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Anti-British?? Not on ye life!

Today I got a great chat message from friend of mine working a historic site bookshop at Jamestown: “British couple just bought ‘Revolutionary Rumblings,’ ‘War for Independence,’ and ‘Revolutionary City‘ – they loved that it wasn’t just pure ‘anti-Brit propaganda.’ They said they are used to that in American accounts of the war.”

That is a very high compliment to me. I’ve studied the American Revolution since I was a 10-year-old during the Bicentennial, and I view the conflict as a civil war. American colonists spent the years between the French & Indian War and the Boston Tea Party asking to be considered full British citizens. It was the King and the English politicians’ refusal to grant full British political rights to their colonists that led to war. The shifting of the political wind in the 13 colonies happened very suddenly between January and June of 1776 — Full, declared independence from Britain was a move that came a year AFTER the first shots fired in Massachusetts! We held onto our British-ness for a long, long time.

I try to approach all history with a broad view. There are very few dastardly villans and shining heroes in real life, and I resist storytelling that shows real life historic figures that way. Look how complicated Jefferson was! But so was Patrick Henry and James Madison and John Adams and . . .

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about my point-of-view in my comic storytelling — most of it about the 1860s Civil War stories, of course. Amazing how that debate rages on. I own up to my point-of-view. Every human storyteller has one. To pretend otherwise is a lie. There is no one right way — one “unbiased” way — to tell the life of Washington or Lincoln or Roosevelt. I can be accurate with facts, but at some point I have to choose which facts and events to include in a story, and those decisions come out of my point-of-view. But I don’t just shoot from the hip — I’ve learned that my storytelling is better if I listen first. So I listen to as many different points-of-view as I can before I make my Author’s Choices. To those who have objected that I’m changing the historical stories they grew up with, I reply: I’m not changing history, I’m just including EVERYONE’S story now.

And when I listen to 1775, I hear a lot of debate that still echoes through our politics today. That must mean there’s no one right answer 😉

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This entry was posted on Monday, August 30th, 2010 at 11:52 pm and is filed under Author's Purpose, Colonial Williamsburg, History Teacher. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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