I was worried last night about the accuracy of our history for future generations. How will they know what really happened? I, for example, living in this historical time have no idea what is really happening around me.
In the past, our country’s history has been confirmed and re-created through letters – letters from observers of history written mostly without ulterior motives and simply as observations or opinions. The best example that comes to mind are the letters between John and Abigail Adams.
The following is an example.
My dearest Friend
Mr. Thomas Welch came up this Evening and brought me Letters from our Sons’ dated the 13 December from the Hague. I presume Letters are gone on to Congress Philadelphia to you, and Dispatches to the Secretary of State, but least you should not have any by this vessel, the most important intellegence which Mr. JQAs letter contains is that there is no prospect of Peace at Present tho at Paris the Moderate Party Mantain their assendency. Yet he considers Moderation like all other Principals in that Country for 5 Years past, a Watch Word of a Faction, used to oppress an other faction, whose Watch word was Terror. He adds that he should not be surprizd to see the Jacobins restored in the course of six Months to all the Plenitude of their Power and Glory.
(I hope to Heaven for the Sake of Humanity, that, that will never be.) In England he says the People are for Peace, the Administration for War. In Holland all the Provinces have recommended Negotiations for Peace. The Government Party pretend that they are going forward. The Patriots think that the French will not not [?] that but with them, and they most devoutly hope that the first article of the pacification may prescribe the extirpation of the present ruling power.
He supposes Mr. Jays Treaty is before the Senate; long ere His Letter reaches me, wishes his Friends to write to him by way of England as often as
opportunity offers. Says tho he has not received any Letters that he had news from America as late as November. Thomas Letter is chiefly taken up in discussing the Dutch Character and their predominate passion which will not even permit them to sacrifice a part of their property to secure the remainder. He finds himself embarressed by not speaking the French. Tho he understands a conversation, he can not hold one, is delighted with the Hague, receives Civility and politeness from Your old Friends there, but feel rather a State of Enuie, and What all of us have felt, but few can describe. I should pitty either of them more were they there singly.
Mr. Welch informs me that there is a vessel in to day from England with the papers to 5 Janry. The Kings speach, which Breaths nothing but War. He Mentions the Treaty concluded on between G. Britain and America. In France there has been an attempt by the Jacobines to Awe the convention, and to prevent the trial and Execution of one of the Nanty Murderers. The People broke in to the Hall of the Jacobines, drove them all out an locked up their Hall. This is only a verbal recount from Mr. Welch. I presume the papers of tomorrow will carry the accounts on to you more accurate.
I see Col Humphries is returnd upon business of importance tis said. My compliments to him.
Where the X&$% are you? I have not heard from you in months. Your brother is tired of running our affairs, and I can only wonder at who you are sleeping with at this moment in time. The kids are a mess, I’m lonely as hell and tired of milking the cows, planting the crops and wondering at the pontification of you and the other fat ones with wooden teeth that love to hear yourselves speak. Enough. Get home or I’m getting a lawyer.
Next point. I haven’t received a handwritten letter of a personal nature since I went to Girl Scout camp forty-five years ago. And, that letter was dictated to his secretary (but signed personally) by my dad. The letter spoke of nothing happening in the world but rather what my sisters were up to and how he hoped I wasn’t gaining weight eating a lot of bread.
Will our history be confirmed by emails then? I glance through the tens of thousands of emails I’ve sent and received over the past few years in my mind and realize I never really ‘discuss’ world affairs. It’s all about me or them in a more personal nature. And, those amazing men and women in Iraq are not allowed to write about the war and where they are and what is really happening because supposedly it will tip off someone and we’ll lose the war. I’m not thinking it will be through emails.
Twitter? Twitter only allows you 140 characters (letters) to send in your twitter. I think it’s going to be difficult indeed to tell the story of what is unfolding before you in 140 characters. So you’d have to send many, and that will be confusing and they might get out of order, etc.
I saw recently a statistic in a video that said that the average person in the early 1800’s never had as much information in their lifetime as is housed on one issue of the New York Times. So, we have a ton of information from others writing from a distorted point of view (please don’t make me go there; Rush Limbaugh, Joe Scarborough) but who among us is simply writing to another that which we see in front of us, or hear first hand at a dinner table?
And even if we did, who is going to sort through these trillions of emails in search of the ones that are accurate with no one to vouch for their accuracy.
Please do not start talking about video. I saw a march with Sharpton at New York’s City Hall on the nightly news a few years ago. I happened to walk by that day in person. There were ten people in the protest and big mouth out in front. On the news, it appeared to be hundreds (not kidding) of people, because it was all close ups and seemed really loud with the cries of those denouncing something or other.
So, now there is something else besides Global Warming to worry about for future generations. Confirming history. If I see history unfolding, I’m going to write it down in personal script that used to be better when I used it more, and I’m sending it to someone I think will save it in a metal box for posterity.