Previous Entry Share Next Entry
I think I'm in love...
I will admit that, of the astonishing group of Enlightenment scholars who comprised the US 'founding fathers', I knew less about John Adams than I did about Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. This has been corrected by the brilliant US miniseries, which ended in the UK last Saturday.

In the usual co-incidental fashion, Pharygula's random quote generator produced this

"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere
in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths,
Doctrines, and the whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find
in Christianity."

Ah, you have to love the man. Likewise, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.

"Tom, had you and I been 40 days with Moses,
and beheld the great God, and even if God himself had tried to tell us
that three was one . . . and one equals three, you and I would never
have believed it. We would never fall victims to such lies.

And then there is his great friend/rival Jefferson himself...

“And the day will come, when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His Father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva, in the brain of Jupiter."


Of course, these people were not atheists but deists, which was, at that point in time, just about the only sensible and logical position... What they weren't was fundamentalist Christians. Quite the reverse...

  • 1
Yep, got to love those guys!

YAY!!! A NEW CONVERT!!!! Sorry, I'll calm down now. lol

The reason you knew less about Mr. Adams is because he was a very ethical, very prudent, very honest person who was a really bad politician. He also believed (loudly so) in the intellectual equality of women and he was a very loud abolitionist who paid his farm hands a regular wage. Those are among the reasons he felt "obnoxious and suspected".

John was a great believer in "religion and morality" (as the religious people quote him) but what they don't observe was John's definition of "religion and morality" which was basically "do good and be good". He wrote a LOT about the travails of Christianity and religious bigotry.

As you've probably caught on, he's one of my lifelong heroes. :) He has (only since David McCullough's book and the recent miniseries) truly been given his due.

Okay, I'll hush now. lol

And yes, the miniseries is among my favorite series ever. It's a work of art.

Edited at 2008-11-14 12:08 am (UTC)

As soon as the series is available here on DVD we will be buying it. Don't let anyone ever tell you that the BBC is so much better at costume drama than you Americans - this is proof that this ain't so, just as The Civil War was equal proof of the brilliance of some of your documentary makers...

On the subject of why I didn't know that much about John Adams, except as a member of the exceptional intellectual group at the centre of the Continental Congress, an early President and all round good guy, is that American history is not (or did not used to be) a major part of the UK history curriculum, though this period - and the Civil War - were covered on a not-very-deep basis leading up to my O Level history exam (a long, long time ago, when I was 16.) The causes of the War of Independence, some of the major battles, the Declaration of Independence and very little else, though Franklin was mentioned for his scientific experiments. I rather suspect that is more than is covered nowadays.

(On the other hand, I was gobsmacked on reading Lincoln Dreams by Connie Willis (and the reviews of same) to find that many Americans didn't know about Traveller and Little Hen! It's strange what teachers who know their subject mention in passing, and strange what you retain.)

You will find that most British people know that there was a War of Independence but a majority have no idea that there was a War of 1812 (admittedly, from the British point of view that was something of a sideshow, but it's still important because it hovers over British/American relations well into the 20th Century.) British Media fandom is perhaps a little better educated than the general populace, but only because they watch so many US TV series and films...

I have it on DVD now and it's well worth the price. There's additional material on it, of course, with a documentary with David McCullough (the writer of the source work) touring Adams related places. The whole graphics presentation is stunning which is only fitting given the series itself.

I'm impressed that you can remember anything from school. My brain has atrophied to the place I can dimly recall the classroom and that's about it. lol Sadly, John has not been given a lot of coverage in US schools either until recently. He hasn't even had a Washington, DC monument until the current one they are building. For instance, I didn't know until I "discovered" Adams that he had defended the Boston soldiers involved in what they still called (in propagandistic fashion) the "Boston Massacre". It's only been since the musical 1776 (in which John is the central character) that he has had any popular culture recognition at all. Now with the mini-series, people are rediscovering him. When I visited the Adams "farm" (it's now a park and historic spot in the middle of the city of Quincy, Mass) and Peacefield for the first time twenty years ago, we were one of a handful of people on the tour. Last I heard, they had two tours going through at capacity now.

The coverage of British history is fairly sparse here. We get Cromwell, English Civil War, and the basics and not a lot else. And yes, to prove your point, I've no idea what Traveller and Little Hen are. lol Do tell.

As horrible as US schools are these days, heaven knows what youngsters are learning now. Yikes.

Traveller was Robert E Lee's warhorse. He always travelled with a chicken, also something of a pet of Lee's, called Little Hen.

Oh, Robert E. Lee's hoss-and-hen! I thought it was some historical UK reference I wasn't getting.

Yes, I know much of Lee's background. My family is from the southern US. My grandfather's name was Lee. My middle name is Lee. Half of the US south's middle name is Lee. We (the kids in my family) were given Robert E. Lee from birth onward even here in Los Angeles.

Edited at 2008-11-14 07:52 pm (UTC)

  • 1

Log in

No account? Create an account