years ago today on July 9, 1755 a singular event occurred that created the path to the future of the United States of America. In the wilderness outside Fort Duquesne one man - a French officer named Captain Daniel Hyacinth-Marie Lienard Beaujeu - stripped to his shirt like an Indian, prayed, and speaking to Indians reluctant to fight the huge British army approaching, said he alone would fight them. His courage, words, and news of a favorable location for a battle on a narrow trail, motivated them all to attack. Stripped for battle, Beaujeu ran from the fort leading a frenzied mob of mostly Indians to make history.
That's how the battle that led to the massacre of the huge, multi-thousand man column of Gen. Braddock began. This was observed by a young captive American. I reprise my recent review of a fine book covering this critical event. Here is link to the original post ->
"A new book just out - Braddock's March, by Thomas Crocker - is very good. This book covers that organization for and the actual march by a large army into the wilderness to attempt to drive the French from the area where Pittsburgh now is, to prevent the French from strangling the English colonies with a string of forts. Braddock's army is eventually crushed by the French and Indians. This battle started the French and Indian War which determined the future path of North America.
The book is very well researched, drawing mostly on letters and diaries and other first hand sources of the people involved. The crucial importance of this march and battle arise from several factors: its own significance in the start of the war, that many American leaders of the Revolutionary War got their initial military experience in it, including George Washington, and that this close contact between British officials and Americans started the tensions between Americans and British persons as Americans began to recognize their freedom would be lessened by more British control."
The book also argues convincingly that without the battle and the massacre, the future path leading to the creation of the United States of America might not have occurred. Had the British won, British power in North America would have consolidated very early, tensions that arose between colonists & the British might not have arisen, and the 13 colonies might not had started working together. Without a long war, Britain would not have needed the taxes on stamps, tea, etc. that later sparked recognition of encroachment of British power. America might have evolved like Canada.
Elsewhere I've written my thoughts on why the American Revolution occurred when it did. See -> http://viewfromthebunker.blogspot.com/2007/07/independence-day.html
I now must modify those thoughts to include this battle and the tensions and events that arose from it. The world travels in bundles of space-time paths which usually meander along in predictable paths, but singular events can change their trajectory. One such bifurcation was at the site of this battle on July 9, 1755. At that critical space-time region, the American revolution and the path to create the United States of America began.
You now know the time. What is the place ?
It's now called Braddock, Pennsylvania, about seven miles south of downtown Pittsburgh. "Today much of the site [of the battle] is occupied by the defunct U. S. Steel Edgar Thompson Monongahela Valley Steelworks". Nothing commemorates the site. "Today, however, the battlefield is empty. It is utterly forgotten except by the few pilgrims who each year go out of thier way to walk the deserted streets." [Quotes are from the book aforementioned.]
Braddock, Pennsylvania is one of the most depressed areas in Pennsylvania. This near-sacred place was featured recently on the CBS Sunday morning news -> http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/07/04/sunday/main6646176.shtml
The town has lost 90% of its population in recent years. But the town has a leader - a fighter, much like Beaujeu. Here's a quote from him: "I like to think if there's nothing else that can be taken from the Braddock story, it's that no community deserves to be abandoned, no community deserves to have their back turned on it," he said. "And that there's always an ability to increase or enhance the quality of life for the residents. In fact, I think it's, if anything, it's a moral imperative to do so."
We need to know our history, why we are who we are, and what we have now that we can build on to restore America for a better future. We all need to work for "the economic and physical restoration of the competitive spirit in the heart of America, re-instilling the 'can do' attitude in the heart of her people." Places like Braddock, PA should not depress us - they should and can motivate us when we know what they truly mean. That quote is from the mission statement of a new not-for-profit organization that two like minded friends and myself have created recently. More later on our efforts.
Word of the Day
"Juvescense" - noun [$1000] rare
Juvescense means the state of becoming young.
Sentence: (A) [from T. S. Eliot's poem, 'Gerontion'] "In juvesence of the year / came Christ the tiger." (B) In juvescence of the day July 9, 1755, the United States of America also entered juvescense, if only then a twinkle.