The Decorated Duchess

A very happy birthday to Sarah Churchill, first Duchess of Marlborough, and one of the most influential women in English history. She was born Sarah Jennings on June 5, 1660. Sarah’s father, Richard, was a Member of Parliament who was friendly with the Duke of York (the future James II). As a result of the friendship, Sarah was appointed a maid of honor to James’s … Continue reading The Decorated Duchess

Good Christmas, Bad Christmas

In 1777, in the midst of the American Revolution, General George Washington led his army of about 11,000 men to Valley Forge, PA to camp for the winter. For many of them, it was the worst Christmas ever. Inadequate clothing and supplies, coupled with wet weather, meant the men were underfed, cold, and oftentimes sick. As many as 2,000 men are said to have died … Continue reading Good Christmas, Bad Christmas

Hope He Got Lei’d While He was There

On November 26, 1778, Captain James Cook decided to stretch his legs a bit and became the first European to visit the Hawaiian island of Maui. Cook, who joined the merchant navy as a teen and the Royal Navy in 1755, when he was in his late 20’s, was a born explorer. While serving in the Seven Years’ War, he surveyed and mapped most of … Continue reading Hope He Got Lei’d While He was There

The War of Jenkins’ Ear

If you’re going to have a war, you may as well name it something interesting and memorable, right? On October 23, 1739, the awesomely named War of Jenkins’ Ear began when Britain declared war on Spain, despite Prime Minister Robert Walpole’s reservations. The unusual name wasn’t made official until more than 100 years after the conflict. It refers to an incident in 1731, when the … Continue reading The War of Jenkins’ Ear

The Battle of Prestonpans

In the early morning hours of September 21, 1745, the first significant conflict of the Jacobite rising of 1745 was fought at Prestonpans, East Lothian, Scotland. The Battle of Prestonpans proved that the Jacobite army loyal to James Stuart (son of the deposed King James II) meant business and were fully capable of kicking the ass of the Hanovarian army on George II’s side. 1745 … Continue reading The Battle of Prestonpans

Pilloried

As a journalist, this story makes me happy for modern-day freedom of the press: on July 31, 1703, Daniel Defoe was placed in a pillory for his incendiary political writings. The piece that primarily got him in trouble was a pamphlet entitled The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters; Or, Proposals for the Establishment of the Church, which apparently argued for the extermination of said Dissenters. Apparently, the government … Continue reading Pilloried

John Adams: Reunion

Previously on John Adams: John was sent abroad to try and get money and support for the war, which he failed pretty spectacularly at, though he put in a good effort. Then, while he was in the Netherlands, the war ended.

John’s still in his sickbed, but he’s well enough to stumble to the door when someone knocks. His visitor happily tells him the British have surrendered, which amazes John, though he doesn’t seem to have the energy to get excited about it. After the news sinks in, he starts to cry and kisses the messenger’s hand.

Once he’s up and about, he meets with two of the businessmen from the last episode, who are now happy to lend $2 million to the new United States, at a 5% interest rate. John’s pleased with that and thanks them excitedly. One of the men exposits that John will be leaving soon, and he picks up the thread and explains he’ll be heading back to Paris to oversee the wording of their treaty with the British.

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John Adams: Don’t Tread on Me

Previously on John Adams: The colonies banded together and started to produce a real army, under Washington’s charge. John decided it was time to cut the cord with the mother country and declare independence, and with Franklin’s and Jefferson’s help, he managed to convince the other delegates to go along with him. On the homefront, in an attempt to protect the kids from smallpox, Abigail…nearly killed one of them with smallpox.

The Adams farm is buried under snow. John and Abigail stroll through, chatting. She exposits that the British have taken Philadelphia and that they’ve been married 14 years, only half of which they’ve actually spent living together. That sucks. Or maybe it’s the key to a successful marriage, who knows? It definitely led to some great extent letters between these two.

It’s now 1777. That night, John gently breaks the news to Abby that he’s leaving, meeting with the congress in New York. Well, that’s a little closer to Massachusetts than Philadelphia, isn’t it? You know what isn’t closer? France, which is where he’s likely to go next, to help Franklin secure French aid in the American cause. Abigail is not on board with that idea at all. She forcefully tells him he’s needed at home, because his kids need a dad and she needs a husband. Fair enough. But she knows there are bigger issues at stake, so after a tearful interlude, she asks him how long he’ll be gone. He has no idea. Bad sign.

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All Together Now

On May 1, 1328, the English Parliament ratified the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, ending the First War of Scottish Independence, which had dragged on since 1296. Under the provisions of the treaty, Scotland paid England £20,000 and England recognized Scotland as an independent nation, with Robert the Bruce as king and his heirs as rightful inheritors of the crown. The peace lasted only five years: in … Continue reading All Together Now