I grew up in Cleveland. After the Revolution, the area was known as the Western Reserve of Connecticut covering all of northeast Ohio where 640 acre parcels were awarded to Connecticut soldiers who completed their obligation to fight the British. The schools I attended carried the history of the Revolution: Paul Revere Elementary School, Nathan Hale Junior High and John Adams Senior High School and like all our schools only whitewashed history was taught.
Not one word that the Revolution was a proxy war by France with the final victory at Yorktown delivered by Rochambeau and the French Navy taking 6,000 prisoners, 3 capital ships and 60 transports, totally at odds with Mel Gibson’s fictional and corrupt vision in The Patriot. At no time in my education was there a discussion how the slave states watered down the Declaration of Independence and later the Bill of Rights.
So no surprise this Fourth of July awoke to a profoundly racist society that actually has white families in affluent suburbs believing they are not racists, but never willing to give up control of local schools, which at its roots is racist, and not capable of understanding the pervasive benefits of white privilege.
Living in Palo Alto for years, I never understood why the town had sister cities around the world and turned its back on the poverty and suffering in East Palo Alto, so overrun with drugs that in the 90s it had the highest level of murders per capita in the U.S.
The NYT recently published a lead opinion reminding us that Blacks with white features have bloodlines going back to slavers who raped black women and then sold the children.
Structural racism embedded in all aspects of life in the United States must be set straight.
I believe the fundamental fairness of Americans will prevail over the authoritarian right wing, white-supremacist, reactionary Evangelical, and neo-Nazis who have no idea that we fought WWII to put to death the German Nazi party. There will always be haters. Sadly we have ignored them with silence when we should be screaming them into submission.
What I love best about the Fourth of July is that a small group of 56 – half were lawyers – figured out how to finance a rebellion and have France to pay for it, right down to the Bonhomme Richard, named by John Paul Jones in honor of Franklin, who secured a loan from King Louis to refit a cargo ship to maraud. In France, Franklin republished in French his Poor Richard’s Almanac as Bonhomme Richard, i.e. Gentlemen Richard. Nice choice for your ship Captain Jones.
Everyone likes Jones’s “I have not yet begun to fight” but I most enjoy that Jones worked on a contingency basis, just like me. As an official U.S. privateer he was paid 50% of the prizes that he took. His accountings are in the Archives of the U.S. in Washington. He is buried at Annapolis where I have visited several time.
That’s why I have a model of the Bonhomme Richard in my office and a print of the Bonny Dick engaged in a cannonade death fight with the H.M.S. Serapis which inflicted so many holes that the Richard could not be kept afloat and sank the next day. There also is a portrait of John Paul Jones painted by Evelyn Cunningham of Worcester, Mass and a print of the signing of the Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull, also a lawyer, that is in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol and on the two dollar bill.
On the Fourth, I fly Revolutionary flags and the Tricolore. The flag with blue stripes was made by Captain Jones’s sailmakers who were ordered make a flag that was red, white and blue with 13 stripes and a blue field with stars. Only U.S. flag with blue stripes. The Bennington Vermont flag with76 in the field is the only flag with white stripes on the edge and seven point stars.
Since 1971 I have had a 1776 phone number. My first in San Francisco was Washington 1. 1776. And it rings in my office today. 415.921.1776.
On this Fourth we are at war, suffering a crippling attack by an enemy virus that shouldn’t have even been given the chance. Our leaders have failed us, so it is time to have them depart so we can take control of our ship of state.
It will take fire power in the form of dollars the likes of which you have not seen before. Nothing relieves us of our duty to give all that we can to win again the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for everyone.
I am confident that we have the will and the power to bring to an end the tyranny imposed on us, as we have in the past. The Fourth of July reminds me that the spirit of the Declaration of Independence lives.
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