hum, greased pig, greased pole and BBQ sounds like we have a trend going. No, that statement is not true – there was nothing greasy about our BBQ. I have no idea who had cooked the pigs but I do know my Uncle James had donated them and had overseen the night-long festivities and I was too young to know what that might have entailed. All I know is that you could smell those hogs cooking and see the smoke rising out of the soil that covered the pit. The smell was almost too, too, too… I am at a loss for words but I think it was as close to heaven as I want to get without actually dying.

Besides eating the BBQ there were patriotic stories to be told, games to be played and winners to be awarded. There might have been a softball game before the older boys attempted to climb the greased pole. And then there was the contest to catch a greased pig – a contest in which I once excelled and won. Actually that year it wasn’t much of a chase. As I started toward him to make my grab, the little porker ran right at me and lay down. What a bummer, I didn’t even get my cloths dirty. It was kind of like a “tag you’re it” scenario. We also ran sack races and three-legged races. For the less mobile athletes, pie-eating or watermelon-seed-spitting contests were enjoyed and I’m sure someone also broke out horseshoes. After all of that excitement it was finally time to eat.

We sat down to succulent pulled-pork BBQ served with Dutch Fork mustard sauce, hash (not to be confused with Brunswick Stew) served over long grain WHITE rice (not the healthy brown stuff), cole slaw, white bread and, what I guess, was a pickled “bread and butter style” cauliflower medley on the side. Yes sir! It was truly heaven-on-a-plate and an argument for why immigration is a good thing. Also, it was a time that you could thank God for having a belt buckle that would allow you to ease the pressure on a BBQ-stuffed stomach. Thinking it couldn’t get any better, I finally reached the age where I was old enough to participate in the festivities associated with the production of hardwood coal – drinking and storytelling.

During my college days, a group of us “summer schoolers“ decided that a pulled-pork BBQ party might be in order for those of us not going home for the Independence Day break. Several of us who actually had experience in this Southern tradition were tabbed to prepare the feast. (This should not be confused with a pig party.) One of my jobs that night was to stir a big iron kettle full of hash. For the uninformed, and you may want to remain that way, hash is all of the “lesser” or unrecognizable parts of the pig, coarsely shredded and cooked with potatoes, onions, spices and cider vinegar until it all falls apart into an unrecognizable hash. I’ll never forget as I stirred the hash that night with a boat oar I saw something white roll to the top. What the…? As I kept stirring, it turned over and I saw …an eyeball staring back at me! Gulp. As I said earlier, stay misinformed.

After such a hard night of stirring, drinking and lying, I mean storytelling, it did not take long after dawn for someone to point out the need for breakfast. Several of my fraternity brothers went to Winn Dixie and came back with enough chicken halves to feed us all. Winn Dixie actually donated them. Those roasted chickens may have been the best breakfast that I have ever eaten. All the great chefs say that good food is first about taste and then about presentation. I think they should have added that it is all about the company you are sharing it with. Good friends will make bad food better.

Hours later the BBQ was finished and it was time for the moment of truth. I got my plate with the hash and rice, and for the first time ever concerning BBQ I hesitated a bit before my first bite. Remembering that white thing floating in the hash, I had a little moment of contemplation along with a big hunger for that BBQ. It was then that I made the decision that if I had liked hash before I knew there might be an eyeball in it then I could probably still like it after… and I did! Eyeball and all!

Independence Day is about much more than BBQ, bottle rockets and patriotic music despite being a great way to celebrate it…as long as you remember sacrifices Americans have made to maintain it. From George Washington and his troops at Valley Forge, to the 54th Massachusetts attack on Battery Wagner, Marines at Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir or Que Son, along with Freedom Riders and Civil Rights Marchers. All of these and many more have made sacrifices, some ultimate, to insure their and our independence. We don’t need to forget that fact and allow it to get lost in mounds of BBQ. Especially, this year. I do not believe we can continue our divisiveness and maintain our independence. We are STILL the greatest country in the world despite the many issues facing us that must be worked out. Maybe if our leaders sat down with a mound of BBQ. It is hard to yell at each other with a mouthful of pig.

A portion of this came from Don Miller’s book PATHWAYS, stories from his
youth, which can be purchased at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM