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What's it look like?
H I S T O R Y H O U S E N E W S L E T T E R - July 4, 2000
July Fourth is upon us. The civil religion that is American patriotism has
always struck us as a bit odd. In fact the Texas office of History House
was all set for a little siesta in Mexico over the long weekend until we
remembered they were having elections and thus banning beer, liquor and
pretty much all non election related fun. Bummer.
Yes -- we here at History House think that the the concept of the nation
state may be getting a bit dusty... or at least confused. Come Tuesday
night, the Boston pops will finish their July 4th concert as they do
every year with a rousing rendition of the 1812 overture -- a piece penned
to commemorate Russia's victory over Napoleon, not American independence.
This year also sees the British and French fighting: the frogs are upset
that the Brits named their biggest train station Waterloo, after a
humiliating battle that took place in neither country, but nearly two
centuries ago in the hills of Belgium... the country that gave us the
French Fry. And since we're in a dog mood here at History House, we'll
remind our gentle readers that the Australian Shepherd is a now "American"
breed that comes by way of Australia from Basque sheepherders, who don't
even have a country, but live in Spain instead. Don't get us wrong. We
love history, of course we do. But doesn't this patriotism stuff seem a
little mixed up and arbitrary at this point?
Featured Story: Put it on Washington's Tab
George Washington, one of the founding fathers of the United States,
famously declined a salary to head the Continental Army in 1775.
Instead, he merely insisted that Congress take care of his "expenses".
When you take a look at that expense account, the first thing you
notice is how well Washington lived on it -- in an average year he
spent double what he would later make as President. You might say
the father of our country is the father of padding his receipts.
Under the Sun: Put up your Nukes
The United States just can't keep its nuclear secrets secret. Congress
and the Department of Energy seem to spend all their time in a he-said
she-said shouting match while important stuff keeps getting lost or
wanders out the door. To make matters worse, the scientists argue that
they're too restricted. The US has suffered already by being too nice
and docile in matters military -- just ask former Secretary of State
Henry Stimson, whose 1929 decision that spying was ungentlemanly
contributed to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Oops!
Book Review: Duel
Duel, an account of the gun battle between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron
Burr in 1806, manages to squeeze putrageous amounts of nineteenth-
century political and personal intrigue into a snug 406 pages. Sounds
long? Given what's in there, it's probably short as humanly possible.
The History House Teleologists
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