The term “Revisionist History” is freighted with negative connotations. That’s too bad, for our understanding of the past should never be allowed to set in concrete. I would agree that “revision” based on mere shifts in intellectual fashion or driven by contemporary ideological agendas is suspect. But revision based on new evidence or the removal of ancient prejudices can have great value.
A couple of new works — one just out and one hitting the States in January — bid to revise our understanding of a pair of movements that challenged Empire in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
When Jacobite enthusiast Michael Nevin successfully bid for a handwritten letter and memorandum by Bonnie Prince Charlie at an auction, little did he realise he had come into possession of material that would change our view of history.
Written in France following his defeat at Culloden in 1746 and addressed to Louis XV, the story that emerges from these documents is more complex than that suggested by conventional histories of the time. In addition to revealing the prince as a far more charismatic and courageous figure than that portrayed in popular fiction, they show that, far from abandoning Scotland after Culloden, he was committed to return and did not finally give up his dream of Stuart restoration until the failure of the Elibank Plot.
In this book, Michael Nevin tells the story of the Rising of 1745-46, its genesis and consequences. It looks at the motivations of the leading players, examines crucial but neglected battles of the Jacobite wars and sheds new light on the mystery of what led to Bonnie Prince’s Charlie’s psychological disintegration after 1752.
Mark me! Bonnie Prince has gotten a bad press, most notably from his portrayal in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and the STARZ drama.
I shall be interested to see what I think of Nevins’ reinterpretation.
The Jacobite movement was significant in the early development of the American colonies. A number of the Nassau pirates — Edward Teach aka Blackbeard, Benjamin Hornigold, Charles Vane — were Jacobites. They had ambitions of making themselves into a Jacobite navy. Many Highlanders who lost at Culloden in the Riding of 1745-46 emigrated to the Americas. Some settled on William Johnson’s lands in the Mohawk Valley, some settled in North Carolina, some entered the Fur Trade in Canada. Curiously, most — having declared an oath — were Loyalists during the American Revolution.
Another man who has gotten a bad press, especially from Allan W. Eckert, is Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet. Eckert and others have portrayed him very much as second fiddle to his brother Tecumseh in the creation of a pan-Indian resistance movement east of the Mississippi in the first decades of the 19th Century. He is often seen as having screwed up his brother’s plans by foolishly engaging in battle (in Tecumseh’s absence‚ with the frontier forces of General William Henry Harrison at Tippecanoe in 1811.
Historian Peter Cozzens reevaluates Tenskwatawa’s role in his latest tome, which Wad McKnight scouted up last spring. It’s out now:
Until the Americans killed Tecumseh in 1813, he and his brother Tenskwatawa were the co-architects of the broadest pan-Indian confederation in United States history. In previous accounts of Tecumseh’s life, Tenskwatawa has been dismissed as a talentless charlatan and a drunk. But award-winning historian Peter Cozzens now shows us that while Tecumseh was a brilliant diplomat and war leader–admired by the same white Americans he opposed–it was Tenskwatawa, called the “Shawnee Prophet,” who created a vital doctrine of religious and cultural revitalization that unified the disparate tribes of the Old Northwest. Detailed research of Native American society and customs provides a window into a world often erased from history books and reveals how both men came to power in different but no less important ways.
There’s a copy waiting for me at Paulina Springs Books, but it has to wait till after I’ve delved into the Age of Heroic Commerce. I’ll also be spending some time in the company of Daniel Boone. More on that later…
When we think of enclaves of Irish immigrants to the U.S., we usually think of Boston or New York. Or maybe miners in Butte. But Paisley, Oregon, is a generations-old enclave of Irish ranchers in the Oregon Outback.
Mi amigo Craig Rullman has a new piece touching this topic in Range Magazine:
Please enjoy my piece “Pluck of the Irish” about the Murphy family in Paisley, Oregon, in the latest edition of Range Magazine. Incredible people and I am grateful for their friendship and continuing support of the Len Babb Movie Project.
Put in 13 hours of drive time last Saturday to take my Dad back to California. He’s almost 93, and now that the snow is flying, he needs to be back down south in the sun.
Drove Sisters-to-Williams in the Central Valley where I met my brother John and did the hand-off. Then I drove back home. My half of the trail is the good half — through the Siskiyous and past Mt. Shasta, skirting Klamath Lake. As I mentioned earlier, a good part of it lies on the route of Fremont’s 1845 Third Expedition from Oregon into California, where Ol’ John C. got himself embroiled in the Bear Flag Revolt. It’s a haul, but the scenic country and some good podcasts make it more than tolerable.
With the decks cleared, Marilyn and I set up my station for podcasting on Sunday and ran a soundcheck. Plan is to record the first full episode on Wednesday and — assuming all goes well — the rest of the Kit Carson series later in the week. Then we’ll launch. I’ll send up a smoke signal…