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Old 08-02-2021, 09:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default From Edge of the World to Leader of the World: Trollheart's History of America


From Edge of the World to Leader of the World:
Trollheart's History of the United States of America



I heard some snide little jibes when I started doing the history of England, to the effect of “why aren’t you doing the history of the greatest country in the world, Trollheart?” To which I answer smugly, “I already am doing the history of Ireland.” Then I remember Ireland is kind of a shithole, and the smile goes from my face.

But seriously folks, this was always on the cards. If there’s one country that has an amazing - chequered and in some cases shameful - history (but then, what country does not?) it’s the United States of America. In terms of being an actual country, or at least a recognised one, it’s the youngest of the three we’re doing here, though of course as a landmass it’s existed as long as either of the other two. But in terms of being, shall we say, colonised, it was only discovered - by white men at least - a little over half a millennium ago, yet it has managed to, as it were, pack a whole lot of history into that five hundred-odd years. But if you’re expecting this history to kick off with a certain ship sailing from a certain rock, or even with the shout of “Captain Columbus! Land ho senor!” then you’re going to be disappointed, because, despite what we’ve tried to do to erase it, America as a landmass had a rich and glorious history before an Italian explorer stumbled across what he believed to be the West Indies, and like all my histories, this one will go back as far as it is possible to do.

I will freely admit, I have a lot of contempt for Americans. Well, for some. The prevalent idea that there is almost no world beyond the coast of North America, held by a large percentage of the population, annoys me, as does their insistence on rearranging the spelling of simple words with the laziness of a child who can’t be bothered to learn how to spell. I mean, how hard is it to spell doughnuts, or night, or tyre? But those are personal niggles with me, and if, as an Irishman, I can write a faithful and not-too-biased history of England, you can rely on me to be as impartial as I can with this one.

Well, mostly.


In some ways, many ways in fact, America as a country is quite a phenomenon. From pretty humble beginnings (historically anyway) as a rebel colony taking on the might of their powerful master to the world’s number one superpower in less than two hundred years is nothing short of remarkable, and the indelible mark it has left on the world - not always for the better, it has to be said - is irrefutable. Germany coming back from the ashes of defeat in two world wars and rising to all but control Europe’s finances, or Japan rebuilding after literally being bombed out of existence are both amazing feats, but the inexorable rise to power of the United States has all the hallmarks of a poor boy claiming his birthright as king at the end of a fantasy novel. Whether that boy is Aragorn or Sauron depends, I suppose, both on your politics and your morals, but nobody can deny it’s been one of the great comebacks. For a country which was sneered at by King George III and expected to be pounded back into submission, the USA has bucked the trend and indeed turned the tables, with Britain (its empire all but gone, the sun finally set on its dominions) now very much reliant on and subservient to the power of America, as indeed is pretty much all of the world.

I can’t say for certain (will have to check) but I believe America may have been the first country to have had a president as its head of state. In a time when kings, queens and emperors ruled, America placed ordinary men, with no noble heritage or great claim on power, in the highest office they had. And more, the new colony was, I think I’m right in saying, the first modern country where power did not proceed along lines of inheritance or bloodlines. Just because George Washington was president did not mean his son (if he had one) was next in line. In fact, down through history very few members of the same family have held the office, with only two presidential dynasties springing to mind - the Kennedys and the Bushes - and it’s become a position anyone can hold, regardless of their experience in politics or, as we’ve seen recently, their relationship with reality.

America is of course responsible for some of the worst genocides in human history, but while I will in no way be shying away from talking about them, I would be doing the country and its inhabitants - and its ancestors - a grave injustice were I not to accept that the USA has also been instrumental in advancing the course of human life, more so than any other country since England and the Industrial Revolution. Love it or loathe it, take it or leave it, America, like all countries, has its good and its bad, and very definitely its ugly too, and we’ll be looking at all of them in turn. To put it in American terms, this journal will attempt to be as bipartisan as possible, though I can’t promise there won’t be times when I’ll berate one side or the other. However I will do my best to share the blame, and there’s a lot of blame to go round. A lot of credit, too, and we’ll be exploring that as well of course.

As ever, if anyone takes offence at what I write, that’s really your problem and you can suck it. Everything here will be properly researched (see my very long list of source material in the next post) and I won’t be making anything up. If you can’t live with the fact that your ancestors did questionable things, tough: I’ve had to face up to a lot of shame about how my Irish forefathers behaved, and I have. History doesn’t play favourites, and while it may be written by the winners, what’s written, to paraphrase the opening of the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, is usually mostly true. Sometimes the winners seem to think the atrocities they committed are justified, and have no problem telling the world, and generations of schoolchildren about them. I can admit to being somewhat unsympathetic to America, but I do not hate the country; if I did, I would have no business writing its history, nor indeed would I have any interest in doing so. I think it has an amazing history and am looking forward to chronicling it.

Despite what a certain, rather large percentage of the population would like to think (and I said this about England too) America is not a white country, and the people who live there are not the original inhabitants. The only “pure” or “true” or “real” American either lives on a reservation now or at least belongs to a tribe. Everyone else is, like it or not, an immigrant. So maybe those who seem to think they’re “keeping America pure” by growling about “immigrants” would do well to look back into the history of the country they profess to love so well. Perhaps one day there will be a Native American president, which would finally go some way to atone for what we as white people have done to their people, though given how long it took to get a black man into the White House, I’m not exactly holding my breath.

But snarky rhetoric and accusations aside, there’s a lot to love about America. A lot. It has some amazing people, has been home to some of the world’s greatest thinkers, musicians, artists, writers and of course leaders; it has some of the most breath-taking scenery in the world, and it’s an undeniable truth that without the assistance of America (and Russia) World War II would not have been won by the Allies. Of course, on the other side of the coin we have a once-disregarded part of French Indochina, not to mention most of the Middle East. But we’ll get into all of that. We’ll also be asking how a country that prides itself on being the “land of the free” can have been one of the last to abolish slavery of fellow human beings, and indeed, had to go to war to resolve that. But hey, they gave us Springsteen and Prince, and Carl Sagan and Jackie Mason, Jackson Pollock and Jackson Browne, The Eagles and, oh yeah, baseball.

In its comparatively short history America has been the hope of the world, the bully of the world, the saviour of the world, has gained the sympathy of the world and the enmity of the world, and most recently the shame of the world. Now this young nation stands at a crossroads, like a child with power he doesn’t understand and can’t control, trying to decide on the right path to take. One leads forward, to the healing of the nation and acceptance of all races, the repair of divisions and the long road back to being the foremost voice speaking out for democracy and truth and freedom(I said speaking, doesn't mean they did what they said); the other leads back, back into the dark and distant and troubled past, back to prejudice and hatred and racism, and ultimately into isolationism, fear, suspicion and xenophobia.

Even with, to put it in very simplistic terms, the evil king deposed and the good king on the throne, which of these directions America will choose or be forced to take is a question that cannot be answered yet; the country is divided today as never before, and for the first time in history, or at least the first time since Germany in World War II, not only is there a battle between ideologies and faiths and politics and races, but between truth and reality. A massive percentage of the population - nearly seventy-five million Americans - have fallen for what has become known as The Big Lie perpetuated by ex-President Donald Trump and his cronies, and having been led to the edge of the precipice like the devil at the end of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, are now in danger of tumbling headlong over it into oblivion, darkness, paranoia and hatred, while the man who enticed them to the lip of the cliff sits back and laughs.

How did it ever get to this, you might ask? Let’s go back to the beginning, and try to find out.
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Old 08-02-2021, 09:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Dude literally everyone in America spells it "night". How do you think we spell it?
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Old 08-02-2021, 10:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Dude literally everyone in America spells it "night". How do you think we spell it?
Some use an a at the end, others use a hard r.
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Old 08-02-2021, 10:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It's no longer called the "West Indies," it's called the "Carribean" like on the map you posted. You can learn a lot just by reading maps. I know you hate the English, now I see you hate the Americans too. I guess you hate the tinkers in Ireland? What a fine article you are, going around hating everyone.
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Old 08-03-2021, 06:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Dude literally everyone in America spells it "night". How do you think we spell it?
Nite
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Old 08-03-2021, 09:20 AM   #6 (permalink)
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People throughout their own Country spell words differently..Languages are formed from a mix of other languages...search and you'll find it interesting what you dig up....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_English
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Old 08-03-2021, 09:23 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Well Trolleybookends, this is another very interesting 'journal' in the making..sparks are gonna fly then....not just in the Journal, going by the Jungle...ites....
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Old 08-03-2021, 09:43 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Yeah, I think I'll stay out of this one. It's going to get very political, I predict.
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Old 08-03-2021, 09:58 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm sure nobody will be surprised to hear, there's an absolute ton of research material on the USA, so my source list is going to be very very long. And that doesn't include any documentaries or anything that Google searches may turn up in the course of my ferreting around. Therefore I'm spoilering this list, though you're welcome to read it should you wish to.

Sources

Spoiler for List of sources:
One Vast Winter Count: The Native American West Before Lewis and Clark by Colin G. Galloway

Shadowrun: Native American Nations, Volumes I and II by Nigel D. Findley

The Native American World – Donna Hightower-Langston

Daughters of Mother Earth: The Wisdom of Native American Women by Barbara Alice Mann

Native American Culture by Kathleen Kuiper

Telling a Good One: The Process of a Native American Collaborative Biography by Theodore Rios and Kathleen Mullan Sands

The Anguish of Snails: Native American Folklore in the West by Barre Toelken

The Dream Seekers: Native American Visionary Traditions of the Great Plains by Lee Irwin

Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes by Carl Waldman and Molly Braun

Williams Strauss - Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 – 2069 by Neil Howe

To Sin Against Hope: How America Has Failed its Immigrants – A Personal History by Alfredo Gutierrez

Making America, Vol I: A History of the United States by Carol Berkin

Colonial America: From Jonestown to Yorktown by Mary K. Geiter and W.A. Speck

Don't Know Much About the Hidden History of America at War: Untold Tales from Yorktown to Fallujah by Kenneth C. Davis

Colonial America: Birth of a Nation (5th Grade US History Textbook)

The World Turned Upside Down: Indian Voices from Early America (edited by) Colin G. Calloway

America Unbound: World War II and the Making of a Superpower (edited by) Warren F. Kimball

Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of America's Fugitive Slaves by Eric Foner

Jim Crow America: A Documentary History (edited by) Catherine M. Lewis and J. Richard Lewis

A Short History of US Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean
by Alan McPherson

Women and Slavery in America: A Documentary History (edited by) Catherine M. Lewis and J. Richard Lewis

White Trash: The 400-year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas Parts 1 and 2, by Bruce G. Trigger and Wilcomb E. Washburn

A People's History of Poverty in America by Stephen Pimpare

Race: The History of an Idea in America by Thomas F. Gossett

Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America by Lerone Bennett

Building an Empire: The Louisiana Purchase by Linda Thompson

America's First Settlements by Linda Thompson

Slavery: A Chapter in American History by Katie Marsico

Columbus and the Journey to the New World by Nadia Higgins

Pilgrims by L.L. Owens

America Enters the Industrial Revolution by Susan Hamen

Exploring the Territories of the United States by Linda Thompson

A Short History of the Confederate States of America by Jefferson Davis

Norway to America: A History of the Migration by Ingrid Semmingsen

A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America by Darlene Clark Hine and Kathleen Thompson

The Forgotten History of America: Little Known Conflicts of Lasting Importance From the Earliest Colonists to the Eve of the Revolution
by Cormac O'Brien

Colonial America: A History to 1763
by Richard Middleton and Anne Lombard

The Farfarers: A New History of North America by Farley Mowat

Who Discovered America? The Untold History of the Peopling of the Americas by Gavin Menzies and Ian Hudson

Making America: A History of the United States
by Carol Berkin, Christopher Miller, Robert Cherny and James Gormly

The First Frontier: The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery and Endurance in Early America by Scott Weidensaul

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard

What God Hath Wrought: The Transformation of America by Danile Walker Howe

The Slacker's Guide to US History: The Bare Minimum on Discovering America, the Boston Tea Party, the California Gold Rush and Lots of Other Stuff by Don Stewart and John Pfeiffer

Religious Intolerance in America: A Documentary
by John Corrigan and Lynn S. Neal

Daily Life in Immigrant America, 1820 – 1870
by James M. Bergquist

Fernandez de Oviedo's Chronicle of America: A New History for a New World
by Kathleen Ann Myers

History of the New World: Shewing his Travels in America
by Girolamo Benzoni and W.H. Smyth

The Brave New World: A History of Early America by Peter Charles Hoffer

America: A Narrative History by David E. Shi

Women's Suffrage in America by Elizabeth Frost-Knapperman and Kathryn Cullen-Dupont

The Englishwoman in America by Isabella L. Bird

The Mental Floss History of the United State: The (Almost) and (Entirely) Entertaining Story of America by Erik Sass

White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh

What Blood Won't Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America by Ariela J. Gross

Evangelizing the South: A Social History of Church and State in Early America
by Monica Najar

The Canal Builders: Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal by Julie Greene

Women's Roles in Seventeenth Century America
by Merril D. Smith

The Great Depression: Delayed Recovery and Economic Change in America, 1929 – 1939 by Michael A. Bernstein

Political History of America's Wars by Alan Axelrod

A Faithful Account of the Race: African-American Historical Writing in Nineteenth-Century America by Stephen G. Hall

The Origin of Organized Crime in America: The New York City Mafia by David Critchley

America, War and Power: Defining the State 1775 – 2005 by Lawrence Sondhaus and A. James Fuller

Early National America 1790 – 1850 by Tim McNeese

The Black Experience in America: From Civil Rights to the Present by Jeff Wallenfeldt

A Teacher's Guide to Colonial America: A History in Documents by James F. Adomanis

The United States and Latin America: A History of American Diplomacy 1776 – 2000 by Joseph Smith

Downtown America: A History of the Place and the People Who Made it by Alison Isenberg

Cahokia: Ancient America's Great City on the Mississippi by Timothy R. Pauketat

Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America 1877 – 1920 by Jackson Lears

Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson by David S. Reynolds

The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of Americ 1932 – 1972 by William Manchester

The Cambridge History of Foreign Relations, Volume 3: The Globalizing of America 1913 – 1945 by Akira Iriye

The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America by Colin G. Calloway

America's Hidden History: Untold Stories of the First Pilgrims, Fighting women and Forgotten Founders who Shaped a Nation by Kenneth C. Davis

The Cold War and Postwar America 1946 – 1963 by Tim McNeese

Circles and Lines: The Shape of Life in Early America by John Demos

Revolutionary America 1753 – 1815: A Political History by Francis D. Cogliano

Coming Apart: An Informal History of America in the 1960s by William O'Neill

Discovering the Mysteries of Ancient America: Lost History and Legends Unearthed and Explored by Frank Joseph, David Hatcher Childress, Zecharia Sitchin, Wayne May and Andrew Collins

A Companion to 20th Century America by Stephen J. Whitfield

Twentieth Century America: A Brief History by Thomas C. Reeves

History of the War of the Independence of the United States of America by Carlo Botta

Encyclopedia of Women's History in America by Kathryn Cullen-Dupont
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Old 08-03-2021, 10:11 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Part I: Happy Hunting Grounds: America the Beautiful, Before the White Man

Chapter I: Spirit Guides in the Land of the Free: The True Founding Fathers

God, the Man Maker, opened his oven and looked at the white clay figure he had made in dismay. "This white man is too pale," he moaned. "I did not leave the clay in the oven long enough. I must try again." The second time though he fell asleep and when he opened the oven the clay figure had burned. "Oh no," he sighed. "This black man is no use to me. I will try one more time." This time he sat watching attentively. When he opened the oven and beheld the red man, he was very pleased. "Perfect!" he exclaimed.


(Heavily paraphrased from Seminole, Shawnee and Pima myth)


There is of course a reason why Indians became known more accurately as Native Americans - they were the first inhabitants of the land now known as America. However calling them Indians might to some extent have been closer to the truth, as, though there is no definitive evidence as to how the land was first settled, generally it’s agreed that people from Eurasia may have migrated across one of those handy land bridges we spoke of in the History of England journal, this one spanning from Siberia to Alaska, and known then as Beringia. If this is the case, then India is part of Eurasia and so they could be called Indians. However they were of course given this name because of a major blunder by ostensibly one of the blind-luckiest navigators in history, who believed he had discovered the West Indies.

Nowadays they have also begun to be called the indigenous people of America or even the First Nation people, both of which are correct, and it is, I believe, now considered a racial slur to call them Indians, not to mention the confusion this engenders if you’re actually referring to the inhabitants of India, the sub-continent. For the purposes of this journal, therefore, and out of respect we shall refer to them throughout as Native Americans. It’s believed they moved into the American continent somewhere between 15,000 and 30,000 years ago, which, while it may not come close to the colonisation of Britain by the English around 400,000 years ago, still means they have been there more than ten times as long as those who later would claim to be Americans, and still do.

I know it’s become somewhat popular to, as it were, take the side of the Native Americans in the issue of their expulsion from their lands - a hundred years ago it was seen as a sort of white privilege, or dare I say it, lebensraum? and things were seen much differently - and without question, the time before the coming of the white settlers was not some sort of idyllic golden age where everyone loved everyone and there was no conflict. Native Americans were not hippies, and surely there were, shall we say, disagreements. But it’s become clear to me, reading about them, that in general - and I stress, in general - the larger part of the tribes who populated America at that time were peaceful. They lived on their own lands - which most if not all believed given to them by their gods - and were happy there. They were not a territorial people (other than protecting, if they had to, their own homes), neither were they an expansionist society. No Native American tribe - possibly with a few exceptions - coveted the land of another.

The main wars and struggles between the various tribes seem to have come about as a direct consequence of, and coinciding with the arrival of people like us in the New World. As much as they fought the invaders to preserve their own lands, they were also forced to encroach on the lands of other tribes, of necessity, as land became more precious a commodity, the white settlers taking it from them. In a very real way, while the Native Americans fought the white man and woman, these new enemies also pitted them against their own people, tribe fighting tribe as the strong realised they could only survive if they subjugated the weak. That’s why, I believe (and as we go on I’ll see if I’m right, which I may not be) the main wars between Native Americans broke out only after the arrival of men from Europe.

To a great degree, it would seem, for a while anyway, the white settlers awoke a sleeping giant, who would just as happily remained asleep, and had the two forces been matched, it’s doubtful that the Native Americans could have been chased off their ancestral lands by these interlopers. But the white man brought his technology, from better and more deadly weapons to industrialisation such as the railroad and the telegraph, and also played upon the naivete and innocence (in terms of being like children dazzled by shiny toys) of the original inhabitants of America, and the two forces were far from equal. A lack of cooperation between tribes prior to this also told in the enemy’s favour as, had all the over five hundred separate tribes been somehow able to band together under common cause, they could have mounted such a defence, even attack against the invaders as might have driven them back east.

But such things were unknown among the Natives, who might have traded with this or that tribe, or raided their villages, but really kept themselves to themselves, many of them sedentary and staying in their own territory, some nomadic or semi-nomadic, and a few, as alluded to above, outright warlike. Confederations were attempted later, but too late. Although it wasn’t that easy a victory for the settlers, for the new US Government, once the first few tribes were relieved of their land, whether through trickery, bribery, lies or outright genocide, all the rest would fall like dominoes in a reasonably short time.

Perhaps, in the end, the fatal flaw that undid the Native Americans was trusting their enemy, and believing he would honour his word, something no tribal chief could believe any man would fail to do.

There were over five hundred tribes or peoples spread across America before the white man arrived, and while I have no intention of writing about them all - you would have less intention of reading about them, I’m sure - here are some examples of what life was like before we arrived to mess it all up, and eventually dance gleefully on the bones of our ancestors.
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