The rose-tinted spectacles through which we view history.


I saw an article in The Independent recently titled “America’s Worst President”.

Three of the six contributors chose George Dubyah Bush, while the remaining three mentioned some other person, and then spent the entirety of the allocated space explaining why Bush should not be chosen as the worst president.

Yesterday’s Manchester Evening News had this thought by William Hazlitt (1821) – “No man is truly great who is great only in his lifetime. The test of greatness is the page of history.” The same might apply for greatness or unparalleled distinction in any amount of things; idiocy, unworthiness, arrogance, etc.


I have some little-known nuggets of information about other great Americans.

While in term as President, George Washington’s policy towards the Native Americans is clearly demonstrated in this statement:- “The immediate objectives are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements. It will be essential to ruin their crops in the ground and prevent their planting more.”

President Thomas Jefferson said “This unfortunate race, whom we had been taking so much pains to save and to civilize, have by their unexpected desertion and ferocious barbarities justified extermination and now await our decision on their fate,”

whereas President Andrew Jackson believes “They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favourable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear.”

Sounds familiar?

A team of researchers from Manchester University led by Dr. Piers Robinson has found a large bias against critics of the war during the “conflict”.

Dr. Robinson said “Coverage overwhelmingly reflected the official line in the moral case for the war. More than 80% of TV and press stories mirrored the government position, while fewer than 12% challenged it. Most reports did not discuss humanitarian operations at all.”

Meanwhile, in my calendar of forgotten English by Jeffrey Kacirk, I find the word ‘Cooping’, which I thought was the term for barrel-making.

Apparently, it is “Collecting and confining [voters] several days previous to an election in a house or on a vessel hired for the purpose. Here they are treated with good living and liquors, and at a proper day are taken to the polls and “voted, “ as it is called, for the party.” (James Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms, 1877)

Rather dodgy, you might say. But Kacirk says “As Bartlett’s definition suggests, politicians once routinely provided free alcohol to voters, a practice called “treating.” In fact, the lion’s share of George Washington’s recorded election expenses, when he ran for Virginia’s colonial legislature in 1758, went towards the purchase of spirituous liquors used for cooping.”
 

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3 Comments

  1. Why do countries always seem to be run by fools and idiots. This does worry me somewhat.

    Reply
  2. Ioannis

     /  15 November, 2006

    Washington’s quote is priceless.

    Reply
  3. Bryer

     /  18 February, 2007

    Don’t forget: Hitler studied American Indian policy for inspiration with his Dachau, his Buchenwald … In fact there are ways in which Hitler’s genocides were nicer: his Nazis sometimes promised a shower when they meant a gas chamber: what did we promise the Cheyenne for the Trail of Tears?

    Reply

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