American Vignettes: Footnotes to History

Some people find history the most boring topic ever whereas others (like me) find it very fascinating. Perhaps part of the reason some people find history boring is in the way it is often presented. It is often presented as a bunch of useless facts about dead people or irrelevant issues. But it is important to understand life is cyclical and whatever has happened will eventually happen again. Knowing history may help us prepare how to handle present events.

However, this post is about lighter things; vignettes, which literally means small sketch. In modern terms, let's think of this as a thumbnail image view of some historical events.

FIRST PRESIDENT OR NOT

For example have you ever thought about the fact that we're often told that the United States of America came into being as an independent nation in 1776 yet George Washington wasn't elected president until 1789. So, who ran the government for those 13 years??? (see answer)

ROUNDHEADS/JARHEADS

Or how about the curious story of Colonel Thomas Butler; the war hero that would not obey what would seem a simple order to cut his hair. You see, the time was 1801 shortly after the American revolution. Thomas Jefferson was president and Jefferson was eager to dismantle anything that had the semblance of aristocracy. Males wearing a ponytail was common place but for Jefferson too resembled European monarchicalism. Thus, James Wilkinson; general of the Army put out what would eventually be called the Roundhead Order ordering all enlisted men and officers to cut off their ponytails. Many refused, but Butler stood out among the bunch since he was such a hero. He was arrested and court-martialed. But in the end Butler had the last laugh since while Wilkinson was convening the second trial against Butler, Butler died and had his friends drill a hole in his coffin and hang his ponytail out of the hole for all to see. (see here)

These footnotes to history are often more interesting than large tomes of history boringly lectured in schools today.

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