Monday, May 27, 2013

A Memorial Day Post: Some Memes of American History

I took this picture of hand rock in 1991.  It is the perfect
likeness of a human hand, somehow inscribed in the rock.
There are some stories in America that just have legs.

Take, for example, the tale of the Thompson Long Gun.

At the time of Middleborough’s incorporation in 1669 by English from nearby Plymouth, the local Nemasket and their ancestors had been living in the area for perhaps 12,000 years.  When conflict broke out between the colonists and Native Americans in the summer of 1675, Middleboro’s 75 English retreated to a fort built on the Nemasket River.

In early June 1675 a group of Nemasket appeared near a rock on a hillside on the opposite shore of the river.  For several days, the story goes, the Natives flung insults at the fort until Isaac Howland, famous for his marksmanship, was selected to fire an especially long gun brought by the commander of the fort, John Thompson.  As the distance between the fort and rock was about a half mile, requiring a trajectory more like artillery than a gun, nobody expected anything more than a startled reaction from the Nemasket and perhaps some peace and quiet.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Greatest Migration of All

Over on the Historical Society Blog, I've proposed another kind of "Great Migration" to the ones historians usually count.  But this one, it turns out, was just as important to George Washington as it is to today's technology executives.  It begins like this:

Ask an American historian to define the Great Migration and you’ll hear one of several answers. Most will describe the movement of 6 million African Americans from the rural South who headed north and west, from
Jack Delano photo of migrants
heading north from Florida, 1940.
 World War I through 1970, seeking economic opportunity and relief from Jim Crow laws.

See here for more.