There’s a history lesson in here, so look for it.
From 1823 to1841 James Fenimore Cooper wrote the famous Leatherstocking Tales, about a hunter and scout we’ve all come to know as Hawkeye. The most action-packed volumes were about Hawkeye during the French and Indian wars, when he scouted, and tried to keep feuding tribes from killing one another. You may have seen the film “Last of the Mohicans” (1992) with Daniel Day Lewis.
These ending scenes are still considered one of the top draws on YouTube.
When I was a kid, even the kids who didn’t read, read Deerslayer, Pathfinder or Last of the Mohicans. There was a TV series in the 1950s. Chingatchgook was a household name.
If you haven’t read Last of the Mohicans, its central story was the French and Indian massacre of the surrendered Fort William Henry, who were promised safe passage after they departed the fort. They were set upon by Huron Indians led my one of the most brutal, bloodthirsty villains in all historical fiction, a Huron named Maqua, who was allied with the French and went about doing their dirty work against English settlers.
Hurons especially liked to carry off white women and make them “their own”, which I only bring up here to try and throw a wedge into the brittle Feminist-Diversity alliance. (These things are true, you can look them up, as several frontier women did indeed choose the “two-steps-back-turn-and-jump” fate the young girl in this film chose rather than to be a Huron buck’s ho’ back in Canada, but I’ll let the anti-rape vs native American trophy- entitlement crowd sort that issue out on their own.)
Herein lies a lesson in history and education, as well as in-yer-face activism.
The stories Fenimore Cooper were writing about were scarcely 80 years old when he wrote them. In other words, they were no more distant from him than the Great Depression is from us. But by Cooper’s day, New York had buried its pioneer past and exchanged it for an almost Jane Austen-like genteel existence. Still, it was their pioneer past that continued to define “upstate” New York (anywhere north of Manhattan) not just then, but for over 125 years afterwards. It was how they saw themselves.
Cooper’s stories embodied the “Yankee” tradition of rugged independence, not just in battle, but in thought, as several men of letters as well as leather who arose from those New England roots proved.
But suddenly they disappeared. Oh, Cooper is still found on the bookshelves…well, some, at least..for you see, by modern PC-standards, Cooper treated his Indians even more poorly than Mark Twain treated his Negroes. He killed bunches of them off, but worse, he let you know that many were bad guys and had it coming, while others, such as Uncas and Chingachgook, weren’t.
Cooper distinguished (discriminated) by a yardstick New England no longer recognizes, nor permits. You see, Cooper applied a universal code of morality, virtue, honor, manhood, etc to white and red man alike. He distinguished between people based on these markers and found that some passed while some others came up lacking. Every shoot ’em- up story had an enduring moral in its quiver.
Never did Cooper apply a yardstick of racism and victimhood. Nor did he know how to.
Anyway, Cooper is not considered well in most Yankee realms, when he is considered at all.
Somewhere in the past forty years New York, indeed, all of New England has buried this history, especially the part that includes “bad” Indians.
But more than that, they’ve buried anything that remotely resembles self-reliance, freedom, individual responsibility, courage, honor…including the more remote consideration that there was ever a bad Indian.
In short, they’ve buried the Yankees.
Michele Obama mentioned in the 2008 campaign about America’s need to go back and rewrite our histories (Common Core anyone?) and her intentions to seeing that project through. Until that day, New England has done the next best thing. They’ve buried their histories.
I’d like to say I have a fix for that. But I don’t. But maybe Grumpy does. Follow his series.
Adopt a Yankee
I think we should consider “adopting” all the great repositories of our history from the Yankee northeast, so that they can be resurrected and breathe free air again.
So, who’s the best fit for Fenimore Cooper? Who is most apt to reintroduce Cooper onto the reading lists of students, and into into that body of culture we used to call “the shoulders we all stand on?”
My bet is Texas, where the muzzle-loaded les longue carbines is still an object of honor, and where people still can tell the difference between a good Indian and a Comanche.
New York has many others, especially men of ideas. How about Robert Fulton? DeWitt Clinton? Who would take them and make them their own?
And what of the notable dead and buried Massachusettans (Massachucks? Massachites?)? Can Massachusetts really claim John Adams anymore when nothing the man believed is allowed to be believed there now? What about Henry David Thoreau? Honored by the contrarian left in the 1960s, Thoreau’s hip anti-authoritarianism has long since given way to his belief in self-reliance, a love of hard work, and a deep seated belief in individual responsibility. A non-starter for today’s Left, his politics were local, and would not fit in with the modern idea of a nation run by a community or a committee. And then there’s Daniel Webster, the oratorical constitutional lawyer par excellence in the early years of our Republic, who through his arguments, wrote much of early American jurisprudence.
Oh, Massachusetts has plenty of roadside monuments to these men. They still use the term “Patriot”, but more often “Pats”, and even set aside a day celebrating the opening shots of the Revolution at Bunker Hill, when Happy Hour prices are reduced by half. They even observe the Boston Tea Party. never stopping to reflect that in all things paternalistic and aristocratic, they have more more closely aligned themselves with the Redcoats and Royals the past fifty years than they ever have the Revolutionaries.
And speaking of affected aristocratic manners, they have buried the true essence and meaning of Adams, Thoreau, and Webster away in the same lock box that contains John Kerry’s testicles.
So, who wouldn’t want to adopt these three? I can see Webster living and breathing well alongside South Carolina’s native son, John C Calhoun, who still lives there, going right back to the spritely but well-mannered debates that will edify all who will listen, without every once calling the other a fag.
Thoreau could build his new Walden in the Appalachians; Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina. I think he’d find western Carolina most to his liking. But who cares, just so long as that some state acknowledges him as an adopted favorite son, and moves his ideas from the dark back into the light, to once again be appreciated at its core rather than its superficial least.
And Adams? Why Virginia of course. His old nemesis is located at nearby Charlottesville, and maybe his presence might assist Jefferson is running the pettifoggers out of that nice city.
Foremost, and finally, to think that America’s Everyman, who we miss today in every council of government, in every board room, looking over the shoulder of every parent, whispering in their ears as they teach their children the family’s history about the shoulders they stand on…to think he had been locked in a vault, behind a bricked facade underneath Independence Hall in Philadelphia, a city where the Shabbaz boys and the New Black Panthers now roam free…should be enough to stir virtually all Americans to storm the city and release the spirit of Benjamin Franklin over to those who still want and need him.
Only when Pennsylvania needs a balding cartoon character with a kite and tri-corner to help sell cars, or a mall opening, does Franklin become Pennsylvania’s favorite son. Only Pennsylvania hasn’t been been Ben’s favorite child for two generations, at least. Only his bastard, and me, I’m willing to file a paternity suit to remove Ben Franklin from any kinship with the commonwealth altogether.
Who should adopt him? Why all of us, that’s who.
I’m sure you can name hundreds more. Vermont won’t claim Calvin Coolidge in any time. Nor do they recognize the Green Mountain boys, or that Dartmouth began as an Indian school, those majestic tapestries drug out and hung in the Great Hall only when the big-donor alums are in town. Nor does Rhode Island claim Roger Williams anymore. A religious zealot, almost as bad as Tim Tebow. And pity poor William Bradford, from Original Founder to Pariah. Other than the monument out at Plymouth Rock, the only mention of the Mayflower is when it comes up in conversation at a cocktail party about the northeast’s most influential madams.
It is important that we put these men, all of them, back into circulation. And in an in-yer-face manner. Let New York know you adopted Fenimore Cooper, Texas. Dare them to come take him back. Call him a Native Son. Tell the world why he belongs in San Antonio more the Albany. Let them see the result of his being re-injected into the educations of our children.
“Dem bones gonna rise agin.”
Our good friend Grumpy at GrumpyElder suggested we should take the fight to the Left. This is just one way to get in their faces, by taking away their discarded and disavowed heroes; heroes that give them shame today for the same reason they gave every true blue Yankee a swelled chest once upon a time.. But also they are heroes they don’t want anyone else to have either. So, this is one of their Achilles heels.
Shoot it, for they have no defense, except in their own really very tiny lodges.